5 Natural Remedies for Hemorrhoid Relief

Treatments to Help Shrink Hemorrhoids

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Hemorrhoids, also known as piles, are swollen and distended veins in the anus and lower rectum. About half of all people over age 50 have hemorrhoids. You are more likely to get hemorrhoids if you strain to have bowel movements or sit for prolonged periods of time on the toilet. Other factors include pregnancy, insufficient dietary fiber, aging, or chronic constipation or diarrhea.

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. Just be sure to talk with your health care provider first to weigh the pros and cons.

1) 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. 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 appropriately for proper digestion.

    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)  Witch Hazel Compress or Ointment

    This drugstore staple is made from the leaves and bark of a plant called Hamamelis virginiana, also known as witch hazel.

    It is not taken internally but applied topically to the anal area in the form of witch hazel distilled liquid, ointment, compress, or medicated pads (such as Tucks).

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

    4)  Butcher's Broom

    The plant butcher's broom (Ruscus aculeatus), also known as knee holly, box holly, and sweet broom, got its name because it was once used by European butchers to clean their chopping blocks. Butcher's broom has a long history of use as a folk remedy for hemorrhoids and varicose veins.

     

    Butcher's broom may promote constriction of the veins by activating alpha-adrenergic receptors on smooth muscle cells of the walls of the veins. There is a lack of evidence, however, on the effectiveness of butcher's broom for hemorrhoids. Limited studies, which include a review of 124 cases of patients with hemorrhoids, found that 75 percent of reporting physicians rated butcher's broom extract as having good or excellent effectiveness in reducing hemorrhoids. Further research is needed.

    Butcher's broom is usually recommended in capsule or tea form. The tea, which has a slightly bitter taste, is typically made by steeping one teaspoon of the herb in a cup of hot water for 10 to 15 minutes.

    Learn more about using butcher's broom.

    5)  French Maritime Pine Bark Extract

    French maritime pine bark extract is a source of flavonoids, catechins, proanthocyanidins, and phenolic acids, compounds said to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

    For instance, a study evaluated the effectiveness of a French maritime pine bark extract in women with hemorrhoids in the months after having their second child. After six months, those taking the extract had reduced symptoms.

    Another study, published in Phytotherapy Research, found that people who took a French maritime pine bark extract for seven days had an improvement in symptoms. Find out more about French maritime pine bark extract.

    Other Home Remedies and Self Care Tips

    • The use of ointments and creams may protect the skin in the area, reduce itching, and prevent further injury. Zinc oxide cream or ointment is often recommended. Although petroleum jelly is commonly recommended, coconut oil is another option. Vitamin E oil can be applied to the affected area.
    • A small ice pack placed against the area for several minutes at a time may help to reduce pain and swelling.
    • A 20-minute sitz bath (a warm water bath that immerses the buttocks and hips), may help to relieve irritation. Epsom salts can be added to the sitz bath. 
    • Try to go to the bathroom when you feel the urge, rather than waiting, in order to prevent straining and added pressure.
    • To help reduce swelling, try sitting on a cushion rather than a hard surface.
    • 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 very 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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