Witch hazel is an astringent produced from the leaves and bark of the North American Witch-hazel shrub (Hamamelis virginiana), which grows naturally from Nova Scotia west to Ontario, Canada, and south to Florida and Texas in the United States.This plant extract was widely used for medicinal purposes by American Indians and is a component of a variety of commercial healthcare products
Native Americans produced witch hazel extract by boiling the stems of the shrub and producing a decoction, which was used to treat swellings, inflammations, and tumors. Early Puritan settlers in New England adopted this remedy from the natives, and its use became widely established in the United States
Uses for Witch Hazel
The bark, leaves, and twigs of witch hazel are all high in tannins, giving this plant astringent properties. Astringents are substances that can dry, tighten, and harden tissues. You may use an astringent on your skin to tighten pores and remove excess oil.
A styptic pencil is a type of astringent, too, for astringents also stop discharges. The astringent tannins in witch hazel temporarily tighten and soothe aching varicose veins or reduce inflammation in cases of phlebitis (an inflammation of a vein).
Witch hazel also contains procyanadins, resin, and flavonoids, all of which add to its soothing, anti-inflammatory properties. A cloth soaked in strong witch hazel tea reduces swelling and can relieve the pain of hemorrhoids and bruises.
Almost all pharmacies carry some type of witch hazel preparation in the form of lotions, hemorrhoidal pads, and suppositories. Besides their use topically for hemorrhoids and veins, witch hazel lotions are useful on rough, swollen, gardener's or carpenter's hands. You can also use witch hazel internally to treat varicose veins, hemorrhoids, or a prolapsed uterus, although not the witch hazel/isopropyl alcohol preparation frequently found in drug stores.
Here are the top 20 ways to use Witch Hazel
1. The big one: Spot and blemish control
Witch hazel can reduce the inflammation on a pimple. Some people claim daily use helps with acne, and witch hazel can be found in many over-the-counter treatments. Application with a Witch Stick is the most convenient, but you can dab it on with a cotton ball. Ask your pharmacist before you do this, though.
2. Soothe and heal diaper rash
If your baby's rash isn't healing quick enough, apply witch hazel solution (Dickinson's is good) with a cotton ball and you should see immediate improvement to your baby's bottom.
3. Shrink bags under the eyes
Some people say that the application of hemorrhoid cream to those little baggies under your eyes can take them away. It's not an old wives' tale. One of the magic ingredients in a product like Preparation H is witch hazel, which helps tighten up the skin and reduce the bagginess. And that leads nicely to…
4. Soothe and reduce external hemorrhoids
Not only does witch hazel tighten skin, it's also a good anti-itch remedy. By combining witch hazel with aloe, glycerine or petroleum jelly and rub it on external hemorrhoids, you will reduce itching significantly and dry up most bleeding.
5. Varicose vein relief
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.
6. Soothe poison ivy and poison oak
Just like acne and blemishes, the witch hazel reduces itching and relieves swelling. Something definitely worth packing on your next camping trip.
7. Treat chicken pox blisters
A combination of aloe, honey, lavender and other essential oils create a spray that will vastly reduce the discomfort of chicken pox blisters. And it's all-natural. Here's what to do:
Mix together 1 tablespoon honey, 40 drops lavender essential oil, 15 drops lemon essential oil, 15 drops bergamot essential oil, 5 drops peppermint essential oil, 1 teaspoon carrot seed oil and 1/2 cup aloe vera gel.
Once completely mixed, and 1/2 cup distilled witch hazel and mix again. Pour mixture into spray bottle and use on affected areas (avoiding eyes). A more potent and less unsightly way to treat the chicken pox than traditional calamine lotion.
8. Heal your bruises faster
Been in a fight recently? Well, maybe not. But if you bang your leg or arm and are left with a nasty bruise, a thrice-daily dab of witch hazel can help speed up the healing time of the bruise.
