At the risk of, yet again, oversharing…I just HAVE to share ONE MORE THING that relates to the medical procedure I had done last Friday. I’m well aware that this isn’t necessarily the stuff of “polite conversations”…but I feel like I would be remiss if I didn’t share the “real life” stuff with all of you, as well as the “good stuff”. Actually, if you think about it, getting a colonoscopy IS good stuff if you’re doing it because colon cancer runs in your family and as a result of the procedure you were given a clean bill of health! :-) That’s a VERY good thing in my book.
Anyway…I’m getting a little off track. Perhaps I’m stalling because the thing I want to talk about is ummm….errrrr…..rather delicate. So let’s just dive right in shall we? :-)
Prepping for a colonoscopy is AWFUL! I am not going to lie about that! You can’t eat anything for 24 hours prior to your appointment and you can only drink clear liquids. Now that’s hard enough. I mean I had a pretty rough time with just that! But even WORSE is that “devil’s potion” they make you drink! Magnesium Citrate. ugh. THE. WORST. STUFF. EVER. Then….as if all that weren’t bad enough…you get spend the day and night pretty much attached at the hip with your bathroom. I mean it makes sense, it would be pretty hard for the doctor to do what he has to do and see what he has to see unless you were completely “cleaned out”. As a matter of fact, when I was feeling weak, like I just couldn’t do it, I would tell myself…what if they send you home and you have to do this all over again!??? lol. That was a definite impetus to stay the course!
So….this “cleansing” that must take place is hard on one’s system…not to mention one’s posterior. I’m sorry it that’s offensive to some, but it’s just the way it is. It’s brutal what you’re putting your body through…there’s bound to be some fallout, including a very sore bum.
The instructions I got from the doctor’s office for the colonoscopy prep actually suggested purchasing some Tucks hemorrhoid pads for relief of any discomfort you might have…down there. But I figured why buy a whole jar of something I’m only going to use once (knock on wood). Then I thought about the bottle of witch hazel I have in my medicine cabinet and seemed to remember something about it being a remedy for hemorrhoid pain (kinda, sorta the same thing I was going through.) I did a little research and sure enough… Witch Hazel is a natural astringent that can help relieve pain, itching and swelling associated with hemorrhoids.
So I made up some of my own “Tucks” to use during this uncomfortable time and I am happy to report they were a little slice of heaven on earth.
Here is what I did:
I added a couple of drops of Lavender Essential Oil to about an ounce of witch hazel and then dipped round cotton pads in the solution. I then decided to put them in the freezer for good measure. Ahhhh…the relief was sublime and instantly made me a life-long believer in the power of this strangely-named medicinal marvel.
I figured my little remedy was just the tip of the iceberg where witch hazel was concerned so I looked into it some more. Turns out witch hazel is produced from the leaves and bark of the North American Witch Hazel shrub (Hamamelis Virginiana), and was widely used for medicinal purposes by American Indians. When distilled and combined with alcohol, the aromatic oil extracted from the bark of the witch hazel shrub makes a soothing and mildly astringent lotion.
Here are some of the other wonderful things that unassuming bottle of witch hazel hanging out in your medicine cabinet can do:
Witch hazel has the unique ability to clean skin pores and dry up excessive oil without leaving skin too dry. For healthy, normal skin, witch hazel can often replace a daily cleanser. For oily or acne prone skin, swabbing witch hazel throughout the day is a great way to quickly wipe off excessive oil without the hassle of a full face wash.
The tannin content in witch hazel has strong astringent as well as antioxidant properties. These astringent properties are cleansing to the skin, while minimizing the size of skin pores. Unlike many harsh commercial acne formulations, it is gentle and non-drying when used to tone and cleanse acne-infected or acne-prone skin. Plain witch hazel may be applied to the skin straight from the bottle using cotton balls. It should be applied to the acne-infected skin twice a day. It should never be applied more than three times a day.
Scars & Stretch Marks
Witch hazel is often used by pregnant women to prevent stretch marks, but it can be used to help loose or excessive skin around scars or stretch marks to tighten, helping to minimize the scar.
Soothe Diaper Rash
If your baby’s rash isn’t healing quick enough, apply witch hazel solution (Dickinson’s is good) with a cotton ball and you should see immediate improvement to your baby’s bottom.
Bags Under The Eyes
Some people say that the application of hemorrhoid cream to those little baggies under your eyes can take them away. It’s not an old wives’ tale. One of the magic ingredients in a product like Preparation H is witch hazel, which helps tighten up the skin and reduce the bagginess.
Soak wash cloths in witch hazel and lay on legs, which are propped straight out, to reduce pain and swelling from varicose veins. The witch hazel helps to tighten the veins, relieving the discomfort temporarily.
