Hemorrhoids are swollen veins around the anus and in the rectum. They may even be visible protruding from the anus. Similar to varicose veins, hemorrhoids can enlarge at times as well as lose their elasticity which resembles a sac-like bump at the end of the anal canal. Fortunately, hemorrhoids are not cancer or tumors and are not a cause of serious concern. They can, however, cause incredible discomfort. The following steps can be taken to prevent, manage and heal from hemorrhoids.
The following signs and symptoms may indicate that you have hemorrhoids.
Inflammation (swelling, heat, redness, pain)
Bleeding (usually bright red during bowel movements)
There are 3 different types of hemorrhoids
External - hemorrhoids that develop at the opening of the anal cavity and develop under the skin. When swelling occurs, the tissue becomes firm, sensitive, and blue in color
Internal - hemorrhoids that are located inside the rectum and are usually painless. This type is most likely to bleed which will be bright red in color
Prolapsed - hemorrhoids that are internal but have collapsed and protrude outside the anus. They are often accompanied by heavy bleeding, a mucous discharge, and tend to be very painful
Common Causes + Solutions
Lack of Fiber - many people are seriously lacking fiber in the diet which is essential for proper bowel function as well as the elimination of toxins. Increasing fiber is one of the most important considerations for the treatment and prevention of hemorrhoids
Suggestions: ensure adequate amounts of vegetables (4-7 servings daily), whole grains (3-5 servings daily), and fresh fruits (2-3 servings daily) which are great sources of dietary fiber. Psyllium husks and ground flax seeds are also great sources and easy to add into the diet, simply use 1-2 tbsp of either and add to oatmeal, smoothies, parfaits, etc.
Inadequate Hydration - low intake of water is far too common and a major cause of constipation and hemorrhoids. Water is important for the lubrication of the colon and it naturally softens the stool making it easier to pass. It is also important to drink plenty of water when increasing fiber intake. Otherwise, the extra fiber can actually cause more constipation
You can also eat more hydrating foods like watermelon, cucumber & celery
Suggestions: aim to drink at least ½ your body weight in oz of water a day, preferably filtered or spring water. Decrease consumption of soda, alcohol, and caffeine as these tend to draw water out of the body, leaving you more dehydrated.
Constipation - making sure the bowels are moving is so important for the prevention and treatment of hemorrhoids, and all aspects of health. Stagnant bowels can cause a buildup of pressure in the anus and rectum, as can sitting and pushing for extended periods while using the toilet.
Suggestions: increasing dietary fiber, as well as water intake, is helpful for moving the bowels. Decreasing intake of low-quality fatty foods, processed and junk foods, sugar, and dairy will also help. Prune juice has laxative effects and may be used for gentle relief. If constipation is more persistent, aloe vera and Triphala are gentle herbal laxatives which are great for relieving constipation short term. If constipation persists for more than a few days, is painful, or regularly returns, it may be wise to consult with a holistic practitioner.
Pregnancy - the pressure of a growing fetus as well as hormonal changes are great contributing factors to the formation of hemorrhoids
Lack of Exercise - Exercise enhances blood flow to muscles, including the muscle of the bowel wall. A lack of blood flow results in weak contraction of the wall, leading to constipation.
Suggestions: The key is consistency. Try 30 minutes of moderate activity 5 days a week.
Food Intolerance - Food intolerance is one of the most common causes of constipation.
Suggestions: Speak with a holistic practitioner about the possibility of food intolerance if you are regularly exercising and consuming a fiber and water-rich diet, but are still experiencing chronic constipation.
Other Supportive Suggestions
Try Triphila - a gentle laxative which helps to tone and soothe the bowel
Drink burdock or dandelion tea which both help to relieve constipation
Apply topical calendula cream to the anus/area affected to relieve pain and soothe the burning
Comfrey root powder made into a poultice to heal from bleeding (external only)
Elderberry or mullein poultice externally to relieve pain
Witch hazel applied externally using a cotton ball to reduce swelling (acts as an astringent)
Avoid sitting or standing for extended periods - for sitting, take breaks to stand, walk and stretch. Also, consider using a pillow or cushion to sit on
Avoid using rough toilet paper - consider using moistened toilet paper or baby wipes.
Small amounts of blood, such as appearing on the toilet paper or underwear, is not of serious concern, however if bleeding is heavy and persistent seek advice from a physician