WITCH HAZEL

OTHER NAME(S):

Avellano de Bruja, Café du Diable, Hamamelis, Hamamélis, Hamamélis de Virginie, Hamamelis virginiana, Hazel, Noisetier des Sorcières, Snapping Tobacco Wood, Spotted Elder, Virginian Witch Hazel, Winter Bloom.<br/><br/>

Overview

Overview Information

Witch hazel is a plant. The leaf, bark, and twigs are used to make medicine. You may see a product called witch hazel water (Hamamelis water, distilled witch hazel extract). This is a liquid that is distilled from dried leaves, bark, and partially dormant twigs of witch hazel.

Witch hazel is taken by mouth for diarrhea, mucus colitis, vomiting blood, coughing up blood, tuberculosis, colds, fevers, tumors, and cancer.

Some people apply witch hazel directly to the skin for itching, pain and swelling (inflammation), eye inflammation, skin injury, mucous membrane inflammation, varicose veins, hemorrhoids, bruises, insect bites, minor burns, acne, sensitive scalp, and other skin irritations.

In manufacturing, witch hazel leaf extract, bark extract, and witch hazel water are used as astringents to tighten the skin. They are also included in some medications to give those products the ability to slow down or stop bleeding. Those medications are used for treating insect bites, stings, teething, hemorrhoids, itching, irritations, and minor pain.

How does it work?

Witch hazel contains chemicals called tannins. When applied directly to the skin, witch hazel might help reduce swelling, help repair broken skin, and fight bacteria.

Uses

Uses & Effectiveness?

Possibly Effective for

  • Hemorrhoids. Applying witch hazel water to the skin may help to temporarily relieve itching, discomfort, irritation, and burning from hemorrhoids and other anal disorders.
  • Minor bleeding. Applying witch hazel bark, leaf, or water to the skin reduces minor bleeding.
  • Skin irritation. Applying witch hazel cream seems to relieve mild skin irritation, but not as well as hydrocortisone. Other research shows that applying a specific witch hazel ointment (Hametum) to the skin appears to improve symptoms of skin injury or irritated skin as effectively as a dexpanthenol ointment in children.

Possibly Ineffective for

  • Itchy and inflamed skin (eczema). Applying a cream containing witch hazel to the skin for 14 days does not seem to improve itchy and inflamed skin in people with moderate eczema. Applying hydrocortisone cream seems to be a more effective treatment option.

Insufficient Evidence for

  • Bruises.
  • Colds.
  • Coughing up blood.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Eye inflammation.
  • Fevers.
  • Tuberculosis.
  • Varicose veins.
  • Vomiting blood.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of witch hazel for these uses.

Side Effects

Side Effects & Safety

Witch hazel is LIKELY SAFE for most adults when applied directly to the skin. In some people, it might cause minor skin irritation.

Witch hazel is POSSIBLY SAFE for most adults when small doses are taken by mouth. In some people, witch hazel might cause stomach upset when taken by mouth. Large doses might cause liver problems.

Witch hazel contains a cancer-causing chemical (safrole), but in amounts that are too small to be of concern.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Children: Witch hazel is POSSIBLY SAFE for children when applied directly to the skin.

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There is not enough reliable information about the safety of taking witch hazel if you are pregnant or breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Interactions

Interactions?

We currently have no information for WITCH HAZEL Interactions.

Dosing

Dosing

The following doses have been studied in scientific research:

ADULTS
APPLIED TO THE SKIN:

  • For skin irritation: An after sun lotion containing 10% witch hazel water has been used.
APPLIED TO THE ANUS:
  • For itching and discomfort associated with hemorrhoids and other anal disorders: Witch hazel water has been applied up to 6 times per day or after every bowel movement. Suppositories have been placed in the anus 1-3 times per day.
CHILDREN
APPLIED TO THE SKIN:
  • For skin irritation: An ointment containing witch hazel has been applied several times per day in children aged 2-11 years.

