Alright, let’s talk about something that we keep hush-hush at family get-togethers but keeps some people (75% of the population to be precise!) from enjoying everyday activities.
I’m talking hemorrhoids! Hemorrhoids are like varicose veins in the legs but around the anus. You might not be able to see the hemorrhoid, but you might have one if you experience:
Itching, pain, or irritation around the anus
Bleeding (bright red blood in the toilet or on toilet paper when you wipe)
A hard lump or protrusion from the anus
Hemorrhoids can occur inside the rectum (internal) or under the skin around the anus (external). They occur when the veins around the anus have increased pressure within them.
Some things that can cause this to happen include:
Straining when having a bowel movement
Chronic diarrhea or constipation
Having anal intercourse
Eating a diet low in fiber
OKAY; so, you have a hemorrhoid, so what?
You need to treat hemorrhoids because, not only are they uncomfortable, but they also put you at risk for anemia due to blood loss and a blood clot in the hemorrhoid which can be extremely painful!
Hemorrhoids can be taken care of at home, or they may require a trip to the doctor. Seek medical care if you have a change in bowel habits (color, consistency, frequency), large amounts of rectal bleeding, dizziness, or if the hemorrhoids don’t resolve within 7 days. It’s super important that you see a doctor if the hemorrhoid doesn’t resolve quickly- as it could indicate a more serious condition that needs to be addressed. Topical solutions only are NOT appropriate for the treatment of hemorrhoids. The cause of the hemorrhoid needs to be addressed. The cause is quite often constipation, which can be due to several issues.
The Hemorrhoid First Aid Kit:
High-fiber foods (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, psyllium, oats)
Eating foods high in soluble fiber will create a ‘gel’ bulking and softening the stool, decreasing the pressure on the rectum & anus. This should not be used as an acute treatment for hemorrhoids! It’s a long-term solution to preventing the next flare-up.
I didn't want to call this the hemorrhoid smoothie but.... maybe we will...
CHOCOLATE FIBRE SMOOTHIE
1 scoop chocolate protein powder (vegan if you have a sensitivity to dairy products
1-2 cups of water or unsweetened almond/oat/soy milk (based on the consistency you like)
1 tablespoon peanut butter
1 tablespoon psyllium husk
2-5 ice cubes
Witch hazel is an astringent, meaning it tightens & tonifies. This is helpful in decreasing the time to resolution of hemorrhoids and improving comfort. Witch hazel can be applied several times per day using a cotton pad soaked in the solution, it’s especially useful immediately after having a bowel movement. When purchasing witch hazel, make sure to purchase alcohol-free. Alcohol is drying and can aggravate the hemorrhoid.
If you’re prone to hemorrhoids, you can create a mixture of witch hazel with coconut oil and keep it in the fridge for use during the duration of the hemorrhoids. Be sure to use clean hands & a sanitary pad when dipping into the container each time.
Soak the anal area for 10-15 minutes 2-3 times per day. A sitz bath fits directly over the toilet. Alternatively, you can take a regular bath in plain warm water, but ensure the water has access to the anal area.
For added benefit, you can add 2 cups of Epsom salts to the bath to help reduce inflammation & irritation.
Aloe vera gel
Apply aloe vera gel to the area several times per day. Aloe is especially good at decreasing inflammation and reducing burning. Make sure to buy pure aloe vera gel as other ingredients might be aggravating. When looking at aloe vera products, read the ingredient list and make sure that aloe vera is the very first ingredient on the label.
Author: Adrienne DeLuca, BHK