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The witch hazel plant, also called witch hazel, is a plant that can be found in North America as well as in Asia. Due to its healing properties, witch hazel has been used in many medicinal and care products for many decades.
In our large witch hazel test 2023, we present various witch hazel products and show you how to find the most suitable witch hazel product for you based on our purchase and evaluation criteria. In addition, we have selected background information about witch hazel and answered the most important questions for you in our guide section.
- 1 Summary
- 2 The Best Witch Hazel: Our Choices
- 3 Buying and evaluation criteria for witch hazel products
- 4 Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying witch hazel products
- 4.1 What is witch hazel and how does it work?
- 4.2 When and for whom is it useful to take witch hazel?
- 4.3 What parts of the witch hazel plant are used?
- 4.4 How much do witch hazel products cost?
- 4.5 What types of witch hazel products are there?
- 4.6 How should witch hazel be dosed?
- 4.7 What are the alternatives to witch hazel?
- 4.8 What do I have to bear in mind when using witch hazel?
- The witch hazel plant has already been used for many decades in medicinal and care products due to its healing active ingredients. They have an anti-inflammatory, haemostatic and itch-relieving effect.
- Due to the tannins, flavanoids and essential oils it contains, witch hazel can be used to treat various diseases. These include skin diseases, haemorrhoids, varicose veins and inflammations of the digestive tract.
- Witch hazel is available in the form of tea, ointments, creams and also as a facial tonic. Each form of administration is suitable for a different purpose.
The Best Witch Hazel: Our Choices
Buying and evaluation criteria for witch hazel products
In the following section, we would like to present you with the buying and evaluation criteria with which you can compare the various witch hazel products with each other. The criteria include:
By making the right choice for you, you can save money and also ensure that you are not giving your body anything it does not need. Therefore, always look for high quality and, if necessary, ask to see the manufacturer’s certificates.
Form of administration
Whether as a tea, cream, ointment or capsules, witch hazel is available in many different forms and varieties. You should familiarise yourself with the different effects of the individual forms in advance so that you can find the right product for you. The dosage form not only influences the price, but also the purpose of the product. If you need witch hazel for itching and skin diseases, we recommend an ointment.
Depending on the manufacturer and size of the product, the concentration of witch hazel can vary. Before buying, check with your doctor or pharmacist about the recommended dose to find the most suitable product for you. In particular, high quality products with a higher concentration of witch hazel may result in a higher price.
Depending on the manufacturer and the dosage form, the size of the product will also differ. When choosing a product, you should also remember that products such as creams and ointments should not be left lying around for long.
So if you do not plan to use the cream very often, we recommend the smaller tubes. Witch hazel tablets also come in different sizes. The more tablets there are, the more expensive the product. If you have never used witch hazel tablets before, we recommend that you take the smallest pack so that you can wait and see whether you tolerate it.
Many products contain other ingredients besides witch hazel, such as rose extract or tea tree oil. In this way, manufacturers want to provide you with a product that is effective against many problems.
Make sure that the product of your choice has few and only natural ingredients.
This way you can be sure that you are only providing your body with natural ingredients and thus doing something good for it. It is best to think about which ingredients are necessary for you before buying and then choose the right product based on these criteria.
Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying witch hazel products
In order to inform you comprehensively about the effectiveness of witch hazel and to give you an understanding of the current state of science, we have summarised all the important information in the following sections.
What is witch hazel and how does it work?
Unusually for plants, the witch hazel begins to flower in winter. While all other plants are still in deep hibernation, the witch hazel already starts to flower in January or February, which is why it is nicknamed the “witch hazel”.(2) The healing effect of witch hazel can be traced back to two main ingredients(3):
- Essential oils
The active ingredients extracted from the witch hazel have an astringent, haemostatic and anti-inflammatory effect. (4) Depending on how the bark or leaves of the witch hazel plant are processed, they are suitable for different diseases and problems. The witch hazel plant can help with the following complaints:
For skin diseases and injuries
As the active substances of witch hazel have an astringent effect, the mucous membranes and the skin contract. This makes it harder for germs to penetrate the skin. Witch hazel can help you with the following skin diseases:
- dry skin
- Anal eczema
- Inflammation of the mouth, gums and throat
As the witch hazel plant also has an antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory effect, fungi and bacteria can multiply less easily. This promotes the healing process of irritated or already inflamed skin. (5, 6) As it is a pure herbal product, witch hazel is also particularly suitable as an alternative to preparations containing weak cortisone.(7)
The astringent effect of witch hazel makes this plant particularly suitable for treating inflamed and painful haemorrhoids. Due to the tannins it contains, witch hazel has an anti-inflammatory effect and thus relieves itching, burning and slight bleeding.(8, 9)
Note that witch hazel is only suitable for treating grade I and II haemorrhoids. These complaints include burning, itching and slight bleeding.
Witch hazel ointments, which you can find in any pharmacy, drugstore or webshop, are particularly suitable for this.
For inflammation of the digestive tract
Witch hazel can also help with inflammation of the digestive tract and diarrhoea. Tea made from the dried leaves of witch hazel is particularly suitable for this. You can buy it pre-packaged or make it yourself. If the problems persist after a few days, we recommend that you see a doctor.
For varicose veins
Since witch hazel contains flavonoids as well as tannins and essential oils, it strengthens the walls of your veins. This makes it easier for the blood to be transported.(10) So if you suffer from aching legs, swollen feet or varicose veins, we recommend that you take witch hazel. These symptoms are usually caused by blood stasis in the veins. With the help of witch hazel, these are relieved and the associated discomfort is alleviated. (8)
When and for whom is it useful to take witch hazel?
