Don’t expect any ominous spells or tricks from this witch…
Witch hazel (hamamelias virginiana), also commonly known as winter bloom, is a low-growing shrub found in many areas of North America and Canada. Witch hazel extract is used in many healthcare products today but use of the plant has been traced back to medicinal practices of the Native Americans. The shrub’s name is said to have come from using the twigs in dowsing, a mystical practice involved in finding water sources.
Traditionally, Native Americans boiled the leaf, bark and twigs of witch hazel to produce an extract used to treat swelling, inflammation and tumors. Today, this practice is still commonly used through distilled witch hazel extract which is included in many products functioning as an astringent. Astringents are substances or chemical compounds which shrink and constrict skin tissue. Witch hazel is also topically used to relieve many skin irritations like itching, pain, bruises, hemorrhoids and bug bites.
Witch hazel is a natural astringent due to the high concentration of tannins in the plant. Witch hazel can be used topically to tighten pores and remove excess oil which makes for a great natural toner and also for reducing acne. Specific tannins in witch hazel; procyanadins, resin, and flavonoids, all add to the plant’s soothing, anti-inflammatory properties.
While it is less common, witch hazel can also be ingested as a remedy for many ailments. Drinking witch hazel tea can relieve sore throats, diarrhea, colds and respiratory illnesses.
However, do NOT try to ingest common drugstore witch hazel products, which are usually distilled with isopropyl alcohol or similar chemicals.
The Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database (EWG) ranks witch hazel with a score of zero citing its low health concerns here.
Organic and Natural Witch Hazel Products: