Witch hazel is a natural remedy made from the Hamamelis virginiana plant. Native Americans used it to treat skin problems. It is one of the few plants that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved as an ingredient in over-the-counter drugs.
Read on to learn more about this magically named medicinal plant, how to use it, and possible side effects.
Witch hazel leaves, bark, and twigs contain medicinal chemicals called tannins. When rubbed on the skin, these chemicals reduce swelling and fight bacteria.
This is why people have used witch hazel for centuries to soothe chapped, scraped, and irritated skin. It can help treat a wide variety of minor skin problems, including:
Some estheticians suggest using witch hazel as an inexpensive way to reduce under-eye puffiness. Many cosmetic companies use witch hazel to create beauty products such as face toners and wipes, acne treatments, pore reducers, shampoos and aftershave lotions.
The FDA has authorized the use of witch hazel for topical application only (for application to the skin). However, people claim that teas made from the bark and leaves of the plant can cure diarrhea , dysentery, symptoms like coughing or vomiting blood, even cancer . There is no research to show that it works or is safe.
These are the main findings of the research.
Witch hazel may be helpful in treating sunburn, according to a study published in the Journal of the German Society of Dermatologists . The researchers analyzed clinical trials of plant extracts used to treat skin conditions. The authors concluded that applying witch hazel to burned skin reduces inflammation because it contains antioxidant polyphenols.
Polyphenols are compounds that can also be obtained from fruits, vegetables, dark chocolate, tea, or wine. Polyphenols protect against oxidative stress caused by ultraviolet (UV) radiation in sunlight. Ultraviolet radiation is estimated to cause 80% of skin damage due to environmental factors.
Skin diseases in children
In a 2007 study published in the European Journal of Pediatrics , researchers tested witch hazel in 309 children. The children had minor skin problems, such as diaper rash, itching, redness and swelling.
The researchers treated 78 children with dexpanthenol, which is found in many moisturizers. They used witch hazel to treat 231 other children. Doctors and parents evaluated how well the products work for children and how well children tolerate the treatment.
The study showed that the children tolerated them well and both treatments were very effective. 99% of doctors and 97% of parents rated witch hazel as "excellent" or "good."
Hemorrhoids occur when the veins in the anus and lower rectum become swollen or inflamed. It can cause itching, burning, pain, and bleeding. Normal condition. About 20% of Americans and half of adults over 50 have hemorrhoids.
Witch hazel is a well-known folk remedy used to treat this condition. Although there is very little evidence that it works, many doctors still advise patients with minor hemorrhoid problems to try witch hazel.
The directions on the labels of witch hazel products advise you to wash the witch hazel after each bowel movement. Gently pat dry with toilet paper or a soft tissue. Then apply a gel or ointment containing witch hazel to the rectum.
You can also use wet wipes or witch hazel wipes after each bowel movement. The tannins in witch hazel can relieve symptoms.
Possible side effects.
Research shows that allergic reactions to witch hazel are rare. Health professionals consider witch hazel to be safe when applied to the skin, but not if ingested. Ingesting witch hazel can cause problems like nausea, vomiting, and liver damage.
Witch hazel is not recommended for people with rosacea, a skin disorder that causes redness and swelling on the face. If you have dry or sensitive skin, you should consult your doctor before using witch hazel.
Dosage and drugs
Witch hazel is sold in the form of ointments, gels, and pads. Some of these products contain alcohol, which can dry out and irritate the skin. Even sodas can do this if you drink them too often.
For this reason, some product labels do not recommend using witch hazel more than six times a day. So watch your skin reaction. Some people can use witch hazel several times a day, others only occasionally.
What to look for
You can buy witch hazel products at most drug, health food, and grocery stores. Look for alcohol-free formulas that are gentle on your skin. Witch hazel is also sold as liquid or liquid soaked pads.
For centuries, people have used witch hazel to relieve minor skin problems such as insect bites, diaper rash, and hemorrhoids. The remedy comes from a North American bush. The plant contains chemicals that reduce redness, itching, and inflammation.
Witch hazel is one of the few plants that meets FDA safety and efficacy standards. The FDA has approved it for topical use only on the skin. Ingesting witch hazel can cause nausea, vomiting, and liver damage.
Frequently asked questions
It depends on your skin. For most people, even those with sensitive skin, witch hazel is safe and gentle on the face. However, if you have never used witch hazel before, you should test it on the patch on the inside of your hand before applying it to your face. Also note that some formulations contain alcohol, which can irritate the skin with prolonged use.
No. The chemicals in many witch hazel products can cause nausea, vomiting, and possibly even liver damage. If you or your child have ingested witch hazel, contact a poison control center.
Yes it can. Witch hazel relieves pain and swelling of the perineum , the skin between the vagina and the anus. You can apply a witch hazel pad to the area. Or you can add one to the top of the sanitary pad every time you change it.