Monday, July 15, 2013

The wonders of Witch Hazel

Witch hazel is an astringent produced from the leaves and bark of the North American Witch-hazel shrub (Hamamelis virginiana), Native Americans produced witch hazel extract by boiling the stems of the shrub and producing a decoction, which was used to treat swellings, inflammations, and tumors. Early Puritan settlers in New England adopted this remedy from the natives, and its use became widely established in the United States.
It's mainly used externally on sores, bruises, and swelling. Witch hazel hydrosol is used in skin care. It is a strong anti-oxidant and astringent, which makes it very useful in fighting acne. It is often used as a natural remedy for psoriasis, eczema, aftershave applications, ingrown nails, to prevent sweating of the face, cracked or blistered skin, for treating insect bites, poison ivy, and as a treatment for varicose veins and hemorrhoids. It is found in numerous over-the-counter hemorrhoid preparations and it is recommended to women to reduce swelling and soothe wounds resulting from childbirth.

More ways to use Witch Hazel:
  • Keep a spray bottle filled with witch hazel in your fridge this summer. Spritz to cool down, revive tired skin and soothe sunburns. 
  • For varicose veins, wrap a towel soaked in witch hazel around the area to tighten the veins and reduce pain and swelling.
  • Use a cotton ball to dab on diaper rashes to relieve pain and heal the rash.
  • Soak cotton balls in witch hazel and place them on your closed eyes for ten minutes to reduce puffiness.
People sometimes take witch hazel by mouth. A dosage is 2 grams of dried leaves three times daily or as a tea. When taken that way it is used to try to treat conditions as varied as:
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting or coughing up blood
  • Colitis
  • Colds and fevers
  • Tuberculosis
  • Tumors
  • Cancer
 Because studies are limited, avoid using witch hazel if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, unless you use it on the skin in small amounts and for short periods of time.

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