How to Naturally Heal Your Chronic Hemorrhoids:
After suffering from chronic (repeated) hemorrhoids for well over a decade I had another bad bout around the holidays and decided I just had to deeply look into healing this and learned how, and I’m sharing this information in hopes that it might help anyone in the same painful situation. The approach I will explain is not particularly intended to address the remedial treatment of hemorrhoid symptoms— so it’s not my intention to talk about what creams or products or natural remedies can address the pain and discomfort of a particular hemorrhoid flare-up— instead I suggest looking at the root causes of hemorrhoids and what we can do to address those causes. This may seem slightly longer than most discussions here, but I hope you may find it worth your while to read.
Modern medical science is amazing in many ways, but because it is analytical and reductive by nature, it tends to look and treat injuries and systems in a fairly narrow way, often concentrating on responding to symptoms of injury or dysfunction in isolation once they have arisen, in contrast to a more integral and larger picture approach which concentrates on prevention of the root causes of the dysfunction in the first place. For instance, when I saw my doctor, he proscribed me cortisone (which can reduce inflammation and pain in the short run, but also has dangerous potential to permanently thin and weaken tissue where it is applied in the long run), and talked about the potential surgery down the line.
Chronic hemorrhoids can and will heal, but first we have to look at what they are and why they’re happening. Of course they are extremely painful and unpleasant and usually we just want to get rid of them as quickly as possible. Typically, we just treat the symptoms. In other words, we apply something to reduce the pain, reduce the swelling, etc. And in more severe cases, people are sometimes advised to have their hemorrhoids surgically removed by various unpleasant and invasive methods. Though they still often recur. I suggest that in a certain sense all of this misses a key point. I am not the only one to say this, of course, and doubtless some of your doctors have probably mentioned some what I am about to talk about— the difference is, I hope to emphasize it more thoroughly to help you understand how you can make some fairly basic changes which will allow your body to heal itself. When we get chronic hemorrhoids the body is telling us something. It is saying, in effect, “something in the system is out of balance.” If we just treat the symptoms or try to remove the offending hemorrhoid without understanding the larger picture, we will never heal chronic hemorrhoids.
Generally speaking, chronic hemorrhoids are caused by by three related factors: 1. straining while defecating, 2. constipation, and 3. diet. This is well known. But can we really take the time to understand these relationships, and carefully and systematically make the changes necessary for the body to heal? It is a slight oversimplification but basically: hemorrhoids are delicate veins in and around the anus that burst when we overstrain in order to defecate. The straining is typically a consequence of constipation. And constipation is a consequence of diet. There are also some related habits which I will address.
Now, I must confess that I myself suffered from chronic hemorrhoids for over a decade, without really truly understanding the implication of why. A few reasons were, I didn’t particularly think I was straining hard, I just assumed that one had to push sometimes when defecating (Wrong). I didn’t partially think of myself as chronically constipated (Wrong). And I didn’t particularly think anything was wrong was my diet, which seemed to be a mostly healthy ordinary American diet, and I’m relatively fit and healthy (Wrong). Having now made changes and healed, I realize that: 1. it’s really not necessary to strain at all when defecating, and it’s actually possible initiate a bowl movement by relaxation of muscles 2. My notion of what was constipated and what wasn’t was misinformed, and in fact it’s possible to regularly have totally soft poop which passes quite comfortably, and 3. Some basic changes to my diet were a key factor in my healing.
So, healing your chronic hemorrhoids: I am going to suggest to you a simple program here which you may find extraordinarily beneficial if you follow it for one month (this time period is somewhat artificial, depending on the severity of your condition, but I think a month will do it for most).
