It is estimated that 50 to 75 percent of Americans will suffer from hemorrhoids at least once, and nearly one-third of the population has an ongoing problem with this often- painful condition. Hemorrhoids are usually caused by increased pressure on the veins of the anus and the rectum. This pressure inﬂames and swells the veins, much in the same way that pressure on the veins of the legs creates varicose veins. Increased pres- sure on the anal veins can occur for many reasons but is most commonly the result of constipation, especially straining to pass stools, and pregnancy and childbirth. There may also be a genetic component to this disorder.
Hemorrhoids can be divided into three categories. Internal hemorrhoids develop inside the rectum, where they cannot be seen. Because they are usually painless, you may not even be aware of them unless they bleed. External hemorrhoids are located at the lower end of the anal canal, at the opening of the anus and under the skin. They are likely to become inﬂamed; when they do, they turn blue or purple and feel ten- der to the touch. Because of the high number of nerves in the anus, these hemorrhoids can be quite painful.
If an internal hemorrhoid becomes enlarged, it may collapse and descend so that it partially protrudes outside of the anus. These lumpy-looking masses of tissue are called prolapsed hemorrhoids. They usually appear after a bowel movement and produce both mucus and heavy bleeding. Prolapsed hemorrhoids can be excruciating painful.
Most cases of hemorrhoids are linked in some way to a lack of dietary ﬁber. They are best treated at home with increased ﬁber intake, detoxiﬁcation, and soothing treat- ments for the pain and the itching. If your hemorrhoids don’t improve with these con- servative strategies, see a doctor about more aggressive treatments. In rare cases, surgery is required to remove large and very painful hemorrhoids. If you have any rec- tal bleeding at all, consult with a doctor so that he or she can rule out a more serious underlying condition.
• Pain, itching, burning, or bleeding in the anal area
• Blue or purple patches of hard skin near the anus
• Lumpy tissue protruding from the anus
• Constipation and straining
• Pregnancy and childbirth
• Lifting heavy objects
• Inactivity, especially standing or sitting for extended periods
• Food allergies
• Portal hypertension and poor liver function
• Poor anal hygiene
If sluggish digestion is a cause of your hemorrhoids, you will ﬁnd additional sugges- tions for relief in the Constipation section.
Almost everyone who suffers from hemorrhoids—even people who aren’t consti- pated—will beneﬁt from dietary changes.
If you’re unaccustomed to a high-ﬁber diet, incorporate these suggestions incremen- tally. If you try to introduce too much ﬁber at once, you’ll only place more pressure on your digestive tract.
The best way to relieve hemorrhoids is to consume more ﬁber. Eat lots of whole grains, raw or lightly cooked fruits and vegetables, and beans, nuts, and seeds. Rather than sitting down to three large meals every day, plan on several smaller meals.
To allow stools to pass more easily, drink a glass of clean water every two waking hours.
Add prunes or ﬁgs to your breakfast to speed up a sluggish intestine.
Have a tablespoon of ﬂaxseed oil every day to encourage elimination, or sprinkle
1 to 2 tablespoons of ground ﬂaxseeds onto cereal or salads.
Vitamin K will help stop or prevent bleeding. Green leafy vegetables, especially kale, are good source of this nutrient, as are kelp and alfalfa sprouts.
An overgrowth of candidiasis is an often-overlooked aggravator of hemorrhoids. Consume soured food like unsweetened live yogurt, keﬁr, and sauerkraut to increase the numbers of friendly bacteria that inhibit this fungal growth. These products will also help you absorb vitamin K.
Eat wheat germ for its high level of vitamin E. You’ll promote circulation and pre- vent blood clots in your already-stressed circulatory system.
Bioflavonoids have been shown to signif icantly reduce inflammation and to strengthen capillaries, so enjoy some berries a few times daily.
If you’re pregnant, you have another reason to eat your leafy greens. These veg- etables are high in B6, a vitamin that many pregnant women lack; a deﬁciency may contribute to hemorrhoids. Brewer’s yeast and wheat germ are also good sources.
Food to Avoid
Fats and oils slow down the digestive system. Stay away from foods that are fried or otherwise high in saturated fat.
