2265 North Clybourn Avenue    Chicago, IL 60614    P: 773.296.6700     F: 773.296.1131

Knowledge Base

Welcome to our extensive library of articles on health concerns and conditions, alternative therapies, nutrition, nutritional supplements, and much more. Acupuncture / Traditional Chinese Medicine Aging Allergies & Food Sensitivities Alternative Therapies Big Pharma Evils Bone Health Candida (Yeast) and Parasites Cardiovascular Health Case Studies Chiropractic & Physical Medicine Dermatology Digestion Diseases Ear, Nose & Throat Environmental Sensitivities Eye Care Fibromyalgia & Chronic Fatigue Fitness & Exercise Health Insurance Issues Healthy Lifestyle Immune System Inflammation Integrative Medicine Lyme Disease & Morgellons Men's Health Mental Health Nutrition, Nutritional Supplements, Vitamins, & Herbal Remedies Pain Management Sexual Health Thyroid, Adrenal, & Sex Hormone Issues Weight Issues Women's Health

Hemorrhoids

As unglamourous as they are (and you’ll never see a telethon for hemorrhoids), consider yourself very fortunate if hemorrhoids are your worst experience with ill health. Try as you might, you simply cannot die from hemorrhoids. They may swell and become quite painful. Or itch. Or bleed. But ‘rhoids will never do you in. As you might be aware, hemorrhoids are simply varicose veins that have developed in an unfortunate location. When they do bleed, it’s never very much actual blood. (But don’t ignore bleeding. Over time, you can actually get quite anemic.) The only serious complication (relatively speaking) is thrombosis, when a clot forms within the hemorrhoid, and that is indeed quite painful and usually needs a surgeon’s help.

For simple hemorrhoids, we suggest a few easy steps that can reduce your discomfort in minutes. And our WholeHealth Chicago Healing Center also has recommendations that might actually slow down their progression and reduce your chances of problems in the future.

What are Hemorrhoids?
Hemorrhoids, also known as piles, are actually just enlarged (varicose) veins that occur in the anus or rectum. Because the veins in these areas are located in the lower part of the body, gravity causes the blood to pool in them instead of flowing back to the heart. This causes the veins to stretch and weaken. The blood can also sometimes flow backward, since these veins lack valves to prevent this.

When veins enlarge, two types of hemorrhoids can develop. Internal hemorrhoids form inside the rectum, about an inch above the anus. Though they can cause bleeding after a bowel movement, they are painless and cannot be seen or felt easily. However, internal hemorrhoids can painlessly pop out through the anus (prolapse). Patients quickly discover that prolapsing hemorrhoids can be reinserted with their finger. External hemorrhoids form around the anal opening. These hard, itchy, tender bumps are fragile, so they are likely to be tender and bleed easily after a bowel movement or when wiped with toilet tissue.

The only time hemorrhoids actually become painful is the fortunately uncommon event when a prolapsed hemorrhoid develops a blood clot (thrombosis) inside it; it can’t be reinserted and begins to lose its own blood supply (strangulation). This situation is quickly remedied with a surgical procedure. Doctors recommend that repeatedly prolapsing hemorrhoids undergo surgical removal to avoid this painful occurrence.

Hemorrhoids are a common problem, afflicting nearly three-quarters of all Americans at some point in their lives. Because they cause few symptoms, however, some people are not even aware that they have them. While hemorrhoids can be a nuisance, they are not a serious health risk.

Key Symptoms

Bright red blood on toilet tissue, in the stool, or in the toilet bowl after a bowel movement

Painful bowel movements

Itchy anal area

Painful, hard bump on or near the anus

Anal discharge of mucus
What Causes Hemorrhoids?

The main cause of hemorrhoids is straining during bowel movements, which exerts extra pressure on the anal and rectal veins. This straining is often the result of constipation caused by dehydration or inadequate fiber in the diet.

Other possible causes are:
Pregnancy, childbirth, or obesity, which all put excess pressure on the lower abdomen and weaken veins

Prolonged periods of sitting or standing

Loss of muscle tone due to old age or rectal surgery; some muscles help pump blood through veins

Heredity

Frequent diarrhea.
Treatment and Prevention

Mild cases of hemorrhoids are mainly treated by drinking plenty of fluids and increasing the fiber in your diet. A variety of over-the-counter hemorrhoid creams contain corticosteroids and local anesthetics to reduce pain and swelling.