9. Soothe razor burn (and in some instances, prevent it)
The anti-inflammatory properties of witch hazel stop itchy bumps from forming up around your irritated hair follicles. Apply before or after shaving; it should certainly have an impact on your itchy red skin (and that includes ladies, too).
10. Treat and soothe a nasty sunburn
Healing damaged skin is one of witch hazel's specialties. But as sunburn is also a type of skin inflammation, witch hazel is ideal for treating this too (despite swelling not being obvious). Treating sunburn with witch hazel will lessen healing time and prevent the infamous skin peeling and flaking.
11. Treat dry skin
By applying witch hazel immediately after showering, you are locking in the moisture that has just soaked into your skin.
12. Use to heal and soothe various cuts and bruises
Many chemists and pharmacists refer to witch hazel as nature's answer to Neosporin. Applying a dab of it will cleanse the cut, protects against infection, and encourage quicker healing of minor skin breaks.
13. Take the bite out of bug bites
With its anti-itch and anti-inflammatory properties, witch hazel is ideal for treating bug bites. Apply the witch hazel with a cotton ball, square or swab directly on the bite. It also works to soothe bites from fleas, flies and insect stings.
14. Tick extraction
Ticks may relish the taste of your family pet, but they hate the taste of witch hazel. Before attempting to remove a tick, douse the tick with a few drops of witch hazel to make it loosen its jaws. this will kill the tick and it will fall off
15. Cleaning pets ears
Give your pets ears a cleaning by moistening a cotton ball or cloth with witch hazel, and gently wiping the inside of the ears. Don’t use a cotton swab.
16. Refresh tired eyes
NOT by squirting witch hazel in them, but by soaking a clean rag in witch hazel and cold water and placing the cold compress over your closed eyes. After 10 minutes, your eyes should be refreshed, and any redness should be gone. If you've been doing a lot of crying, this can get you back to normal quickly.
17. Make your own deodorant
Witch hazel is often used in deodorants due to its natural skin-healing and skin-care properties. Here is a home-made recipe you may want to try.
1 tsp high proof vodka
10 drops geranium
10 drops cypress
8 drops bergamot
5 drops neroli
4 drops lavender
3 drops black pepper
4 tb sp (40 ml) witch hazel
2 tb sp (25 ml) cornflower water
2 tb sp (25 ml) orange flower water
Measure the vodka into a 4 oz (100 ml) glass bottle with a spray attachment.
Carefully add the essential oils, one by one.
Shake vigorously to dissolve the essential oils.
Pour the witch hazel into the bottle, using a funnel if necessary, followed by the two flower waters. Shake well.
Label the bottle and the deodorant is now ready to use.
Before you use the deodorant each time, give the bottle a good shake to ensure the essential oils are fully dispersed.
18.scars & stretch marks
Witch hazel is often used by pregnant women to prevent stretch marks, but it can be used to help loose or excessive skin around scars or stretch marks to tighten, helping to minimize the scar.
19. Household cleaner
Witch hazel can also be combined with lemon juice and baking soda to create an eco-friendly cleaning agent for your bathrooms. Or use it undiluted on chrome, glass and mirrors. You don’t need to rinse as the alcohol-based cleaner readily evaporates, leaving the chrome sparkling clean and germ-free.
You can also use 1/2 cup witch hazel, 1 cup of water and about 15 drops of essential oil such as lavender, grapefruit, eucalyptus or cedar, combined in a spray bottle as an air freshener. Witch hazel on a cotton ball works well to remove hair dye stains on skin, too.
Vinyl, linoleum, and tile floors can be kept clean by mopping once a week with a solution made from 1/2 cup of witch hazel and 1 gallon of warm water. The solvents in the witch hazel strip away old wax while the water dissolves dirt and debris. To clean heavily soiled floors, stir 1 tablespoon of borax into the solution prior to mopping.
20. Jewelry cleaner
Dab some witch hazel on a cotton ball to gently clean your jewelry.
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