Last updated: August 10, 2021

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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 2021, 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.




Summary

  • 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.

Dosage

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.

Package size

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.

Other ingredients

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?

The witch hazel plant was already known by the Native Americans for its healing properties. The plant grows as a shrub in eastern parts of North America, but some species of witch hazel plants also grow exclusively in the Asian region.(1)

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The witch hazel plant contains numerous tannins that have both anti-inflammatory and haemostatic effects. (Image source: Laura Ockel / Unsplash)

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):

  • Tannins
  • Essential oils
  • Flavonoids

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:

  • Neurodermatitis
  • dry skin
  • Acne
  • 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)

For haemorrhoids

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?

Due to its various positive properties and its good tolerance, witch hazel is suitable for anyone who suffers from skin problems, stomach complaints or haemorrhoids. Due to its anti-inflammatory and astringent active ingredients, witch hazel supports the body's natural healing process.

hamamelis-test

Witch hazel products are also suitable for children due to their high tolerance. (Image source: congerdesign / Pixabay)

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?

The bark, twigs and leaves of the witch hazel plant are mainly used because they contain anti-inflammatory substances. These are usually collected from wild places. After collection, there are two different ways in which these parts of the witch hazel plant can be processed:

  1. Steam distillation: This process does not filter out the tannins, but only produces essential oils
  2. 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?

The price of witch hazel varies depending on the size and manufacturer of the product. The dosage form also plays a big role. Witch hazel tea is cheaper than capsules, but they have to be bought more often than capsules. In general, however, you can expect a price range of 5 to 25 euros.
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?

In the following section we would like to show you the different types of witch hazel products. Basically, you can buy the following products with witch hazel:

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.

hamamelis-test

You can buy pre-packaged witch hazel tea or make your own using the leaves. Simply pour boiling water over the leaves and leave to soak for a short time. (Image source: ivabalk / Pixabay)

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.

Advantages
  • can be dosed individually
  • less expensive than other forms of intake
  • also available as organic tea
Disadvantages
  • must be replenished more often
  • tea use necessary

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.

Advantages
  • long-lasting
  • available in different sizes
  • also available without artificial fragrances and preservatives
Disadvantages
  • even small packs are expensive
  • some contain alcohol

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.

Use the toner twice a day.

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.

Advantages
  • refreshes and revitalises the skin
  • moisturises
  • optimises the skin's appearance
Disadvantages
  • usually contains alcohol
  • comparatively more expensive
  • must be bought more often

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.

hamamelis-test

Witch hazel in tablet form is suitable for those who do not like the bitter taste. Since you merely swallow the tablets, they are tasteless. (Image source: jarmoluk / Pixabay)

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.

Advantages
  • tasteless
  • also available as a stock pack
  • long shelf life
Disadvantages
  • no individual dosage possible
  • must be swallowed whole
  • most expensive dosage form

How should witch hazel be dosed?

The dose of witch hazel can vary completely depending on the product and manufacturer. Basically, we recommend the following dosage:
dosage form dosage
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?

If witch hazel is not to your liking, there are numerous other plants that are also said to have positive properties on the human body. We list a corresponding alternative for each form of administration here.
Alternative properties
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?

Although there are no known interactions with other medications or side effects, witch hazel can cause an allergic reaction in some people. We therefore recommend that you consult your doctor or pharmacist before using a witch hazel product. This is especially true for children or during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

hamamelis-test

Although the witch hazel plant has no known side effects, it can cause an irritated stomach if consumed in excess. (Image source: sshreet / Pixabay)

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

References (13)

1. Xie L, Yi TS, Li R, Li DZ, Wen J. Evolution and biogeographic diversification of the witch-hazel genus (Hamamelis L., Hamamelidaceae) in the Northern Hemisphere. Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2010;56(2):675-689. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2010.02.018
Source

2. Anderson GJ, Hill JD. Many to flower, few to fruit: the reproductive biology of Hamamelis virginiana (Hamamelidaceae). Am J Bot. 2002;89(1):67-78. doi:10.3732/ajb.89.1.67
Source

3. Longo R, Mazzoldi G. Determinazione delle sostanze tanniche nella droga e negli estratti di Hamamelis virginiana L [Determination of tannic substances in the drug and extracts of Hamamelis virginiana L]. Boll Chim Farm. 1966;105(3):241-244
Source

4. Korting HC, Schäfer-Korting M, Hart H, Laux P, Schmid M. Anti-inflammatory activity of hamamelis distillate applied topically to the skin. Influence of vehicle and dose. Eur J Clin Pharmacol. 1993;44(4):315-318. doi:10.1007/BF00316465
Source

