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Stacy Wiegman, PharmD, Pharmacy, answeredWitch hazel is a plant found in North America. An extract, made from the leaves and bark of a witch hazel bush or tree, can be used to treat certain skin conditions. These conditions include hemorrhoids, skin irritations, minor skin inflammations such as eczema, cuts, scrapes, or bruises. It can also be gargled to soothe swelling of the throat or mouth. Witch hazel is applied to the skin for these conditions. It can also be taken internally in small doses to provide relief from diarrhea and other conditions, although this use is not recommended. There is no clinical evidence supporting its effectiveness in treating any of these conditions. It is believed that witch hazel may help skin heal by killing bacteria, reducing inflammation, and tightening skin proteins. Witch hazel is also known as avellano de bruja, hamamelis, hamamelis water, hamamelis viginiana, hazel, snapping tobacco wood, spotted elder, and winter bloom.
Witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) is a flowering shrub, native to Eastern North America although other related species exist in North America, Asia, and Europe. Witch hazel has traditionally been used as a facial cleanser/toner and for the treatment of skin irritations, bruises, hemmorrhoids, and to stop bleeding.
Early research has shown that the leaves, stems, and bark of witch hazel contain compounds which may have astringent, anti-irritant, antioxidant, and antiinflammatory properties.
Although witch hazel is widely available and has been used for a variety of medical conditions, there is currently little human evidence supporting how effective witch hazel is in treatment of many of these conditions.
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The leaves of the witch hazel plant, which grows throughout most of North America, have more than 30 traditional medicinal uses, such as reducing inflammation and bleeding. An ointment (available in most health food stores) made from witch hazel can be applied to the skin to treat bruises and cuts and to tighten stretched (distended) veins and restore blood vessel tone.
Witch hazel is recommended for external use. Some people drink witch hazel tea, but the correct dosage is uncertain. Consuming too much witch hazel can cause nausea, vomiting, and constipation.
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