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6 Uses for Witch Hazel That Might Surprise You

witch hazel

A go-to home remedy for centuries

Witch hazel was a shrub first used by Native Americans to treat a number of ailments, says Niket Sonpal, MD, assistant clinical professor at Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine. But researchers are just now discovering the different chemical compounds within the plant’s bark and leaves that help explain why witch hazel has been a go-to treatment for centuries for everything from infections to bug bites.There are several different ways that witch hazel could benefit you. “Witch hazel is anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, possibly anti-viral, and an astringent,” says Ted Lain, MD, board-certified dermatologist and chief medical officer at Sanova Dermatology. But it definitely shouldn’t be applied at full strength. “As with all other natural or organic compounds, witch hazel is composed of numerous chemicals that can be damaging to the skin when applied at high concentrations.” Most commonly, it’s diluted into a cream or with water, alcohol, or a carrier oil, depending on whether it’s being used as a toner or ointment. But no matter how you use it, consult with your doctor before you use it to avoid potential interactions with your current treatment regimen.

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