Hemorrhoids, also known as piles, are a pain in the ass. Literally. They have made the lives of millions of people a living hell. Luckily, they can be treated naturally. Here is what you should know about natural home remedies for preventing and treating hemorrhoids.
But before we dig into the details of how to treat them, lets first brush through some basic hemorrhoid facts. Understanding what they are is key to understanding why the various treatment methods work.
What exactly are hemorrhoids / piles?
Technically, the term refers to a set of cushions in the anal area. Everyone has them. They are a useful set of cushions. They help the anus to close. They also protect muscles in your anus when you are passing stool.
However, the term is normally used -- including here -- to refer to the disease. The disease that is characterized with these sets of cushions getting inflamed, swelling or sliding downwards. When either of these things takes place, a person experiences a number of symptoms that are collectively called symptoms of hemorrhoids.
How common are hemorrhoids?
According to Mayo Clinic, they are very common. It is estimated that about 66% of people have them. This is both men and women.
However, they tend to be more common in older people. A review published in the Journal of American College of Surgeons shows that people who are between age of 45 and 66 are most prone to having piles.
It also seems that wealth plays a role in determining the risks of getting the disease. Hemorrhoids have been found to be more common in the rich (no kidding).
What causes hemorrhoids?
The key to understanding what treatments are best for curing hemorrhoids lies in first appreciating how the disease comes to be.
This is because sometimes, all that one needs to treat piles is avoid the things that cause it in the first place. And at other times, remedies that eliminate or reduce the the conditions that cause the hemorrhoids can work as far as getting rod of hemorrhoids is concerned. Here is a list of some of the most common causes of this disease.
1. Lack of exercise
4. Low-fiber diets
5. Prolonged sitting
7. Intra-abdominal mass
9. Absence of valves within the hemorrhodal veins
11. Pelvic floor dysfunction
12. Chronic cough
13. Squatting when relieving yourself
14. Sitting in the toilet for too long
What are the signs and symptoms of hemorrhoids?
The signs and symptoms of this anal condition vary. They vary from person to person. They also vary depending on the type of hemorrhoid one has.
The are two main types of hemorrhoids that you can get. The first is internal hemorrhoids. The second is external hemorrhoids.
These hemorrhoids usually announce their presence by leaving traces of blood in your stool. They are usually painless. This makes presence of blood in your stool the most common method of detection.
The blood is usually bright red in color. You may notice it in the toiler paper after going to the loo. The blood may also cover the stool or literally drip into your toilet bowl.
However, bleeding isn't always the only visible sign of these types of hemorrhoids. You may notice a mass in your anus if the hemorrhoids prolapse. A mucous discharge is also a sign. And so is incontinence and itchiness.
External hemorrhoids (piles)
They are more pronounced when it comes to announcing their presence given that they are usually painful. Swelling around the anal area is also a common symptom of this type of hemorrhoid / piles. When they bleed, the blood is usually darker when compared to that of internal hemorrhoids.
Since these hemorrhoid can become large, they can make it hard for you to clean your anus. This may encourage infections. You may therefore experience itchiness as a result.
In most cases, the symptoms of hemorrhoids (piles) disappear on their own. A couple of days is usually enough.
However, there are times when they persist. And in some cases, the symptoms may even get worse. In such cases, one needs to take measures to make the hemorrhoids to go away.
At-home remedies and treatments for piles usually come in handy in such situations. And so do over the counter treatments.
How do you know if you have piles (hemorrhoids diagnosis)?
The most obvious one is noticing the symptoms. If you see blood in your stool, experience swelling or itching in your anus, you likely have hemorrhoids.
Since there are a number of conditions and diseases that can also cause the above symptoms, a doctor will have to look and examine the swelling or source of bleeding. Therefore, physical examination is the other way to tell whether you have piles or not. Prolapsed and external hemorrhoids are easiest to diagnose using this method.
An anoscopy is another method through which hemorrhoids can be diagnosed. This method involves the insertion of a hollow tube device. This device enables the doctor to check for internal hemorrhoids.
