As a young girl of around ten years old, I hated going to the bathroom. It wasn’t that there were bullies in the bathrooms at school or anything of that sort, it was more that I was anxious about bowel movements. Having a bowel movement was painful and was usually preceded by horrible cramps and accompanied by some spots of blood on the toilet paper. In my childish mind, I was grateful that I only had to endure it once a week or so. It never occurred to me that this was a problem worth bringing to the attention of my parents. I just thought that it was everyone’s experience, especially since it was something that no one really talked about. I mean, who sits around talking about what goes on in the bathroom, except maybe little boys making crude humor? Seriously, though. Given what I know now about my family’s intestinal weaknesses, even if I had mentioned it, they probably would not have thought anything about it since they might have considered it normal, too. Constipation is a common cause of hemorrhoids and little did I know that I suffered from both as a child. I didn’t bleed every time I passed a stool, but it was a fairly frequent occurrence. Because I didn’t know any better, nothing was done about it. It was a chronic recurring problem for me until my early twenties when I discovered how allergies affect the body; natural medicine as an alternative; and a nutrient dense, whole foods diet that all helped to rid me of both of these conditions. I did not have issues with hemorrhoids again until I had children.
Hemorrhoids and pregnancy
When I became pregnant with my oldest daughter, I knew that I wanted a natural birth. Of course, how many women wish for a surgical birth? I went to childbirth classes which I thought would prepare me to have a drug-free vaginal birth. I didn’t know at that time that there are different types of classes and I was in the wrong one for the type of birth experience I wanted. I also didn’t know that, if I truly wanted a drug-free birth, I shouldn’t have chosen a doctor to manage my pregnancy. I should have chosen a nurse-midwife or lay midwife. (All of my other children enjoyed a drug-free, water birth with a nurse-midwife overseeing).
The pregnancy itself was uneventful. I ate a healthy diet. I got a little exercise. She and I both grew normally and there were no complications like gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia, or anything else. The night before she was due, my water broke. I was nervous, excited, and a little afraid. I called my doctor and she told me I should head to the hospital. I wasn’t in labor yet and this is where my earlier choices began to have their consequences. My doctor told me that, because I wasn’t going in to labor on my own, she would have to try to stimulate labor by giving me intravenous Pitocin (a drug that causes the womb to contract). I didn’t want Pitocin, but I felt like I was given no choice. I asked if I would still be able to walk and move around and she set it up so that I could. I was on the intravenous drip all day and evening and nothing was happening. What I didn’t know at the time was that there were several things conspiring against my body—the fact that I hate hospitals, the stress from feeling pressured to give birth, the difficulty I was having dealing with the pain of the contractions (that childbirth class was useless), and the feeling of losing control of the birthing process.
My doctor said that we had to get my daughter out because of the risk of infection to her since my water broke. I felt that my doctor was in such a hurry because she wanted to relax at home with her family and eat turkey the next day for the holiday instead of being at the hospital with me. My doctor told me that I would have to submit to an epidural, a numbing agent injected into the spinal fluid, which left me unable to feel anything from the waist down. I didn’t want the epidural, I wanted more time, I wanted to go home for a while and come back if I could, I wanted to rewind the whole thing and start over, but all of that was impossible. She threatened me with a Caesarean section (a surgical birth) and I submitted to the epidural. With the epidural in place, she was able to give me a mega dose of Pitocin and within two hours, my daughter was born. Interestingly, I was still able to feel the pressure of her head enough to know when to push. But, because I couldn’t feel any pain, I pushed really hard and of course, the Pitocin pushed really hard, too.
Afterwards, my daughter’s head was swollen on one side from all the Pitocin, and my leg was paralyzed for a couple of days from the epidural. It hurt to go to the bathroom and I discovered that I was bleeding from the anus. I knew that hemorrhoids are often a side effect of pregnancy since the baby and the birthing process put pressure on the delicate veins of the anus. However, I didn’t expect that they would be on the outside, oozing blood. I used the squeeze bottle to clean myself gently and not further irritate the area. At that time, I had already started to learn about natural methods of healing, so I started investigating a hemorrhoid natural treatment for myself. I started with a base of cocoa butter and added in the powdered herbs. The herbs I used were: marshmallow root (a tall plant found in marshy places in Europe, North Africa, and parts of Asia), comfrey root (plant found in Europe, North America, and Asia), white oak bark (common shade tree in North America), and yellow dock root (common weed plant in North America, Europe, and parts of Asia).
I mixed it all together until it formed a paste and then I rolled it out into a long snake that was about one half inch in diameter. Then I cut the snake into one inch long pieces and froze them to make them solid. I basically made my own suppositories that would melt once inside the body and deliver the herbs where they were needed. The suppositories worked well and I felt better in a few days. I won’t say that I never got hemorrhoids with my three other children, but I didn’t experience external, oozing blood again. I was sore after each baby, of course, and I did use my natural treatment for hemorrhoids again. Other helpful herbs are: butcher’s broom (an evergreen like shrub native to Europe), horse chestnut (a tree native to the Balkans, but found all over the northern hemisphere), and witch hazel (a tall shrub found mostly in the United States).
