Newest Review: ... bleeding and excessive mucous discharge from the alimentary canal. It may be applied topically for haemorrhoids and local inflammation... more
The witch doctor....
Member Name: spiritwood
Date: 04/05/13, updated on 04/05/13 (112 review reads)
Advantages: So many uses, cheap and effective.
Witch hazel is native to North America and has attractive oval leaves. The flowers are bright yellow and spindly like a drunken spider, these then turn into seed pods containing two black seeds apiece.
Witch hazel (also known as Hamamelis water) is produced from a mixture of the leaves and twigs of this tree. The parts collected are dried and used in tinctures when blended with alcohol or steamed to get distilled witch hazel. It has many medicinal and healing properties. The name Witch Hazel is somewhat misleading as it has nothing to do with the hazelnut tree that we are all familiar with in the UK, nor has it much to do with witches (technically - although this plant can be used in water magic). The name "Witch" is derived from the Old English word "wych," which translates as "bend". The tree has bendy branches that can be used for dowsing, either in regards to finding water or for divination.
Traditionally this tree has been used by Native Americans to stop bleeding and to aid skin conditions such as bites, dry skin, and also for eye irritation. Indeed Optrex eye wash used to contain a large amount of witch hazel and I believe still does. The tree is also known as "snapping hazelnut" and more appealingly "water witch".
The main properties of this wonderful tree product are its anti-inflammatory actions but it is also an antioxidant, antibacterial and anti-microbial. It is an excellent astringent and can be used as the base for many home remedies. I will include some at the bottom of the review to avoid clutter.
Bruising and inflammation:
Witch hazel has a long history of being an excellent remedy for bruises and swelling from injuries. It is usually applied to lint or a cloth and held onto the part of the body that is injured. Topical use of witch hazel reduces bruising and soreness efficiently. It stings on broken skin though! I have used this on my daughter when she has fallen over (a lot as she is a right rowdy hooligan when outside) and it cools and helps with bruise pain.
Spots and sores:
Because it reduces inflammation and is astringent, witch hazel is great for spots! Apply it neat to the spot and it will dry it out. Many of the products available for spots contain witch hazel for this reason but this is a far cheaper way to use it. Use cotton wool or a cotton bud to apply it and do this a few times a day. I rarely get spots but I have used it as a toner for my face and on any bites that I have had in the summer from mosquitoes.
Pain and swelling in varicose veins is assisted by applying a compress of neat witch hazel. The astringent action helps to tighten the vein and reduce the itching and swelling. I have not used it for this as luckily I do not have any (yet).
When mixed with aloe and honey, witch hazel helps the itching of chicken pox blisters and reduce scarring. My groovy Grandmother knocked something similar to this up for my Mum and Aunt when they were kids. Recipe for this is at the bottom of the review.
There are so many things that this liquid can help with that I consider it to be a household essential. One of the reasons I am reviewing some of the "older" home-style remedies on here is because I feel that we are losing these amongst the glut of mass produced chemical filled consumer products available to us and that makes me sad. This is such a cheap and basic product that like Epsom salts, vinegar and bicarb has so many uses around the home. Here are a few more things that witch hazel can be useful for:
Bruising and sprains, tired or itchy eyes, reduction of pores on the face- it is a great toner, helps with razor burn, reduces the soreness of sunburn, helps with insect bites and stings, assists dry skin when used straight after showering/bathing, topical use helps cuts and sores heal by cleaning the cut and preventing infection. Witch hazel can also be used to make a natural and effective deoderant.
Side effects from witch hazel use are rare but if you do have any then use water to wash the area. I have never had this happen though and I have used this on my daughter too, even when she was tiny.
Witch hazel has been used to control bleeding and excessive mucous discharge from the alimentary canal. It may be applied topically for haemorrhoids and local inflammation and swellings.
Witch Hazel is available to buy all over the internet usually for a couple of quid. On Amazon is costs £3.49 for 200ml with free postage but it is available cheaper than this if you shop around.
Disclaimer: If you have symptoms that will not go away or are serious you must see a Dr.
These recipes are for basic home health not for serious illness.
Chicken pox topical recipe:
One large leaf of aloe vera cactus ( aloe plants are easy to find in garden centres)
One tablespoon manuka honey
30 drops pure essential oil of lavender
15 drops lemon essential oil
5 drops bergamot essential oil
10 drops tea tree essential oil
1 tablespoon of jojoba oil
Remove the gel from the aloe leaf with a knife (Don't be alarmed that it looks like snot!) and add the oils and honey. Mix it all up into a paste and then stir in 100ml of distilled witch hazel. Put it in a clean jar and keep it in the fridge. This can be used topically on the blisters to assist with the healing and reduce the annoying itching.
Natural sore throat remedy and teething remedy:
Witch hazel is great for the pain caused by laryngitis, tonsillitis and sore throats from colds etc. It is best that you make this remedy from a tea made from witch hazel leaves which can be bought online from herbalists or natural remedy suppliers. Make the tea strong and add a drop of myrrh essential oil and a drop of clove oil. Gargle with this three times a day. This can also be rubbed on the gums of teething babies.
Natural mouthwash recipe:
I have used this and it is lovely although tastes a bit strange initially. This is my own recipe.
100ml pure witch hazel
10 drops pure essential oil of tea tree
5 drops pure essential oil of lavender
10 drops pure essential oil of peppermint
Tablespoon of fennel seed
Teaspoon of caraway seed
Shove the dry ingredients into a bottle and pour the vodka on top. Shake it up twice a day for a week. The mixture can then be strained and bottled. It will keep indefinitely.
I hope that this has been helpful and makes you consider using this age old remedy, these things should not die out or be replaced by more toxic substitutes.
Summary: Another household essential.