Witch hazel, a tried-and-true, oldie-but-goodie, is a clear liquid that can work as an astringent to clean the face. But that’s just the beginning. Witch hazel is used to treat everything from bruises to hemorrhoids. The formula is made from the leaves and bark of a tree that is naturally grown in the eastern and southern U.S., and can be taken internally as well as externally. Witch hazel is also sometimes known as Hamamelis, snapping hazel, winter bloom, spotted alder or tobacco wood. Since some formulas are meant for external uses and some for internal consumption, read all package labels before using witch hazel. Its uses are so broad in range that if you read health, bath, and body ingredients, you’ll be surprised to find that very many of them contain witch hazel. Many aftershaves contain witch hazel for its antiseptic abilities against nicks and cuts, some eye drops contain witch hazel which helps heal an assortment of eye infections and sores, and assorted cosmetics also contain this healing ingredient.
North American Indians used witch hazel to treat bruises, sprains, skin problems and internal injuries or bleeding. Today, witch hazel is used to treat eye injuries, suppress heavy menstrual flow, control minor pain and itching, and even as a UV protection. Witch hazel has healing and cleansing properties for a speedier recovery from burns, skin abrasions, dermatitis, and inflammation.
Soak wash cloths in witch hazel and lay on legs, which are propped straight out, to reduce pain and swelling from varicose veins. The witch hazel helps to tighten the veins, relieving the discomfort temporarily. Wipe witch hazel on the beginnings of a diaper rash for relief and quicker healing. Use witch hazel on cracked, bleeding feet to prevent infection. Witch hazel is an all-natural way of treating boils and pimples, too.
Still not convinced that witch hazel is a phenomenal potion? Maybe it would help to know that it also helps against diarrhea, tumors, mucous colitis, dry mouth, dandruff, sunburn and to stop minor bleeding. Use witch hazel as a mouth rinse and gargle to soothe sores on the inside of the mouth, gums, tongue and throat. Rub on baby’s gums to reduce pain and swelling during teething.
Witch hazel can be found at most pharmacies, grocers and department stores, usually along with alcohol and Epsom salts. Although some formulas of witch hazel are produced for internal usage, over-the-counter witch hazel is usually not suited for internal consumption since the potions often contain a mixture of witch hazel and isopropyl alcohol.
As with many herbal remedies, certain people, like women who are pregnant or breast feeding, should talk to their physician before using witch hazel. When using witch hazel, let your doctor know if you experience leg swelling, breathing problems, chest tightness or pain, hives, new rashes or irritations, nausea, upset stomach, vomiting or constipation. Most people who use witch hazel will not experience these adverse side effects, but some will, so notify a health official if any problems are noticed.