Friday, September 20, 2013

Witch hazel benefits and uses

I use Witch Hazel like you probably use Peroxide or Rubbing Alcohol and I prefer it over these products.


Tucks Hemorrhoid Treatment:
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:

facial cleansing
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.

acne treatment
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.

varicose veins
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.

treat sunburn
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).

natural deodorant
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.

cold sores
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.

bug bites
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.

tick extraction
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.

household cleaner
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.

jewelry cleaner
Dab some witch hazel on a cotton ball to gently clean your jewelry.

Witch hazel has been used for medicinal and beauty purposes for ages.  It is a wonderful all natural, inexpensive and eco friendly astringent that has many uses.  Today I am going to share 5 beauty benefits you may or may not have heard about before.

1. Use it as a toner to help fight acne and inflammation.  Use a cotton swab and apply it to your skin before using a moisturizer. It is extremely mild and a great alternative to harsh toners. 

2. Use it to help reduce bruises.  Make an ice cube with witch hazel (make sure you clearly label) when you have a bruise gently apply the ice on the bruise.  I have personally used this method and it's basically magical how much it helps. 

3. Treat razor burn with it.  Apply a small amount of witch hazel to a cotton swab and apply to the irritated skin.  

4. Use it to reduce puffy eyes.  Place cotton pads over eyes soaked in cold witch hazel for 5 to 10 minutes.  This one is also a personal favorite remedy.  Bye bye bags. 

5. Use it to sooth sunburn. Put it in a spray bottle and simply spray on sunburned skin.  Instant relief and faster healing. 

And there you have it!  Please let me know if you try witch hazel for any of the above uses.  I would love to hear your experience.  

*You can find witch hazel at your local drug store or health food store.

Ways To Make Your Hair Grow Faster

If you want your hair to grow faster, or if you want to grow new hair, then grab a cup of green tea (green tea has been found to stimulate hair growth), strap in and read every word on this page very carefully.1. Get More Of These 7 Essential Vitamins

There are seven key vitamins that are essential for hair growth. They include:

Vitamin A – keeps hair and scalp hydrated while also regulating the production of retinoic acid – an essential acid required by hair follicles.
Vitamin B – Stimulates growth and improves respiration of existing cells leading to hair growth.
Vitamin B3 – Improves circulating all around the body, including in the scalp, which results in the regeneration of new hair growth.
Vitamin B12 – Stimulates production of red blood cells which helps the hair follicles receive more oxygen. B12 has also been found to stop premature hair greying.
Vitamin C – Helps strengthen hair and prevent breakage, split ends and hair loss. Stimulates the growth of new tissue and new hair.
Vitamin E – Stimulates blood circulation, maintains a healthy immune system which is important for healthy hair and maintains moisture in the hair and scalp.
Biotin – Known as the “hair vitamin”, biotin increases red blood cell production, stimulates insulin levels which helps to deliver glucose to the hair follicles and biotin also helps to stimulate keratinocyte cells which are responsible for increasing the strength and health of our hair. Try a biotin enriched shampoo to take advantage of this “hair vitamin”It’s also important to make sure you include sufficient quantities of iron and zinc in your diet. Iron helps to improve circulation in the scalp which improves oxygen transmission to the hair follicles. It also enables the body to more readily use protein which helps to grow hair.

2. Eat More Protein

Protein provides the building blocks for new hair growth. Some proteins form keratin which is the structure that hardens our hair. Lack of protein will lead to limp hair growth, if any at all. You can get more protein from meat, fish, eggs, nuts and beans.

3. Try These 15 Oils

Rubbing natural oils into your hair helps to stimulate hair growth and improve hair health in a number of ways. They help to clear dirt and impurities and unblock hair follicles, they add moisture and strengthen hair and they help to deliver nutrients and vitamins direct to the hair and scalp.

We’ve written about a lot of oils on the blog; for direct links to read more about each oil read our article “The Top 10 Best Oils For Hair Growth”. The article actually contains fifteen oils now.

They include: olive oil, coconut oil, lavender oil, castor oil, jojoba oil, almond oil, rosemary oil, fish oil, emu oil, tea tree oil, Argan oil, grape seed oil, mustard oil, avocado oil and last but not least, Mira hair oil (discussed at #9 on this blog post)

4. Try A Homemade Hair Mask

One reason for lack of hair growth can be damage from overuse of harsh styling products, chemical-laden shampoos and heat styling equipment. Hair masks help to repair this damage which can enable the hair to grow faster and healthier.

