13 Witch Hazel Benefits + Side Effects

witch hazel

Witch hazel is a compound derived from the leaves and bark of Hamamelis virginiana, a shrub that is native to North America. It is made up of powerful components like tannins which contain antioxidant and astringent properties. For centuries, it has been used as medicine for treating all kinds of tumors and inflammation.

Witch hazel is used for its ability to cleanse the skin and to heal mild skin irritations. Its astringent properties make it effective for treating acne, reduce infections, prevent cellular damage, and avert skin cancer. With its amazing healing properties, witch hazel has become an ingredient in several cosmetics and medical products such as shaving creams, acne products, shampoos, and anti-aging lotions.

The extract can also speed up healing, promote hair growth, regulate hormones, treat hemorrhoids, and eliminate rashes. It can be incorporated into herbal teas and consumed in small amounts as a treatment for several health conditions.

Health Benefits of Witch Hazel

Now, let’s take a look at the top health benefits of witch hazel.

Boosts Immunity

Due to its antiseptic and antibacterial effects, some studies have found that witch hazel has the ability to boost the immune system and destroy pathogens in the body. When consumed as tea, it can improve a person’s overall health.

Provides Relief for Hemorrhoids

Witch hazel also provides relief and reduces bleeding, inflammation, and burning sensations caused by hemorrhoids. The astringent and anti-inflammatory properties make it effective when the extract is applied to inflamed tissues resulting from hemorrhoids.

However, due to its potency, it is advisable to apply the decoction with caution. People who are already on blood-clotting drugs should consult with their doctor before using witch hazel.

witch hazel

Treats Respiratory Issues

When brewed into a tea, witch hazel can heal the respiratory tract. It can treat sinusitis, a sore throat, tonsillitis, inflammation of the vocal cords, and irritation caused by coughing. As a pain-reliever, witch hazel tea can provide rapid relief for pain and soreness. It also clears out excess mucus and prevents infections from developing.

Provides Skin Care

Witch hazel is a natural product that helps you maintain youthful and firm skin. The decoction contains gallates, proanthocyanidins, and gallotannins, which actively eliminate free radicals. Due to this, the herbal liquid is able to treat and prevent melanoma and skin cancer. It also soothes inflammation, pain, redness, and pain from rashes, boils, sunburns, blisters, and dermatitis. Witch hazel may also help relieve inflammation, which could be useful in treating conditions like eczema or psoriasis.

Traditionally, witch hazel has also been used to prevent stretch marks, moisturize the skin, and heal diaper rash. However, you should check with a medical doctor before using witch hazel or other herbal treatments for babies.

Treats Acne

The herbal liquid is a well-known natural remedy for acne as it protects skin pores from bacteria, treats oily skin, and reduces redness. Witch hazel contains tannins, which have astringent properties that tone acne-prone skin and regulate its pH balance. Although most of the tannins are eliminated after distillation, witch hazel still retains its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. The decoction can help remove scars, soothe scabs, and speed up the healing of damaged skin tissues. Witch hazel also helps in unclogging and tightening skin pores.

Soothes Headaches

When applied to the temples, the astringent properties of witch hazel help eliminate headaches. It does this by easing the tension of the small capillaries that often result in headaches. In addition, you can drink a cup of witch hazel tea to lower blood pressure and relax the throbbing blood vessels or muscles that are responsible for headaches.

witch hazel

Promotes Hair Health

When applied on a regular basis, witch hazel is able to clean the scalp, prevent the accumulation of oil, eliminate bad odors, and make the hair glow. It is often recommended as treatment and for preventing itchy scalp.

After shaving or waxing, witch hazel can be applied to the skin to prevent scalp sensitivity and reduce inflammation or redness. Additionally, its antibacterial properties help prevent boils and other bacterial infections. Sometimes, witch hazel is also used as a natural remedy to relieve symptoms of scalp sensitivity, such as dryness and dandruff.

However, keep in mind that additional research is required to determine the efficacy of witch hazel in the treatment of these conditions.

Quickens Healing

Witch hazel is an excellent treatment for bruises, scars, cuts, and abrasions. The organic compounds in it contain astringent properties that help tighten the skin. This hastens the healing process and reduces the bleeding of sores, mouth blisters, and other wounds.

You should avoid witch hazel if the affected area on the skin is badly damaged. It is better to check with a medical professional before using the herbal liquid for treating wounds.

Treats Ear Infections

Witch hazel contains antibacterial properties, making it effective as a treatment for ear infections. Simply add three drops of witch hazel to the inside of the ear twice daily to prevent bacterial infections.

Regulates Menstrual Periods

Witch hazel can provide relief for women who suffer heavy periods as it reduces the bleeding that occurs during periods. It also soothes cramps, pain, and bloating. Before adding witch hazel to your health regime, it is better to consult with your gynecologist.

witch hazel

Treats Bug Bites

The decoction can treat hives and insect bites when topically applied to the skin. Simply mix the herbal liquid with an equal amount of carrier oil or water and apply on the irritated area to heal and protect it from infection.

Aids in Digestion

For centuries, witch hazel has been combined with mint or chamomile to treat stomach issues. The mixture can alleviate the symptoms of IBS and diarrhea by boosting the immune system and reducing inflammation from bacteria in the gut.

Relieves Pains and Aches

When topically applied, witch hazel can reduce arthritis-related inflammation and treat sore joints resulting from injury, exercise, or old age.

To ensure the antioxidants are more effective, mix witch hazel with equal part virgin olive oil or water. Simply apply the mixture to the affected area.

Side Effects of Witch Hazel

Witch hazel is very rich in flavonoids, tannins, eugenol, carvacrol as well as other powerful components. Unfortunately, most of these compounds have potentially strong effects on the body.

  • Although there have been reports of users with sensitive skin experiencing allergic reactions, witch hazel is generally considered safe when used externally. Studies have shown that these allergic reactions very rare.
  • Excessive oral consumption of the herbal liquid may result in nausea, vomiting, or more severe digestive issues.
  • In oral consumption, only small quantities of the decoction are needed for it to be effective. Excess oral consumption can also result in rash and dizziness.
  • Keep in mind that witch hazel water sold over the counter does not contain tannins. This means that it lacks the astringent effects for skin tightening.
  • When applying the herbal liquid topical, make sure to use it in the appropriate amounts. For best results, mix witch hazel with an equal amount of water or another carrier oil.
  • While the decoction may have been used traditionally to treat hemorrhoids, more studies are needed on the efficacy of witch hazel for this purpose.

Bottom Line

Witch hazel is an astringent that is commonly used as a natural remedy for a variety of health conditions.

It contains many beneficial compounds with powerful antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties, which may be effective in treating hemorrhoids, acne and itchy scalp.

However, more studies are needed to discover the entire range of potential benefits that this powerful herbal liquid provides.