Witch Hazel
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Witch Hazel Usage

Written by FoundHealth.

What is Witch Hazel Used for Today?

Witch hazel is widely marketed for direct application to the skin to relieve pain, stop bleeding, control itching, reduce symptoms of eczema , and treat muscle aches. Pads, ointments, and suppositories containing witch hazel are used for treatment of hemorrhoids . Extracts of the bark and leaf are used in Europe to treat diarrhea , inflammation of the gums, canker sores , and varicose veins . However, there is no meaningful evidence that witch hazel is actually effective for any of these conditions.

One small double-blind study is commonly cited as evidence that witch hazel is effective for treatment of eczema . This study compared topical witch hazel ointment to the drug bufexamac, and found them equally effective. 1 However, bufexamac itself has not been shown effective for the treatment of eczema, and so this study proves little. A subsequent study failed to find witch hazel more effective than a placebo treatment for eczema. 2 There are no other meaningful studies of witch hazel. Extremely preliminary evidence hints that it may have anti-inflammatory properties, 3 4 and even weaker evidence suggests that witch hazel may increase the contractility of veins (potentially making it useful in varicose veins ). 5 However, this evidence is far too weak to support using witch hazel for any of these conditions.

References

  1. Swoboda M, Meurer J. Treatment of atopic dermatitis with hamamelis ointment. Br J Phytother. 1991;2:128–132.
  2. Korting HC, Schafer-Korting M, Klovekorn W, et al. Comparative efficacy of hamamelis distallate and hydrocortisone cream in atopic eczema. Eur J Clin Pharmacol. 1995;48:461–465.
  3. Korting HC, Schäfer-Korting M, Hart H, Laux P, Schmid M. Anti-inflammatory activity of hamamelis distillate applied topically to the skin. Influence of vehicle and dose. Eur J Clin Pharmacol. 44(4):315-8.
  4. Duwiejua M, Zeitlin IJ, Waterman PG, et al. Anti-inflammatory activity of Polygonum bistorta , Guaiacumofficinale and Hamamelis virginiana in rats. J Pharm Pharmacol. 1994;46:286–290.
  5. Bernard P, Balansard P, Balansard G, et al. Venitonic pharmacodynamic value of galenic preparations with a base of hamamelis leaves [in French]. J Pharm Belg. 1972;27:505–512.
 
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