Witch hazel is a compound with a lot of medicinal properties that can be used in multiple ways. It is extracted from the leaves and bark of Hamamelis virginiana, a shrub that is native to North America.
Mostly applied to the skin and scalp, witch hazel is popularly known for its ability to soothe inflammation and sensitive skin. It can also be added to herbal teas and administered orally in small amounts as a natural treatment for other conditions.
Some of the benefits of witch hazel are:
Inflammation is an immune response of the body to protect you against injury/ infection. But, chronic inflammation plays a central role in the development of certain diseases. Witch hazel contains many anti inflammatory compounds like gallic acid and tannins. These prevent acne, eczema, and even psoriasis.
Hemorrhoids are caused due to swelling and inflammation in the viens of your rectum and/or anus, resulting in constipation, itchiness and bleeding and other such symptoms. Witch hazel can be used as a natural remedy to relieve the discomfort and pain caused by hemorrhoids. It should typically be added to a clean cloth or sterilized cotton ball and applied directly to the affected area. It soothes the skin immediately.
Scalp sensitivity can be caused due to various factors, ranging from damage by hair cosmetics to skin disorders, such as psoriasis or seborrheic dermatitis. Apply a bit of witch hazel to your scalp before washing your hair. It may help treat scalp sensitivity and provide relief from itching and tenderness, which are common symptoms in these conditions. According to a recent study, using a witch hazel extract infused shampoo was found effective in reducing scalp irritation and sensitivity.
Because of its ability to decrease inflammation, witch hazel is sometimes used to treat sore throats. Is is also an astringent. Boil one tsp of witch hazel in a cup of water for about 10 minutes, then gargle with the mixture. It may soothe the throat and provide relief. It is believed to also help reduce the swelling, decrease pain and get rid of excess mucus caused by the soreness.
Test-tube studies show that witch hazel possesses antiviral properties and could be used against many types of viral infections. This is why witch hazel is often applied topically as a natural remedy to treat cold sores and relieve symptoms of infections like influenza and herpes.