In addition to prescriptions, supplements, and other health aids, your neighborhood chain pharmacy (Walgreen’s, CVS, Rite-Aid, etc.) has a significant amount of shelf space dedicated to astringents. As you’re mentally walking the aisles of your favorite store, let me stop you in the skin care aisle: Astringents are used primarily to help shrink pores, close open pores and prevent dirt from entering pores, heal pimples and prevents scarring, and relieve irritated skin.
More specifically, topical astringents are agents that cause skin cells or mucus membranes to contract or shrink, by precipitating proteins from their surface. When applied topically they dry, harden and protect the skin. They reduce bleeding from minor abrasions and are used to relieve skin irritations resulting from minor cuts, allergies, eczema, stretch marks, and insect bites. Topical astringents can be used in throat lozenges, mouthwash, creams, and lotions.
Aside from the chemical mixtures, common natural astringents include rose water, green tea, witch hazel, apple cider vinegar, citrus juice, mint, cucumber, lemon juice, orange blossom flower, elder flower,
Three Uses for Natural Astringents:
Acne patients are advised by their doctor to apply astringents if they have oily or greasy skin. When used topically on the skin, astringents dry out, harden, and protect the skin’s surface.
A great DIY astringent for healthy skin:
- 1 1/4 cup distilled water
- 1/4 cup organic apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup witch hazel
- 10 drops lavender essential oil
- 10 drops tea tree essential oil
- 2 drop lemon essential oil
- 18–20 ounce glass jar or bottle
- Add the distilled water and witch hazel to the glass jar.
- Next, add the apple cider vinegar.
- Add the lavender, tea tree and lemon oils.
- Put the lid on your bottle or jar and give it a few good shakes to blend.
- Store it in a cool, dark place or in the fridge.
Natural astringents can also be used to treat hemorrhoids. Hemorrhoids are swollen veins in your anus and lower rectum, similar to varicose veins. As you can imagine, hemorrhoids can be quite painful.
As a natural astringent, Aloe vera shrinks hemorrhoids and speeds up their healing. Aloe vera has emollient, demulcent and anti-inflammatory properties, all of which makes it the perfect plant for treating hemorrhoids. With these properties, it soothes and relaxes the inflamed veins while reducing their sizes. Additionally, calamine, witch hazel and zinc oxide are also frequently used astringents for hemorrhoids treatment.
Astringents are of special importance in wound healing. Their therapeutic benefits include reducing irritation on the surface of tissues due to a form of numbing, reduction in surface inflammation, and acting as a barrier against infection which is of great help in wounds and burns.
Agrimony is a plant known as a healing remedy. Its ability to help the formation of clots that staunch the bleeding makes this plant one of the most efficient natural remedies for scars and wounds. Agrimony acts as an astringent on wounds and it is effective for minor burns, scratches, and punctures. Crush some fresh leaves of the plant and apply them safely as a compress on the wound.
The tannins in tea have an astringent effect, producing a dry, tightening sensation, so they are useful for helping to stop bleeding. The tea to use for wound healing should be from the tea bush Camellia Sinensis, also known as black tea – NOT herbal tea. The stronger the tea, the more tannins it contains. Tannins also have both anti-inflammatory and antiviral effects. Tea also stops infection from spreading by creating a protective layer over the exposed tissues, while helping the wound to heal.
Calendula is perhaps most commonly known as a first aid remedy for cuts and wounds. It’s also used internally as an antimicrobial to help the body resist pathogens such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Having anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, astringent, and vulnerary properties, calendula is also a good herb for the skin. Calendula in an ointment or cream works well for skin problems because it’s anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, and also a great astringent agent… helping to speed along healing.
These are just a few of the amazing everyday uses of astringents. Nature is full of amazing healing power- it seems the more research that is done into the beneficial medicinal properties of common plants, the more amazing discoveries are made. Take advantage!