Doctors frequently recommend patients have daily sitz baths. Surgical treatment of internal hemorrhoids includes rubber banding them (they eventually wither and fall off) or using cryosurgery. Prolapsing hemorrhoids require a hemorrhoidectomy, or surgical removal of the hemorrhoid.

A variety of supplements can help relieve hemorrhoids and prevent future flare-ups by strengthening the veins and minimizing irritation. They should be used in conjunction with exercise and a high-fiber diet, which together will help tone the muscles around the veins, promote regular bowel movements, and soften stools, making them easier to pass.

Just a reminder: If you have a serious medical condition or are taking medication, it’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor before you start a supplement program.

How Supplements Can Help

Taken together, vitamin C, flavonoids, and the herb butcher’s broom will help tone and shrink enlarged veins.

Zinc will speed up the healing process. Add copper when taking zinc longer than one month as it interferes with copper absorption.

Psyllium or flaxseeds will add enough fiber to your diet to bulk up the stool and make its passage easier.

For painful hemorrhoids, apply an oil or ointment containing the herb St. John’s wort, especially after bowel movements. It helps shrink swollen tissues.

Because hemmoroids are due to weakness of the valves within veins, using the herbal “vein tonic” horse chestnut will help increase the muscular tone of the vessels and keep the veins from bulging. (Be sure to use a commercial product and not parts of the tree in your back yard. Unprocessed horse chesnut may contain toxins.)

Self-Care Remedies

For external hemorrhoids, try ice compresses or warm-water sitz baths two or three times daily.

An over-the-counter cortisone cream (0.5 percent strength) will also provide relief.

If you have heart disease or diabetes, be sure to check product labels carefully. Some OTC products containing compounds that shrink hemorrhoidal tissue may carry warnings.

Don’t strain excessively during bowel movements, and don’t stay on the toilet longer than necessary.

To ease defecation, apply zinc oxide paste or powder, or petroleum jelly, to the anal opening. Use a latex glove when doing so.

Apply a poultice made from elderberry to soothe swollen veins and relieve pain. Grind a small amount of the herb, mix with warm water until it becomes a paste, spread on gauze, and apply to anus for a couple of hours.

Witch hazel cream is another popular topical remedy in gel or glycerine tincture form; avoid alcohol–based products as they will be very irritating to rectal and anal tissues.

After a bowel movement, clean the anal area thoroughly but gently. Use soft toilet tissue moistened with warm water or witch hazel, or pre-moistened wipes. To dry the area, dab–don’t scrub–it with a soft, clean disposable cloth. Another alternative for drying the area is to use a blow dryer. Do not be aggressive in your cleaning as this can inflame veins.

Eat a high-fiber diet with plenty of fruits (especially citrus fruits which also contain vein-strengthening flavonoids), vegetables, grains, and legumes.

To avoid constipation, drink at least eight glasses of water a day (more during hot, humid weather).

Stay away from foods that may aggravate hemorrhoids: nuts, red pepper, mustard, coffee (regular and decaffeinated), and alcohol.

Avoid laxatives. Diarrhea can be as aggravating to hemorrhoids as constipation.

When lifting weights or heavy objects (or during a bowel movement), breathe normally. Holding your breath increases abdominal pressure.

For comfort, wear cotton underwear and loose-fitting clothes.

When to Call a Doctor

The first time you notice blood-streaked toilet tissue, to make sure it’s caused by hemorrhoids rather than something more serious

If blood is dark rather than bright red

If bleeding isn’t due to a bowel movement, even if you know you have hemorrhoids

If you feel a throbbing pain in the anal area. (This could indicate a possible blood clot in the hemorrhoid.)

If you have hemorrhoids and daily bleeding is severe. (This could lead to iron deficiency anemia.)

