Witch hazel: Uses, benefits, and side effects

Witch hazel is a small tree native to the east coast of North America. Many people use it as a decorative outdoor plant.

In this article, learn about the possible benefits of witch hazel, as well as how to use it and whether there are any side effects.

Uses and benefits

Witch hazel is an astringent. People commonly use it topically, meaning they apply it directly to the skin.

Witch hazel may help treat the following conditions:

Hemorrhoids

Witch hazel may help heal hemorrhoids, which are dilated veins in the anus or rectum. Hemorrhoids can cause irritation, bleeding, and discomfort.

While there is not enough evidence to prove it is effective, some people get relief by adding witch hazel to a bath. This may be due to its anti-inflammatory properties.

Similarly to sunburn, bug bites and stings can cause swelling and inflammation. Applying witch hazel to the bite may reduce itching and discomfort.

Sunburn

Witch hazel has anti-inflammatory properties, which may help reduce discomfort from sunburn.

People can use a cloth or cotton ball to apply witch hazel directly to sunburn.

It may be especially soothing if a person mixes witch hazel with aloe vera, which is another plant and anti-inflammatory agent.

Stretch marks

Some people apply witch hazel to pregnancy stretch marks in an effort to lighten them and make them less noticeable. However, there is no research to support this use.

Bleeding

The astringent properties of witch hazel cause the skin to tighten and small blood vessels to constrict, which may help stop bleeding from minor cuts or nosebleeds.

Side effects

Witch hazel is safe for most people to use as an at-home treatment for some common skin issues.

Some people may have an allergic reaction to witch hazel, so it is best to test it first on a small patch of skin and monitor it for 24 hours. If there is no redness, itching, or irritation, it should be safe to apply to a larger area.

Takeaway

Witch hazel can be a great addition to an at-home medicine cabinet and is usually well-tolerated. It is safe for most people to use for certain skin conditions, even if the research has not yet proven its effectiveness scientifically.

However, using home remedies such as witch hazel cannot replace advice from a doctor or other healthcare provider.

If using witch hazel as a remedy does not work or the condition gets worse, it is vital that people consult their doctor for further advice.

Witch hazel is available in some pharmacies, health food stores, and online.

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First-ever prostate cancer treatment uses gold nanoparticles to destroy tumorous cells

A small clinical trial using gold nanoparticles that act as tumor-seeking missiles on a mission to remove prostate cancer has begun at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth). It is the first trial of its kind in the world.

The nanoparticles, or nanoshells, are made of small layers of silica glass formed into a sphere and wrapped in a thin layer of gold. The shells seek out and saturate cancerous cells, and their advanced vibrational properties are then harnessed to cause the tumorous tissue to pulse with extreme temperature when light is applied through a laser specifically designed to excite the particles. The oscillation kills the cancer cells while preserving the healthy tissue, avoiding the nerves and urinary sphincter. This procedure is the first in the world that is precise enough to potentially avoid negative ramifications like urinary incontinence or sexual impotency.

“This therapy could be life-changing for men diagnosed with prostate cancer and I’m honored to be among the first doctors the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved to put it to the test,” said Steven Canfield, M.D., chair of the division of urology at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth, who recognized the possibility of the nanoparticles to treat prostate cancer and helped developed the trial to test the theory.

Prostate cancer begins when cells in a man’s prostate gland mutate and start to grow uncontrollably. Other than skin cancer, prostate is the most common cancer in American men, with an estimated 1 out of 9 men diagnosed. The American Cancer Society estimates 29,430 men died from the disease in 2018 alone.

Treatment options have traditionally included radical prostatectomy, which is the removal of the prostate gland and some of the tissue around it, radiation therapy and cryotherapy, among others. These methods carry the potential to have a negative impact on urinary function and sexual performance.

“The side effects of current prostate cancer treatments can be extremely traumatic. This new technology holds the potential to eliminate those life-altering effects, while still removing the cancer tissue and reducing hospital and recovery time,” Canfield said. “In fact, the first patient in the trial was actually riding a bike within a week of his treatment. The fusion of MRI and ultrasound imaging technology that we use to accurately identify and diagnose the cancer, combined with the extreme precision of the gold nanoshells in targeting the diseased cells, allows us to be incredibly accurate at obliterating them. I am excited as we continue tracking the progress of this groundbreaking improvement to prostate cancer care.”

Doug Flewellen, the first patient in Texas to receive the new method of care, says for him, the procedure was a no-brainer.

“No man wants to go through radical removal, and I knew active monitoring could have potentially aggravated the cancer,” Flewellen said. “The side effects of traditional treatment were not worth it to me, and I wasn’t afraid to try the most cutting-edge technology. Looking back, the experience was even better than I was expecting, and I hope to see nanoparticle therapy advance into an option for anyone diagnosed with prostate cancer in the future.”

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