Hemorrhoids frequently prompt queries about home remedies, and it’s no wonder given their somewhat embarrassingly personal location and the discomfort that can come with them. The condition, which is essentially the swelling of veins in your rectal area (internally or externally), most frequently causes pain and itching in the anal area. Hemorrhoids often stem from constipation or from the strain of passing large, hard stools, but other contributing factors include internal pressures on the rectal area caused by pregnancy, weight gain, and even anal intercourse. Sedentary lifestyles and sitting for long periods of time (especially on the toilet) can also exacerbate the development of hemorrhoids.
The most common symptoms of hemorrhoids include:
- Itching in the anal area (internal and/or external)
- Pain and discomfort in the anal area (especially when sitting or during bowel movements)
- Swelling around the anus
- Hard, tender lumps around the anus
- Small amounts of bright red blood during bowel movements (visible on toilet paper or in the toilet bowl)
People who commonly experience hemorrhoids find that they can easily identify the condition with the onset of these common symptoms, but if you are unsure, consult your doctor or natural health care practitioner for a diagnosis.
How to Treat Hemorrhoids Naturally
Most natural home remedies for hemorrhoids focus on easing your pain and discomfort while your body naturally heals. Hemorrhoids are generally not considered a serious condition, and with proper care, most cases heal on their own within about a week.
During the healing process, try to avoid long periods of pressure on the area like sitting. This also means limiting the time you sit on the toilet (but more on that later). Take regular breaks from sitting. If a majority of your day is spent at a desk, try using a temporary standing desk or workstation (your overall health will thank you, too!). When standing or laying down is not an option (such as in the car), you may try sitting on a donut ring or cushion (like this easy inflatable ring or this foam cushion) to help distribute the pressure away from the tender area.
Beyond taking care to avoid long periods of sitting, there are many natural home remedies for hemorrhoids that encourage healing and can provide relief from the most common, uncomfortable hemorrhoid symptoms.
Ice and Cold Compresses for Inflammation Relief
Don’t overlook this simple yet effective home remedy for hemorrhoids. An ice pack or cold compress helps your hemorrhoids in two ways: First, the cold numbs the pain and eases itching; secondly, the low temperature constricts the swollen tissue, causing the hemorrhoids to temporarily shrink and relieving inflammation. This secondary effect means that even after the numbness from the ice has worn off, the swelling will still be at bay, which effectively extends the duration of relief.
Try wrapping a plastic bag of crushed ice (which will be much more malleable and comfortable than large cubes) or frozen peas in a thin kitchen towel and applying directly to your anal area for 10 minutes twice a day or after long periods of sitting. Be sure to change and wash the washable towel cover frequently.
Sitz Bath for Hemorrhoid Healing
The sitz bath is one of the most frequently recommended home remedies for hemorrhoids by grandmothers and doctors alike. The goal of a sitz bath is to expose your “sit down” region to warm water. The warmth eases pain and increases blood flow to the area which can help promote healing. Many healthcare professionals recommend alternating sitz baths or warm compresses with cold treatments like ice or cold compress.
Warm sitz baths also provide gentle cleansing without the irritation or rubbing of dry toilet paper. Sit in the warm (not hot) water sitz bath for about 10-15 minutes at a time, at least twice a day.
You can create a sitz bath, sometimes called a hip bath, simply by adding warm water to your bathtub to a depth of about six inches, then lowering yourself into it. Alternatively, you can purchase a sitz bath pan, an inexpensive plastic basin that fits over the toilet bowl when needed. This sitz bath allows you to lower your rectal area into the water without having to disrobe and get into the bathtub.
After your sitz bath, gently pat the area dry with a soft towel or cloth. Once dry, protect the sensitive skin by applying a small amount of pure aloe vera gel or organic unrefined coconut oil.
Witch Hazel for Cleansing Hemorrhoid Relief
The natural liquid astringent known as witch hazel is named for the shrub-like tree from which the product is distilled. Witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) distillate or extract is a longstanding natural remedy for hemorrhoids, because it helps to constrict swollen tissues and veins. Astringent botanicals like those in witch hazel also provide numbing action for pain, along with cleansing properties to help protect broken skin from infection.1 These healing properties of witch hazel also lend themselves to other home remedies for treating sunburns relief and mosquito bites.
To use witch hazel for hemorrhoids, soak some clean gauze or a clean, soft cloth in a bowl filled with your witch hazel product of choice (we like this one because it is alcohol and fragrance-free and contains the lowest percentage of benzoic acid, a preservative, we’ve seen). Once lightly saturated, gently apply the gauze to your anal area a few times a day, particularly after bowel movements. For added cooling relief, try refrigerating the witch hazel before applying. Alternatively, you can add a small amount of witch hazel to your sitz bath.2
Many websites boast the natural hemorrhoid healing powers of apple cider vinegar (ACV) in place of witch hazel, but for many, the vinegar is much too harsh for the sensitive anal area and causes uncomfortable stinging, among other reactions. While we love our ACV for a host of other natural remedies (from getting rid of head lice to naturally treating ringworm), we do not recommend using it for hemorrhoids.
