Is Witch Hazel Toxic?

A look at whether Witch Hazel is safe for use

Most people keep a bottle of witch hazel in their medicine cabinets, but they are not quite sure how to use it. This clear liquid has been promoted as a natural remedy that can treat insect bites and fix puffy eyes. We all know it is used for treating hemorrhoids but can it be toxic?

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What is Witch Hazel?

Examining if Witch hazel use can be harmful

Witch hazel is a natural medicine made from the bark and leaves of a plant called Hamamelis virginiana. Witch hazel water (Hamamelis water, distilled witch hazel extract) is a liquid that is distilled from the dried leaves, bark, and partially dormant twigs of witch hazel.Long used in traditional medicine, it is usually applied topically to treat certain skin conditions like acne or eczema. Witch hazel is taken orally for diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, vomiting blood, coughing up blood, tuberculosis, colds, and fevers. Some people spread witch hazel directly to the skin for itching, pain, and swelling (inflammation), skin injury, mucous membrane inflammation, varicose veins, hemorrhoids, bruises, insect bites, minor burns, acne, sensitive scalp, and other skin irritations.Witch hazel leaf extract, bark extract, and witch hazel water contain tannins, a natural compound with astringent traits. When used as an astringent, it helps to tighten skin tissue.

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Witch Hazel Uses

how you can utilize witch hazel?

Witch hazel to treat acne

The potent astringent have impressive anti-inflammatory effects due to the high level of tannins in the leaves. Tannins can tighten, dry, and harden tissues. This lets the skin produce a protective layer that permits for proper blood flow and healing. It also aids in reducing inflammation and protect the skin from bacteria while also stimulating moisture, and producing hormones. When used in moderation, it also tightens pores without over-drying the skin. Unfortunately, witch hazel is preserved with a lot of alcohol, about 30%, which makes those products too drying for the skin. It can be preserved with natural, food grade preservatives, or mixed with other organic ingredients to make it more soothing, like aloe vera juice. If you plan on adding witch hazel to your beauty routine make sure it is alcohol-free.

Witch Hazel and Neem oil lotion

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Here is a recipe for witch hazel/neem lotion which can be used to soothe itchiness.You will need one part neem oil to seven parts witch hazel and a glass bottle. Pour the oil and witch hazel into the bottle and shake well. The two will not mix that well as water and oil do not mix, but the blend is still applicable. Apply the well-shaken mixture to the affected areas and reapply as needed.

When using it on your face remember:

  • To wash your face before using this product. This is a crucial step in your skincare routine as it sets you up to use other products and more powerful ingredients effectively.
  • Always use alcohol-free witch hazel. You don’t want to exacerbate dryness or irritation.
  • Apply a moisturizer, serum and eye cream afterward. This is especially key to retain moisture overnight.

Witch hazel to treat bruises and infections

A common use for witch hazel is to soothe infections like contact dermatitis caused by poison ivy and treat injuries and cuts, which are caused or worsened by viruses and bacteria. This astringent has an anti-inflammatory effect and an indirect antibacterial effect that makes it an ideal choice for minor cuts and bruises.These properties will help to decrease the damage to surrounding tissue that occurs from the initial injury.A study conducted in 2002 found significant antimicrobial activity for witch hazel when examining its effect on bacteria and fungi like Staphylococcus aureus, Candida albicans and other microorganisms in vitro. This could help stop bacterial colonization, which plays an essential role in atopic dermatitis and intertrigo dramatis, and other microbial skin maladies. Witch hazel can help tackle poison ivy, chicken pox, and heal bruises and cuts exacerbated or originated from viruses and bacteria.

Witch hazel tonic for swimmers ear
  • An example of using witch hazel to heal swimmers ear which is a bacterial ear infection.
  • You will need a Q tip or a cotton pad and some witch hazel. Soak the Q tip or cotton swab in the Witch hazel and apply it to the outer ear. Let it dry. This will help break up the excess wax, dry up pus, stop crusting, soothe itching and reduce the secretions.
Witch hazel for sore throats
  • You will need some boiled water and Witch hazel bark or the leaves.
  • Pour the water and bark into a pot, cover and infuse for 30-40 minutes. Drink it twice or thrice a day. Do not go over this limit as it may cause a stomach upset when taken in large portions.