View References

REFERENCES:

  • [Drug therapy of hemorrhoids. Proven results of therapy with a hamamelis containing hemorrhoid ointment. Results of a meeting of experts. Dresden, 30 August 1991]. Fortschr.Med.Suppl 1991;116:1-11. View abstract.
  • Balansard, P., Faure, F., Balansard, G., Delaage, M., Roussey, A., and Bouyard, P. [Tonivenous effect of a purified extreact from Hamamelis virginiana]. Therapie 1972;27(5):793-799. View abstract.
  • Bernard, P., Balansard, P., Balansard, G., and Bovis, A. [Venitonic pharmacodynamic value of galenic preparations with a base of hamamelis leaves]. J.Pharm.Belg. 1972;27(4):505-512. View abstract.
  • East, C. E., Begg, L., Henshall, N. E., Marchant, P., and Wallace, K. Local cooling for relieving pain from perineal trauma sustained during childbirth. Cochrane.Database.Syst.Rev. 2007;(4):CD006304. View abstract.
  • Erdelmeier, C. A., Cinatl, J., Jr., Rabenau, H., Doerr, H. W., Biber, A., and Koch, E. Antiviral and antiphlogistic activities of Hamamelis virginiana bark. Planta Med. 1996;62(3):241-245. View abstract.
  • Hartisch, C., Kolodziej, H., and von Bruchhausen, F. Dual inhibitory activities of tannins from Hamamelis virginiana and related polyphenols on 5-lipoxygenase and lyso-PAF: acetyl-CoA acetyltransferase. Planta Med. 1997;63(2):106-110. View abstract.
  • Hill, N., Stam, C., and van Haselen, R. A. The efficacy of Prrrikweg gel in the treatment of insect bites: a double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Pharm World Sci 1996;18(1):35-41. View abstract.
  • Hughes-Formella, B. J., Bohnsack, K., Rippke, F., Benner, G., Rudolph, M., Tausch, I., and Gassmueller, J. Anti-inflammatory effect of hamamelis lotion in a UVB erythema test. Dermatology 1998;196(3):316-322. View abstract.
  • Hughes-Formella, B. J., Filbry, A., Gassmueller, J., and Rippke, F. Anti-inflammatory efficacy of topical preparations with 10% hamamelis distillate in a UV erythema test. Skin Pharmacol.Appl.Skin Physiol 2002;15(2):125-132. View abstract.
  • Korting, H. C., Schafer-Korting, M., Klovekorn, W., Klovekorn, G., Martin, C., and Laux, P. Comparative efficacy of hamamelis distillate and hydrocortisone cream in atopic eczema. Eur.J.Clin.Pharmacol. 1995;48(6):461-465. View abstract.
  • MacKay, D. Hemorrhoids and varicose veins: a review of treatment options. Altern Med Rev 2001;6(2):126-140. View abstract.
  • Royer, R. J. and Schmidt, C. L. [Evaluation of venotropic drugs by venous gas plethysmography. A study of procyanidolic oligomers (author's transl)]. Sem Hop 12-18-1981;57(47-48):2009-2013. View abstract.
  • Wolff, H. H. and Kieser, M. Hamamelis in children with skin disorders and skin injuries: results of an observational study. Eur.J.Pediatr. 2007;166(9):943-948. View abstract.
  • Covington TR, et al. Handbook of Nonprescription Drugs. 11th ed. Washington, DC: American Pharmaceutical Association, 1996.
  • Hormann HP, Korting HC. Evidence for the efficacy and safety of topical herbal drugs in dermatology: part I: anti-inflammatory agents. Phytomedicine 1994;1:161-71.
  • Korting HC, Schafer-Korting M, Hart H, et al. Anti-inflammatory activity of hamamelis distillate applied topically to the skin. Influence of vehicle and dose. Eur J Clin Pharmacol 1993;44:315-8.. View abstract.
  • Robbers JE, Tyler VE. Tyler's Herbs of Choice: The Therapeutic Use of Phytomedicinals. New York, NY: The Haworth Herbal Press, 1999.
  • Theisen LL, Erdelmeier CA, Spoden GA, Boukhallouk F, Sausy A, Florin L, Muller CP. Tannins from Hamamelis virginiana bark extract: characterization and improvement of the antiviral efficacy against influenza A virus and human papillomavirus. PLoS One. 2014 Jan 31;9(1):e88062. View abstract.

More Resources for WITCH HAZEL

CONDITIONS OF USE AND IMPORTANT INFORMATION: This information is meant to supplement, not replace advice from your doctor or healthcare provider and is not meant to cover all possible uses, precautions, interactions or adverse effects. This information may not fit your specific health circumstances. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified health care provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor or health care professional before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your health care plan or treatment and to determine what course of therapy is right for you.

This copyrighted material is provided by Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Consumer Version. Information from this source is evidence-based and objective, and without commercial influence. For professional medical information on natural medicines, see Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Professional Version. © Therapeutic Research Faculty 2009.