As this is a pure plant product, witch hazel is also very suitable for children. If you want to use witch hazel during pregnancy or breastfeeding, we recommend that you discuss the treatment with your doctor beforehand.
What parts of the witch hazel plant are used?
- Steam distillation: This process does not filter out the tannins, but only produces essential oils
- Extraction with alcohol: Here, the tannins of the witch hazel plant are targeted. These have a particularly anti-inflammatory effect and promote the healing process. Alcohol is necessary to obtain these substances, as they can only be extracted in this solvent.
Depending on whether tea, ointment or a facial tonic is to be made from the witch hazel, one or the other process is used. Therefore, before you buy a product, you should understand its purpose, so that you give your body exactly what it needs.
How much do witch hazel products cost?
|Dosage form||price range|
|Hamamelis tea||10 to 16 euros|
|Hamamelis cream||5 to 29 euros|
|Hamamelis ointment||10 to 25 euros|
|Hamamelis tablets||6 to 23 euros|
|Hamamelis cleansing water||3 to 26 euros|
As you can see, the price depends mainly on the form of the product. So before you buy a particular witch hazel product, make sure that it is suitable for your purpose.
What types of witch hazel products are there?
Witch hazel tea
Witch hazel tea is particularly suitable for stomach problems. Due to the tannins contained in the plant, the tea has a soothing effect on the stomach and intestines and has a constipating effect on a sluggish intestine. Since the tea contains crushed leaves, it is easy and uncomplicated to dose.
You can either buy pre-packaged tea or make it yourself using witch hazel leaves. You can sweeten your tea with honey, as witch hazel is a bit bitter by nature.
However, some products contain not only pure witch hazel leaves, but also other aromas or preservatives. Therefore, we recommend that you look for an organic seal when buying. This way you can be sure that the tea is made exclusively from witch hazel leaves.
If you buy pre-packaged tea, you will receive the crushed, dried leaves of the witch hazel plant. These are usually without a filter bag, which is why you should have a filter insert or empty tea bags at home to prepare the tea. However, this allows you to individually dose the intensity of the tea. Just the way you like it.
Witch hazel creams / ointments
Witch hazel can also be bought in ointment or cream form. This is recommended especially for reddened skin or itching. They have a fast and complex effect and are pure plant products. Depending on the manufacturer, you can buy witch hazel ointments and creams in different sizes.
Thanks to their witch hazel ointments and creams are excellent for any skin irritations and haemorrhoids.
When buying witch hazel creams, you should pay particular attention to the other ingredients. These can cause skin irritation or dry out your skin.
Witch Hazel Facial Toner
The cleansing water with witch hazel is particularly suitable for those who have dry skin. The witch hazel moisturises the skin. In addition, witch hazel is already available in shampoos and also has a moisturising function. So if you are struggling with dry skin, we recommend that you use witch hazel cleansing water.
It is best to use a cotton pad to apply the toner.
With the help of witch hazel, the toner not only soothes your skin, but also moisturises it at the same time. Some products also contain alcohol. If you have dry skin, we recommend choosing a toner without alcohol, as it dries out the skin.
Witch hazel tablets
If you are looking for witch hazel to take but don’t have time for three cups of tea a day, then witch hazel in tablet form is just the thing for you. Because you only have to swallow one tablet, it has no taste of its own and is swallowed in seconds.
Some products contain other herbal ingredients besides witch hazel, so you don’t have to buy them separately and therefore don’t need any more tablets. Therefore, we recommend that you pay attention to the ingredients of the product when buying it, so that you can find the most suitable product for you.
How should witch hazel be dosed?
|tea||two to three cups a day|
|cream / ointment||apply twice a day, preferably in the morning and evening|
|tablets||take twice a day, in the morning and evening|
|facial tonic||apply once or twice a day|
If you are unsure, just check the package leaflet of your product or ask your doctor or pharmacist.
What are the alternatives to witch hazel?
|Green tea||also has a calming effect on the stomach and intestines(11)|
|Nettle ointment||has an anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving effect(12)|
|Rose facial tonic||slows down the skin ageing process, suitable for dry skin due to its pH-neutralising properties(13)|
What do I have to bear in mind when using witch hazel?
In addition, excessive consumption can cause stomach irritation, and in rare cases, liver damage. So if you suffer from a sensitive stomach, you should be careful with witch hazel and only take very little.
Image source: 123rf / billyshimo
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Medikamentöse Behandlung des Hämorrhoidallesidens. Geprüfte Behandlungserfolge mit einer hamamelishaltigen Hämorrhoidalsalbe. Ergebnisse des Expertengespräch. 30.8. 1991 in Dresden [Drug therapy of hemorrhoids. Proven results of therapy with a hamamelis containing hemorrhoid ointment. Results of a meeting of experts. Dresden, 30 August 1991]. Fortschr Med Suppl. 1991;116:1-11.
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Tachibana, H., Koga, K., Fujimura, Y. et al. A receptor for green tea polyphenol EGCG. Nat Struct Mol Biol 11, 380–381 (2004). https://doi.org/10.1038/nsmb743
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Filipović M, Gledović A, Lukić M, et al. Alp Rose stem cells, olive oil squalene and a natural alkyl polyglucoside emulsifier: Are they appropriate ingredients of skin moisturizers - in vivo efficacy on normal and sodium lauryl sulfate - irritated skin?. Vojnosanit Pregl. 2016;73(11):991-1002.