Witch hazel may not be the most common herb in your home, but it offers numerous health benefits and uses that everyone should be aware of. This plant contains anti-inflammatory and astringent compounds that can balance hormones, reduce infections protect the skin and hair, accelerate healing, settle the stomach, eliminate hemorrhoids, and more!
If you’re someone who prefers an all-natural way when treating various conditions, you have to stock up on this herb immediately. Keep reading to discover its many benefits to your health, skin, and hair.
What is Witch Hazel?
Also known as Hamamelis virginiana, witch hazel has been used for centuries as one of the traditional medicines. It is commonly found in Japan, China, and North America, and blooms in January and March.
This deciduous shrub can grow up to 7 meters high, and the extracts of its stems, bark, and leaves can help you get rid of many problems. Because of its proven medicinal powers, it has become a part of various medical products and commercial cosmetics.
Witch hazel also has high levels of flavonoids, tannins, carvacrol, eugenol, and other potent volatile components. Most of these have powerful effects on the body, and its polyphenols compounds may help slow down the process of aging and other diseases.
The tannins in witch hazel extract make it a natural astringent. It helps in eliminating excess oil from the skin, making it one of the best natural methods to treat acne. As a natural antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, this herb can combat free radicals to protect cells from damages.
More and more benefits have been discovered through the use of witch hazel, making this herb an essential resource for you to have at home!
15 Amazing Benefits and Uses of Witch Hazel
Here are some of the reasons why you should start using it to improve your overall health.
#1. Boosts Immune System
For those who are looking for natural ways to strengthen their immune system, research has revealed that witch hazel stimulates the body’s defense mechanism. It helps in removing foreign substances and pathogens in the body, thanks to its powerful antiseptic and antibacterial properties. It can boost your overall health naturally.
For best results, you should take only small amounts and mix it with another carrier oil or water.
#2. Soothes Headaches
Many people are suffering from headaches due to work, school, and other physical or mental problems. Luckily, the astringent agents in witch hazel can help in eliminating headaches.
All you have to do is to apply its extract on your temples and let its power relieve the tension of the small capillaries that are causing headaches.
Alternatively, you can prepare a cup of witch hazel tea and sip on it to soothe your headache. Doing so will relax your blood vessels or throbbing muscles while easing your blood pressure.
#3. Aids Digestion
Witch hazel has been used to clear up symptoms of different digestive problems for many years. A small amount of this tea combined with mint or chamomile can help in treating diarrhea, dysentery, and irritable bowel system.
It works by enhancing the immune system and alleviating inflammation caused by harmful bacteria present in the digestive tract.
#4. Fights Acne
No matter what the age, pimples and acne can be an annoying problem. The antioxidant and astringent properties in witch hazel make it an excellent remedy to reduce inflammation, and decrease redness and excess oil.
This herb can protect the skin from bacteria that cause zits, acne, and pimples, and may also be useful in closing pores. Regular application of witch hazel will prevent the development of blackheads and whiteheads that often contribute to annoying breakouts.
If you have oily skin, witch hazel can balance the skin’s pH level. It also moisturizes the skin without leaving a greasy feeling. Instead of popping a zit and make the problem worse, consider applying a small amount of witch hazel to stop its progression.
#5. Nourishes Dry Skin
Witch hazel is good for treating oily skin and acne, but that doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be applied on dry skin. In fact, this herb removes impurities and excess oil and then nourishes the skin to prevent it from getting dry.
Even though it has the ability to eliminate oil from the skin, witch hazel won’t dry it out like what most astringent products from stores do.
Consider applying witch hazel immediately after a bath or shower to seal in moisture. This works wonders, especially during the winter months. If you are using store-bought product that contains witch hazel, make sure that it doesn’t have alcohol as it will make your skin dry.
#6. Treats Hemorrhoids and Varicose Veins
Also called piles, hemorrhoids are swollen veins in lower rectum and anus. They may occur due to increased pressure during pregnancy or straining during bowel movements. Because this condition may cause discomfort, pain, and swelling, it is important to eat foods rich in fiber and avoid straining when passing stools.
Also, applying witch hazel to the area can help relieve itching, swelling, and burning sensation due to its healing, astringent, and anti-inflammatory properties. Be careful when applying it though as it can be very strong. Make sure that you speak with your doctor before using witch hazel if you are already taking medicine.
Aside from hemorrhoids, witch hazel is also useful for treating varicose veins by simply massaging the cream into the affected areas. This treatment will relieve discomfort and shrink the veins.
#7. Regulates Menstruation
For those who are suffering from heavy periods, the astringent properties in witch hazel make it an effective method to regulate menstruation naturally. It can reduce inflammation and pain in the groin, and slow down the bleeding during your period.
In addition, witch hazel can help ease other symptoms of menstruation, such as cramps and bloating. Depending on your health condition, it may be best to consult your physician first before using it.
#8. Helps Treat Respiratory Tracts
Many studies show that witch hazel has positive effects on respiratory tracts in cases of issues dealing with the throat, such as sore throats, irritation from coughing, and inflammation of the vocal cords.
