11 Health Benefits of Witch Hazel That You Should Know About

witch hazel benefits

One of the oldest and most widely used home remedies is witch hazel.

The uses for this herbal medicine are countless.

Derived from the bark, leaves and twigs of the witch hazel plant, this potent tincture is used to treat wounds, bruises, sores, psoriasis, eczema, hemorrhoids, insect bites and poison ivy, among others, as stated in Wikipedia.

It’s powerful as an anti-inflammatory and antibacterial.

Clinical studies indicate the efficacy of this natural remedy for various health issues.

Let’s find out more what this can do for your health.

1. Witch Hazel Can Keep Cancer at Bay

Cancer is a disease that starts in the body’s building blocks: the cells.

According to the National Cancer Institute, cancer is “not just one disease” but it actually comes in over a hundred different types.

It occurs in different parts of the body.

A few of the most common types of cancer include breast, skin and lungs.

Most cancer cases develop when old cells do not die and end up forming a mass that becomes a tumor, which can then spread to other tissues.

Even with advancements in medical technology, it remains as one of the leading causes of death anywhere in the world.

It’s a good thing there are natural anti-cancer treatments like witch hazel.

Witch hazel is said to have potent anti-cancer agents such as tannins and proanthocyanidins that can help protect against this potentially fatal disease [1, 2, 3].

It reduces the risk of skin cancer with its protective effects against UV radiation, and wards off bowel cancer by inhibiting the growth of cancer cells in the colon [1, 2, 3].

It effectively kills cancerous cells without harming the healthy ones [3].

Key Takeaways:

  • Cancer begins in the cells, when there’s an accumulation of cells that can possibly turn into cancerous tumors.
  • Witch hazel can help reduce the risks of colon and skin cancers with its high concentration of tannins, proanthocyanidins and other anti-cancer agents.
  • It concentrates on killing cancer cells, and leaves healthy cells unharmed.

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2. Witch Hazel Can Help Treat Glaucoma

It’s very important to protect the eyes from serious diseases like glaucoma.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) defines glaucoma as a condition characterized by damage in the optic nerve of the eye.

Alarmingly, of the three million Americans estimated by the AAO to have glaucoma, only half of them know that they have this condition.

That’s because there are no early symptoms, and the disease’s progression is quite slow.

The good news is, certain herbal remedies like witch hazel can help.

Witch hazel is listed among the natural treatment methods found effective for this eye problem [4, 5].

Although witch hazel does not have the ability to completely heal this condition, it helps improve it by promoting blood supply to the optic nerve [4].

In 2002, American researchers from Philadelphia examined the conditions of 1,027 patients with glaucoma [5].

These patients were treated with various complementary and alternative methods including witch hazel [5].

There was a staggering response rate of over 97 percent [5].

Key Takeaways:

  • Glaucoma is slow to progress and is quite difficult to detect at an early stage.
  • Herbal remedies like witch hazel, known for its astringent properties, can help treat this condition.
  • It works by stimulating blood flow to the optic nerve.

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3. Witch Hazel Works Against Viruses

Viruses refer to microscopic infectious agents that reproduce inside the cells of humans, plants and animals [6].

Tiny as they are, viruses can do a lot of damage in your body.

Dengue fever, Ebola, Rabies, Smallpox, and Influenza are just some of the deadliest viral infections that have plagued the world all the years.

These diseases have claimed the lives of millions of people around the world.

This is why, it’s a must to protect yourself from viruses using natural antiviral agents like witch hazel.

Witch hazel has been found to have the ability to keep these viruses from infecting your body and causing disease.

According to studies, the tannins in witch hazel have the ability to suppress the replication of virus inside the body [7, 8].

German researchers conducted a study that proved witch hazel’s efficacy as treatment for influenza and human papillomavirus (HPV) [8].

It was explained in the report that the tannins inhibited the IAV receptor binding as well as the neuraminidase activity [8].