1. Eat foods that are rich in fiber
Hard stools exert a lot of pressure on the anal region. Constipation too. They cause irritation and cause the hemorrhoid muscles to swell or slide outwards. Avoiding constipation and hard stools is therefore an easy way to not only prevent hemorrhoids, but also get rid of them.
High fiber foods are effective at preventing hard stools and constipation. Taking foods that are rich in high fiber is therefore an effective strategy as far as making piles go away. Clinical studies support this.
According to WebMD, in an article reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD , you need two types of fiber. The soluble type to make your stool softer. And the insoluble type to make things move smoothly through your digestive system and eventually out of it.
Since most foods that are high in fiber contain both types, including them in your diet is usually enough to not only relieve symptoms of hemorrhoids, but also to get rid of them faster.
However, to be effective at making your hemorrhoids better, simply having them in your diet is not enough. You have to aim for about 30 grams of fiber. This is almost twice what the average person in America usually takes.
WebMD recommends that you take lentils, beans, nuts, peas, pecans, almonds and edamame. With regard to bread, opting for whole-grain breads is recommended. Bread made with rye, stone-ground cornmeal and buckwheat will help you meet your daily fiber target.
When making salads and soups, you can also ensure that you get in some fiber. Do this by adding a sprinkle of wheat germ or oat bran in your soups and salads.
Fruits and vegetables for preventing and treating hemorrhoids
Fruits and vegetables are also a great source of fiber. Taking a healthy amount will therefore come in handy in helping you meet your daily goals.
Plums, pears, apples, kale, tomatoes, grapes, berries, broccoli, green peas, winter squash, watermelon, mild bell peppers, celery, cucumber, grated zucchini, bananas, berries, dates, apricots, figs and raw strawberries.
All these are great sources of much-needed fiber -- both soluble and insoluble. Taking them will help reduce the symptoms of hemorrhoids. It will also make the hemorrhoids clear faster as they help reduce the amount of irritation and strain in the anal area.
You can also look at the list that Dr. Axe, of Dr.Axe.com recommends on his website. He recommends a healthy amount of chia seeds, flax seeds, avocados, figs, berries, beans, acorn squash, quinoa, nuts, lentils and Brussels sprouts.
And if that list isn't enough to get you to your daily target, there are a number of supplements that can help you do so.
2. Drink a lot of water
Just like rich fiber foods, water also reduces incidences of constipation. Taking plenty of water ensures that food travels smoothly through the digestive system. It also makes for a smooth exit.
Studies have shown a strong correlation between low water intake and constipation. This includes the one that was published by the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Therefore it is an easy way of relieving hemorrhoid symptoms. It is also an effective way of naturally treating hemorrhoids.
3. Include fermented foods in your diet
Fermented foods are known to enhance intestinal tract health. They make the digestive system more efficient and effective.
When taken in healthy amounts, they reduce digestion problems such as constipation. And since they enable the digestive system to work as well as it should, they eliminate the risks of most of the excessive pressure, irritation and swelling that bad digestion usually causes in the anal area.
4. Avoid spicy foods and alcohol
Alcohol causes dehydration. It is also known to cause problems with digestion. Spicy foods on the other hand simply cause the symptoms of hemorrhoids to worsen. These two are therefore not recommended if you want to get rid of piles. Simply restricting your intake can cause a persistent hemorrhoid to go away.
5. Don't wait too long to go to the bathroom
When you delay visiting the toilet, you take longer when you finally do. Chances of your stool becoming harder also increase. Both these things cause a lot of anal stress during bowel movement. Therefore, they increase the chances of ending up with swollen or irritated hemorrhoid tissues.
When you feel the urge to go to the toilet, don't wait. Go as soon as possible. Doing this will reduce the risks of developing hemorrhoids. And if you already have them, it will increase the chances of them disappearing on their own. It is therefore an easy way of naturally getting hemorrhoid pain relief.
6. Clean yourself thoroughly after using the bathroom
Some hemorrhoids usually disappear by themselves, unless they are irritated. If you don't wipe yourself properly after going to the toilet, the traces of stool left behind will encourage infections.