One hair repair mask involves mixing one tablespoon honey, mayonnaise, vegetable oil and brandy with one egg yolk and then applying the mixture to unwashed hair. Leave for half an hour and then rinse out with a natural shampoo.

If you’d like to stimulate hair growth with a homemade hair mask, then here are some recipes:

Hair Mask For Dull Hair

75g burdock roots
1 cup of almond oil (or sunflower oil)

Place burdock roots into a bowl and add almond oil.

Leave to soak at room temperature for 24 hours.

Boil mixture for approximately 15 minutes over a low heat then strain.

Apply mixture to hair and gently massage into hair and scalp in a circular motion.

Cover with a warm towel and leave in for approximately 1 hour.

Rinse and shampoo as normal.

Hair Repair Treatment

Recommended application is once or twice a week

1 tablespoon of honey
1 tablespoon of mayonnaise
1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
1 tablespoon of brandy
1 egg yolk

Mix all ingredients together.

Apply mixture to unwashed hair and gently massage until hair is completely covered.

Cover with a shower cap or cling wrap then cover with a warm towel.

Leave in for approximately ½ an hour then rinse and shampoo as normal.

Conditioning Hair Mask

1/2 banana
1/4 avocado
1 tablespoon of wheat Germ oil
1 tablespoon of yoghurt
1 tablespoon of mayonnaise
1 vitamin E capsule

Blend all ingredients together (excluding vitamin E), squeeze contents of vitamin E capsule into mixture and until completely combined.

Apply mixture to hair and gently massage to completely coat hair. Leave in for approximately 15 minutes then rinse with shampoo.

Softening Hair Mask

1 tablespoon of chamomile flowers
1 tablespoon of comfrey root
1 tablespoon of nettle
1 tablespoon of elder flowers
1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar

Place all herbs in a pot, add just enough water to cover and boil.

Leave to stand for approximately ½ an hour.

Add vinegar into the herbal infusion and mix well.

Shampoo hair and slowly pour mixture over hair until completely covered.

Repeat 4-5 times.

Dry Hair Lotion

1 cup full cream yoghurt
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon of jojoba oil
1 tablespoon of beeswax pellets

Microwave jojoba oil and beeswax until melted.

Add yoghurt and egg yolk and mix well.

Apply mixture to hair until completely saturated; leave in for 20 minutes.

Rinse thoroughly with shampoo and condition as normal.
Or if you’d like to repair your hair without making your own masks, then try this Macadamia Natural Oil Deep Repair Masque.

5. Try This Herb

Saw palmetto extract has been identified as one of the most effective herbs for stopping hair loss and stimulating new growth. It is often the active ingredient in many over-the-counter hair growth treatments. Taking saw palmetto in pill form could help your hair grow faster.

6. Try This Scalp Stimulator Recipe

Mix one teaspoon of Vodka, 5 drops of lavender oil and 3 drops of rosemary oil and add one tablespoon of distilled water. Dip your fingertips into the mixture and massage gently into the scalp. The mixture will kill germs, eliminate dirt and open up the hair follicles to allow new, or faster, hair growth.

7. Try A Hair Growth Shampoo

Some shampoos have been formulated to stimulate hair growth. When used regularly, research suggests users do experience faster hair growth. Here are my two favorite hair growth shampoos.

Jason Natural Products Biotin Shampoo – This shampoo is enriched with biotin which, as we have previously discussed, is known as the “hair vitamin”. Getting more biotin can only be a good thing for the growth of our hair.

Revita Hair Growth Stimulating Shampoo – This shampoo has the best reviews on Amazon suggesting it has worked for a number of real life customers.

8. Try A Scalp Massage

Performing a scalp massage correctly helps to open up blood vessels and increase blood circulation. This helps the blood to deliver oxygen and essential nutrients to the hair follicles to enable healthy hair growth. Using one of the fifteen oils previously mentioned will make the massage even more effective.
It is also important to remember that the condition of the hair and skin can be a good indication of the state of the body on the inside, so it is important address the body as a whole to improve hair and skin for the long term.

Either way, these natural tips are also good for the body in other ways, so there isn’t much to lose. Have you ever done anything to help improve hair growth? Please share your tips below!

1. Consume Enough Protein

Protein is essential for hair growth, so consuming enough protein can make sure that the body has the necessary building blocks for hair. Complete sources of protein like meats and fish are the most beneficial for hair growth and many meats also contain iron, which is another essential aspect of proper hair growth.

Foods like meats, fish, eggs, and especially bone broths (see below) are excellent for hair growth. These foods also contain necessary fats that help promote healthy hormones (see below) and healthy hair!