Key Takeaways:

  • Witch hazel is a potent antiviral that can help prevent and treat viral infections.
  • It was found in one study to be effective in curbing influenza and human papillomavirus (HPV).

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4. Witch Hazel Defends the Body Against Free Radicals

Free radicals are more terrifying than most people realize.

Research has shown that these by-products of oxidation can lead to several serious health conditions including heart problems, arthritis, cancer, and neurodegenerative diseases [9].

Antioxidants in witch hazel can control the damage caused by free radicals.

Catechins, gallic acid, proanthocyanidins and tannins are just some of the many antioxidants in witch hazel that can help reduce the risk of the mentioned ailments [10, 11, 12].

These are particularly effective in neutralizing the free radical damage that occurs within the body’s systems [12].

Key Takeaways:

  • Free radicals are damaging to the body, causing a number of serious ailments.
  • Witch hazel contains catechins, gallic acid and other active antioxidant compounds that can help neutralize the damage caused by the free radicals.

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5. Witch Hazel Alleviates Inflammation

Usually, inflammation is triggered when foreign contaminants like viruses and bacteria try to enter and infect the body, explains WebMD.

It’s the body’s way of getting rid of the contaminant before it causes any harm.

If you think about it, inflammation can be a good thing.

However, it becomes a problem when the inflammatory response is not caused by a harmful invader, in which case, it is called an autoimmune disease.

One of the most common types of autoimmune disease is psoriasis.

Fortunately, this issue can be remedied by natural anti-inflammatory agents such as witch hazel.

Clinical results provide evidence that witch hazel can alleviate inflammation safely and efficiently [13, 14, 15].

To test witch hazel’s anti-inflammatory powers, scientists from Hamburg, Germany used 10 percent witch hazel lotion in 30 participants using UVB erythema test inflammation model [14].

Inflammation was suppressed by 20 percent in the first seven hours, and 27 percent after 48 hours [14].

Although its actions are not as strong as hydrocortisone, witch hazel is safer and has fewer side effects, reports a 1993 study [15].

Key Takeaways:

  • Inflammation is not always bad, as it usually helps get rid of foreign contaminants.
  • When it becomes a problem, such as in the case of autoimmune diseases, anti-inflammatory agents like witch hazel can be used.
  • This may not be as potent as hydrocortisone, but it’s also quite effective in toning down swelling, and it causes fewer side effects.

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6. Witch Hazel is a Powerful Antiseptic

Antiseptics, as defined in Wikipedia, are “antimicrobial substances” topically applied to prevent infection.

In a 2002 study conducted by German scientists, the antiseptic action of witch hazel has been proven [16].

The test, which involved 15 healthy participants, found that this herbal remedy can inhibit the activities of Candida albicans and Staphylococcus aureus [16].

These and other microorganisms are known to cause minor to serious ailments.

Staph infections, for example, can cause redness and swelling of the skin.

Fungal infections caused by Candida albicans, on the other hand, can affect different parts of the body—nails, feet, and genital area.

Key Takeaways:

  • Witch hazel is an antiseptic that can prevent infection caused by bacteria and fungi.
  • It can teat both bacterial and fungal infections that infect different parts of the skin.

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7. Witch Hazel Has Anti-Aging Effects on the Skin

Aging is part of life, something that people can’t run away from.

Still, there are many who wish to preserve their youthful looks for at least a couple of years.

It’s no wonder anti-aging products have proliferated in the market.

If you want to look young for as long as possible without exposing yourself to too much chemicals, then you should try using natural approaches like witch hazel.

Witch hazel is one of the 21 plants that were evaluated for their ability to prevent collagen breakdown and neutralize free radical damage that cause premature aging [17].

Among the herbal remedies tested in this study, witch hazel was one of those with the strongest effects with a rate of 82.05 percent [17].

Researchers note that even at low concentrations, it had powerful anti-aging effects [17].

Key Takeaways:

  • Using witch hazel can slow down the process of aging, thanks to its free-radical scavenging antioxidants.
  • It’s one of the anti-aging remedies with the highest activities.