First of all, if you are currently suffering from chronic hemorrhoids you will probably be familiar with this frustrating situation, which perpetuates the cycle and prevents healing. Namely, hemorrhoids are painful as heck, especially when you are trying to defecate. And, the body’s instinctive reaction to pain is to retract from it. In other words, you may have noticed that your anus contracts and clenches up from pain, precisely when you most need it to relax for the poop to easily pass. The result is, we have to strain to poop at all, because we simply can’t get the anus to relax (and you may see the result as thin hard poop). And the more straining, the more chance of exacerbating the delicate hemorrhoidal tissues. A vicious circle. This will gradually get easier as your poop gets softer from diet changes, but to address this we basically have to do two things. One is the so called Sitz Bath. Basically that means, put your butt, or better yet your whole body in a hot bath. Does this really make a difference in healing? Yes, big time. If you have chronic hemorrhoids, during the healing process (which hopefully will not long, if you truly follow it), ideally you are going to climb into the bathtub after every bowel movement. Many of us do not have a bathtub— my consolation, that is why you may need to get a big tub you can fill with hot water to sit your butt in, or buy one of those sitz-bath things on Amazon. (Also, you may be concerned that you won’t always be at home or have access or time for a bath— actually, if you follow the diet recommendations below consistently, you will probably find that your bowel habits stabilize to once a day in the morning, shortly before or after breakfast. Read on.) Personally I think a taking a full hot bath in a bath tub is best if you can. You only need to be in it for 10-15 minutes, possibly less. (Also, if you’re in a lot of pain while defecating, it might not also hurt to take a quick 5 minute hot bath before as well). Basically, the hot water will allow and encourage the muscles around your anus to relax. Because again, the body’s instinctive reaction to the pain associated with defecation with hemorrhoids is to contract, clench up, and spasm, all of which will further perpetuate the problem and inhibit healing. Secondly on this matter— and this is very important— you can learn to intentionally relax the muscles of the pelvic floor and anus with your mind. As you may notice once you start to practice, this can be quite challenging if the area is spasming and tense. But this will make a big difference in healing. Learn to bring your awareness into those muscles, and consciously relax and let go of tension. You will find that this makes a big difference in terms of pain after bowel movements. You can also check-in and do this throughout the day and it will help. You might find it helpful to google an image of the muscles of the pelvic floor and anus to understand them generally to facilitate in this process. Also, use your breath. E.g. intentionally relax those muscles as you breathe out. Keep practicing.
One more thing here— if you can use water to clean your ass instead of toilet paper, that would probably be beneficial. I.e. a bidet, a bathtub spigot, or just your hand and water (sanitized afterward of course). Rubbing hemorrhoids with toilet paper will usually exacerbate them.
Okay, on to constipation. As I mentioned, I never particularly thought of myself as chronically constipated, even when I was suffering from repeated hemorrhoids. In retrospect, now that I have made some changes, I see that I clearly was. Some may find this hard to believe, but it is not necessary to strain at all when defecating. If you have to push, consider that you might actually be somewhat constipated, and consider some diet changes. But before I get to diet, there is the issue of the position you defecate in. I think this can make a big difference for chronic constipation and hemorrhoid sufferers. Unfortunately, many people in this country seem to balk at this idea (it is standard in many Asian counties, but slowly disappearing alas, as Western material habits take over the world). Basically, there is an ideal and optimum position to take a poop, and if you don’t already know, it’s not sitting on a porcelain toilet like we’re used to doing. Have you ever gone camping and had to poop in the woods? How did you do it? Chances are, you squatted down on your heels and did your business. In fact, this is how human beings have been pooping for literally millions of years. Not surprisingly, our body is optimized to defecate in this way. And if you do a little google searching of this you will find that sitting on the toilet is literally anatomically constricting for a natural easy bowl movement. In other words, you are much more likely to have to strain or push when you are sitting chair-like on a toilet. But when you are in a squatting position the bowel is not pinched off, and you can more easily relax muscles to initiate pooping rather than strain to push poop out. Consider making yourself a squatting toilet platform (google it), or, if you are nimble enough, just put your feet right up on the toilet seat and squat. From my perspective, there is no question that pooping in this position is better for constipation and hemorrhoids. It will obviously feel a little awkward when you start doing it, but try to appreciate the actual effects.
One other trick that I read somewhere on the internet that helped me in my transition back to pain free bowel movements was this: when defecating, press your middle finger about an inch or two back above your anus (that is, moving up towards your back). If you do this while defecating you may notice that it is somehow supportive of the anal canal and facilitates relaxation of the anus in defecation. In fact, someone even manufactures a special toilet seat that has a protrusion there for support. But I have found just applying gentle pressure with a finger is sufficient. Try it if you wish.
Now, we all know that making changes to our diet can be rather difficult, because we all have ingrained habits and tastes. What I am suggesting is that you try this, as an experiment, for only a month (and possibly less), and see what effect it has on your body and hemorrhoids. If you are a long sufferer from chronic hemorrhoids, believe me, it’s worth it. There is actually nothing revolutionary or mysterious about the diet I am about to suggest, many doctors recommend it and the internet is full of info on it— all that matters is the thoroughness and consistency which with you follow it. Understand? So before I even tell you again what you already probably know let me re-emphasize— the main issue here is that you have to unify your will and intention and follow through with this in order to genuinely give your body a chance to heal itself. It can heal itself, naturally, if you create a situation that is supportive and nurturing to that process, for long enough for the tissues to heal themselves. I suggest a month is probably enough for this to happen, if you follow thru. But remember, if you slip up and eat a bunch of constipating food, the consequences go without saying. You have to recognize that you can’t just eat like you used to or like everybody else right now. You have an injury and you have to let it heal. Just like if you sprained your ankle you would make changes in your life and give it time to heal before using it normally again. You can do it. Exercise restraint, and remember why you’re doing this. Be a friend to your body. Learn how to support your body. It’s an absolute miracle, and with mindfulness and patience and attention it can heal itself from all sorts of trauma. And to be clear here, fundamentally this particular trauma comes from not being sufficiently mindful of what we eat, and how our body functions.
The diet for healing is basically a diet high in natural fiber— fibrous fruits and vegetables, and lots and lots of leafy greens and roughage. Fibrous veggies especially. It is not complicated, at all. You can do you own research if you want, just google a little about foods to alleviate constipation, etc. Basically, for one month play it extra extra safe. Avoid sugar, processed foods, red meat, tons of wheat, dairy, etc. The more strictly the better. I am not saying you won’t be able to eat any of those things forever. Once your body is healed you may choose to reintroduce some those foods again, but you will have to do it a lot more mindfully and in moderation. In any case, if you actually follow a diet like this, you will definitely notice your poop become soft in short order, probably within a week or two, and you may be quite amazed at how soft and easy to pass your poop gets. Just remember, there still needs to be time for healing, and the more time those tissues have without stress and stain, the stronger they can become, so err on the side of un-constipating foods. I would also definitely recommend that during this time you consider a psyllium-husk supplement, which you can buy at any natural foods store, or order from Amazon (this is also, I understand, the main ingredient in Metamucil, tho I would prefer the bulk psyllium husk). Just mix a few spoonfuls into a glass of water and drink up, preferably once in the morning and once in the evening. This will help your poop become soft and easy to pass. Once you effect your diet change, you may still have your hemorrhoids for a little while, but you will find it easier and easier to poop without straining, and gradually the hemorrhoids will reduce and disappear. Just have patience and wait for your body to heal.
Personally, the way I ate was simple. Breakfast was oatmeal and tea. Snacks were apples. Lunch was salads and veggies. Sometimes green smoothies. Dinner was a whole grain and more veggies, sometimes some fish and a little chicken. I avoided all dairy, sugar, red meat, and wheat for a month. Now I have reintroduced some wheat and dairy in moderation. Was it worth it? Heck yes, it was worth it. After ten years of apprehension I now look forward to pooping. Another thing, minor but I’ll mention it. Chew. You must chew. Seriously, if you can get in the habit of eating more slowly and chewing thoroughly, it will be beneficial to your entire digestive process. Also optional, but I recommend taking a quality probiotic from a health food store (just one bottle of supplement pills, taken once a day, for a month). Perhaps the jury’s still out on how effective these really are, but for me personally, I consider it a minor cost, probably good for my gut, and probably good for optimum digestion and proper bowel function.
By the way, some possible side effects of this diet are you will feel healthy, less sluggish, and probably lose a few pounds. This is a very healthy and nutritious way to eat.
Another thing I would mention. During the healing period, I quit coffee, and I would suggest to keep it to a minimum. You will find disagreement on this matter on the internet, but I urge you to err on the side of safety. It’s not necessarily forever. First try a month with the whole program. Make it your best effort in every way you can. Coffee is a diuretic. In other words, it’s action is to make us pee and draw water out of the body. The problem is, one of the factors that makes poop soft is having enough water content in it. Stay well hydrated. If you are dehydrated, it will just make your poop harder and compound your problems. Just switch to decaf during the healing period, you will probably find that the taste satisfies most of your basic habit. Also on this note, while I’ve generally avoided discussion of products here, there is one variety of laxative (the ones with magnesium) that are generally considered safer than others. How do they work? By drawing water from the colon into the poop, making it softer. This is not to say I would recommend using laxatives, but if you feel you must while you’re still constipated and waiting for your diet changes to come into effect, then consider a magnesium based product and stay well hydrated. But don’t use a laxative for long, as this can be detrimental to normal healthy bowel function.
How to Naturally Heal Your Chronic Hemorrhoids: