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Witch Hazel

Natural health supplements sometimes have unexpected side effects or interactions with medication that can lead to adverse reactions that are sometimes life threatening. The following is a list of cautions that you should be aware of before using witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana). These are referred to as drug/herb interactions.

Warning 1 - Iron salts: Using witch hazel may decrease the absorption of iron salts.

Warning 2 - Pregnancy and breast-feeding: The effects of using witch hazel during pregnancy and breast-feeding are unknown. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Used as a natural health remedy: witch hazel is used internally for the following benefits and conditions:
  • Diarrhea
  • Varicose veins
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Colitis
  • Excessive menstruation
  • Laryngitis
  • Mouthwash, gargle for sore throat
  • Prolapsed organs
Witch hazel is used externally for
  • Blemishes
  • Bruises
  • Burns
  • Back pain relief
  • Cold sores caused by Herpes simplex 1 virus
  • Eyewashes
  • Eczema relief
  • Hemorrhage
  • Hemorrhoids (cloth soaked in strong witch hazel tea)
  • Make-up remover
  • Oral hygiene
  • Reduce bags under eyes
  • Reduce inflammation of phlebitis (inflammation of a vein)
  • Reduce pore size
  • Reduce swelling
  • Relieve pain and itching of insect bites and stings
  • Soothe irritated skin, inflammation (rashes, poison ive and poison oak)
  • Soothe sore muscles
  • Sore nipples
  • Spots
  • Sprains
  • Stop minor bleeding
  • Sunburn
  • Varicose veins
Recent studies in Germany and the United Kingdom indicate that witch hazel extract provides some protection from UV radiation in sunlight.

Because of its anti-inflammatory and soothing properties, witch hazel is approved by the FDA as an ingredient in over-the-counter medications to treat hemorrhoids and varicose veins.

Side Effects of Witch Hazel

The known possible side effects of using witch hazel internally are usually mild but can include:
  1. Constipation
  2. Nausea
  3. Stomach ache
  4. Vomiting
Very rarely some people experience dark urine, yellowed skin and eyes. These symptoms should be reported to your doctor immediately as they could indicate a serious condition such as liver damage.

Using more than 1 gram of witch hazel orally may lead to vomiting, constipation, and upset stomach. Other side effects may also occur when using witch hazel. (See form below)

As with any non-prescription remedy, a doctor should always be consulted before using witch hazel for any medical treatment.

This herb is also known as Winter Bloom, Potted alder, Hamamelis, Hamamelis Water, Hamamelis virginiana, Snapping Hazel, Tobacco Wood, Snapping Tobacco Wood, Spotted Alder, and Striped Alder.

As with any herb, a serious allergic reaction is possible. Seek immediate medical attention if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction. These may include a rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, or trouble breathing.

Return to the Herb List.

For questions and answers about the side effects of herbs see the Herb Forum

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This consumer advocate website is protected by copyright 2011 Askdocweb, Inc. All Rights Reserved. This is a layman's report on witch hazel and is not intended to replace discussions with a health care provider. Do not use the information on this forum as a substitute for your doctor's advice. Always consult your doctor before taking any drug and follow your doctor's directions. Source material: Food and Drug Administration, Medline, Physician's Desk Reference, and the largest community of people in the world, those who are concerned about side effects and healthcare.
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