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A hardy, deciduous plant, this flowery shrub creates an endless supply of material that you can use for cuts, scrapes and those unsightly spider or varicose veins. Find out why..
Historically, Witch Hazel, also known Hamamelis virginiana, was used for Dysentery, diarrhea, sore throats, skin and eye irritations and burns. Leaves were used in the summer, while the branches, twigs, and bark were used in the spring. For centuries, is was used for cosmetic purposes. It is a wonderful toner for the skin. Acting like an antiseptic, it cleans the pores of the skin and tightens them as well. Washes for varicose veins and a salve for hemorrhoids was used to tighten the capillaries and reduce pain.
Being that it contains tannins and volatile oils, it is an astringent, anodynic and hemostatic and generally has a drying, cooling nature. Tannins can help the body, especially when it comes to wounds, bleeding, capillaries, and veins.
But used too long or too often, tannins can dry tissue out. The tannins precipitate proteins on the wounds creating a protective coating on the wound itself. A tea of the leaves, steeped for 20 minutes, can be used for gum ulcerations, severe sore throats, weeping eczema, and leg ulcers. It can also be used as a nasal wash and mucus membrane infections.
Though many people are familiar with Witch Hazel’s uses, externally, the internal uses of them have all but disappeared. Again being that they have tannins and volatile oils, Witch Hazel is not something you want to play around with. I would suggest seeking a professional.
Externally it works wonders for hemorrhoids, varicose veins, phlebitis, and bruises. Especially combined with Arnica, bruising and trauma is significantly reduced. For tired, irritated eyes, a poultice of the leaves placed on the lids can help. Or cotton ball of the liquid.
Luckily you don’t have to do all that work of picking and steeping the leaves or twigs. There are several companies that create distilled Witch Hazel to be utilized solely for external use. But be careful, you want a company that does not add alcohol or any type of preservatives. Alcohol is technically very toxic when taken internally, so limited use externally should be considered. Witch Hazel in your medicine cabinet should pretty much take the place of rubbing alcohol, since it is pretty close in its properties of being an antiseptic, hemostatic and astringent.
For cuts and scratches, apply the witch hazel to a clean cloth and apply. For skin, use a cotton ball after washing. Just a couple of sprays on the face can help refresh and tone the skin. Soak a gauze with it, and you can apply Witch Hazel to those spider and varicose veins. Leave it there for 10-15 mins. Always test your skin before hand to see if you are sensitive to it first!
For hemorrhoids, test an area of your skin first. Add witch hazel to a coconut oil or beeswax-based salve and apply. Insect bites and poison ivy rash can get great relief from a Witch Hazel application. Just keep in mind that some people can be sensitive to it.
So go try a bottle and enjoy the cool feeling of a nice Witch Hazel spritz after your bath or on a hot summer day, you will really feel refreshed!
Disclaimer: The entire contents of this website are based upon the opinions of Dr. Arce, unless otherwise noted. The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as a sharing of knowledge and information from the research and experience of Dr. Arce and her community. Dr. Arce always encourages you to make your own health care decisions based upon your research and in partnership with a qualified health care professional. If you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition, consult your health care professional before using products based on this content.