Overview

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, mucuscolitis, vomitingblood, coughing up blood, tuberculosis, colds, fevers, tumors, and cancer.

Some people apply witch hazel directly to the skin for itching, pain and swelling (inflammation), eyeinflammation, skin injury, mucous membrane inflammation, vaginal dryness after menopause, 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 & 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

  • Health problems after menopause. Early research shows that applying a cream containing witch hazel into the vagina can reduce feelings of vaginal dryness in postmenopausal women.
  • 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

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 and Warnings

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. 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 ?

We currently have no information for WITCH HAZEL overview.

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

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 2020.