5 Natural Remedies for Hemorrhoid Relief

Treatments to Help Shrink Hemorrhoids

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Hemorrhoids are swollen and distended veins in the anus and lower rectum. By age 50, about half the population has experienced symptoms of hemorrhoids, which include pain, itching, and rectal bleeding.

You are more likely to get hemorrhoids (also known as piles) if you strain or push during bowel movements or sit for prolonged periods of time on the toilet. A buildup of pressure in your lower rectum, from pregnancy or being overweight, can also cause hemorrhoids.

Fortunately, there are some simple remedies that can help ease the pain and discomfort.

Home Remedies for Hemorrhoids

If you are experiencing bleeding or other symptoms, you should see your doctor to be properly assessed (rectal bleeding can be caused by other conditions) and to find out what treatment strategy would be most effective and appropriate for you.

While no remedy has been found to cure hemorrhoids, certain dietary and lifestyle changes and remedies may provide some relief and help you avoid flare-ups. Just be sure to talk with your health care provider before making any change to your routine.

1) Increase Your Fiber

Several clinical trials have found that dietary fiber may reduce the risk of hemorrhoids, decrease bleeding, and improve other symptoms. Fiber softens stool and increases its bulk, which helps to reduce straining during bowel movements (which increases pressure in the veins surrounding the anus).

In a report published in The American Journal of Gastroenterology, researchers analyzed seven previously published trials and found that fiber improved symptoms including itching, discomfort, and pain.

Men should target 38 grams of fiber per day and women should aim for 25 grams (or 30 and 21 grams, respectively, for people 51 and older).

Foods high in fiber include beans, fruit, vegetables, and whole grains. Here are some easy ways to increase fiber:

  • Add chickpeas, pinto beans, or kidney beans to your salads. A 1/2 cup serving is approximately 7 to 8 grams of fiber.
  • Eat whole fruit (with the peel whenever possible) instead of drinking juices.
  • Switch to whole grains over refined grain products.
  • Sneak some beans into your meals.
  • Try pureed cauliflower instead of mashed potatoes.

Fiber supplements such as flaxseedcarobglucomannan, acacia fiber, and psyllium may also help. Gradually increasing your intake of fiber helps to avoid temporary digestive side effects that come with sudden increases.

Fluid should also be increased to help keep stools soft (otherwise, fiber can result in constipation or make constipation worse.)

MORE: Foods to Relieve Constipation and Remedies for Pregnancy Constipation

2) Flavonoids

Flavonoids are plant compounds found naturally in fruits and vegetables. Diosmin, hesperidin, and oxerutins are citrus flavonoids, found in oranges and lemons, that are thought to stabilize and strengthen veins and capillaries and reduce inflammation.

A study published in Techniques of Coloproctology found that a mixture of flavonoids decreased pain, bleeding, and swelling significantly and decreased the use pain medication after 12 days of treatment, compared to a placebo.

An earlier report in The British Journal of Surgery analyzed 14 previously published trials on the use of flavonoids by people with hemorrhoids. Researchers found that flavonoids decreased the risk of bleeding, pain, and itching.

Find out more about using hesperidin and diosmin.

3) Sitz Baths

A warm water bath for the buttocks and hips, a sitz bath is said to relieve itching and irritation. Many health professionals recommend a 20-minute sitz bath after bowel movements. Some pharmacies carry small plastic tubs that fit onto a toilet seat, or you can sit in a regular bathtub filled with a few inches of warm water.

4) Witch Hazel Compress or Ointment

Witch hazel is thought to decrease the bleeding of hemorrhoids by acting as an astringent. It may also relieve pain and soothe the itching and swelling associated with hemorrhoids.

Made from the leaves and bark of a plant called Hamamelis virginiana, witch hazel can be purchased in liquid form and applied topically to the anal area. It can also be found in compresses, ointments, or medicated towelettes or pads (such as Tucks).

5) Bathroom Habits

Try to go to the bathroom when you feel the urge. If you delay going to the bathroom, your stool may become hard and dry, making it harder to pass.

Avoid straining, holding your breath, or sitting for too long when trying to pass a stool. Straining raises the pressure in the veins in the lower rectum, increasing your risk of hemorrhoids. Don't read on the toilet.

If you don't need to go, don't try to force a bowel movement or sit for long periods, which can increase the pressure on the veins in the anus. Wait until you feel the need to go before trying again.

Using toilet paper after a bowel movement can aggravate hemorrhoids. Look for extra soft toilet paper or try using wipes (without alcohol or perfume) to help you clean without further irritating the area.

Other Home Remedies and Self Care Tips

  • The use of ointments, gels, and creams may protect the skin in the area, reduce itching, and prevent further injury. 
  • Zinc oxide cream or ointment is said to help when applied topically. Aloe vera gel, vitamin E oil, or coconut oil can also be applied to the affected area.
  • While essential oils and apple cider vinegar are sometimes suggested, studies are lacking. There are also concerns that they may irritate skin.
  • A small ice pack placed against the area for several minutes at a time may help to reduce pain and swelling.
  • Sitting on a cushion rather than a hard surface may help to reduce swelling.
  • Stress may be a factor for some people with constipation and hemorrhoids. Consider mind-body interventions such as yoga, qi gong, and meditation.

The Takeaway

Hemorrhoids can be uncomfortable and painful, but symptoms can sometimes be eased by making diet and lifestyle changes. If you or someone you know is having symptoms, be sure to check with your healthcare provider to be properly assessed and diagnosed. 

Sources:

Alonso-Coello P, Mills E, Heels-Ansdell D, Lopez-Yarto M, Zhou Q, Johanson JF, et al. Fiber for the treatment of hemorrhoids complications: a systematic review and meta-analysis. The American journal of gastroenterology. 2006;101(1):181–8. 

Alonso-Coello P, Zhou Q, Martinez-Zapata MJ, et al. Meta-analysis of flavonoids for the treatment of haemorrhoids. Br J Surg. 2006 Aug;93(8):909-20.

Belcaro G, Gizzi G, Pellegrini L, et al. Pycnogenol® in postpartum symptomatic hemorrhoids. Minerva Ginecol. 2014 Feb;66(1):77-84.

Giannini I, Amato A, Basso L, et al. Flavonoids mixture (diosmin, troxerutin, hesperidin) in the treatment of acute hemorrhoidal disease: a prospective, randomized, triple-blind, controlled trial. Tech Coloproctol. 2015 Jun;19(6):339-45. 

Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment by a licensed physician. It is not meant to cover all possible precautions, drug interactions, circumstances or adverse effects. You should seek prompt medical care for any health issues and consult your doctor before using alternative medicine or making a change to your regimen.

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