Aloe Vera for Irritation and Itch Relief
Like witch hazel, natural aloe vera gel has cooling, astringent properties. Not only is does it provide some immediate relief when applied directly to the anal area, but it promotes healing as well.3 You’re likely already familiar with the bottles of bright green gel from your local drugstore, but many contain dyes, fragrances, preservatives, and other unnatural additives that we’d rather than slather on our already irritated and sensitive skin. Instead, try scooping the natural aloe vera gel directly from the aloe plant (you can find leaves in the produce section of most health food stores) or looking for a natural, organic product like this one.
You can apply natural aloe vera throughout the day as needed, but we suggest applying immediately both after a sitz bath after drying off and after the using your witch hazel wipes.
Herbals for Internal Hemorrhoid Healing
The Green Witch Herbal by Barbara Griggs recommends yarrow herbal tea as one of the most effective internal remedies you can take to help heal hemorrhoids naturally. Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) may have a dilating effect on your veins, allowing for better circulation, faster healing, and may also ease hemorrhoid swelling and pain naturally.4
Yarrow tea is available at health food stores or online in convenient tea bags or as loose dried flowers. In addition to sipping on the warm, comforting tea, save some of the strained flowers for use as in a topical poultice or add the yarrow tea to your sitz bath. If you are allergic to plants in the aster family (which include chrysanthemums, daisies, and ragweed), you may also be allergic to yarrow and should avoid this home remedy for hemorrhoids.
Many also swear by using a natural dietary supplement that contains rutin. Rutin is a naturally-occurring flavonoid that is found in several different types of citrus fruits as well as other natural plant sources like buckwheat and eucalyptus. It is believed to help maintain the strength and natural flexibility of your capillaries (the smallest blood vessels in the body)5 making it a useful supplement for health concerns like bruising, varicose veins and, yes, even hemorrhoids.
There are many rutin supplements available including 100% rutin supplements like this one and popular blends like Bio-Rutin, which contains rutin and other bioflavonoids that naturally occur in many well-known healing herbs, including chamomile, elderberry, and hawthorn. Suggested dosages of rutin range from 200 to 600 milligrams, but most natural health practitioners suggest that 500 milligrams once or twice a day is a safe and effective dose.
Other Natural Folk Remedies for Hemorrhoids
The use of banana peels and cabbage leaves as topical poultices may be helpful for treating hemorrhoids because of the “drawing” effect of these botanicals, although their use is more anecdotal than well-studied science.6 These natural remedies for hemorrhoids can be applied directly to your hemorrhoids or mashed up with a bit of witch hazel or carrier oil like coconut oil, stuffed inside clean layers of gauze, and gently pressed against your hemorrhoids.
If you are an experienced herbalist and can distinguish among wild plants, look for pilewort (Ficaria verna), also known as lesser celandine. The plant’s name underscores the frequency with which it was once used for healing hemorrhoids, which were once more commonly known as “piles.”7 After adding the chopped leaves to a small amount of carrier oil, sandwich them between gauze layers, as noted in the method for banana peel and cabbage leaves.
How to Prevent Hemorrhoids Naturally
As with most common health concerns, prevention is the best natural remedy. When it comes to preventing hemorrhoids, the best approach is to prevent constipation and the hard, dehydrated stools that cause you to strain during bowel movements. When you are “backed up” and dehydrated, you strain on the toilet, which can lead to the development hemorrhoids (and can cause further pain and discomfort when you’re already suffering).
Constipation often stems from what you eat and drink (although it can have more serious causes, too, such as a side effect from medication you take or a bowel impaction). So even as you seek out immediate natural hemorrhoid relief with our list of home remedies above, consider altering your lifestyle and diet to avoid future hemorrhoid flare-ups. Staying hydrated and eating plenty fiber-rich fruits and veggies are two of the most simple home remedies for constipation. Using a simple toilet stool like the Squatty Potty to get you into the proper “pooping position” will also help prevent hemorrhoids (and make it easier to go).
If occasional constipation is behind your battles with hemorrhoids, be sure to also check out these natural home remedies for constipation.
What natural home remedies for hemorrhoid relief do you count on?
Tell us in the comments section below!
- “Witch Hazel.” AltMed (2008). ↩
- Weil, MD, Andrew. “Hemorrhoids Treatment.” Weil Lifestyle (2016). ↩
- Weil, MD, Andrew. “Hemorrhoids Treatment.” Weil Lifestyle (2016). ↩
- “Complementary and Alternative Medicine Guide: Yarrow.” University of Maryland Medical Center (2014). ↩
- Weil, MD, Andrew. “Rutin to Boost Blow Blood Flow?” Weil Lifestyle (2010). ↩
- “Remedies for Hemorrhoids.” People’s Pharmacy (2014). ↩
- Griggs, Barbara. The Green Witch Herbal, Healing Arts Press (1994). ↩