Whether you call them hemorrhoids or piles, sufferers agree that they are nasty and often hurt.   You’re one of the lucky ones who’s never had ‘em? You can stop reading right now.

Hemorrhoids are varicosities in the rectum.  They are normally painless but may bleed a bit from time to time.  When they hurt, the cause is likely because they have prolapsed (moved outside the rectum) and enlarged.  You’ll know when this happens, the hemorrhoids will be bulging out and will be painful and itchy.

Causes of hemorrhoids include; chronic diarrhea or constipation; overweight; pregnancy; low-fibre diet; regular heavy lifting, and reading novels while on the toilet.

This article deals with natural relief for symptoms.  However, there are symptoms that should send you to your doctor:  if hemorrhoids don’t improve after one week of self-care; there’s a lot of rectal bleeding and you feel dizzy or lightheaded, or you stools appear maroon or tarry.  You know your body – if you’re concerned about any rectal bleeding, do not hesitate to seek a medical opinion.

There are many OTC remedies for piles on the market, you can choose from ointments, pills, creams, suppositories and wipes/pads. Your pharmacist will help you decide what’s best for you.

The following is a list of home remedies that can offer relief from the pain, swelling, and itching:

  • Sitz bath with Epsom Salts, sit in about 3” of warm water for 15 minutes several times a day, especially after a bowel movement;
  • Epsom Salts and Glycerin Paste, mix 2 tbsp Epsom Salts with 2 tbsp of glycerin until it forms a paste; apply to gauze pad and place on the pile, leave 15-20 minutes, repeat every 4-6 hours until the pain subsides;
  • Witch Hazel, its tannins provide a natural anti-inflammatory action, dab on with a cosmetic pad and tuck next to hemorrhoid; change the pads several times a day, have them ready by putting a stack of the pads in a jar, cover with Witch Hazel extract, and if desired, add a few drops of soothing Lavender essential oil;
  • Black tea, steep a commercial tea bag in ¼ cup boiling water, cool, slightly wring out and tuck next to hemorrhoid, easy, economical, and probably more effective than Witch Hazel;
  • Aloe Vera, pure gel, it’s antiseptic and anti-inflammatory. You can apply directly with just-washed hands, but you might consider using gloves;
  • If hemorrhoids are caused by constipation, try a gentle herbal laxative (chamomile, dandelion root) and walking to get things moving along;
  • Apricots, cherries, grapes and plums contain rutin, useful for varicose veins, and hemorrhoids, eating these freely helps you and your community too.

The best way to avoid hemorrhoids is to keep your stools soft by eating high-fibre foods – 25 – 30g of fibre a day – if you’re unable to reach those recommended amounts, consider a supplement, drinking plenty of water, exercising daily, and avoid sitting for long periods of time.