Witch hazel is a small tree found on the east coast of North America. The witch hazels are more like deciduous shrubs and their name originates from Middle English. “Witch” does not come from the actual meaning of the word, which is “practitioner of magic”, but from the old English “wice”, meaning “bendable”. So, yes, it is not a magical tree, but rather a “pliant” one with a lot of health benefits, such as the healing of stretch marks, acne, varicose veins, and dandruff.
In this article, we are going to be looking at witch hazel and how it can help relieve sunburns.
Witch hazel for sunburn
Witch hazel is a very-known plant in dermatology and its extracts have been scientifically evaluated. The plant extract contains antioxidant polyphenolic compounds that could protect the skin from sunburn and photoaging (1). They have to be administered systemically, though.
Also, this plant is commonly used because of the availability of tannins, which is a compound that has antioxidant properties that help relieve the pain (2). With the tannings, the witch hazel is an excellent remedy for sunburns. However, the witch hazel has other benefits and it wouldn’t hurt to know more about them.
Other benefits of Witch Hazel
Witch hazel really has some powerful medicinal properties. Its benefits are quite-known among folk medicine in the US. Teas and ointments are made from the plant’s leaves and bark and are used for a broad spectrum of inflammations and other conditions. The witch hazel’s properties are also studied by scientists and are believed to bring valuable benefits in possibly treating certain types of cancer (3, 4).
Witch hazel could also help with rashes due to its anti-inflammatory properties (2). Irrespective of this fact, it is best not to apply it to the broken part of the skin directly.
Many of the treatments for acne and pimples contain witch hazel, and its astringent properties make it a good option if your skin is oily. According to findings, the witch hazel could prove very useful to people battling recurring acne (5).
Women tend to find it challenging to cope with stretch marks. Whether it is because our Instagram era is advertising a perfect, smooth, spotless woman body or just because women don’t like them, stretch marks can prove very challenging to a woman’s self-esteem in the long term.
In a bid to make stretch marks light and less noticeable, the witch hazel could prove a viable solution (6). However, as we always advise you to do, consult your physician and do not impulsively take matters into your own hands.
Some studies are still exploring the possibility that witch hazel fractions could be really efficient in inhibiting cell proliferation in human colon cancer cells. They would arrest the cell cycle and induce apoptosis (the controlled death of a cell as part of a body’s development) and even necrosis (3, 4).
Witch hazel proved to be a quite powerful anti-inflammatory acting as an astringent in cases of sore throats (2). As a way of administering, you can boil one teaspoon of witch hazel in a cup of water for about 10 minutes and then gargle it for pain relief. Apart from reducing swelling, this could also help dry the excess mucus in your sore throat.
However, you should know that the use of witch hazel for a sore throat is more part of folk medicine than proven by scientific papers. People have tried it and testify it works. Ingesting a beverage of witch hazel and water might bring about some stomach irritations because it is rich in tannin. Apart from this, there are no other reported adverse effects.
Witch hazel for sunburn seems like a good solution. Its anti-inflammatory, astringent and antiviral qualities have been researched and proven. Moreover, it seems it is quite a popular medicine in other conditions, from acne to scalp sensitivity, rashes, and even sore throat. Nevertheless, there is a lot of research yet to be made on the matter. So, speak to your doctor before you decide on anything!