For this matter, it is recommended to use witch hazel tea instead of concentrated oil or extract. Rinse your mouth and gargle for immediate relief. This treatment will reduce pain and soreness, while also getting rid of excess mucus.
The compounds in its bark and leaves have calming effects on the lungs, making it beneficial during asthma attacks. The best way to use witch hazel in times of an attack is by soaking a warm compress in the liquid. Apply it on the neck and chest of the person having an asthma attack.
#9. Speeds Healing
Witch hazel has been used for thousands of years when it comes to treating abrasions, bruises, cuts, and other wounds. Thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties, witch hazel helps in constricting blood vessels that reduce the appearance of bruises. Its organic compounds help in tightening the skin, which accelerates the healing process.
In addition, it also reduces bleeding of open wounds and forms a protective coating to reduce the risk of developing an infection. But in cases of severely ruptured skin, it is not recommended to apply it to the area as the potency of the compounds could cause inflammation.
#10. Treats Eczema and Psoriasis
Both eczema and psoriasis produce itching sensation. The scaling, redness, burning, and itching caused by these two inflammatory skin problems can be alleviated with the application of witch hazel. The immediate relief can be attributed to its anti-inflammatory and astringent agents.
For more immediate results, consider using witch hazel with French green clay. This clay contains high levels of calcium, magnesium, potassium, and other minerals that can reduce inflammation and heat instantly, relieving itching and pain. Make a paste by adding witch hazel to a one-half cup of green clay and apply it to the affected areas.
#11. Combats Signs of Aging
Prolong sun exposure promotes premature aging and signs like fine lines, wrinkles, scars, dryness, redness, and discoloration. If you are looking for a natural way to reduce signs of aging, you can opt for witch hazel.
This herb gives skin protection against melanoma, cancer, and other problems that may occur due to ultraviolet lights. Its polyphenols and tannins content can prevent the proliferation of melanoma cells, keeping your skin cells healthy as you age.
Many store-bought products can increase dryness and irritate the skin, but witch hazel helps improve skin elasticity and protect collagen. Consider mixing it with oils like evening primrose and frankincense for even better results.
#12. Refreshes Your Face and Reduces Puffy Eyes
Whenever you are stressed or feeling tired, you can always use some witch hazel to refresh yourself. All you have to do is to store witch hazel to a spray bottle and apply it on your face to soothe your skin. This technique will also remove excess dirt while treating your puffy eyes.
Another option is to soak a cloth in cold water mixed with witch hazel. Apply it over your closed eyes for around ten minutes to reduce puffiness and redness. Your eyes will also feel refreshed and ready for finishing what you have to do.
#13. Treats Swimmer’s Ear
Swimmer’s ear, also known as otitis externa, is an infection in the outer ear canal caused by bacteria commonly found in water.
The common symptoms of swimmer’s ear include mild discomfort, itching in the ear canal, redness inside your ear, and some drainage of odorless fluid.
One of the incredible benefits of witch hazel is its ability to treat this infection. Putting a few drops of it into the affected ear will mop up excess oil, dry up any pus, and help in dislodging any debris or earwax stuck in the ear canal. After applying witch hazel in the affected ear, let it drain naturally and use a cotton ball or cosmetic pad to clean it up.
It is good to treat infections like this with natural oil that contains antimicrobial agents, such as tea tree oil, basil oil, and apple cider vinegar.
#14. Hair and Scalp Care
Many products include witch hazel as one of the ingredients as this herb can add volume to locks while taming down frizzy hair. Its ability to dry out excess grease and oils make it an excellent natural treatment for oily hair.
Witch hazel also contains vasoconstrictive properties, which can improve blood flow in your scalp and decrease hair fall. This incredible herb can help treat and prevent hair or scalp-related problem.
The natural oils from its help in eliminating dandruff and nourishing the scalp. As a natural astringent, it can also relieve itchiness and other discomforts that you may be experiencing.
#15. Prevents Diaper Rashes
Nothing is more distressing for parents than seeing their baby’s bottom covered in itchy and bright red scratches. Fortunately, witch hazel has compounds that can reduce redness and irritation caused by diapers, thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties. Regular application can also speed up the healing process of damaged skin and alleviate discomfort.
Possible Side Effects
Witch hazel doesn’t have major side effects when consumed orally or applied topically. However, some individuals could experience irritation because of an allergic reaction. To prevent this, perform a patch test before you start using it.
Avoid taking it in large amounts as it can cause stomach upset. Large doses may also cause liver problems. Keep in mind that witch hazel has a safrole, a cancer-causing chemical, but it is safe as long as taken only in small amounts.
Possible side effects may include nausea, vomiting, stomach upset, and constipation. If any of these worsen or persist, visit your doctor immediately. Other very serious side effects are dark urine, stomach pain, and yellowing eyes or skin.
Where to Buy Witch Hazel?
Many store-bought brands include more alcohol than witch hazel. These products can dry or sting sensitive skin. When looking for witch hazel in health stores or online, make sure that you opt for one that contains natural or organic ingredients. Avoid products that contain high amounts of alcohol.
You can also check Thayers Alcohol-free Rose Petal Witch Hazel with Aloe Vera available from Amazon. This product has gained 10,962 customer reviews and is considered as the best brand of witch hazel.