Caffeine and alcohol are dehydrating and worsen hemorrhoids.
Avoid sugars and spicy foods, as they also tend to worsen this condition.
Some cases of hemorrhoids are caused by food allergies. Read the Food Allergies section, and try the elimination diet to determine whether you need to remove cer- tain foods from your diet. The most common ones that lead to hemorrhoids are cow’s milk, wheat, citrus fruit, tomatoes, and peanuts.
The following tests help assess possible reasons for hemorrhoids:
Hormone testing (hypothyroid can contribute to sluggish bowel and liver function)—saliva, blood, or urine
Digestive function and microbe/parasite/candida testing—stool analysis
Food and environmental allergies/sensitivities—blood, electrodermal
If hemorrhoids result from constipation or straining on the toilet, go on a three-day juice fast to cleanse accumulated waste matter from your digestive tract. If you are constipated when you begin taking the fast, add psyllium husks or ﬂaxseeds to your juices for ﬁber.
Super Seven Prescriptions—Hemorrhoid
Super Prescription #1 Butcher’s broom (Ruscus aculeatus)
Take a standardized extract that gives you 200 to 300 mg of ruscogenins daily. Ruscogenins are constituents within this herb that are believed to constrict and reduce inﬂammation of hemorrhoidal tissue.
Super Prescription #2 Horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum)
Take a standardized extract that contains 100 mg of aescin daily. This herb improves circulation and reduces swelling.
Super Prescription #3 Collinsonia (stone root)
Take 500 mg three times daily. Collinsonia reduces hemorrhoid swelling.
Super Prescription #4 Witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana)
Apply as a gel or a cream to external hemorrhoids, or add 1 ounce to a sitz bath daily.
Super Prescription #5 Flaxseed oil
Take 1 to 2 tablespoons daily. Flaxseed oil improves regularity and reduces strain- ing. It also contains essential fatty acids that promote tissue healing.
Super Prescription #6 Bioﬂavonoid complex
Take 1,000 mg two to three times daily. Various ﬂavonoids, such as rutin and hes- peridin, have been shown to be effective in treating hemorrhoids. They reduce swelling and prevent bleeding.
Super Prescription #7 Bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus)
Take a standardized extract containing 25 percent anthocyanosides at 160 mg twice daily. Bilberry improves circulation and strengthens capillary walls.
Grape seed extract or maritime pine bark extract have anti-inﬂammatory effects and improve circulation. Take 100 mg twice daily.
A greens drink that contains a blend of super green foods, such as chlorella, spi- rulina, and so on, provides ﬁber and improves liver function. Take as directed on the container.
A study of ﬁfty-one pregnant women found that supple- mentation of bilberry signiﬁcantly improved the pain, the burning, and the itching associated with their hemorrhoids.
Consider the Keesey Technique
A procedure known as the Keesey Technique (also referred to as hemorrhoidolysis) is available from alternative doctors. This procedure, which takes about ten minutes per treatment, utilizes a galvanic current to shrink hemorrhoidal tissue.
During this painless procedure for internal hemorrhoids, the practi- tioner touches the protruding hemor- rhoid(s) with an electrode probe that conducts an electrical current. The result is shrinkage of tissue over the following ten days. Severe cases may require a series of treatments.
Aloe vera juice is healing and soothing to the entire digestive tract. Drink 4 ounces daily or as directed on the container.
Vitamin C strengthens the rectal tissue. Take 500 mg two to three times daily.
A probiotic contains friendly bacteria, such as lactobacillus and biﬁdobacterium, which improve digestion and constipation. Take a product that contains at least 4 billion active organisms daily.
Dandelion root (Taraxacum ofﬁcinalis) promotes bile ﬂow and improved regularity. Take 300 mg in capsule form or 2 ml of tinc- ture three times daily.
Psyllium is a good ﬁber supplement and has been shown to reduce the pain and the bleeding associated with hemorrhoids. Take 5 to 7 grams daily, along with 10 ounces of water.
Pick the remedy that best matches your symptoms in this section. Take a 6x, 12x, 6C, 12C, or 30C potency twice daily for two
weeks to see if there are any positive results. After you notice improvement, stop tak- ing the remedy, unless symptoms return. Consultation with a homeopathic practitioner is advised.