Such infections will make your hemorrhoids worse. This will make it impossible for the hemorrhoids to shrink and heal on their own. In fact, it will make them itchy. And this may then encourage you to aggravate them even more, worsening the swelling.
Simply making sure that your anus is clean can therefore cause the piles to heal at a way faster rate.
7. Take a sitz bath
Burning, aching or itching hemorrhoids are easy to aggravate. Every time you feel the urge, you are temptated to make the condition worse. This is because scratching the area will make the soft anal tissues itch more, burn more, ache more and swell more.
Studies have shown sitz baths to be effective at relieving the anal itching, aching, burning and swelling that hemorrhoids usually cause. They help one avoid making the condition worse. They help in relieving hemorrhoid pain and swelling. And they eventually speed up the rate at which the hemorrhoids clear. They are therefore effective hemorrhoids treatments.
8. Use butcher's broom supplements
Studies have show that butcher's broom can improve blood flow in the veins. A study carried out in 2002 in Germany is a good example.
Hemorrhoids is a condition associated with poor blood flow within the soft cushions found in the anal area. Since butcher's broom can help out with blood flow, taking its supplements will go a long way towards reducing the inflammation and swelling caused by hemorrhoids.
9. Use pycnogenol
The efficacy of pycogenol in treating hemorrhoids was tested in a study that was published in in Phytotherapy Research. The study sought to determine whether it was effective when it was applied topically. And also whether it was effective when taken orally. The test was restricted to acute cases of hemorrhoids and was carried out using 84 subjects.
After noting the symptoms of the subjects, they were split into two groups. One was given a placebo. The other was given pycnogenol.
48 hours later, the symptoms of the patients who were given pycnogenol had decreased significantly, way more than those of subjects who were just given the placebo.
This study concluded that this was an effective hemorrhoids treatment. It worked on acute hemorrhoids and will likely also work on your hemorrhoids.
10. Use horse chestnut
Anything that helps reduce swelling is good for hemorrhoids. And if it can also improve blood flow, that's even better.
Horse chestnut does both of these things effectively. Studies confirm this.
A study that was published in Alternative Medicine Review showed that horse chestnut improved capillary flow, microcirculation and general vascular tone. These are things that are central to healing hemorrhoids, or at least giving one relief from hemorrhoid pain.
11. Use witch hazel
Witch hazel has antioxidant and astringent properties. It is commonly used for skin healing. When applied on the hemorrhoids, it relieves the symptoms of hemorrhoids. It reduces pain. It also reduces inflammation.
12. Psyllium husk
Providing your body with enough fiber is important when it comes to preventing the strain and pressure that causes hemorrhoids. In fact, doing so can not only prevent hemorrhoids, but also make them disappear faster.
Psyllium husk makes for a good natural source of fiber. If you have hemorrhoids, taking this plant fiber will reduce incidences of bleeding. It will also make it less painful to go to the bathroom. And since it will reduce the aggravation that hard stools cause, it will speed up the hemorrhoids healing process.
13. Use cypress oil essential oils
If you are bleeding, cypress essential oil will come in handy. This is because of its astringent and hemostatic properties.
When applied on the affected area, it causes blood vessels to contract. It also makes tissues to tighten up. And if there is bleeding, it will improve the rate at which the blood clots. This will help avoid excess bleeding.
To apply this essential oil you will need a cotton ball. Apply a couple of drops on the ball and then gently apply on the affected area.
14. Use helichrysum essential oil
This is an essential oil that promotes better digestion. It does this by stimulating secretion of gastric juices. And since gastric juice is critical when it comes to the proper breakdown of food, this ensures a problem-free digestive process and thus helps prevent excessive anal pressure and straining when going to the toilet.
Helichrysum essential oil also has another benefit (as far as treatment of hemorrhoids is concerned). It is an anti-inflammatory agent. You can therefore apply it on the hemorrhoids. Rubbing a few drops on the affected area will reduce inflammation, giving you relief from hemorrhoid discomfort.