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8. Witch Hazel is an Effective Remedy for Eczema

Also called atopic dermatitis, eczema is a condition in which the skin becomes red, swollen and itchy [18].

It usually affects the knees, elbows, neck, hands, cheeks and scalp [18].

Although it’s not exactly a serious disorder that should cause you to panic or be excessively worried, it can still affect your life.

It can make you lose confidence and self-esteem as it’s hard to feel proud with your own skin and it’s affected by eczema.

Fortunately, those who are suffering from this annoying skin problem can find relief from witch hazel.

In one clinical trial, 72 patients suffering from eczema were divided into groups, and were asked to use either witch hazel cream or hydrocortisone cream [19].

Outcome revealed that witch hazel’s anti-inflammatory effects worked well for toning down the swelling and redness caused by this condition [19].

It also alleviated other eczema symptoms such as scaling, itching and erythema [19].

Key Takeaways:

  • Eczema is not a serious skin condition, but it can affect your self-confidence, and should therefore be remedied by natural methods like witch hazel.
  • Witch hazel works because it’s an efficient anti-inflammatory that works almost similarly to hydrocortisone cream.

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9. Witch Hazel Can Boost Skin Health

A rich source of tannins and polyphenols, witch hazel has been found to have protective effects for the skin [20].

This natural astringent is known to be highly active in scavenging harmful free radicals.

As mentioned earlier, free radicals can cause various ailments.

They can make the skin more susceptible to infection and disease.

If you want to protect your skin from different types of diseases, and to keep it looking young and fresh, it’s a great idea to make use of antioxidant-loaded witch hazel.

Key Takeaways:

  • Promote skin health with witch hazel.
  • It is loaded with polyphenols and tannis that exert protective effects on the skin.
  • It is also known as a natural astringent and antioxidant that neutralizes the damage caused by free radicals.
  • As mentioned early one, this is essential, as free radicals can lead to serious health problems that you’ll be better without.

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10. Witch Hazel Can Heal Skin Injuries

Many good things have been said about witch hazel’s effects on the skin.

Here’s another one: it can help heal skin injuries in children.

In a 2007 observational study published in the European Journal of Pediatrics, it was reported that witch hazel ointment was highly effective in treating diaper rash, inflammation and other minor skin injuries in children up to 11 years of age [21].

Researchers say that the healing effects of witch hazel are similar to those of dexpanthenol [21].

Key Takeaways:

  • Witch hazel is good for the skin, and can even be used for treating skin injuries among children.
  • An ointment made with witch hazel was found effective in treating diaper rash and other inflammatory skin diseases in children up to 11 years old.
  • Its healing properties are similar to those of dexpanthenol.

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11. Witch Hazel Can Be Used for Scalp Care

Having a sensitive scalp can bring great stress and discomfort.

It’s great that you can make use of herbal solutions like witch hazel.

A 2014 study published in the International Journal of Trichology reported that witch hazel based shampoo was highly effective in treating sensitive scalp [22].

This study involved more than 1,300 patients complaining of scalp irritation [22].

Scientists conclude that witch hazel can also help prevent dermatological conditions of the scalp including psoriasis and seborrheic dermatitis [22].

Even if you’re not suffering from these problems, you can make use of witch hazel to take care of your scalp, and to make sure that it’s kept in top health.

There’s also no need to worry about any adverse reactions as long as you follow the directions for proper use of this remedy.

Key Takeaways:

  • Witch hazel can help treat sensitive scalp with its anti-inflammatory properties.
  • It can also ward off scalp problems including seborrheic dermatitis and psoriasis.

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Witch hazel has always been a popular home remedy for various ailments particularly skin diseases.

It can also help reduce the risk of cancer, protect against viral infections, treat glaucoma, and many others.

There are hardly any reports of unpleasant side effects among those who have used this remedy.

If you’ve never tried using this tincture, it’s about time that you take advantage of its amazing health benefits.