Hemorrhoids and an Overloaded Liver
I asked my husband about his experiences with hemorrhoids. Can you imagine this discussion? (“Hey, honey, tell me about your hemorrhoids.”) He said that he does experience them from time to time, usually associated with not eating enough vegetables, straining when having a bowel movement, and when trying to prevent a bowel movement (such as when there isn’t a bathroom around and you have to “hold it.”) He has been using an over the counter treatment, which he is satisfied with, but, he said, he sometimes he gets them for what seems like no reason at all. As I said before, these are things that no one talks about. When he said this, I became concerned. I went into research mode and found out some very interesting information about the veins in the rectum (the very last portion of the large intestine before the anus).
I discovered that the veins in the rectum are part of a system of veins that bypass the heart. This system allows blood from the lower abdomen to be filtered by the liver and it allows organs to get rid of their wastes before circulating through the body. What would happen if there was a toxic condition in the bowel and the liver was backed up? Some folks that I read about reported that their draining hemorrhoids were causing them to itch. This is exactly the type of condition I would expect if there was a congested liver because the toxins in the blood would be irritating. Because of the two way flow of blood in this portal system, there can be a backflow of unfiltered blood, causing problems with the organs of the digestive system, including the rectum. If you are experiencing hemorrhoids with diarrhea or with food poisoning, this could be at the root of the problem in those cases, too. The best way to tackle your pain and discomfort would be to cleanse the liver using some hemorrhoid natural treatment strategies listed below.
Some herbs that cleanse the liver include: dandelion root (common weed found all over the world), milk thistle (tall plant found in North American prairie), greater celandine (small poppy-like plant found in Europe and North America), chicory root (common weed with purple flowers), and yellow dock root (tall plant found in North America, Europe, and Western Asia). Taking herbs is usually most effective when coupled with a three day juice fast. Once or twice a year, I have done a fast just to keep things running smoothly and prevent toxic build up that can lead to intestinal (and rectal) problems. The fast that I have done is one where I do not eat any food, not even vegetables, for three days. Instead, during my fast, only fresh squeezed juice was taken, not the store bought pasteurized kind, and it was apple or carrot juice. I would drink one gallon of fresh juice every day. In addition to the juice, I took 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil three times a day. If you are going to try this, make sure you do it on a weekend because from my experience, the trips to the toilet are so frequent and watery, it can be embarrassing if you are at work or school.
But many testify that coffee enemas are more effective. It doesn’t sound very pleasant to me and the procedure seems a bit tricky to do alone. I would feel rather uncomfortable asking anyone, even my husband, to give me an enema or even be in the room while the whole business was going on. It involves some basic equipment, such as an enema bag, an enema hose, small clamp for the hose, and a toilet/bucket. Plus, you will be lying on the floor, so you might want to have some towels and a little pillow so you can be comfortable. Before you do a coffee enema, it is highly recommended that you clean out the bowel with a distilled water enema first (it is very important that the water is purified and/or distilled).
When you are ready for coffee, the coffee must be high quality organic coffee. The enema bag needs to be higher than your body so that you can use gravity to bring the water/coffee into your rectum and large intestine. The best way to do this is to hang the bag on a towel rack nearby, making sure that the hose is long enough to reach you lying on the floor. Clamp the hose that you have inserted into the bag. Then, fill the bag with very warm water/coffee. It should be body temperature. Then, lie down on your bathroom floor and gently insert the tip of the hose (it may need some lubrication with olive oil) in to your rectum. Do not put it in too far. Now comes the tricky part. Take the clamp off the hose and let some liquid into your intestines until you feel full. Hold it until the feeling passes, then, let some more water in. Hold it. Keep going like that until you have taken in most of the liquid from the bag. Now it’s time to let it all out into the toilet. This is why I suggested a bucket as well. What if you can’t quite get to the toilet before you make a mess? Add to that the suggestion of doing the enema procedure twice—once with distilled water and once with coffee—and it just seems too messy for me. I much prefer the liver cleansing herbs and juice fast, even though it takes longer to clean everything out.
You may be asking yourself, “Why coffee? Why not use some other liquid such as herbal tea or fresh juice?” Coffee, (remember it must be high quality organic coffee), has a specific effect on the liver that other safe substances don’t have. Remember that system of veins that takes toxins directly from the intestinal tract to the liver? When the coffee enters the intestines, it is absorbed into this system and causes the liver to release extra bile, which helps move processed toxins out of the liver. The chemicals in the coffee also stimulate the production of the liver enzymes that detoxify the blood. So coffee just makes everything work more efficiently in the liver.
Hemorrhoids, yeast, and constipation
Hemorrhoids can also be associated with yeast overgrowth from the bowel and also with parasites. I have occasionally had itching around the anus that is usually associated with eating too many sweet things. It hasn’t happened often since I have been on a Paleo diet, but it does occasionally happen. It just goes to show that a person can still have candida issues even if they don’t eat grains or cane sugar. Too many foods made with honey, coconut sugar, or maple syrup can still cause problems if you are not careful. I have come across people who have hemorrhoids with itching and they keep coming back. Raw apple cider vinegar and essential oils of lavender (oil distilled from lavender flowers), tea tree (oil distilled from the tea tree grown in Australia), and clove (oil distilled from the clove spice) all combat yeast and parasitic infections by killing them.
It is also important to promote the growth of good bacteria so that they crowd out the yeast and such. This can be done with probiotics and cultured dairy, such as kefir or plain yogurt. However, if all you do is take your daily regimen of apple cider vinegar and plain yogurt, you are not going to see results in getting rid of yeast overgrowth if you don’t also eliminate sugars from your diet. Sugar feeds candida so it doesn’t make sense to both feed and poison the yeast! See my other article about yeast overgrowth for more details about this.
Speaking of sugar and diet, one of the major causes of hemorrhoids is constipation and, what causes constipation? It is almost always caused by an improper diet. At the beginning of this article, I talked about my experiences with hemorrhoids as a child and how they were related to my severe constipation. I had undiagnosed food allergies, but the major contributor to my problems was a poor diet. My breakfast was often cereal (which I added sugar to, since my mom didn’t buy sugary cereal). My lunch was usually a sandwich made with processed white bread, a processed meat or cheese product, and pretzels or a processed dessert type snack. Dinner would usually be a canned vegetable (sometimes frozen instead, which is pretty good), a processed pasta side dish or white rice, and a meat of some kind. Sometimes we had fresh fruit, usually apples or bananas, and we always had pretzels, chips, and a processed ice cream product in the house. Both my parents worked, so I don’t blame them for wanting meals easy and quick. However, this diet of processed food and lots of carbohydrates was causing my constipation and was heavy in one of my major allergies: wheat. I also had trouble gaining weight and ended up with scoliosis, a mild abnormal curve in my spine.
A normal person is supposed to have one to three bowel movements every day, not every week. Until I changed my diet to an allergy free, whole foods diet, my pattern was of the every week variety. If this describes you as well, I would highly recommend taking a hard look at your diet, too. A Paleo diet works well for me because, at every meal, half the plate is supposed to be fresh vegetables. It is pretty hard to get constipated when eating so many vegetables. This diet excludes processed sugar (which is constipating as well), all grains and legumes (which damage the intestinal lining), and dairy (which can also be constipating and damage the gut if it is not raw). Eating a nutrient dense diet also helps prevent another cause of hemorrhoids—vitamin deficiencies.
Hemorrhoids and deficiencies
I can only recount two times in my life that I suffered from hemorrhoids and they cleared up after addressing diet and healing from pregnancy. However, I have read accounts of people who swear that certain vitamin supplements cleared up their hemorrhoids and I have read about others who associated their hemorrhoids with particular medications, especially blood thinners. It makes sense to me that if a person is deficient in vitamins, it could affect their rectal veins. Some vitamins and minerals that others have found helpful include: copper, vitamin D, magnesium, and zinc. These supplements can help strengthen the walls of the veins, especially if you are elderly. The veins naturally grow weaker over time and aging is a factor in developing hemorrhoids.
But, if you are older and you are also experiencing diarrhea with your hemorrhoids, you should see a doctor. These are symptoms of colorectal cancer and you want to rule that out before looking at natural treatment strategies. There are also other conditions that can mimic hemorrhoids, such as anal fissures and fistules, and abscesses. The natural methods described might not help those heal and you should seek the advice of a doctor.
Some general guidelines
Because of my experience growing up, I wanted to make sure that my children weren’t privately suffering and thinking it was normal. So, I interviewed each of them privately and thank goodness, it seems that none of them have hemorrhoids. One of them may be suffering from constipation and I talked with her about her food choices and the implications of an irregular bowel. I am doing what I can to provide a better diet for them than I was given, but ultimately, they have to embrace a good diet for themselves when they are not at home. Exercise can be an important aspect of good intestinal health as being active helps the bowel along and helps the liver detoxify through sweating. Exercise also helps the brain produce chemicals that help us feel relaxed, focused, and in a good mood. This stress relief also helps our bodies be able to relax the bowel, since stress can also cause constipation. Other things that can be beneficial are toilets that put the body in a squatting position (or propping up the feet with a small stool when using an American or European style toilet) and using a bidet or biodegradable cleansing cloths to clean yourself instead of excessive wiping. These things can prevent straining and injuring the blood vessels around the anus.
With proper diet and proper care, hemorrhoids will be a thing of the past and you will be feeling great!
Please let me know if this has been helpful to you.