Herbal Remedies for Hemorrhoids

Only your doctor can tell you if the discomfort you're experiencing is being caused by hemorrhoids but symptoms generally include swelling or "lumps" around the rectum that are tender to touch and itch. Hemorrhoids may bleed, causing noticeable "spotting" on toilet paper, clothing and even in the bowl of your toilet.

Many people first try over-the-counter medications like rectal suppositories, stool softeners and medicated wipes but if you would like to try a more "natural" approach, here are 2 herbal remedies to talk over with your doctor.

Witch Hazel

Made from the bark and leaves of Hamamelis virgiania, extract of witch hazel is one of the few herbal products to be officially approved by America's Food & Drug Administration, or FDA. But millions of believers don't need the FDA's blessing--witch hazel extract has long been a medicine-cabinet staple for diaper rash, razor burn and, yes, temporary relief from the symptoms of hemorrhoids.

Compounds known as tannins are abundant in witch hazel and it's these substances that give witch hazel its astringent properties. When applied to the skin, witch hazel extract works with proteins found in the skin to both "tighten" the skin and to produce a temporary protective layer.

Although few studies have been published on the use of witch hazel as an herbal remedy for hemorrhoids, extract of witch hazel is the "active" ingredient in many over-the-counter hemorrhoid medications.

Horse Chestnut

A newer herbal remedy for hemorrhoids is horse chestnut. Though it is often taken orally in pill form, it can also be applied topically as a cream or lotion. For temporary relief from the symptoms of hemorrhoids, horse chestnut if often paired with witch hazel.

Horse chestnut works to tone the walls of blood vessels and in Germany is actually approved by Commission E (an advisory board somewhat similar to our FDA) for a variety of vein-related conditions, including varicose veins, muscle cramps and edema.

Lifestyle & Dietary Changes That May Help

Whether you decide to try an herbal remedy for hemorrhoids or not, you may find that your doctor recommends changes to your diet and lifestyle to reduce your discomfort. The National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse--a division of the National Institutes of Health--recommends that everyone get into the habit of voiding their bowels as soon as possible after feeling the urge. Those same experts also recommend dietary changes that keep stools as soft and large as possible. Larger, softer bowel movements are more comfortable to pass and usually require less straining--thought to be a risk factor for hemorrhoids.

One of the best ways to "bulk" your stool is to increase your daily intake of fiber. If you have trouble eating enough fresh fruits and vegetables to make a difference in your bowel movements, talk to your doctor or pharmacist about over-the-counter fiber supplements.

Discussing Hemorrhoids with your Doctor

It's important to remember that only your doctor can give you medical advice and the symptoms that accompany hemorrhoids may mimic those of other conditions. It's also important to remember that "natural" doesn't always mean "safe" or even "effective". If you have any questions about herbal remedies for hemorrhoids, or would like more information about the condition itself, talk to a qualified healthcare provider.


Korting HC, et al. Anti-inflammatory activity of Hamamelis distillate applied topically to the skin.

U.S. FDA. Skin Protectant Drug Products for Over-The-Counter Human Use; Astringent Drug Products; Final Monograph.

Blumenthal, M., et al. Expanded Commission E Monographs.

National Institutes of Health. Hemorrhoids.

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