Haemorrhoids also known as 'Piles' are lumps inside and around the anus, they are caused by enlarged blood vessels. Some people develop internal and external piles at the same time. Sometimes there are no symptoms and may not realise that you have any piles, small internal piles are usually painless. However, some larger types may cause pain, irritation and itch [i] [ii] [iii].
Internal haemorrhoids may result in:
External haemorrhoid symptoms include:
Constipation: Difficulty passing stool may result in piles due to an increase the pressure in and around the veins in the anus.
Pregnancy: Due to pressure effects of the baby in the womb compressing other organs, piles can develop in pregnancy. Changes in hormones can also affect the function of veins. Piles can also result from labour.
Being overweight: Can increase risk of developing piles
Ageing: Ageing can affect the structure and function of veins and tissues, therefore risk creases with age [iv].
Other possible causes of piles include heavy lifting or a persistent (chronic) cough[v].
Lifestyle and dietary changes are the best way to prevent haemorrhoids.
Eating plenty of fibre to reduce risk of constipation: include plenty of fresh vegetables, fruit and wholegrain grains, such as oats and buckwheat and nuts snd seeds.
Ensure proper hydration: Aim for around 2 litres of water per day, this may include coconut water, juice and herbal teas. Avoid excessive alcohol and caffeine. Adequate hydration will help to soften the stool and stimulate bowel movements, allowing for comfortable passing of stool [vi].
Fibre supplements: Triphala, Psyllium, Magnesium Citrate, Flaxseed. Magnesium Citrate when taken in high doses has an osmotic effect which relaxes the bowels and pulls water into the intestines, relieving constipation. Triphala Plus is a blend from Pukka to support daily bowel movements and encouraging natural balance within the gut, it contains the traditional Ayurvedic remedy and psyllium husk.
Other supplements: Horse chestnut extracts have been reported from a double-blind trial to reduce symptoms of haemorrhoids [vii] Probiotics are said to improve bowel movements and enhance the gut microbiome to help to reduce inflammation associated with constipation and haemorrhoids [viii].
A warm bath with Epsom salt for 20 minutes can help relax muscles and reduce pain.
Cold compresses to the affected area can also reduce pain. Be sure to wrap ice inside a cloth or paper towel
Aloe vera has soothing affects when applied to skin, use pure aloe vera without other added ingredients which can be aggravating.
If you are experiencing chronic constipation, it may be worth booking a consultation with our Nutritional Therapy team to provide professional guidance, dietary interventions and potential for functional testing. We offer complete Microbiome Analysis which may be useful to ascertain if pathogenic flora are influential in symptoms and also then to look at specific antimicrobials that may be a useful part of the protocol. Gluten sensitivity or food sensitivity testing may also be a useful insight to understand whether there are any specific foods that are creating an immune response resulting in the symptoms experienced.
[i] Lohsiriwat V. (2012). ‘Hemorrhoids: from basic pathophysiology to clinical management’. World journal of gastroenterology, 18(17), 2009–2017.
[ii] Reese GE, von Roon AC, Tekkis PP. (2009) Haemorrhoids. BMJ Clin Evid. 29;2009:0415.
[iii] Lohsiriwat V. (2015) ‘Treatment of hemorrhoids: A coloproctologist's view’. World J Gastroenterol. 21;21(31):9245-52.
[iv] Lohsiriwat V. (2012). ‘Hemorrhoids: from basic pathophysiology to clinical management’. World journal of gastroenterology, 18(17), 2009–2017.
[v] Pata F, Sgró A, Ferrara F, et al. (2021) ‘Physiology and Pathophysiology of Haemorrhoids’. Rev Recent Clin Trials. 16(1):75-80.
[vi] Stukan, M. Kruszewski Wiesław, J. Dudziak, M. et al. (2013) ‘Niedrozność przewodu pokarmowego u kobiet ciezarnych [Intestinal obstruction during pregnancy]. Ginekol Pol. 84(2):137-41.
[vii] MacKay, D. (2001) ‘Hemorrhoids and varicose veins: a review of treatment options’. Altern Med Rev. 6(2):126-40.
[viii] Jandhyala, S.M. Talukdar, R. Subramanyam, C. et al. (2015) ‘Nageshwar Reddy D. Role of the normal gut microbiota’. World J Gastroenterol. 7;21(29):8787-803.
Please note that the information contained within this website does not and should not replace medical advice, and is not intended to treat or diagnose. We always recommend you consult with your doctor. Our Nutritional Therapy team is highly trained and we offer one to one Nutritional Therapy Consultations, which are designed to be complementary to any medical treatment from a functional medicine approach, as well as offering a preventative & optimal health focus.