Aesculus (Aesculus hippocastanum) is for pain that feels as if the rectum is being poked with sticks. The pain extends to the back.
Aloe vera is for large, painful hemorrhoids. The doctor states that the hemorrhoids look like a “bunch of grapes.” They feel better with cold compresses. The person may be prone to having diarrhea.
Calcarea Fluorica is helpful when bleeding and itching occur with the hemorrhoids. Often, lower back pain is present. The person may have problems with ﬂatulence and constipation.
Ignatia (Ignatia amara) is for hemorrhoids that cause a stabbing or sticking pain, along with rectal spasms. The symptoms feel worse from emotional upset.
Nux Vomica is for painful hemorrhoids that come on as a result of chronic con- stipation and straining with bowel movements. The person is irritable and has a ten- dency to overuse alcohol, drugs, or medications.
Ratanhia is helpful when a person experiences a lot of pain after a bowel move- ment. There is a cutting pain that feels like one is sitting on broken glass.
Sulphur is for large, itching, burning hemorrhoids that tend to be worse at night. The anal area is red and inﬂamed, and there is often ﬂatulence with a foul odor.
See pages 668–675 for information about pressure points and administering treatment.
• To relieve constipation, work Conception Vessel 6 and Large Intestine 4.
• Keep the colon strong and healthy by working Large Intestine 11 on a regular
• Use Stomach 36 to improve the assimilation of nutrients into the body.
If you’re constipated, a self-massage of the abdominal area can induce intestinal move- ment. Lie down with your knees bent, and massage your abdomen with the ﬂat of your hand, using ﬁrm but gentle pressure.
A professional massage of your lower back and pelvis may also relieve constipation.
See pages 686–687 for information about reﬂexology areas and how to work them.
Work the areas corresponding to the sigmoid colon, the rectum, and the lower back. If you are constipated, also work the areas related to the liver, the gallbladder, and
the adrenal glands.
Constitutional hydrotherapy is a good long-term treatment for hemorrhoids. See pages
676–677 for directions.
An alternating warm (one minute) and cold (thirty seconds) sitz bath offers relief and improves circulation.
Geranium relaxes your system by easing anxiety and depression, which often lead to constipation. Add it to your bath water or use a few drops in a compress.
Tea tree oil reduces the chances of infection. You can also add this to a bath or a compress. This is a potent oil, so start off with just 2 or 3 drops. If you don’t have a reaction, you can increase the amount by a few more drops the next time you make a preparation.
If you need to stimulate your digestive system, marjoram and black pepper will help. Add either or both to a bath, or combine with a carrier oil and use it in a massage.
General Stress-Reduction Therapies
Give yoga a try. Not only will it reduce tension and relax your body, many of the breathing techniques and the postures are meant to exercise your digestive organs.
Regular exercise is very important to reduce the effects of stress and improve cir- culation.
Bach Flower Remedies
Select the appropriate remedy, and place 10 drops of the liquid under your tongue. Hold the drops in place for thirty seconds and swallow. Use as often as needed.
If you are quick to anger and sometimes fear you might become violent, use Cherry
People who pride themselves on getting the job done quickly and efﬁciently but who are frustrated by those who work at a slower pace should take Impatiens, which helps develop tolerance.
• If you’re constipated, do not strain when sitting on the toilet. Try to relax and breathe deeply.
• Do not use laxatives. They only address the surface of the problem and can cause your bowels to become dependent on them. If you need temporary relief, see the Constipation section.
• Get regular exercise. Any kind will do, but a daily walk is always a good idea.
• For temporary relief of pain and itching, use any of the following as a topical lotion: cocoa butter, zinc oxide, olive oil, or calendula gel.
• If you must stand or sit for long periods of time, take frequent breaks to stretch and move around.
• Special foam-rubber pillows known as a “doughnuts” are helpful when you need to sit. They have a hole in the middle so there is less pressure on the hemorrhoids.
• If you’re obese, losing weight will reduce or even eliminate your hemorrhoids. The dietary suggestions in this section should help you take the weight off safely, but if you’d like additional recommendations, see Obesity.