Soothe Chicken Pox Blisters
Witch Hazel can also help the itching caused from chicken pox. To make a Witch Hazel mixture, take one cup of witch hazel and one cup of water. Mix the two and apply to the skin. Don’t be afraid to lavish this mixture on the skin. The witch hazel can be applied as often as needed. Once you apply the witch hazel and water, let dry.
Heal Bruises Faster
I can’t believe I’ve never heard of this before! I am the worst bruiser! The hubster likes to say I “bruise like a summer peach.” :-) Now I know how to get rid of those bruises FASTER…apply witch hazel three times daily.
Heal Cuts and Scrapes
Many chemists and pharmacists refer to witch hazel as nature’s answer to Neosporin. Witch hazel can be a substitute for hydrogen peroxide or rubbing alcohol when it comes to cleaning out a cut. Pour a liberal amount of witch hazel over the cut or sore and allow it to dry. Add a bandage and you’re set. You can also use witch hazel on bruises or skin that is blistered or cracked.
Soothe Razor Burn
The anti-inflammatory properties of witch hazel stop itchy bumps from forming up around your irritated hair follicles. Splash on after shaving legs or face.
Healing damaged skin is one of witch hazel’s specialties. But as sunburn is also a type of skin inflammation, witch hazel is ideal for treating this too (despite swelling not being obvious). Treating sunburn with witch hazel will lessen healing time and prevent the infamous skin peeling and flaking. Apply with a washcloth soaked in witch hazel, allowing it to soak into your skin for several minutes before removing.
Treat Dry Skin
This is so timely for me right now. Lately legs have just been itching like crazy because they are so dry! Apply witch hazel immediately after showering to lock in the moisture that has just soaked into your skin. You can bet I will be trying this!
Soothe Tired, Puffy Eyes
If your eyes are puffy from crying or lack of sleep (or both), then soak two small cotton pads with witch hazel and put them over your eyes. After 10 minutes, your eyes should be refreshed, and any redness should be gone. Witch hazel is famous for shrinking blood vessels (which is why it’s one of the main ingredients in Preparation H cream).
Witch hazel is often used in deodorants due to its natural skin-healing and skin-care properties. Here is a recipe for a natural deodorant I posted back in October.
Sore Gums, Sore Throat, Laryngitis
The antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and astringent activity of Witch Hazel may help shrink and heal inflamed and sore throats, gums and larynx. Witch hazel tea infused with myrrh and cloves can make your sore throat feel better after gargling.
Witch Hazel applied on a cold sore when you feel it coming on will prevent it from becoming a blister. If you already have one, use it right away and often and the blister will heal quicker.
Scalp Deep Cleanse
Use a witch hazel hair-cleansing routine if you suffer from psoriasis, eczema, or dandruff. Massage the scalp with the witch hazel, followed with shampoo and conditioner. It is also an efficient “between-shampoos” method of washing your hair and scalp.
With its anti-itch and anti-inflammatory properties, witch hazel is ideal for treating bug bites. Apply the witch hazel with a cotton ball, square or swab directly on the bite. It also works to soothe bites from fleas, flies and insect stings.
Poison Ivy and Poison Oak
Just like acne and blemishes, the witch hazel reduces itching and relieves swelling. Something definitely worth packing on your next camping trip.
Cleaning Dogs Ears
Give your dog’s ears a cleaning by moistening a cotton ball or cloth with witch hazel, and gently wiping the inside of the ears. Don’t use a cotton swab.
Ticks may relish the taste of your family pet, but they hate the taste of witch hazel. Before attempting to remove a tick, douse the tick with a few drops of witch hazel to make it loosen its jaws. Grasp the tick firmly and pull; disinfect the bite area by dabbing the skin with witch hazel once the tick has been successfully removed.
Witch hazel can also be combined with lemon juice and baking soda to create an eco-friendly cleaning agent for your bathrooms. Or use it undiluted on chrome, glass and mirrors. You don’t need to rinse as the alcohol-based cleaner readily evaporates, leaving the chrome sparkling clean and germ-free.
You can also use 1/2 cup witch hazel, 1 cup of water and about 15 drops of essential oil such as lavender, grapefruit, eucalyptus or cedar, combined in a spray bottle as an air freshener. Witch hazel on a cotton ball works well to remove hair dye stains on skin, too.
Vinyl, linoleum, and tile floors can be kept clean by mopping once a week with a solution made from 1/2 cup of witch hazel and 1 gallon of warm water. The solvents in the witch hazel strip away old wax while the water dissolves dirt and debris. To clean heavily soiled floors, stir 1 tablespoon of borax into the solution prior to mopping.
Dab some witch hazel on a cotton ball to gently clean your jewelry.
Witch hazel is one of those simple, natural products that most of us probably already have on hand, but that we don’t use very often. Guilty! Well, now that you know how many really practical uses there are for it (not to mention how inexpensive it is!) it’s time to bring that bottle out of the cupboard and put it to good use!
What are some of your favorite uses for witch hazel?