10 Reasons Witch Hazel Should Be in Every Medicine Cabinet
An ancient Native American remedy for all kinds of ailments, witch hazel has become a must-have natural skin care product. In addition to keeping your skin young and beautiful, it works wonders on sunburn, bug bites, poison ivy, acne, wrinkles, ear infection, sore throat. It is one of the most useful first aid items to keep on hand for all kinds of injuries and illnesses.
Witch hazel is a low growing shrub native to North America. It has a long history of use medicinally, and cultivation of the bush has spread to Europe for this purpose. Preparations of it ranging from tinctures to soothing creams are available in most drug stores, as well as specialty stores for skin care. The plant acts as an astringent, firming and tightening tissue and acting to reduce itching and irritation. Other properties have also been ascribed to witch hazel, making it an excellent all-purpose addition to the medicine cabinet.
Four species of witch hazel are included in the genus Hamamelis. All of the plants have simple alternating leaves with wavy edges, and bright yellow flowers that appear in the fall. Simultaneously, the fruit of the flowers from the previous year matures. When the seeds have fully ripened, the pods crack open explosively, ejecting the seeds into the surrounding area. This trait has led to another common name, snapping hazel.
Some people erroneously believe that the plant name is related to witches. In fact, the origins are a bit more mundane. The “witch” is merely a corruption of the Anglo-Saxon word wych, meaning flexible. The branches of this plant are well known for their pliancy.
Here are 10 ways witch hazel can save the day:
1. Clear Up Acne
A study published in the Journal of Aesthetic and Clinical Dermatology showed witch hazel to be one of the most effective acne treatments of 52 products.
It slows bacterial growth and speeds up healing of scabs, while reducing inflammation, redness, oil production and development of blackheads and whiteheads.
2. Reverse Wrinkles and Signs of Aging
Witch hazel’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties help protect collagen and skin elasticity just as well or better than many commercial beauty products. You can easily blend witch hazel with vitamin E oil and other natural ingredients to make your own Homemade Anti-Aging Serum. Combine it with other skin-saving oils like evening primrose, frankincense and tea tree oils for even better results.
3. Protect Against Skin Cancer
4. Bug Repellent and Treatment for Bug Bites
Witch hazel’s astringent properties make it effective at reducing pain, stinging, swelling and allergic reactions to bug bites. It’s also used in many commercial bug repellents.
5. Heal Rashes
Witch hazel is a time-tested treatment for all kinds of skin rashes including diaper rash, eczema, psoriasis, razor burn, and general dry or itchy skin.
5. Cleanse Hair and Soothe the Scalp
Witch hazel reduces oil build-up, leaving your hair shinier, healthier and more volumized.
According to one study, it also helps soothe dry, itchy and irritated scalps.
6. Treat Ear Infections
As an effective antibacterial, witch hazel is an excellent natural ear infection remedy. It’s especially great for “swimmer’s ear.” Just insert a few drops in each ear several times a day.
Sipping Smallflower Witch Hazel Leaves can soothe a sore throat. Its astringent properties fighting infection, while soothing pain.
9. Treat Hemorrhoids
Witch hazel mixed with water is a great way to reduce hemorrhoid inflammation, itching, burning, and bleeding. (Make sure to use alcohol-free witch hazel for this.)
10. Heal Mouth and Gums and Freshen Breath
Witch hazel helps heal blisters, sores and infections on your lips, inner cheeks or gums and freshens breath. You can apply it directly or add it to a homemade mouthwash.
It’s also great for toothaches and teething infants.