Despite its spooky sounding name, the leaves, bark and twigs of the witch hazel plant have been used for centuries for all kinds of remedies.
The name “witch” has its roots in the Middle English word “wiche” and from the Old English “wice” — both which mean “bendable.” In England, the term “witch hazel” was used to describe a certain elm. In America, early colonists transferred the name to a New World shrub. It is thought that the term was then used to mean divining rods made from the twigs of the tree or the shrub, hence the name “witch.”
Native Americans boiled parts of the witch hazel plant to treat certain skin irritations; today it is recognized as a natural remedy for all kinds of ailments.
Although the plant does not produce enough oil to make its production viable, many pharmacies carry a distilled form of witch hazel. Look for the words “alcohol free” on the label because many formulas contain alcohol.
Here are 12 amazing and remarkable uses for witch hazel:
1. Astringent – With its high tannin content, witch hazel can work to remove excess oil from the skin and to tighten pores. By applying witch hazel with a cotton ball to skin blemishes, you can reduce redness and swelling and speed up the healing process. Witch hazel also won’t dry out your skin the way many commercial astringents do.
2. Eye brightener – That same pore tightening ability makes witch hazel a good product to use to lessen puffiness and discoloration around the delicate eye area.
3. Swollen vein reducer – By placing a cloth dampened with witch hazel on varicose veins, you can temporarily reduce pain and swelling.
4. Cut cleanser – Witch hazel works as a natural antiseptic. Apply a dab of it to minor cuts and scrapes to promote healing. It also works the same way on bumps and bruises.
5. Hemorrhoid relief – Witch hazel is an ingredient in leading hemorrhoid creams. Not only does it tighten skin, but it also reduces the pain, itch and inflammation. Just combine witch hazel with a carrier gel such as aloe vera gel or petroleum jelly.
6. Shaving aid – Applying witch hazel to the skin after shaving helps soothe nicks and cuts and helps prevent razor burn. It also works as an ant-inflammatory after-hair removal, such as in a waxing procedure, to heal damaged hair follicles.
7. Sore throat remedy – Don’t use the store-bought variety for this remedy, but if you have a witch hazel plant, you can make a soothing tea with the leaves and twigs. Soak the leaves and twigs in a cup of hot water for at least 15 minutes. Strain the solids and then gargle with the warm tea to soothe and reduce the pain of a sore throat.
8. Inflamed gum treatment – You also can use this witch hazel tea gargle to ease the pain and swelling of irritated gums and to stop minor bleeding in the gums.
9. Diaper rash ointment — Witch hazel’s anti-inflammatory properties make it an effective solution for treating and helping to heal a baby’s sensitive bottom. Simply apply with a cotton pad.
10. Sunburn pain relief – Apply witch hazel mixed with aloe vera gel to cool the heat and pain of sunburn. It also helps prevent excessive skin peeling and speeds healing.
11. Poison ivy or poison oak treatment — Witch hazel can counter the effects of plant compounds like urushiol, the sap oil contained in poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac that can cause contact dermatitis. It also reduces itching and swelling.
12. Insect bite aid — Witch hazel also works as a helpful solution to ease the pain and itch of bug bites and stings.
Finally, here’s a recipe for making a witch hazel-based remedy for those painful and itchy chicken pox blisters:
Mix together one tablespoon of honey, 40 drops of lavender essential oil, 15 drops of lemon essential oil, 15 drops of bergamot essential oil, five drops of peppermint essential oil, one teaspoon of carrot seed oil and a half cup of aloe vera gel. Add a half cup of distilled witch hazel and thoroughly mix again. Pour the mixture into a spray bottle and spray on blisters, being careful to avoid the eyes.
At around $4 for a bottle for the distilled version, witch hazel is an affordable, useful addition to your medicine cabinet. And there’s nothing “witchy” about that!
Do you know of other uses for witch hazel? Leave your reply in the section below: