Hemorrhoids are commonplace and generally benign, which doesn’t make them any less of a nuisance. A common sign is the presence of small amounts of bright red blood with a bowel movement. In addition to bleeding when passing stool, these can cause pain, especially if a clot forms within one. Anal itching occurs when hemorrhoids interfere with hygiene, though the symptom can also indicate allergies, parasites, and other conditions. Treatment involves correcting the underlying cause, easing the discomfort of hemorrhoids with topical ointments, and, when needed, minor surgery.
1. Fiber-Up Bran Muffins
How it works: Constipation and hard stools passing through the anus contribute to hemorrhoids. A diet rich with fiber from bran, fruit, and vegetable sources, with plenty of water, helps get you regular and allows easy, non-aggravating passage.
- 1 cup (80 g) uncooked multigrain hot cereal
- 1 tablespoon (12 g) flaxseeds
- 1 cup (125 g) all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon (14 g) baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons (6 g) stevia powder
- 1 banana, mashed
- ½ cup (125 g) applesauce
- ½ cup (120 ml) almond milk
- 2 large eggs
- ¼ cup (60 ml) olive oil
- 1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
- ½ cup (55 g) chopped pecans
- Honey, for serving (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C, or gas mark 4).
Mix together all the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add the banana, applesauce, almond milk, eggs, oil, and vanilla. Stir until the batter is moist and thick. Stir in the pecans. Place twelve muffin liners in a muffin tin. Spoon the batter evenly into each cup.
Bake for about 15 minutes or until the muffins are golden brown. Do not overbake. Serve warm with honey.
- YIELD: 12 MUFFINS
2. Horse Chestnut Soother
How it works: Horse chestnut seed extract is a traditional treatment for varicose veins and hemorrhoids. Constituents are anti-inflammatory, astringent, and a tonic to veins, which reduces swelling and bleeding. Multiple studies show special extracts taken by mouth and applied topically reduce a condition called chronic venous insufficiency.
- 1 cup (235 ml) water
- 1 teaspoon (4 g) dried horse chestnut seeds
- DIRECTIONS: Boil the water. Add the seeds and simmer for 15 minutes. Allow the tea to cool. Soak a piece of clean gauze or cloth in the mixture and apply to irritated tissue as needed.
- YIELD: 1 SET OF APPLICATIONS
- WARNING: Do not consume the above recipe. Without special processing, horse chestnut seeds can be toxic when taken internally.
- NOTE: Dried horse chestnut seeds are available online or at natural food stores.
3. Lemon Relief
How it works: Lemons contain flavonoids, plant pigments with health benefits. Flavonoids act as antioxidants (thus protecting the blood vessel linings from free radical damage) and promote the formation of collagen (a protein found in blood vessels, skin, and many other tissues). They also have an astringent (contracting) effect on blood vessels. A glass of warm water with lemon juice first thing in the morning may also stimulate bowel activity.
- 1 cup (235 ml) warm water
- 3 tablespoons (45 ml) fresh lemon juice
- DIRECTIONS: Mix the lemon juice into the warm water and drink first thing in the morning.
- YIELD: 1 SERVING
4. Very Berry Orange Fruit Salad
How it works: Fruit provides fiber to promote bowel regularity. Berries and citrus fruits are rich in flavonoids, which help maintain the health of blood vessels, increase the tone of veins, and decrease inflammation. Anthocyanidins, a subtype of flavonoid with particular vascular benefits, create red, blue, and purple in these berries. A concentrated flavonoid product containing the citrus flavonoid hesperidin has been shown successfully in reducing signs and symptoms of varicose veins and hemorrhoids. Special extracts of bilberries, a near relative of blueberry, help improve chronic venous problems.
- 1 cup (145 g) blueberries, divided
- 1 teaspoon (5 g) Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon (15 g) grapeseed or canola oil
- Juice of 1 lemon wedge
- ¼ cup (30 g) dried bilberries
- ½ cup (85 g) sliced strawberries
- 1 orange, peeled, sectioned, and seeded
- 1 celery stalk, diced
- ½ cup (60 g) chopped walnuts
- 2 cups (60 g) baby spinach, rinsed and drained
Blend half of the blueberries with mustard, oil, and lemon juice in a blender for an easy dressing; set aside.
Mix together the remaining berries in a large bowl. Toss the orange sections, celery, and walnuts into the berries. Spread a spinach base on two plates. Divide the fruit salad evenly between each plate and top with the blueberry dressing.
- YIELD: 02 SERVINGS
- NOTE: Bilberries are native to Europe and generally not available fresh in the United States. You can buy them from online retailers and local herb shops. They’re not as juicy as many other dried berries. Sample a few before first to see how you like them. Alternatively, just double the blueberries in this recipe.
5. Witch Hazel Soothing Wipe
How it works: Witch hazel is high in flavonoids and tannins. The former helps maintains blood vessels, reduce inflammation, and inhibit enzymes that degrade the architecture of veins. The latter has an astringent (tightening) effect.
- PREPARATION: 1 teaspoon (5 ml) witch hazel
- DIRECTIONS: Moisten facial or toilet tissue with the witch hazel and gently wipe the affected area.
- YIELD: 1 APPLICATION
- NOTE: You can find witch hazel decoctions (water extracts) in most pharmacies.
6. Salty Sitz Bath
How it works: The warm, salty water relieves congestion in the pelvic circulation and reduces inflammation.
- PREPARATION: ½ cup (144 g) salt
- DIRECTIONS: Run a warm bath and mix in the salt. Sit for 15 minutes, three times a day. Pat dry afterward.
- YIELD: 1 APPLICATION
- NOTE: If you don’t have a bathtub, you can find a sitz bath at most drugstores. This simply fits over the toilet and you sit in it to bathe the anal area.
7. Cold Comfort
How it works: Ice is among the most effective ways to reduce swelling and inflammation.
- PREPARATION: 3 ice cubes
- DIRECTIONS: Crush the ice cubes, put them in a resealable plastic bag, and seal. Wrap the bag in a clean washcloth. Lie in a comfortable position and apply to the anal area for 15 minutes. Apply in the morning and again at night.
- YIELD: 1 APPLICATION
Fact or Myth?
- STRAINING WHILE ON THE TOILET IS USUALLY NECESSARY WHEN RELIEVING YOURSELF. Myth. People in a hurry often strain, which puts pressure on the veins in the lower rectum and contributes to hemorrhoids. Make a routine for yourself where you set aside time for a daily movement without rushing.
- A dab of petroleum jelly on hemorrhoids can protect them from irritation. it’s an ingredient in many commercially prepared hemorrhoid treatments.
- In the shower, cleanse your anus gently with warm water and mild soap. Afterward, gently pat the area dry or dry gently with a blow-dryer on low. Doing so will inhibit bacteria from becoming trapped in hemorrhoids and thereby decrease itching.
- Use moistened toilet paper or baby wipes to clean the affected area instead of dry paper, which has a tendency to irritate.
When to Call the Doctor
- You experience bleeding with a bowel movement. Make sure something other than hemorrhoids is not causing the bleeding.
- You notice increased pain. You may have developed an infection or a blood clot within a hemorrhoid or other problem requiring medical extent.
- Hemorrhoid extends beyond the anus and cannot be gently pushed back in.