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Witch Hazel Winterbloom Uses & Home Remedies

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Witch HazelAs you might remember, I love buying tires from Costco. I was in there the other day waiting for service and reading Reader’s Digest’s Extraordinary Uses for Ordinary Things: 2,317 Ways to Save Money and Time when I stumbled upon the section on witch hazel.

Witch hazel is a type of flowering plant in the Hamamelidaceae family with three varities in North America – Hamamelidaceae ovalis, Hamamelidaceae virginiana and Hamamelidaceae vernalis. They’re absolutely amazing, or creepy, to look at and apparently they have both ornamental and medicinal value.

The bark and leaves are astringent because of their tannins and can shrink or constrict body tissue, which leads people to use them to shrink mucous membranes to reduce mucous secretions. It’s used by acne sufferers and can be used to heal stretch marks. I was especially interested in its affect on mucous membranes because I have some vicious spring and fall allergies.

Warnings

As with anything medical you read on the internet, consult with a licensed physician before you try anything.

The witch hazel products you buy in the store will often contain isopropyl alcohol, which is toxic to human beings if ingested. Don’t gargle or drink it.

The tannins in witch hazel can cause nausea if you take too much or take it too frequently.

External Uses for Witch Hazel

Pimples! Witch hazel is most often cited as a way for acne sufferers to overcome their blemishes. The astringent qualities of witch hazel are effective if you use it on a pimple and you can often find it listed as an ingredient in many treatments. The tannins in the bark and leaves of witch hazel give it these astringent properties.

Bruises, Swelling. Anytime you have bruising or swelling, witch hazel is useful to help bring that swelling down as it constricts blood vessels. It can also be used for temporarily relief on swelling varicose veins. Have a nasty sunburn? Get some aloe and witch hazel. The aloe will sooth your skin while the witch hazel repairs and reduces inflammation. Witch hazel has procyanadins, resin, and flavonoids which have anti-inflammatory properties. Soak a cloth in witch hazel tea and drape it over the affected area.

Itch Reduction. I have a big reaction to poison ivy or oak and witch hazel can be used to relieve itching as well as swelling, after a good wash with special soap that can wash away the oils. Mosquito bites? Call up some witch hazel.

Internal Uses for Witch Hazel

Oral Care. To use it on sore throats, gargle some witch hazel tea infused with myrrh and cloves. Do not use store purchased witch hazel as it contains dangerous isopropyl alcohol! This can also be used for swollen and infected gums as an oral rinse.

Digestive Issues. Drinking an herbal tea made from witch hazel, chamomile, mint, and thyme can combat digestive issues and stomach flus. Discuss with an herbalist or search online for a witch hazel tea formula you’ll like.

Harvesting Witch Hazel

According to Reader’s Digest, harvesting the witch hazel yourself beats buying it the store because commercial processing tends to reduce the effectiveness of the witch hazel. If you’d like to give it a shot yourself, here’s a recipe for making your own witch hazel extract. It’s a pretty involved process that has you grind up the twigs, boil them for eight hours, and then pouring the result through a cheesecloth filter to produce the extract.

Are you a fan of witch hazel? Do you use it for things I haven’t listed?

(Photo: ladybugsleaf)

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9 Responses to “Witch Hazel Winterbloom Uses & Home Remedies”

  1. Beth says:

    When I had my ears pierced, the piercer (a professional nurse) recommended using witch hazel to clean the area. It helps reduce swelling and prevent scarring. (Peroxide and rubbing alcohol actually damage healing tissues).

  2. otipoby says:

    I make my own aftershave with Witch Hazel and love it. In an 8oz jar, I mix
    3.5 oz grain alcohol (i.e. everclear)
    3.5 oz witch hazel
    16 drops glycerin (moisterizer)
    150 drops essential oils
    Shake well and enjoy.

    I never make the same batch twice, but the EOs i usually use are bay rum, lavender, bergamont, peppermint, lime, rosemary, and clove.

    The WH really tightens the pores after a hot shave with a brush and puck of shaving soap – old school.

  3. Rosa Rugosa says:

    You can but alcohol free witch hazel. I’ve found it online, at GNC, and other health food type stores. The brand I buy is Thayers (www.thayers.com).

  4. Rosa Rugosa says:

    Sorry – I meant buy!

  5. javi says:

    I love Thayers Witch Hazel. I use it everyday and it helps me keep my face clear.

  6. zapeta says:

    I didn’t realize all the things that witch hazel could be used for. It could easily replace several items in my medicine cabinet. I’ll definitely look for Thayers since it doesn’t have the alcohol, thanks for the tip.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I love witch hazel for my skin but didn’t know all of these other uses. Will have to print and include in my natural cures & skin care file. Thanks!

    PS: one flu, two flu. No “flus.” I say this with love.

  8. eric says:

    Interesting..but you’re right, they ARE creepy to look at :)

  9. Sandy Lincoln says:

    Commercial witch hazel is all produced by one company no matter what the brand. The do not make it from twigs, and the bark is whole tree, not just the bark. It is full of pulp wood. Good Luck on finding any REAL witch hazle


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