Supplement Recommendations

If your hemorrhoids are acutely inflamed, start treating them first with a daily sitz bath: six inches of hot water in the tub, to which you add a cup of witch hazel. Stay in the tub at least 15 minutes. When you get out, take care to dry your anal area gently. After every bowel movement, use a moistened commercial towelette.

You want to avoid constipation like the plague. So the supplements here are intended to complement a high-fiber diet and regular exercise–two keys to preventing constipation. Increase your fiber intake by eating at least five servings of fruit and vegetables daily. Fiber will bulk up and soften the stool for easier passing, and exercise helps regular bowel movements, too. Finally, avoid harsh laxatives: Diarrhea can worsen hemorrhoids too.

How to Take the Supplements

To start, make sure you’re taking a daily high-potency multivitamin, along with a good antioxidant complex. Until your hemorrhoids heal, it might be a good idea to add an extra vitamin C and vitamin E each day. These are important for healing inflamed tissues and strengthening your immune system.

Some of the supplements on our list also strengthen the veins themselves and relieve irritation as they heal.

Flavonoids (often combined with vitamin C) and the herb butcher’s broom help tone and shrink hemorrhoids. Horse chestnut promotes normal tone in the walls of veins and is helpful for varicose veins elsewhere on the body. If using the wound-healing mineral zinc, make sure your supplement has added copper, which can be depleted by long-term use of zinc. These supplements require several months of use to attain maximum effect. If you’re not getting enough fiber in your diet, add psyllium or the ground flaxseeds.

The herb St. John’s wort is best known for its anti-depressant effects. If you can find it in oil or ointment form (and it’s worth looking for) use it as herbalists do: to relieve pain and shrink swollen tissues. Apply it two or three times a day until your symptoms abate. Another ointment worth searching out combines horse chestnut with witch hazel. Again, apply it to the inflamed area at least two or three times a day.

Important:

We at WholeHealthMD strongly recommend that everyone take a high-potency multivitamin/mineral and well-balanced antioxidant complex every day. It may be necessary to adjust the dosages outlined below to account for your own daily vitamin regimen. All of our supplement recommendations also assume you are eating a healthful diet.

Be aware that certain cautions are associated with taking individual supplements, especially if you have other medical conditions and/or you’re taking medications. Key cautions are given in the listing below, but you need to see the WholeHealthMD Reference Library for a comprehensive discussion of each supplement’s cautions and drug/nutrient interactions.

For product recommendations and orders click here for the Natural Apothecary or call 773-296-6700 ext. 2001.


Join our Newsletter

Get health recommendations, delicious and time-saving recipes, medical news, supplement reviews, birthday discounts, and more!

BIRTHDAY

Health Tips

Dr. Edelberg’s Health Tips contain concise bits of advice, medical news, nutritional supplement and pharmaceutical updates, and stress relief ideas. With every Health Tip, you’ll also receive an easy, delicious, and healthful recipe.

When you sign up to receive Health Tips, you can look forward to Dr. Edelberg’s smart and very current observations arriving in your in-box weekly. They’re packed with helpful information and are often slightly irreverent. One of the most common responses to the tips is “I wish my doctor talked to me like this!”

Quick Connect

Get One Click Access to our

patient-portal

The Knowledge Base

Patient education is an integral part of our practice. Here you will find a comprehensive collection of staff articles, descriptions of therapies and nutritional supplements, information addressing your health concerns, and the latest research on nutritional supplements and alternative therapies.

Join our Newsletter

Get health recommendations, delicious and time-saving recipes, medical news, supplement reviews, birthday discounts, and more!

BIRTHDAY

Upcoming Workshops

**Vaginal Rejuvenation
July 25th, 6:30pm – 8:00pm    

Registration Fee: $65
Mari Stecker, LAc & Renee Zambo, RYT

Are you experiencing vaginal dryness? Or pain with intercourse? Have you been told you have vaginal atrophy due to menopauseAre you frustrated because you believe your sex life is overWell, it doesn’t have to be!

Come learn easy, non-pharmaceutical, non-hormonal, low cost techniques that you can do at home to help alleviate vaginal dryness, atrophy, thinning of vaginal skin and/or painful intercourse.

