You may not have heard of witch hazel before, but it is a frugal little astringent that has many uses. If you haven’t heard of it before, here is what you need to know–it was used by Native Americans hundreds of years ago to soothe swelling and even tumors. The astringent comes from the witch hazel shrub; Native Americans boiled the stems to extract the witch hazel. Early American settlers learned to use it from Native Americans, and today, though we don’t often think of witch hazel as a cure for what ails us, it has some beneficial uses.
Witch hazel comes in many forms including astringent, wipes, creams and medicated pads and can be used to treat the following conditions:
- Sunburn care. Apply witch hazel to a wash cloth and gently pat on your skin. Witch hazel will help soothe the burn and prevent peeling.
- Acne fighter. Rub gently on your face over problem acne areas. Witch hazel is non-drying, making it a better acne fighter than some remedies found in the drug store specifically targeting acne.
- Psoriasis and eczema fighter. Witch hazel helps reduce the pain and itching associated with these conditions as well as the visible patches of psoriasis and eczema.
- Poison ivy treatment. Because of witch hazel’s ability to reduce pain and itching, it is also perfectly suited for treating poison ivy.
- Eye redness and swelling reducer. If you have been crying or simply have puffiness under your eyes from lack of sleep or illness, put a washcloth in a mix of witch hazel and water, ring out, and gently place on your closed eyes for 10 minutes.
- Insect bite soother. Simply put a little witch hazel on a cotton ball and put on the bite for instant relief and reduction of the accompanying swelling.
- Itchy scalp. After hair coloring and daily blow drying, it is no wonder our scalps get dry and itchy. Treat the itchiness with one part witch hazel to two parts water. Massage through hair and rinse.
- Bruising and swelling reducer. Because witch hazel has anti-inflammatory properties, it is a good treatment to reduce bruising and swelling.
- Childbirth injury reducer. Many women, especially those who work with midwives, are told to buy witch hazel before giving birth. Witch hazel can be used to treat hemorrhoids and to relieve the pain of a vaginal tear from delivery.
- Household cleaner. Witch hazel can also be combined with lemon juice and baking soda to create an eco-friendly cleaning agent for your bathrooms.
- Jewelry cleaner. Dab some witch hazel on a cotton ball to gently clean your jewelry.
Believe it or not, witch hazel can even be a component of homemade deodorant. You can find recipes on Wise Bread  and Frugal Village  if you would like to try. Homemade deodorant may be a good way to save money or to find relief if traditional deodorants irritate your skin.
Witch hazel is not commonly used, which is a shame. At about $3 to $5 a bottle, it offers great value. Keep it handy in your medicine cabinet and use it for everything from treat skin injuries to bruises. Use it around your house as a gentle cleaner or as an ingredient in homemade deodorant.
What are some of your favorite uses for witch hazel?
(Photo: vickyb )