Useful Essential Oils
Which essential oils are effective in treating hemorrhoids?
The following essential oils have traditionally been used for hemorrhoids:
- Cypress essential oil – Dilute up to 2-4% in any carrier oil (10-20 drops per tablespoon) and massage into affected areas.
If there is bleeding, Helichrysum essential oil is also said to be useful as it enhances natural healing. Dilute 2% in flax or rosehip seed oil (10 drops per tablespoon) and apply to affected areas.
About the Condition
What are hemorrhoids?
Hemorrhoids or haemorrhoids, as they are called in the UK, are blood vessel structures in the anal canal that help to move each stool through so it can be eliminated. However, if they become swollen or inflamed, they can become painful. At this point, they are often referred to as "piles." The proper terminology for this is "hemorrhoidal disease."
The hemorrhoids that are causing problems because they are swollen or inflamed can be located internally or externally. Most internal hemorrhoids cause bleeding but no pain. External hemorrhoids are generally painful and also cause bleeding. It can feel like you are passing razor blades and it can be extremely painful. Sometimes people think they have hemorrhoids but the issues in this area are caused by something else, so it is always worthwhile to get a medical opinion.
What causes hemorrhoids?
The exact cause is unknown but sometimes irregular bowel movements (e.g. constipation or diarrhea) appears to play a part. Hemorrhoids are extremely common, with 50% of people suffering from them at one time or another by age 50. Sometimes, women develop hemorrhoids during pregnancy. People are told to avoid straining while attempting to defecate.
Some people believe that the increase in the incidence of the number of people with hemorrhoids is because of conventional western style toilets. They say that when you squat to defecate the shape of the elimination passage straightens out, making it easier to remove waste easily and without strain.
What are conventional medical treatments for hemorrhoids?
Generally for mild cases, people are told to increase fiber in their diet in the hope that this will help reduce constipation issues. They are also told to drink more water. If they have pain, they are generally they are prescribed Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs). Some people also take stool softening agents or eat softer foods like soaked figs.
Sometimes, sitting in a bath with water up to your hips (a sitz bath or hip bath) for 15 minutes at a time can help relieve hemorrhoids pain and discomfort. Others find warm compresses for 10 minutes at time useful. The main idea with these methods is that the increased blood flow will promote healing in the area.
Creams and suppositories are available, but there isn't much evidence to show they are effective. Creams that contain steroids should not be used for more than 14 days, as they may cause thinning of the skin. Sometimes people are allergic to the creams.
For more severe hemorrhoids, sometimes doctors carry out certain procedures in their clinic such as rubber band ligation, sclerotherapy, or cauterization). But although they are generally safe, sometimes they can cause sepsis (e.g. dangerous bacterial infection).
Where other measures fail, sometimes surgery is used. But as with all surgical procedures there are risks involved and it can lead to complications.
What are alternative treatments for hemorrhoids?
Some find that rather than taking fiber supplements, adding ground flaxseed to their diet can help make bowel movements more regular and softer. Regular exercise can also help make bowel movements more regular and easier.
Many find the Ayurvedic herbal medicine called Triphala useful in making their bowel movements regular. Some also find taking aloe vera juice after meals useful.
Some find aloe vera gel soothing when applied to the area. And instead of using toilet paper, some recommend the use of compresses of witch hazel.
Some recommend that you squat instead of sitting on a toilet. Special stools are available to make this easier to do. Most advocates say that although it may take a few months for any noticeable changes to be evident, squatting does help prevent hemorrhoids in the long-term.
Of course, essential oils traditionally have also been used for hemorrhoids. For more information, see the Useful Essential Oils tab.