This class is appropriate for any woman who is experiencing discomfort during intercourse, pelvic exams or daily activities due to vaginal dryness and atrophy as well as women who are experiencing vaginal changes due to perimenopause, menopause, cancer treatments, hysterectomy or medications.

This class will include information on specific instructions for self-treatments that can be done at home as well as yoga postures and meditation that focus on the pelvic region.

Movement and breath will draw awareness to the pelvic floor, and facilitate both the full relaxation and activation of pelvic floor muscles. A short guided meditation will reconnect awareness to the feminine energy held within the pelvis.

This workshop is currently Sold Out! Please call the Center at (773) 296-6700 to be placed on a standby list. The workshop will be repeated in the Fall.

 

**An Introduction to Healing Touch
Wednesday, July 26th
5:30-6pm – Light refreshments
6-7:30pm – Workshop
Registration Fee: $40

Would you like to find relief from pain and anxiety without medicine?
Are you interested in releasing old patterns and stepping into a new sense of health and vitality?
Would you like to experience optimum performance with more focus, creativity, purpose, and meaning in your life?

Introduction to Healing Touch; A Gift for Self and Others
with WholeHealth Chicago’s Healing Touch Practitioner, Katie Oberlin, HTCP/I

The workshop offers:

  • an overview of energy medicine
  • specific methods that can be administered to others and utilized for self care
  • support for health and well being in body, mind, and spirit

Space is limited and registration is required.
Register online or call WholeHealth Chicago at 773-296-6700

 

**Yoga Therapy for Sleep Disturbance
Wednesday, August 16th
6pm – 7:30pm
Registration Fee: $60 (take home materials included)
Instructor: WholeHealth Chicago’s Yoga Therapist Renee Zambo, RYT

From getting to sleep to staying asleep, sleep disturbances plague many of us. Our brains and bodies require a complete cycle of thorough rest to properly detox and rejuvenate.

Yoga Therapy for Sleep Disturbance will discuss underlying causes for sleep disturbance, and ways to properly unwind at the close of a day. Specific methods to support participants with conditions such as chronic pain, high blood pressure, and elevated stress will be highlighted for improving rest and recovery.  Read more>>

Space is limited and registration is required.
Register online or call WholeHealth Chicago at 773-296-6700

 

**Join us for a demonstration of Taoist Tai Chi® internal arts of health
Saturday, August 26th at 11:00AM – 12:00PM
There is no fee for this program
WholeHealth Chicago
2265 North Clybourn Ave.
773-296-6700

This demonstration of Taoist Tai Chi® arts will give you an opportunity to learn more about this ancient path to good health of body and mind. Taoist Tai Chi® arts help to promote a healthy, balanced life style and a simple way to manage stress. Taoist Tai Chi® arts offers a chance to discover a powerful adaptable, and accessible tool for all ages, including seniors, and people with specific health concerns. These arts can be used to help people take responsibility for their health on its own or as a complement to medical treatment they may be receiving.

Recent Health Tips

  • Lyme Disease Fundraiser, Just When We Need It Most

    Lyme Disease Fundraiser, Just When We Need It Most

    Here are some well known people who have chronic Lyme disease: singer-songwriter-fashion designer Kelly Osbourne, TV star Ally Hilfiger (Tommy’s daughter), singer-songwriter Kris Kristofferson, punk singer Kathleen Hanna, Marisol Thomas (wife of Rob Thomas), Real Housewife Yolanda Hadid and supermodel Bella Hadid, as well as …Read More »
  • Your Smartphone Is Stealing Your Brain

    Your Smartphone Is Stealing Your Brain

    Spoiler alert: I don’t own a smartphone. Also, I’ve been reluctant to write a Health Tip on smartphones lest two of my least desirable characteristics–smugness and self-righteousness– surface. But now a very well-conducted research study on how smartphones lead to cognitive decline compels me to …Read More »

July Sale: 20% Off Metagenic OmegaGenic Products

No one looks at quality quite the way Metagenics does. They devote the time and personnel to verify ingredient safety, ensure proper ingredient form/identity, and then test for purity and quality at multiple steps. This diligence may not change the way products look, but Metagenics knows it makes a measurable difference in the way their products perform.

Take 20% off these OmegaGenic products during July. Read more>>