Hemorrhoids, or piles, occur when veins around the anus and lower rectum become swollen and inflamed. Dietary changes, including increasing water and fiber intake, may help control symptoms or avoid future hemorrhoids. Additionally, certain supplements, such as fiber or tannins, may benefit people with hemorrhoids.
Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains may also help keep stools soft. While treatments for hemorrhoids are generally successful, there may be rare complications that require medical advice.
Hemorrhoids are veins around the anus or lower rectum that become inflamed or swollen. They can take the form of internal hemorrhoids that form inside the lining of the anus and lower rectum. They can also occur as external hemorrhoids, which form under the skin of the anus. External hemorrhoids may also protrude past the anus and appear as a small bump of skin.
Some people may not notice they have hemorrhoids. Others may only experience mild symptoms, including:
- painless bleeding
- discomfort, pain, or soreness in the anal area
- itching or irritation in the same area
- lumps and swelling in the anal region
- leaking feces
Rarely, complications may result in a strangulated hemorrhoid, anemia, or blood clots.
Hemorrhoids have several causes, including:
- chronic constipation
- heavy lifting
- anal intercourse
- genetic reasons
Learn more about hemorrhoids here.
Adding certain supplements to a person’s diet may help control symptoms or avoid future hemorrhoids.
Fiber is an important tool in fighting hemorrhoids. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases notes that eating high fiber foods can make stools softer and easier to pass. These include whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
However, if an individual does not get enough fiber from their diet, they may wish to take a fiber supplement. They can consume these in various forms, including:
- dissolvable drink powders
- tablets containing fiber-rich ingredients such as psyllium husk, methylcellulose, or wheat dextrin.
Flavonoids are compounds in various plants, such as vegetables, fruit, red wine, tea, and coffee, which provide antioxidant effects.
The Sophora flower formula may be useful in treating hemorrhoid symptoms, according to
Plants with a high tannin content may help with some aspects of hemorrhoids. Older research from 2014 noted these tannins offer anti-inflammatory and astringent (cleansing) effects and help contract the blood vessels. These benefits make tannins useful in treating hemorrhoids and may help with other issues such as bleeding.
Plants that may provide astringent or anti-inflammatory effects on hemorrhoids include witch hazel and aloe vera.
Using these compounds or plants topically on hemorrhoids may help contract blood vessels in the area and ease symptoms.
Triphala is a herbal remedy comprising a combination of three plants native to India. It may have antibacterial, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory effects.
Learn more about triphala here.
Just as some foods may help soothe hemorrhoids or relieve symptoms, others may have the opposite effect.
The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases recommends that people with hemorrhoids resulting from constipation should limit or avoid foods with little to no fiber, including:
- fast food
- ice cream
- overly prepared or processed foods, such as snacks, frozen dinners, and hot dogs
A number of home remedies may be the first line of treatment for many people with hemorrhoids. Common home treatments for this condition include:
- eating fiber-rich foods
- avoiding straining during bowel movements
- avoiding spending too long on the toilet
- using a stool softener
- drinking plenty of water or other nonalcoholic drinks
- using over-the-counter (OTC) drugs for pain relief, such as ibuprofen (Advil), aspirin, or acetaminophen (Tylenol) to ease pain
- sitting in a sitz bath, or tub of warm water, to reduce pain
- using OTC hemorrhoid creams to relieve mild pain and itching
For some people, dietary supplements, home remedies, and some dietary changes may be enough to manage hemorrhoids. However, if symptoms do not improve or get worse, seek medical advice. Bleeding from the anus, pain, or redness, and inflammation in the affected area may also require immediate medical care.
Hemorrhoids can be uncomfortable. However, some supplements may help prevent them and make it easier to pass waste from the body. Dietary changes and home remedies may also help treat or prevent this condition.
Anyone experiencing troubling or worsening hemorrhoid symptoms should seek medical help. Thorough diagnosis and treatment may relieve the condition and prevent possible complications.