Treating Hemorrhoids With Diet, Supplements, and Natural Therapies

Hemorrhoids are a widespread condition with a general population prevalence ranging between 13% to 36%, and for people aged 45 – 65, the incidence rises to about 50%. [1-2]

Although rarely dangerous and rarely causes severe complications that demand medical attention and surgery, hemorrhoids can be very uncomfortable and may be extremely painful, especially during bowel movements. There is often also itching, burning, painful swellings, and bleeding. 

Hemorrhoids develop when the supporting tissues of the anal hemorrhoidal veins disintegrate or deteriorate, and there is a rupture. 

This leads to a severe inflammatory reaction involving the vascular wall and its surrounding connective tissue.[3].

Hemorrhoids are also caused by hormonal changes before or during menstruation and hormonal changes, and increased intra-abdominal pressure during pregnancy. It is estimated that 25%-35% of pregnant women are affected by hemorrhoids. In specific populations, up to 85% of pregnancies are affected by hemorrhoids in the third trimester. [4-6]

Hemorrhoids can be recognized by bright red spotting on toilet paper or blood in the toilet bowl. Soiling of the underpants may occur in advanced stage hemorrhoids due to impaired ability to control bowel movement and production of mucus discharge from the anus. This discharge causes perianal irritation and itching. These unpleasant and disruptive symptoms may keep you from a better quality of life.

Fortunately, the condition is manageable and treatable through natural methods, including dietary changes, supplements, and natural therapies. 

Here are 9 natural ways to treat hemorrhoids: 

1. Increase your Fiber Intake 

Increasing fiber intake helps soften bowel movements, relieve constipation, and reduce the straining during bowel excretion. 

A high fiber diet rich in whole grains, fruits, and raw vegetables is the best way to manage and help heal hemorrhoids.

Further to increasing fiber intake in the diet regularly, treatment with fiber supplements is also recommended initially.

A study following 102 patients with advanced hemorrhoids concluded that fiber supplementation could help stop the condition’s progression and eliminate bleeding episodes. Fiber supplementation also helps most people with advanced hemorrhoids to avoid surgery. 

Since fiber supplements are safe and cheap, they remain an integral part of treatment. The recommended intake of fiber supplementation a day is approximately 5-6 teaspoonfuls of psyllium mixed with 600 mL of water. [7] Fiber supplements can relieve the symptoms of non-prolapsing hemorrhoids, but some researchers suggest that it may take up to six weeks to see a significant improvement. [8] Therefore I recommend persisting with fiber supplementation until you see healing, after which I recommend stopping the supplementation and adhering to a high fiber plant-based diet to prevent a recurrence of the disease.

2. Increase Antioxidant Intake

There is involvement of free radicals hemorrhoids. [9] It is known that antioxidants neutralize free radicals. The antioxidants proven to have a therapeutic effect for managing hemorrhoids are flavones contained in citrus fruit peels. [10] 

In a review of fourteen trials, the literature shows that these flavones reduce the severity of bleeding and prevent hemorrhoid relapse. 

These results and the literature analysis agree that flavonoids have better performance than traditional treatment and are an effective treatment in terms of shorter time for disappearance of bleeding and anal irritation in patients with all grades of hemorrhoids. Bleeding and irritation heal by the first week when people consume flavonoids in supplement form. [11-22]


3. Use Witch Hazel as a Topical Treatment

Witch hazel has been used directly on hemorrhoids to help reduce pain and itching. The herbal extract is a known anti-inflammatory that contains tannins and oils that can help slow down bleeding and reduce inflammation.[23] 

4. Reduce Spices In Food

Frequent spice intake was more frequent in the people suffering from hemorrhoids than controls, with odds ratios of 2.58. [24]

5. Use a Sitz Bath 

A sitz bath is a warm, shallow bath that cleanses the buttocks. To be an effective treatment method for symptoms of hemorrhoids, the water should be approximately 38-40 degrees C (100 degrees F), and you should limit the soak time to 15 minutes. The right temperature cleanses the perineum and helps increase blood flow, minimizing itching, irritation, and minor pain. To prevent irritation and inflammation, the bath should not contain any oils, lotions, or salts. [25] 

6. Increase Water Intake 

The leading causes of hemorrhoids involve:

  • Bowel movements and behaviors.
  • Particularly straining.
  • Sitting on the toilet for long periods.
  • And having chronic constipation.

 Therefore, drinking sufficient water is another crucial dietary modification for hemorrhoids because it helps soften the stools and prevents excessive straining. Water also helps prevent constipation by stimulating bowel movements. The recommendation is to drink sufficient water. To calculate your  water needs visit my video here:

7. Stop Smoking 

Cigarette smokers are more prone to experience constipation and dry stools, both of which aggravate hemorrhoids in most patients [26-28]

8. Follow Better Toileting Behaviors 

Dysfunctional bathroom habits such as excessive straining and pushing have been associated with hemorrhoids. You should limit the time you spend on the toilet to 3 to 5 minutes. One should avoid reading on the toilet.

Listen to your body and go to the bathroom when you have the urge. Holding it in and waiting too long can also lead to constipation, which will cause you to push harder and strain your rectum when you reach the toilet. 

You should also avoid excessive wiping because it can injure the delicate skin of the anus and cause anal tears. While stool left behind can aggravate enlarged hemorrhoids, excessive wiping, and cleaning, particularly with perfumed or alcohol-based wipes or liquid soaps, can lead to allergic reactions and worsen the condition. [29] Washing with soap and water is the best practice after defecation when possible. 

9. Squat

The posture for defecation has been changed by Western industrialization. The use of the pedestal toilet with a sitting position has changed the natural posture for defecation. Squatting is the natural way to defecate, making elimination faster, easier, and more complete; and securely seals the ileocecal valve between the colon and the small intestine. Squatting reduces the pressure required for defecation. [30-34]

To summarize:

The lifestyle modifications mentioned here should be advised to anybody with hemorrhoids as preventive measures and treatment. These changes include increasing dietary fiber intake in the diet, adding fluids, regular exercising, improving anal hygiene, and abstaining from straining and reading on the toilet. It is also important to note that hemorrhoidal symptoms are prevalent but may also mask colorectal malignancy or inflammatory disease symptoms.

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References:

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