The itching and burning caused by hemorrhoids can make it difficult to sit still. How can you ease the discomfort and fight flare-ups? According to research or other evidence, the following self-care steps may be helpful:
These recommendations are not comprehensive and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or pharmacist. Continue reading the full hemorrhoids article for more in-depth, fully-referenced information on medicines, vitamins, herbs, and dietary and lifestyle changes that may be helpful.
Hemorrhoids are enlarged raised veins in the anus or rectum.
Common hemorrhoids are often linked to both diarrhea and constipation.1 Although the belief that hemorrhoids are caused by constipation has been questioned by researchers,2 most doctors feel that many hemorrhoids are triggered by the straining that accompanies chronic constipation.3 Therefore, natural approaches to hemorrhoids sometimes focus on overcoming constipation.
Product ratings for hemorrhoids
|Science Ratings||Nutritional Supplements||Herbs|
Flavonoids (hydroxyethylrutosides derived from rutin)
|See also: Homeopathic Remedies for Hemorrhoids|
and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.
Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.
For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support and/or minimal health benefit.
Symptoms of hemorrhoids may include painful swelling or a lump in the anus that can bleed and become inflamed, often causing discomfort and itching. There may also be bright red blood on the toilet paper, the stool, or in the toilet bowl.
Populations in which fiber intake is high have a very low incidence of hemorrhoids. Insoluble fiber—the kind found primarily in whole grains and vegetables—increases the bulk of stool. Drinking water with a high-fiber meal or a fiber supplement results in softer, bulkier stools, which can move more easily. As a result, many doctors recommend fiber in combination with increased intake of liquids for people with hemorrhoids. A review of seven placebo-controlled trials concluded that fiber supplementation has a beneficial effect on symptoms and bleeding in people with hemorrhoids.4
Surgical treatment may be recommended for hemorrhoids that become very enlarged, protrude from the anus (prolapse), bleed frequently, or contain blood clots (thrombosis). Common procedures include freezing the affected tissue (cryotherapy), injecting chemicals into the hemorrhoid to shrink it (sclerosing solutions), surgically removing the hemorrhoid (hemorrhoidectomy), or placing rubber bands around the hemorrhoid for removal (ligation).
A number of flavonoids have been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects and/or to strengthen blood vessels. These effects could, in theory, be beneficial for people with hemorrhoids. Most,5 6 7 8 but not all,9 double-blind trials using a group of semisynthetic flavonoids (hydroxyethylrutosides derived from rutin) have demonstrated significant improvements in itching, bleeding, and other symptoms associated with hemorrhoids when people used supplements of 600–4,000 mg per day.
Other trials have evaluated Daflon, a product containing the food-derived flavonoids diosmin (90%) and hesperidin (10%). An uncontrolled trial reported that Daflon produced symptom relief in two-thirds of pregnant women with hemorrhoids.10 Double-blind trials have produced conflicting results about the effects of Daflon in people with hemorrhoids.11 12 Amounts of flavonoids used in Daflon trials ranged from 1,000 to 3,000 mg per day. Diosmin and hesperidin are available separately as dietary supplements.
Some doctors recommend flavonoid supplements for people with hemorrhoids. However, many different flavonoids occur in food and supplements, and additional research is needed to determine which flavonoids are most effective against hemorrhoids.
Constipation is believed to worsen hemorrhoid symptoms, and thus, bulk-forming fibers are often recommended for those with hemorrhoids. A double-blind trial reported that 7 grams of psyllium, an herb high in fiber, taken three times daily reduced the pain and bleeding associated with hemorrhoids.13 Some healthcare professionals recommend taking two tablespoons of psyllium seeds or 1 teaspoon of psyllium husks two or three times per day mixed with water or juice. It is important to maintain adequate fluid intake while using psyllium.
Topically applied astringent herbs have been used traditionally as a treatment for hemorrhoids. A leading astringent herb for topical use is witch hazel,14 which is typically applied to hemorrhoids three or four times per day in an ointment base.
Horse chestnut extracts have been reported from a double-blind trial to reduce symptoms of hemorrhoids.15 Some doctors recommend taking horse chestnut seed extracts standardized for aescin (also known as escin) content (16–21%), or an isolated aescin preparation, providing 90 to 150 mg of aescin per day.
1. Johanson JF, Sonnenberg A. Constipation is not a risk factor for hemorrhoids: a case-control study of potential etiological agents. Am J Gastroenterol 1994;89:1981–6.
2. Johanson JF, Sonnenberg A. The prevalence of hemorrhoids and chronic constipation. Gastroenterology 1990;98:380–6.
3. Deutsch AA, Kaufman Z, Reiss R. Hemorrhoids: a plea for nonsurgical treatment. Isr J Med Sci 1980;16:649–54.
4. Alonso-Coello P, Mills E, Heels-Ansdell D, et al. Fiber for the treatment of hemorrhoids complications: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Gastroenterol 2006;101:181–8.
5. Sinnatamby CS. The treatment of hemorrhoids. Role of hydroxyethylrutosides, troxerutin (Paroven; Varmoid; Venoruton). Clin Trials J 1973;2:45–50.
6. Clyne MB, Freeling P, Ginsborg S. Troxerutin in the treatment of haemorrhoids. Practitioner 1967;198:420–3.
7. Annoni F, Boccasanta P, Chiurazzi D, et al. Treatment of acute symptoms of hemorrhoid disease with high-dose oral O-(beta-hydroxyethyl)-rutosides. Minerva Med 1986;77:1663–8 [in Italian].
8. Wijayanegara H, Mose JC, Achmad L, et al. A clinical trial of hydroxyethylrutosides in the treatment of haemorrhoids of pregnancy. J Int Med Res 1992;20:54–60.
9. Thorp RH, Hughes ESR. A clinical trial of trihydroxyethylrutoside (“Varemoid”) in the treatment of hemorrhoids. Med J Aust 1970;2:1076–8.
10. Buckshee K, Takkar D, Aggarwal N. Micronized flavonoid therapy in internal hemorrhoids of pregnancy. Int J Gynaecol Obstet 1997;57:145–51.
11. Cospite M. Double-blind, placebo-controlled evaluation of clinical activity and safety of Daflon 500 mg in the treatment of acute hemorrhoids. Angiology 1994;45:566–73.
12. Thanapongsathorn W, Vajrabukka T. Clinical trial of oral diosmin (Daflon) in the treatment of hemorrhoids. Dis Colon Rectum 1992;35:1085–8.
13. Moesgaard F, Nielsen ML, Hansen JB, Knudsen JT. High-fiber diet reduces bleeding and pain in patients with hemorrhoids. Dis Colon Rectum 1982;25:454–6.
14. Wichtl M. Herbal Drugs and Phytopharmaceuticals. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 1994, 268–70.
15. Nini G, Di Cicco CO. Controlled clinical evaluation of a new anti-hemorrhoid drug, using a completely randomized experimental plan. Clin Ther 1978;86:545–59 [in Italian].
Copyright © 2009 Aisle7 All rights reserved. www.Aisle7.net
The information presented in Aisle7 is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or chemist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications.