Suffering from hemorrhoids? If you think those herbal hemorrhoid creams and lotions will end your misery, forget it!

Health authorities said most of these products are useless and some may actually make your problem worse. Questionable ingredients include astringents, lanolin, vitamins, vasoconstrictors, and atropine, according to Kurt Burtler and Dr. Lynn Rayner of the University of Hawaii in “The Best Medicine.”

While these ingredients may provide temporary relief from pain and itching, none of them will shrink hemorrhoids or make them disappear. Others can irritate hemorrhoids.

“Of all these ingredients, the only ones that are undeniably safe and effective are protectants such as petroleum jelly, zinc oxide, cocoa butter, and shark liver oil provided they make up at least 50 percent of the product. All the other ingredients are unproven, irrational or otherwise inadvisable,” warned Butler and Rayner.

Herbal remedies that claim to cure hemorrhoids should also be avoided since they don’t work. The most popular of these is horse chestnut seed that contains a complex mixture of triterpenoid saponin glycosides called aescin.

“Since evidence regarding the absorption of aescin is lacking, the efficacy of such preparation, particularly in the treatment of hemorrhoids, is doubtful. Neither horse chestnut extract nor its contained aescin is recognized by the US Food and Drug Administration as an effective ingredient in hemorrhoid preparations,” said Dr. Varro E. Tyler, a distinguished professor of pharmacognosy at Purdue University in “Herbs of Choice: The Therapeutic Uses of Phytomedicinals.”

If you have hemorrhoids, don’t experiment. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables, don’t ignore nature’s call, drink plenty of water, and seek a doctor’s advice if things get worse. Since being overweight can cause hemorrhoids, follow a good diet and exercise program. To help you lose weight, take Phenocal, a safe, natural, and effective weight loss supplement that boosts your metabolism, suppresses your appetite, reduces food cravings, and increases energy levels to keep you in shape. Check out http://www.phenocal.com for details.