Witch hazel is a popular anti-inflammatory compound used in health care and medicinal products. It is an astringent, which means it acts to constrict or shrink tissue. Witch hazel is derived from the bark, leaves, and twigs of the witch hazel shrub (Hamamelis virginiana).
Witch hazel water is also commercially available. It is distilled from the same components of the witch hazel shrub.Related: Tea Tree Oil Uses ? 13 Household & Life Hacks
The witch hazel shrub grows prominently throughout southeast and northeast America. It also can be found in the Great Lakes area, as well as in Texas. It can grow to a height of 20 to 30 feet, and spread as wide as 15 to 20 feet. Typical height is approximately 12 to 15 feet.
Native Americans would often use the witch hazel branch as a divining rod to locate water. This practice was later adopted by European settlers and passed along to Europe.
Witch hazel was also used by native Americans as a form of medicine. Stems were boiled to produce a decoction. This was used to treat inflammation, tumors and growths, and swelling.
Puritan settlers adopted the use of witch hazel as a medicine. It soon became a widely used medicinal treatment across North America.
The first commercially-sold witch hazel product was Hawes Extract
. in 1846, chemist Alvan Whittemore released this therapeutic treatment that was based on a distillation process mastered by missionary Dr. Charles Hawes.
The Hawes distillation process was further advanced by Thomas Newton Dickinson, Sr. Dickinson launched the first commercial manufacturing production of a witch hazel product.
Witch Hazel Uses
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Witch hazel extract contains chemicals called tannins. When these tannins are applied to the skin they work to reduce swelling, fight bacteria, and help with various skin issues.
Here is a comprehensive list of use witch hazel uses.
#1 - Remove excess oil from skin
As a natural astringent, witch hazel functions to shrink pores and force out extra oil. This makes it an excellent choice to fight acne, black heads, and others forms of contaminant-based skin blemishes.
#2 - Treatment for stings and bug bites
Witch hazel is a wonderful natural treatment for bug bites and bug stings. It can work to reduce inflammation, soothe irritation, and itching.
#3 - Fade blemishes and bruises
Witch hazel presents an effective treatment against common skin blemishes. It also can work to fade bruising. Simply apply witch hazel several times per day to the skin using a cotton ball.
#4 - Fights skin-irritating dermatitis
Because of its ability to soothe dry skin and relieve the irritation that causes itching, witch hazel works as an effective treatment against poison sumac, poison oak, and poison ivy.
#5 - Improves dark circles and eye puffiness
Witch hazel has the ability to tighten skin. Because of these it can function as a treatment for bags under the eyes, dark circles and puffy skin. Caution
: Witch hazel should not make contact with the eye itself. It may result in extreme dryness and irritation.
#6 - Sunburn treatment
Need a natural sunburn treatment option? Witch hazel can be mixed with aloe vera gel and applied to the skin to help treat the pain and irritation caused by excessive sun exposure. Not only will it assist with the healing process, but witch hazel will also help cool the burn.
#7 - Shrink unwanted vein swelling
You can treat unwanted vein swelling, and varicose veins, by simply soaking witch hazel in a cloth and applying it for several minutes to the problem area. Also, it doesn't hurt to prop the problem area up while treating to reduce blood pressure and improve results.
#8 - Diaper Rash
Because of its anti-inflammatory properties, witch hazel serves as an excellent treatment for diaper rash. Application will help to reduce redness and dry skin, and help sooth your baby's discomfort.
#9 - Cuts and scrapes
Witch hazel has the ability to tighten skin and therefore work to assist the healing and reduction of blood flow from cuts and scrapes. Some witch hazel products also include isoproply alcohol, which disinfects. These products are perfect for wound care.
#10 - Swimmer's ear
Swimmer's ear, also known as otitus externa
, is a microbial infection of the inner ear. Several drops of witch hazel (via a dropper) applied to the inner ear can help to dry up pus, oil, and break up any wax that is clogging the ear canal.
#11 - Soothing after shaving
Witch hazel is a perfect post-shaving skin soothing option. Not only does it work to tighten and sooth skin, but witch hazel also assists with constricting blood flow from minor cuts.
#12 - Gum treatment
Witch hazel can be used as a mouth wash and rinse to help treat and soothe gums. This includes gums suffering from swelling or infection. One combination you should try is a teaspoon of witch hazel combined with one drop of myrrh and clove oil. This is also excellent for teething babies.
#13 - Sore throats
Because it is an astringent, witch hazel tea can be very soothing on a sore throat. You can also gargle with witch hazel tea to combat swelling, mucus, and other annoying symptoms associated with a sore throat.
#14 - Skin care
Witch hazel serves as a perfect option for natural skin care. It's perfect for dry or irritated skin, and as a makeup remover.