I have a friend who had to have hemorrhoid surgery a couple of years ago. Poor guy.
Of course, there's a little part of me that couldn't help snickering just a bit. Ass surgery! Har! But that's because I am very immature. (Don't worry. Karma will get me.) Anal health is a very serious matter, and hemorrhoids can be extremely painful. These bulging veins in the rectum and anus can have a variety of causes, including infection, low-fibre diet, pregnancy, obesity, anal intercourse and cirrhosis of the liver.
Both internal and external, hemorrhoids can be a mild annoyance or a debilitating affliction, and estimates are that the condition will affect anywhere from 50 to 75 per cent of the population at some point in our lives!
Symptoms include lumpiness, itching and blood in the stool, and treatments range from sitz baths to ice packs to surgery. Other options?
What the experts say
"There is a crystal for everything, including hemorrhoids. Root causes may be resentment, repression of anger, worry over money or anxiety over matters that are being 'sat on.' To break up this type of pattern, use lepidolite, one of nature's many 'stress stones.' Lepidolite contains mica (good for splitting up layers of stress) and pink tourmaline (for relaxing muscles and opening the heart to a higher level). Try wearing lepidolite in combination with other naturopathic remedies to enhance their effects."
KAREN RYAN, crystal healer, the Crystal Tiger, Toronto
"Bleeding from hemorrhoids must be investigated medically to diagnose any related serious illnesses. Witch hazel is widely used topically because it reduces bleeding and tightens tissues; horse chestnut increases vascular tone; calendula heals and soothes. Homeopathic remedies like nitric acid are effective taken internally but should be prescribed by a practitioner. Eat fresh fruits and vegetables - the fibre aids in elimination, and flavonoids strengthen veins. Blackberries, cherries and blueberries are especially good. Fibre is essential - soluble, like ground flaxseed, and insoluble, like bran cereal. Drink at least six to eight glasses of water a day because fibre can be constipating. Cut down on alcohol and cigarettes, take fish oil and exercise."
ZORANA ROSE, naturopath, Toronto
"If lifestyle changes don't clear up hemorrhoids, homeopathic remedies can be used. The most common are nux vomica, for stinging pains, often from chronic constipation and good for those who are sedentary or ingest a lot of coffee, alcohol, medications or drugs; belladonna for the beginning stages of acute inflammation; hamamaelis for multiple or large hemorrhoids; aloe when there is itching or weakness in the rectum, as if the person can't hold the stool. A practitioner can see 10 people and likely give each a different remedy.'
HEATHER OSLER, homeopath, Toronto
"To have smooth bowel movements you can take isabgul (psyllium husk) with water before going to bed at night. Avoid gassy food like potatoes, sweet potatoes, all-purpose flour. If the hemorrhoids are due to pita imbalance, you will have hard bowel movements with bleeding. In this situation, stay away from deep-fried food, meat, fish, spicy foods, eggplant and tomatoes.'
RAMESH N. MODI, Ayurvedic practitioner, Toronto
"Prevent constipation, reduce stress, don't sit or stand for long periods and keep circulation moving in the midsection. Patterns associated with hemorrhoids in TCM include common syndromes like damp heat, yin deficiency with heat in blood, spleen deficiency and blood stasis. Depending on which, we recommend a combination of herbs like Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang. Acupuncture can be administered. Common points are SP6, BL32, DU1, BL35. An herbal compress can be used externally.'
JO ANNE HIDALGO, traditional Chinese medicine practitioner, Toronto