Witch hazel is a plant that can be used for many different purposes and it is particularly popular for its beneficial effects on skin and hair.
This ornamental shrub or a small tree with bright yellow flowers is very nice in the winter, when there are hardly any flowers left in the garden. However, its fragrant blooms are not the only thing that makes this plant popular. It has been known for centuries that witch hazel can be used to treat various skin conditions and minor ailments, like diarrhea, hemorrhoids and dry mouth. In addition, this plant was the main ingredient of one of the oldest skin care products sold in the United States.
All parts of this plant can be used for medicinal purposes, from bark and twigs to leaves and flowers. It is usually sold in form of extract, which is available over the counter.
Witch Hazel for Skin
Witch hazel can be used to treat various skin ailments and also to make it smoother and firmer. It is believed that this plant owes its beneficial properties to catechol tannin, which is a phenolic derivative.
It can be used to treat poison ivy, diaper rash, acne, chicken pox blisters, sunburns and windburns. These ailments are treated by applying a cotton ball soaked in witch hazel extract.
Witch Hazel for Tired Eyes
Witch hazel can be used to soothe tired eyes and to reduce the puffiness. However, it is not recommended to apply it directly to the eyes, because it can irritate them. It is better to dilute it in some water and to soak a clean cloth in the liquid. Softly pressing this cloth against the tired eyes for about five minutes will leave them refreshed and less puffy.
Witch Hazel for Hair
Witch hazel is the main active ingredient of many hair care products, from shampoos and conditioners to hot oils and serums. Witch hazel can also be used instead of hairspray or foams for hair modeling, for example in perms and curling, or as a hair straightener. It holds very well and it does not damage the hair.
Witch Hazel for Hemorrhoids
Hemorrhoids can be quite painful and frustrating, and if they keep recurring, they can become a significant problem. Witch hazel can be combined with glycerin to help with hemorrhoids and related problems, like pain, bleeding, infection and swelling.
Witch hazel can be used to treat varicose veins, thanks to it having astringent properties. It contracts the blood vessels, thus reducing swelling, pain and discomfort.
It can also be used for muscle ache and weakness, to reduce inflammation, as a mouthwash for aching gums and teeth, for diarrhea, mucous colitis, and dry mouth and to stop minor bleeding.