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Witch Hazel by Vanessa Armstrong

I have recently acquired some witch hazel for use in a homemade tonic for my skin and although it is something that I have heard of, it is something that I’ve never had any use for until now - I was amazed to find that there are so many uses for it out of one bottle, so decided to investigate further...

Witch Hazel are a genus of flowering plants in the family Hamamelidaceae, a shrub that grows to approximately 10-25 feet.

There are about 6 species of this plant - 4 being native to North America and one each in China and Japan.

As well as its use for witch hazel water, the plant is also grown as a decorative shrub as it has beautiful blooms of red/orange and bright yellow flowers which come out late autumn right through winter.

Witch hazel water itself is made from the bark and leaves of the shrub. The process to do this is usually by distilling. The solution has a vast amount of medicinal properties: -

1. Astringent 2. Tonic 3. Sedative 4. Anti-Inflammatory 5. Antiseptic 6. Anti-Viral 7. Antibacterial

Witch hazel is excellent for skin care and is used topically, which means 'applied to the surface' as opposed to oral, where something is taken internally.

Witch hazel is not recommended to be taken orally due to possible side effects and reactions.

It is, however, very soothing on the skin. It reduces redness, irritation, swelling and minor inflammation. It’s not to be used on broken or very sore skin though.

It can be used for treating skin conditions, like acne, as its astringent properties will help to dry the skin, therefore reducing the oil produced and help with the promotion of clearer skin. Its disinfectant properties kill the microbes that cause the infection too. Toning the skin after cleansing is another excellent use for witch hazel. It is good for all skin types but particularly good for oily skin as it dries the oil from the pores and helps to tighten them. I use a teaspoon of witch hazel in 250ml of rose water as an excellent - and amazing smell - tonic for my skin.

The anti-inflammatory properties in witch hazel helps with bruises and sprains/strains. Apply 3 times daily to the affected area for best results.

Mix equal amounts of water, witch hazel and a few drops of your favourite essential oil to a spray bottle to give your home a lovely burst of scent. Much more friendly than regular room sprays and you get to choose your favourite oils too! Brilliant for pet odours also!

A paste made from witch hazel, lemon juice and bicarbonate of soda is a great bathroom cleaner and brings your taps up a treat!

Witch hazel has as many magical uses as it does medicinal uses - both as the liquid and the shrub parts.

Planet - Saturn or Sun Element - Fire Sabbat - Samhain Also known as - Snapping Hazelnut, Spotted Alder and Winterbloom.

Witch Hazel twigs can be used for divination and planting one in your garden is good for protection.

The distilled witch hazel can be used as part of a banishing spell. Write the name of the person you wish to banish on a piece of paper, Place in a cup and pour over enough witch hazel to cover it and place in the light of the waning moon. (From Whispers from the Woods by Sandra Kynes)

Being an herb of chastity, it can be used to control passions. Placing some of the bark and leaves in a charm bag will help heal a broken heart. Keeping parts of the shrub near or on your altar can assist with clairvoyant, magical and divinatory energies.

Witch Hazel seeds can be used for divination - similar to reading tea leaves. Carrying a poppet stuffed with the leaves and seeds of the witch hazel can aid in the healing of various skin ailments. Witch hazel wands can be used most effectively in water dowsing. It is also used to banish hexes, dis-ease or negativity in general.

The earliest known recorded use of distilled witch hazel for general medicinal use dates back to 1846 but there have been notes saying that it was used by Native Americans and passed down through the ages to the Puritans and so on...

Either distilled in your bathroom cabinet or in your garden as a shrub, this aptly named Witch Hazel is certainly one to have as a go-to remedy for all your witchy needs.

reference - image - wikipedia

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