Witch hazel to soothe hemorrhoids

Witch hazel can be used to relieve sore and swollen hemorrhoids. It has been used in over-the-counter hemorrhoid lotions and pads to effectively reduce the bleeding, itching, and discomfort many patients feel.

How to witch hazel for hemorrhoids?
  • Make sure you are not allergic to witch hazel by performing a patch test.
  • You will need some Witch hazel, cotton pads or a cotton cloth.
  • Clean your anal area with some warm water and be gentle to avoid further irritation.
  • Dry off the area by patting it dry with a towel instead of rubbing it.
  • Soak the cotton pads or cloth in the witch hazel. You can chill the witch hazel for an added soothing effect.
  • Gently apply the witch hazel onto the hemorrhoids for about 2 minutes and let the area dry before dressing up.
  • You can use this treatment at least twice a day; it will improve the size of the hemorrhoids fast.

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Witch hazel to heal sun damage

The plant’s antioxidant compounds guard the skin against sun damage when it is used topically. Witch hazel has anti-inflammatory attributes that can be useful in after-sun creams to reduce skin damage. Its anti-inflammatory qualities soothe sunburn pain and lessen redness. Its effectiveness lies in its ability to relieve inflammation and lower the loss of the body’s natural moisture when applied to irritated skin.

Witch hazel can be used to treat skin problems in commonly occurring in children

For a 2007 study tested the impacts of witch hazel on 309 children with minor skin injuries, diaper rash, or localized skin redness. Seventy-eight percent of the study participants were treated with dexpanthenol ointment (a medication commonly used for skin disorders), while the other 231 children underwent treatment with witch hazel. The results revealed that both dexpanthenol ointment and witch hazel were similarly effective and well-tolerated by the subjects.

A witch hazel remedy for diaper rash

This remedy can also be used on adults with no adverse reactions unless you are allergic to any of the ingredients. You will need:

  • alcohol free witch hazel extract,
  • pure organic coconut oil,
  • baby powder or some corn starch
  • a cotton swab. 

Soak the cotton swab in witch hazel and apply it to the affected areas. This will help heal the diaper rash faster and more effectively. Apply some coconut oil before the area drys completely. Its antibacterial and antifungal properties will protect the treated areas, leave the skin feeling super soft and it also has a pleasant scent. Sprinkle some corn starch over the affected areas; this will help the oil last longer. Continue with this treatment until you see improvements.

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Can Witch Hazel be ingested?

Witch hazel is generally deemed safe when used topically. Internal use is not advised, due to the unease that ingestion of witch hazel may cause queasiness, vomiting, constipation, liver damage, and other serious effects. Although it is not fatal, the oral consumption of witch hazel water is potentially toxic resulting from the high content of tannins in commercial products. As a result, the ingestion of witch hazel water is inadvisable during pregnancy and lactation.

Dosages for the various uses of Witch Hazel

Witch hazel can relieve hemorrhoids or skin irritations and reduce minor bleeding. Witch hazel extracts have antioxidant compounds that guard against sunburn and the aging effects of the sun. But the proof is thin on its use to treat other conditions.  These are typical dosages of witch hazel:

  • Orally: 2 grams of dried leaves thrice a day or steeped as tea
  • On the skin: 5 to 10 grams of leaf and bark simmered in 250 milliliters of water, applied undiluted or diluted.
  • As an alcohol extract, tonic usually available in pharmacies: Saturate a piece of cloth and apply to the affected area.
  • Rectal area, by suppository: use 0.1 to 1 gram leaf and bark applied one to three times daily. When applied to the anal area, witch hazel water may be used up to six times a day or after bowel movements.

Witch hazel is not obtained naturally in foods. Witch hazel is relatively safe for use. Some side effects may include stomach upsets resulting from taking witch hazel orally. When you apply it to the skin, it may, rarely, cause inflammation (contact dermatitis). But even children tend to tolerate it well on the 

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