7 Potential Health Benefits of Topical Witch HazelApr 28, 2023
Witch Hazel also known as Hamamelis virginia has been found to have beneficial uses for skin care. It was originally used by Native Americans to treat skin disorders and then adopted by subsequent settlers. Since then, it has been used in the beauty industry, in dermatology and for perinatal complaints. As I aim to be fully transparent, in my search for health benefits, I did find a recent systematic review (Jones et al., 2021) that did not find sufficient evidence to recommend witch hazel for the treatment of acne, psoriasis and atopic dermatitis. So definitely more research needs to done. However, I was able to find some scientific literature and my own professional experience that supports the following uses of topical (skin only) witch hazel.
Here are the beauty benefits:
- Acts as an astringent which means it causes the skin to tighten and reduces the size of pores.
- It has antiseptic properties which means it stops the growth of bacteria or microorganism specifically effective against, Staphylococcus aureus, Candida albicans and E. coli in vitro.
- Acts as an antioxidant which means it protects cells from free radicals that cause damage.
- It cleans the skin without stripping the skin of its natural oil.
- It has been found to reduce the redness caused to skin after sunlight exposure (sunburn), however cortisone was found to clear the redness faster.
Here are the benefits during pregnancy and after having a baby:
- For patients with hemorrhoids when witch hazel was applied topically was found to reduce itching, bleeding, burning and pain. Likely due to its anti-inflammatory effects.
- Witch hazel has been used as an active ingredient in perineal pads and given to women after vaginal delivery, as it has been voiced by patients to reduce & soothe perineal inflammation. As a clinician who has taken care of women after delivery, most derived a benefit from witch hazel pads.
Abbas, T., Abbas, M., & Lafta, A. (2020). Antibacterial activity and medical properties of witch hazel Hamamelis virginiana. Ann Trop Med & Public Health,23(11).http://doi.org/10.36295/ASRO.2020.231146
Androite, J. of the Atlantic. (2012). The mysterious past and present of witch hazel. Retrieved from The Mysterious Past and Present of Witch Hazel - The Atlantic
Edwards, S. E., da Costa Rocha, I., Williamson, E. M., & Heinrich, M. (2015). Witch Hazel Hamamelis virginiana L. Phytopharmacy: An Evidence-Based Guide to Herbal Medicinal Products, 396.
Jones, V. A., Patel, P. M., Wilson, C., Wang, H., & Ashack, K. A. (2021). Complementary and alternative medicine treatments for common skin diseases: A systematic review and meta-analysis. JAAD international, 2, 76-93.
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