Yes, we are here!

At MOTHER EARTH LIVING and MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we have been educating folks about the benefits of self-reliance for 50 years. That includes researching and sourcing the best books and products to help individuals master the skills they need in times like these and beyond. Our online store is open and we are here to answer any questions you might have. Our customer service staff is available Monday through Friday from 8a.m.-5p.m. CDT. We can be reached at 1-800-456-6018 or by email. Stay safe!

What is Witch Hazel?

Learn how to treat a wide variety of skin ailments with this simple but effective herb.

  • "National Geographic Guide to Medicinal Herbs" is a reference you will keep at the ready, connecting 72 of the world's most common and useful medicinal herbs with the body systems they help and heal.
    Photo Courtesy National Geographic
  • Witch Hazel
    Witch hazel is an effective treatment for acne, insect bites, blisters and sunburns.
    Photo By Fotolia

  • Witch Hazel

For most of the year, it can be easy to miss witch hazel amid the pines, oaks, hickories and maples of its native eastern North American woodlands. But come November, when these larger trees have lost their leaves and gone to seed, smaller, shrubbier witch hazel bursts into bloom. Explosions of pale yellow flowers crowd its slender branches and often last well into December.

Despite its name, the plant has little to do with witches. The “witch” of witch hazel is likely derived from the Anglo-Saxon wych, meaning “pliant” or “bendable.” It refers to the plant’s historical use as a divining rod (or witching stick) to locate underground sources of water or precious minerals. Witch hazel’s real magic, however, lies in its mild astringent and antiseptic properties, which are useful for treating inflamed or irritated skin.

Health Benefits of Witch Hazel

Household first-aid kits have long included distilled witch hazel water, one of the few widely available commercial medicines made from a wild native plant. Witch hazel is a classic astringent—the tannins in its leaves, bark and twigs help treat a variety of skin conditions. Various preparations of witch hazel are used topically to stop bleeding from minor cuts and abrasions; calm inflamed mucous membranes and skin, such as with eczema; and decrease the size and symptoms associated with varicose veins and hemorrhoids.

Witch hazel contains many types of tannins, including catechins (also present in green tea and chocolate), which have potent antioxidant properties and may be antiviral and anti-inflammatory. In a clinical study, researchers used a witch hazel ointment on 231 children with diaper rash, skin inflammation and minor skin injuries, and a pharmaceutical ointment on 78 children with similar conditions. The dose and duration of treatment were left to the discretion of the primary care physician for each child, and symptoms were rated over the course of seven to 10 days. Both the witch hazel and the pharmaceutical ointment improved skin appearance and symptoms over the treatment period.

How to Use Witch Hazel

EXTRACT: Many forms of witch hazel begin with a distillation of the leaves, bark and/or twigs. This liquid is added to ointments or creams and then applied to the skin.

LIQUID: Witch hazel water is made by soaking plant parts in water and distilling the mixture. Alcohol is added to keep the distillate from spoiling. Tinctures and other preparations used by herbal medicine practitioners are usually stronger than distilled witch hazel water.

Subscribe today and save 58%

Get the latest on Healthy Living and Natural Beauty!

Mother Earth LivingRedefine beauty and embrace holistic living with Mother Earth Living by your side. Each issue  provides you with easy, hands-on ways to connect your life with the natural world -- from eating seasonally to culinary and medicinal uses of herbs; from aromatherapy and DIY cosmetics to yoga and beyond. Start your journey to holistic living today and you’ll discover all the best and latest information you want on choosing natural remedies and practicing preventive medicine; cooking with a nutritious and whole-food focus; creating a nontoxic home; and gardening for food, wellness and enjoyment. Subscribe to Mother Earth Living today to get inspired on the art of living wisely and living well.

Save Money & a Few Trees!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You’ll save an additional $5 and get six issues of Mother Earth Living for just $19.95! (Offer valid only in the U.S.)

Or, choose Bill Me and pay just $24.95.

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter


click me