5. Hughes-Formella BJ, Bohnsack K, Rippke F, et al. Anti-inflammatory effect of hamamelis lotion in a UVB erythema test. Dermatology. 1998;196(3):316-322. doi:10.1159/000017904
Source

6. Colantonio S, Rivers JK. Botanicals With Dermatologic Properties Derived From First Nations Healing: Part 2-Plants and Algae. J Cutan Med Surg. 2017;21(4):299-307. doi:10.1177/1203475416683390
Source

7. Wolff HH, Kieser M. Hamamelis in children with skin disorders and skin injuries: results of an observational study. Eur J Pediatr. 2007;166(9):943-948. doi:10.1007/s00431-006-0363-1
Source

8. MacKay D. Hemorrhoids and varicose veins: a review of treatment options. Altern Med Rev. 2001;6(2):126-140.
Source

9. 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.
Source

10. Royer RJ, Schmidt CL. Intérêt de la pléthysmographie gazeuse pour l'appréciation des effets "veinotropes" des médicaments. Etude des effets des oligomères procyanidoliques [Evaluation of venotropic drugs by venous gas plethysmography. A study of procyanidolic oligomers (author's transl)]. Sem Hop. 1981;57(47-48):2009-2013.
Source

11. 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
Source

12. Stinging Nettle. In: Drugs and Lactation Database (LactMed). Bethesda (MD): National Library of Medicine (US); December 3, 2018.
Source

13. 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.
Source

Why you can trust me?

Wissenschaftliche Untersuchung
Xie L, Yi TS, Li R, Li DZ, Wen J. Evolution and biogeographic diversification of the witch-hazel genus (Hamamelis L., Hamamelidaceae) in the Northern Hemisphere. Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2010;56(2):675-689. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2010.02.018
Go to source
Wissenschaftlicher Artikel
Anderson GJ, Hill JD. Many to flower, few to fruit: the reproductive biology of Hamamelis virginiana (Hamamelidaceae). Am J Bot. 2002;89(1):67-78. doi:10.3732/ajb.89.1.67
Go to source
Wissenschaftlicher Artikel
Longo R, Mazzoldi G. Determinazione delle sostanze tanniche nella droga e negli estratti di Hamamelis virginiana L [Determination of tannic substances in the drug and extracts of Hamamelis virginiana L]. Boll Chim Farm. 1966;105(3):241-244
Go to source
Klinische Studie
Korting HC, Schäfer-Korting M, Hart H, Laux P, Schmid M. Anti-inflammatory activity of hamamelis distillate applied topically to the skin. Influence of vehicle and dose. Eur J Clin Pharmacol. 1993;44(4):315-318. doi:10.1007/BF00316465
Go to source
Klinische Studie
Hughes-Formella BJ, Bohnsack K, Rippke F, et al. Anti-inflammatory effect of hamamelis lotion in a UVB erythema test. Dermatology. 1998;196(3):316-322. doi:10.1159/000017904
Go to source
Wissenschaftliche Untersuchung
Colantonio S, Rivers JK. Botanicals With Dermatologic Properties Derived From First Nations Healing: Part 2-Plants and Algae. J Cutan Med Surg. 2017;21(4):299-307. doi:10.1177/1203475416683390
Go to source
Klinische Studie
Wolff HH, Kieser M. Hamamelis in children with skin disorders and skin injuries: results of an observational study. Eur J Pediatr. 2007;166(9):943-948. doi:10.1007/s00431-006-0363-1
Go to source
Wissenschaftlicher Artikel
MacKay D. Hemorrhoids and varicose veins: a review of treatment options. Altern Med Rev. 2001;6(2):126-140.
Go to source
Wissenschaftlicher Artikel
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.
Go to source
Wissenschaftliche Untersuchung
Royer RJ, Schmidt CL. Intérêt de la pléthysmographie gazeuse pour l'appréciation des effets "veinotropes" des médicaments. Etude des effets des oligomères procyanidoliques [Evaluation of venotropic drugs by venous gas plethysmography. A study of procyanidolic oligomers (author's transl)]. Sem Hop. 1981;57(47-48):2009-2013.
Go to source
Wissenschaftlicher Artikel
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
Go to source
Wissenschaftliche Untersuchung
Stinging Nettle. In: Drugs and Lactation Database (LactMed). Bethesda (MD): National Library of Medicine (US); December 3, 2018.
Go to source
Klinische Studie
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.
Go to source
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