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Hemorrhoids, also known as piles, are not dangerous but can be very uncomfortable. Hemorrhoids affect as many as 75% of Americans, especially older Americans. Simply stated, they are swollen varicose veins found in the anus lining that can bleed after bowel movements. Symptoms include pain and bleeding during bowel movements, itching and soreness, and mucus discharge from prolapsed (protruding) hemorrhoids. Internal hemorrhoids are found above the anal canal and external hemorrhoids at the lower end. There may be a congenital aspect to hemorrhoids, but chronic constipation, pregnancy and childbirth, lack of exercise and bad eating choices can all put extra pressure on the anal veins.

There are many natural remedies for hemorrhoids. Two readily available symptom relief treatments are a red potato cigar-shaped suppository inserted into the anus, or a piece of raw bruised onion attached to inflamed or protruding hemorrhoids.

Soaking hemorrhoids in a cold bowl of water or a bidet filled with water a few times a day will reduce inflammation. A witch hazel compress applied to the area for as long as possible will do the same.

A hemorrhoid suppository recommended by herbalist Dian Dincin Buchman can be made from two ounces of melted cocoa butter mixed with two tbsp. powdered witch hazel, yellow dock or bayberry. Roll the mixture into a cigar-shape, harden it in the fridge, and insert into the anus. This recipe takes advantage of the fact that cocoa butter will melt at body temperature.

Other external treatments are pilewort ointment applied two to three times daily, yarrow, and horse chestnut. Elder and honeysuckle flowers mixed with boiling water or hot milk can relieve also hemorrhoid symptoms. Steep the mixture for fifteen minutes, strain it, and then add more milk or boiling water. Dip a clean cloth into the liquid and apply hot to the painful area. Or, use the green berries or leaves of these flowers as a hot ointment.

Drinking any bitter herb tea-e.g., dandelion root, horse chestnut, stone root and yarrow-is an excellent way to treat the constipation that can lead to hemorrhoids.

Another Buchman hemorrhoid remedy is elder and honeysuckle flowers mixed with boiling water or hot milk. Steep the mixture for fifteen minutes, strain it, and then add more milk or boiling water. Dip a clean cloth into the liquid and apply hot to the painful area. Or, use the green berries or leaves of these flowers as a hot ointment.

Aromatherapists suggest compresses of cypress, lavender, frankincense or myrrh to lessen hemorrhoid inflammation. Also, rosemary oil in a warm bath can improve circulation.

Homeopathic treatments for hemorrhoids include Ratanhia, Hamamelis, Sulfur and Sepia.

Foot massage with special attention to specific acupressure points can relieve hemorrhoidal symptoms.

And last but certainly not least, regular exercise to stimulate digestion and a good diet with plenty of liquids and sufficient fiber from natural plant-based foods like whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables will reduce your chances of becoming constipated and developing hemorrhoids in the first place. Remember that preventing hemorrhoids is easier than having to treat them.

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