Witch hazel is a topical astringent extracted from the bark and leaves of Hamamelis virginiana, commonly known as the North American witch hazel shrub. Native Americans traditionally valued this plant for its wide range of medicinal properties, extracting the healing compounds from its leaves and bark to use as a poultice for treating anything from skin irritations to painful swellings to tumorous growths.
Today, as is the way with many emerging natural remedies, witch hazel has risen from the mists of time to once again take its place as a valued member of any holistic health-conscious person’s medicine cabinet. These people may be aware of some of the more basic uses for witch hazel, such as a direct topical treatment for itching, pain and swelling, but it turns out that there’s a whole world of amazing witch hazel uses that they’re missing out on! Read on to find out what some of these uses are… you may be surprised by just how versatile this stuff really is!
1. Fade stretch marks
Many people bear stretch marks on some part of their body, due to childbearing, past weight fluctuations and various other reasons. While most have accepted the fact that these stretch marks will remain for the rest of their life, applying a little witch hazel on a regular basis may prove otherwise. Regularly rubbing liquid witch hazel onto stretch marks can significantly diminish their appearance, by both balancing out their color and tightening the skin around them.
2. Treat acne
Acne is a commonplace condition which affects millions of people across the world, undermining their confidence and often forcing them to turn to harmful prescription acne treatment drugs. A much safer, more natural solution is to use witch hazel. Applying witch hazel to acne-prone areas twice a day after washing can prevent the buildup of bacteria on your skin, thus treating existing breakouts and helping to prevent future ones.
3. Alleviate chicken pox symptoms
If you remember back to your childhood, you’ll probably never forget the itchiness that came from those nasty chicken pox blisters. While you may still be a few small scars from where you scratched some of those blisters off out of sheer frustration, you can prevent your children from doing the same to themselves by applying witch hazel to the blisters. Liberally applying witch hazel directly several times per day to each blister helps to dry them out and reduce irritation, making them fade quicker and reducing the urge to scratch them.
4. Soothe sore throats
Particularly during the winter months, a sore throat can strike at any time and quickly ruin your day. Rather than carrying around nasty toxin-laden throat lozenges, slip a small bottle of witch hazel into your bag or purse instead. Witch hazel is both anti-inflammatory and antibacterial, meaning it can speed up recovery from a sore throat and soothe your throat in the meantime. Every time your throat starts to bother you, gargle some witch hazel and a little water in the back of your mouth for thirty seconds or so, then spit it out. Make sure not to swallow any.
5. Treat sunburn
Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, witch hazel makes a great natural treatment for sunburn. Dampen a clean washcloth in cool water and then dip it in witch hazel, applying to sunburned areas and leaving in place for at least 10 minutes at a time. Doing this two to three times a day can help to reduce the severity of sunburn and partially alleviate the pain.
6. Unclog facial pores
It’s often hard to achieve clear, balanced-looking skin, especially on your face where clogged pores and excess sebum can make for an oily, unhealthy complexion. Clear things up naturally with witch hazel. Simply put some on a cotton swab and gently wipe it over your face, either at the start of the day or as a makeup and dirt remover at the end. It provides an effective, natural facial cleanser you’ll love.
7. Reduce post-shave irritation
For both men and women, our skin after shaving can become red and irritated, with the odd careless stroke even resulting in small nicks and cuts. Witch hazel is a great post-shave balm, helping to stop the bleeding of these small slices, reducing the irritation that comes from razor burn and preventing any infections from taking hold.
8. Reduce bug bite itchiness
Bug bites and stings can be infuriatingly itchy, but rather than scratching them and making the situation worse, try using witch hazel. Applying witch hazel directly to the source of the problem helps to reduce swelling and minimize itching, making things a whole lot more bearable.
9. Deter biting bugs
Not only does witch hazel help to treat bug bites and stings, it can also stop them from happening in the first place! Simply rubbing a thin coating of witch hazel over areas of exposed skin can deter biting bugs from feasting on your flesh — a natural alternative to DEET and other bug sprays, which can introduce a range of toxins into your body.
10. Fight varicose veins
Varicose veins may be hard to prevent, but they’re unsightly and can really detract from your otherwise perfect skin. Soak a piece of sterile gauze in witch hazel and apply directly to any varicose veins that are bothering you, leaving in place for 15 minutes. Doing this regularly can help to reduce the swelling and puffiness of these veins, making them less visible.
11. Treat infected gums
Using witch hazel as a mouthwash can help to significantly reduce the pain and swelling associated with damaged or infected gums. Not only that, witch hazel can help to reduce or even stop bleeding from gums and mouth, making it a great way to recover from a particularly vicious visit to your dentist. Just make sure you don’t swallow it, and stay away from witch hazel products which contain isopropyl alcohol.
— Liivi Hess
Keen to learn more about the wonderful benefits of witch hazel? Then check out this article!