Witch hazel isn’t some new natural treatment it has, in fact, been used for centuries to treat a wide array of skin problems, such as eczema, psoriasis and poison ivy. Despite its many uses, witch hazel is most commonly used to treat painful hemorrhoids. Hemorrhoids are inflamed and swollen veins in the anus and rectum that causes extreme discomfort, itching and bleeding. Before we reveal more about witch hazel and its treatment for hemorrhoids, let’s learn a bit more about this useful and natural liquid.
What is Witch Hazel?
Witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) is an American shrub that grows in USDA hardiness zones 3 to 8. It is often grown as an ornamental shrub because of its fragrant yellow blooms that appear in the fall. It grows to about 15 to 20-feet tall but has been known to reach heights of 30-feet when grown it its natural habitat. The leaves and bark of the Witch Hazel shrub are used to make an astringent and anti-inflammatory compound that is a common ingredient in various over-the-counter products.
Why is it Called Witch Hazel?
While it may sound spooky or creepy, the name witch hazel makes sense if you look back at the plant’s origins. Witch comes from the Middle English world wiche, which is derived from the Old English word wice, meaning bendable or pliant. In England, the name Witch Hazel was also synonymous with Wych Elm, which is a wide ranging European species of Elm tree.
The American colonists, however, took the name Witch Hazel, which they were previously familiar with, and applied it to a new shrub (Hamamelis virginiana) they had discovered.
Some believe the twigs of the Witch Hazel shrub were used as divining rods, just like the twigs from Hazel trees were used in England, and that may have been why hazel was added to the “witch” portion of the shrub’s name.
How Well Does Witch Hazel Relieve Hemorrhoids Pain?
Witch hazel naturally has antiseptic and astringent properties. Because of this, it can be an effective and all-natural treatment for hemorrhoids. These beneficial properties shrink the hemorrhoids and even stop bleeding associated with the painful condition. Witch hazel is also effective at alleviating the itching and burning that accompanies hemorrhoids.
Keep in mind, however, that your experience with Witch Hazel as a hemorrhoid treatment may not mimic the results that others experience. Despite the high rate of effectiveness, witch hazel will not cure hemorrhoids for everyone . Since it is such a safe treatment option, however, it is worth a try if you’re suffering from this unpleasant condition.
How to Use Witch Hazel for Treating Hemorrhoids
Witch hazel can be used both externally and internally, though externally is the most common way to use this astringent. For external use, make a few hemorrhoid-relieving wipes by soaking gauze or cotton balls in witch hazel and wiping the affected area with the dampened wipes. You can also purchase pre-soaked witch hazel pads for hemorrhoids which for many people is much more convenient, TUCKS provide a hemorroidal pad that is soaked in witch hazel that is very popular.
For internal use, you will need to make a suppository by mixing 1 teaspoon of witch hazel with 1 teaspoon of cocoa butter. Form the pasty mixture into a suppository-like shape and then placed in the freezer. Once it has frozen solid, insert the homemade suppository into the anus. You can also find various over-the-counter hemorrhoid treatment products that contain witch hazel as one of their active ingredients.
No matter which way you use witch hazel to control hemorrhoids; you should always clean the anal area before applying the treatment option. Make sure to be gentle while cleaning the area with warm water and avoid scrubbing as this will only make the irritation worse.
Witch Hazel Confusion & Controversy
Despite its relatively safe nature, witch hazel can cause adverse side effects. This, however, seems to only occur when people use the cheap bottles of witch hazel commonly purchased at department and grocery stores. These generally contain more than just witch hazel. Adverse reactions typically don’t occur when real witch hazel extract products are used.
Since there is a possibility that witch hazel can cause skin irritation, it is best to test a small amount of it on your hand, leg or arm. If, after 24 hours, there are no adverse reactions, continue to use witch hazel as desired. If any reactions occur, however, immediately discontinue use.