Horse Chestnut For Hemorrhoids
Is this an ancient medieval torture device?
No, it is simply a horse chestnut seed.
Previously used for pelting other children on the playground, for adults the seed of Aesculus hippocastanum is a fabulous cure for hemorrhoids and varicose veins. Hemorrhoids are just varicose veins as well, so if you tend to have a weak veinous system, you might benefit from this herb.
The active constituent aescin has an astringent property that serves to tighten up loose leaky veins. It is also anti-edematous, anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic, anti-exudative, and decreases capillary permeability.
Check with your naturopathic physician before taking this herb as there are potential drug-herb interactions and this herb should not be used by those on anti-coagulants as the coumarin properties may theoretically interact with blood thinning medications.
Any time there is bleeding or pain down there you should go to your doctor immediately as it could be indicative of colon or rectal cancer, and when caught early enough is highly treatable. Also do not make any herbal medicine preparations from wild plants unless you are 100% certain of the species for safety purposes.
This herb should absolutely not be used by children or pregnant women, anyone with a chronic health condition should check with their doctor before using horse chestnut.
Dose: A tincture (1:5 in 40%) can be used, the standard dose is 1-4ml in a little bit of water three times daily. To make an herbal infusion pour 1 cup of boiling water over 2 teaspoons of dried seed and allow to steep 15 minutes, strain and drink three times daily or apply with cotton balls to the affected area (best when applied cold so keep your witch hazel or horse chestnut solutions in the fridge). You can also try a 16% standardized aescin extract in capsules. Daily dose should equate to 50mg of aescin taken two to three times daily (so the entire capsule weight will most likely be 300 to 900 mg to receive the 50mg of aescin from the 16% standardized extract).
Although horse chestnut is wonderful for strengthening veins, just utilizing it alone is not going to fully address the problem. Straining with bowel movements because of a dry hardened stool lacking fiber, water, and probiotics are the ultimate causes of hemorrhoids. Basically everyone in America has hemorrhoids at some point because of the crappy white refined foods diet that we eat.
You can always apply the standard preparation H, or an herbal hemorrhoid cream with astringents such as witch hazel in it. Keep the area clean and take some stool softeners until it is healed so you don’t continue to rupture it back open, or feel like you are pooping razor blades. Check out your local health food store as well to see if there are any herbal options that contain horse chestnut or witch hazel. Wise Woman Herbals makes fabulous healing suppositories and herbal topical ointments if you can get your hands on them.
Eat dark pigmented berries to ensure a strong healthy vasculature. Add a cup of frozen blueberries daily to the diet as well as citrus foods to heal blood vessels. When symptomatic do alternating sitz baths to tonify the vessels of the pelvic region.
For prevention be sure to not get constipated!
Try drinking a glass of warm water every morning when you wake up to give the intestines a bath. The heat from the water tends to relax the smooth muscle of the bowel and train your body to have a bowel movement each morning. For short term relief you can try magnesium 400-800mg but keep in mind that it is simply a short-term osmotic cure for diarrhea, it is not treating the cause.
Be sure to eat plenty of fiber, drink a gallon of water daily, and MOVE your body. Your digestive tract responds to movement. Sitting around all day will result in a sluggish bowel. Humans were not designed for sitting all day and it creates stagnation in our pelvis. Include foods in the diet that encourage bowel movements such as celery, pears, flaxseeds, apples, prunes, oatmeal and other whole grains.
Try “Dr. Nicole’s Poop Your Pants Breakfast” which consists of a bowl of oatmeal with 3 tablespoons of FRESHLY ground flaxseeds, a handful of raw walnuts, half a chopped pear, and a bit of applesauce or yogurt and cinnamon for flavor and garnish. I hope you don’t actually poop your pants. But I promise it does work nearly that well.
You may also benefit from taking some acidophilus to help bulk up the stool, as a third of the weight of our stool comes from the bacteria in our digestive tract. If you have taken antibiotics in the past, your bowel flora may be compromised. Remember the only decent brands to recently pass independent lab tests are Jarrow, Enzymatic Therapy, and Kyodophilus. You want to make sure the cultures are live and refrigerated when purchasing acidophilus. Never buy acidophilus that is not refrigerated. That is a major red flag right there!
Reading assignments for those with hemorrhoids: Constipation Dietary Guidelines, Dietary Fiber, Exercise, alternating sitz baths
Hope that helps! Let me know if you have any questions, and yes, you can leave them anonymously in the comments by entering a fake e-mail address and screen name.
Reference: Pittler MH, Ernst E. Horse chestnut seed extract for chronic venous insufficiency. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2006 Jan 25;(1):CD003230.
~Dr. Nicole Sundene, Naturopathic Physician