2. Get The Vitamins!

Some vitamins help promote hair growth- most notably: Vitamin C and Biotin. The body needs Vitamin C to produce collagen, which is necessary for healthy hair and skin. Vitamin C also helps with iron absorption, which promotes hair growth (plus it is an immune booster!). Since the body can’t manufacture Vitamin C, it is one vitamin that must be obtained from food or supplements. Foods like citrus, broccoli and spinach all contain Vitamin C.

Biotin (and other b-vitamins) can also promote faster and stronger hair growth, and it is also good for the skin. Biotin is a water soluble B-Vitamin that is also used in proper digestion of fats and sugars. Eggs, nuts, berries, fish and some vegetables all provide Biotin, though in small amounts, so sometimes a supplement can be helpful.

3. Up the Gelatin

I’ve posted before about the many benefits of Gelatin, including its support of healthy hair, skin and nails. Gelatin is one thing I make sure to consume daily in some form, either in bone broth or gelatin powder (or both). From a previous post:

“Gelatin is largely composed of the amino acids glycine and proline, which many people don’t consume in adequate amounts as they are found in the bones, fibrous tissues and organs of animals and as a population, we don’t consume these parts as much anymore. These amino acids are needed not only for proper skin, hair and nail growth, but for optimal immune function and weight regulation!

Glycine, which makes up about 1/3 of the amino acids in gelatin powder is anti-inflammatory and evidence is finding that it can help speed wound healing. Glycine in gelatin can also help improve sleep ease and quality.”

Here are some of my favorite ways to incorporate Gelatin.

4. Balance the Hormones

“When it comes to health, hormones and gut bacteria have a much bigger effect than many people realize. In fact, these two factors can destroy health even if everything else (diet, supplements, etc) is optimized. Conversely, fixing hormones and gut bacteria can do a lot to boost health, even if not all the other factors are optimal. In fact, there are even studies about using certain hormone reactions to heal brain trauma.”

Hormones are often a major cause of hair loss or poor hair growth and unfortunately, there can be many causes of hormone imbalance. This is also the reason for hair loss after pregnancy. Of course, some steps can be taken to improve hair while working to balance hormones, and these are my top tips for balancing hormones naturally.

Stress and lack of sleep are two major contributors to hormone imbalance and here are some suggestions for optimizing those.

5. External Hair Treatments

Though the major causes of poor hair quality and growth are internal, external treatments can help improve existing hair and prevent breakage. From a previous post:

“I got this tip from Pinterest and have been amazed at what an intensive conditioning and strengthening treatment it is! To make, stir 1 tablespoon of Gelatin powder in to 1/2 cup of cool water until mixed. Add 1/2 cup warm/hot water, 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar and 1 teaspoon of honey to create a thick gel/liquid. Pour into hair and massage through hair and scalp. Leave on for at least 5 minutes and rinse with hot water. Shampoo as normal.”

Another great hair treatment is to mix melted coconut oil and honey and massage through hair. Leave on for at least 20 minutes and then wash normally. My favorite ratio is 4 tablespoons of melted coconut oil and 1 tablespoon of honey.

Here's another hair lengthening conditioner to make that I have used before
Here's what you'll need and an estimation of how much of each I used:

2 bags - Camomile tea (make sure it's 100% camomile) or Peppermint tea
1/2 tbs - Dry Rosemary leaves
5 tsp - Lemon juice (from the bottle or the real thing) I added this to lighten my hair - you may skip it if you wish.
1 cup - water

(Just a side note, chamomile will lighten hair - especially if exposed to heat or sun.)

Heat up your water and put in into a cup or jar to steep with the two chamomile tea bags. Leave it be for now.

Take the Rosemary leaves and grind them as fine as possible. Of course, a mortar and pestle is so helpful with this step, but getting the leaves super fine isn't truly necessary. Let's go back to our steeped tea. 

Remove the tea bags and stir in the lemon juice!

Now stir in the Rosemary leaves. I put this in a jar that I could shake but I don't think that's entirely necessary. Now I let this mixture sit for an entire day because I wanted the rosemary to steep as much as possible.

In order to get this to spray, I had to strain the rosemary from it before I placed it in its final bottle.

I really love this spray! Firstly, because it's super fast to apply; secondly, it feels really light and bright on. Personally, I added a touch of apple cider vinegar, and it smells really good too - even though I put vinegar in it. 
Read all about it here>>>>leave-in-hair-growth-treatment