Witch Hazel: Introduction and myths

Witch hazel is scientifically known as Hamamelis virginiana. It has been used for centuries for its various health and skin care benefits. It is native to eastern North America. The name “witch hazel” originates from the Middle English words “witch”, meaning “bendable”, which refers to the plant’s flexible branches, and “hazel”, due to its hazelnut-like seeds. It is a deciduous shrub known for its vibrant yellow flowers. In this article, we will learn about it in detail.

Witch Hazel: Introduction and myths
Table of Contents

Scientific Name

Hamamelis virginiana


Winterbloom, Spotted Alder, Snapping Hazel

Habit and Habitat

It is a deciduous shrub native to eastern North America.

Chemical Composition

Tannins (hamamelitannin), flavonoids, gallic acid, essential oils.

Plant Parts Used

Bark, leaves


Ayurvedic Properties

Kashaya (astringent), Ropan (healing), Shothahara (anti-inflammatory)

Therapeutic properties

Astringent, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antibacterial

Health Benefits of Witch hazel

It provides many health benefits. Some of its major health benefits are as follows:

Care of skin

Astringent properties

  • Witch hazel contains high levels of tannins, giving it a powerful astringent property. When applied topically to the skin, it can help tighten the skin, reduce pore size, and control excess oil production. This removes acne, blemishes, and other skin problems.

Rich in anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects:

  • The flavonoids and gallic acid found in it contribute to anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. These compounds help reduce inflammation, soothe irritated skin, and protect against oxidative damage caused by free radicals. Due to this, it is beneficial for conditions like eczema, psoriasis, and sunburn.

Balance the pH of the skin:

  • Witch hazel can be used as a natural toner to balance skin pH levels and tighten pores. It removes excess oil and impurities without stripping the skin of its natural moisture. It can be suitable for all skin types.

Wound healing properties

Antiseptic and antimicrobial actions

  • It has natural antiseptic and antimicrobial properties, which help in cleaning and disinfecting wounds, cuts, and scratches. Due to this, the wound heals rapidly and the risk of infection also decreases.

Provide relief from piles

  • Its anti-inflammatory properties make it a soothing remedy for piles. When applied topically, witch hazel helps relieve itching associated with hemorrhoids by reducing swelling and pain.

Varicose vein treatment

Improves circulation and reduces swelling:

  • Witch hazel may help improve circulation and reduce swelling, making it beneficial for treating varicose veins and venous insufficiency. Applying its compress or lotion to the affected areas can provide relief from discomfort.

Soothes irritated scalp

  • Witch hazel may also help soothe scalp irritation. Its anti-inflammatory properties help reduce itching, redness, and swelling. It can also be used to remove dandruff and eczema.

Uses of Witch hazel

To take advantage of the medicinal properties of this herb, it can be used in different forms:
  1. Skin Care: It can be used as a natural toner to balance skin pH, reduce pore size, and control oil production. It is also beneficial in treating acne, blemishes, and dark circles.
  2. First aid: It acts as an antiseptic on small wounds, cuts, and insect bites and promotes rapid healing.
  3. Relief from Piles: Its anti-inflammatory properties make it a soothing remedy for piles. It helps in reducing swelling, and pain and provides relief from itching.

Precautionary Measures for Witch Hazel

  1. Do a patch test before applying it to the skin, especially if you have sensitive skin.
  2. Avoid applying witch hazel to open wounds or mucous membranes as it may cause irritation or burning.
  3. Do not ingest witch hazel, as it may cause digestive upset, nausea, and other adverse reactions.

Myths and Facts

Let’s dispel some of the most common myths about witch hazel:
Myth 1: Witch hazel can cure all skin diseases
Fact: It’s a beneficial natural treatment for a variety of skin conditions, but it doesn’t cure everything. It may help promote the healing of conditions like acne, eczema, and psoriasis.
Myth 2: Witch hazel is bad for the skin
Fact: It is safe for most skin types when used appropriately and in moderation. However excessive or prolonged use may cause skin irritation, dryness, and sensitivity. It is necessary to do a patch test before applying it on the skin.
Myth 3: Witch hazel is only suitable for external use
Fact: While witch hazel is commonly used for skin care and wound healing, it can also be used internally for certain health conditions. However, using witch hazel internally should be done with caution and it is important to consult a doctor before using it. Consuming it in large quantities can cause problems like digestive upset and nausea.


Witch Hazel has a rich history. It is known for its medicinal properties. It is used to treat minor ailments or to explore traditional herbal medicine. To enjoy its full benefits, it should be used with caution and a doctor’s advice.

Remember, before starting any new wellness regimen, it’s always best to consult with a healthcare professional to ensure it is suitable for your specific needs and circumstances.

Frequently Asked Question
This can potentially be used every night, but it also depends on your skin type. For people with oily skin, this can be a useful nightly routine. However, for people with dry or sensitive skin, it may be too drying. So start with a small quantity. Be sure to consult a doctor before using.
Some dermatologists do not allow everyone to use it because it can further dry out sensitive skin, causing additional discomfort to the person.
Due to its astringent properties, it can be beneficial for facial skin, especially oily skin. It removes acne and helps in shrinking the pores. It may be too harsh on dry or sensitive skin. Therefore, do a patch test before applying it.
It does not have wrinkle-removing capabilities. Although it may temporarily tighten the skin, it does not address the underlying causes of wrinkles.

Apart from facial, it can also be soothing for minor cuts, insect bites, and hemorrhoids (with a doctor’s permission). But in such a situation, please consult a doctor before using it.

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