A source of discomfort and pain for at least half the American population at some point in their lives, hemorrhoids are swollen, painful veins in the rectum and/or anus. A person with hemorrhoids may feel sharp pain when sitting and moving bowels, may experience severe itching in the anus, may have protrusions or swellings emerging from the anus, and may find blood on the toilet paper they use or in the toilet after having a bowel movement.
This condition is considered by Western medicine to be caused by strained bowel movements that are the result of hardened stool, chronic diarrhea or constipation, sitting on the toilet or on hard surfaces for long periods of time, inactivity and obesity, or anal intercourse and other forms of anal penetration. Hemorrhoids are also considered to be a common result of pregnancy.
Western treatment for hemorrhoids is varied. The sufferer may be advised to use pharmaceutical therapies (such as creams and ointments that claim to diminish pain and itching), pain-killers (such as Tylenol), and stool-softeners for hardened stool and constipation. When medication doesn’t work, a Western patient is often advised to undergo surgical procedures to remove the hemorrhoids. Western lifestyle recommendations for hemorrhoid sufferers include drinking a lot of water, eating a high-fiber diet, using a sitz bath, using moistened toilet paper, and wearing cotton underwear.
The fundamental Ayurvedic process for resolving disease in the body is to identify the root cause of the illness and eliminate it so as to prevent further disease from taking place. When addressing a vaginal yeast infection, and yeast overgrowth in general, an Ayurvedic practitioner will identify the imbalance of the patient’s doshas and prescribe a regimen that balances it through standard practices (dosha-balancing diet, herbs, etc.). In addition, it is the goal of the practitioner to specifically help the patient to relieve her of the fungus and harmful bacteria that are specifically causing the infection. Though identifying the root cause of the ailment is a necessary step, it is also important for the vaginal yeast infection sufferer to more precisely reliev
Ayurveda considers poor digestion to be the root cause of all disease, and hemorrhoids are certainly no exception. Poor digestion leads to undigested food, and undigested food can become directly lodged in the rectum, creating pressure on the blood vessels which will ultimately become afflicted.
When fecal matter isn’t properly removed from the body, its toxicity can spread and aggravate whichever doshas are most vulnerable to imbalance as based on the sufferer’s lifestyle and constitution. The dosha(s) that are imbalanced will lead to other symptoms that will accompany the hemorrhoids, and this general imbalance leads the sufferer to be more vulnerable to hemorrhoids than would otherwise happen.
If the hemorrhoids are Vata-related, then the most significant symptoms will be sharp pain when sitting and when moving bowels. The sufferer’s stool will likely be hard and difficult to move to the point that they will be constipated, and may experience dryness of the body, insomnia, tremors, and emotions like anxiety and fear.
If the hemorrhoids are Pitta-related, then the most significant symptoms will be a reddish or bloody stool, blood in the anus, and blood in the toilet. The sufferer may also experience burning sensations in the body, profuse amounts of sweat, diarrhea and other digestive complaints, fatigue, exhaustion, and emotions like irritability and anger.
If the hemorrhoids are Kapha-related, then the most significant symptoms will be severe itchiness in the anus, a mucus discharge from the anus, and dull pain more deeply rooted in the rectum that isn’t triggered by touch. The sufferer may also experience a general sense of heaviness or lethargy, obesity, respiratory complaints, or chest congestion.
Similar to other diseases, one of the main goals of resolving hemorrhoids with Ayurvedic techniques is to balance whichever doshas that appear to be causing the hemorrhoids and related symptoms. The other main goal is to resolve symptoms through both external treatments like herbal pastes and oils and through internal remedies like herbal formulas.
When we neglect to establish the root cause of one illness, it can turn into another, stronger illness in the future. The first step in resolving a specific ailment or disease in the body is to assess the nature of our lifestyle and make general modifications. Living our day-to-day life with a deliberate intention to improve our health will help us to both resolve the disease we are suffering from and prevent further incidence of it and other diseases in the future. The following remedies and lifestyle changes can be used in response to the various symptoms associated with hemorrhoids:
Ayurveda teaches us that disease and sickness are derived from poor digestion and inappropriate food choices. We then have the opportunity to make deliberate and more conscious decisions as to what foods we do and do not put in our body which increases the chance of resolving the body’s imbalance.
Food needs to be in season, in moderate combinations of one or two food groups, not too hot or cold, in a modest enough quantity to allow for room in the stomach later, consumed without too much liquid which hinders digestive power, and should be fresh and not left over for more than a few hours. The following foods will help to balance whichever doshas seem to be associated with the specific symptoms of hemorrhoids:
Whole wheat (unbleached)
Rice (white basmati)
Rice (white basmati)
While some foods can help to balance an aggravated dosha, other foods can cause further imbalance. Dry and cold foods as well as pungent, bitter and astringent tastes will dry out the body and aggravate the Vata dosha.Sour, salty and pungent tastes as well as spicy foods will add more heat to the body and aggravate the Pitta dosha.Sweet, sour and salty tasting foods will add heaviness to the body and aggravate the Kapha dosha. Avoiding the following foods will help the hemorrhoids sufferer to balance whichever dosha is associated with their particular symptoms:
Most legumes including green lentils and garbanzo beans
Raw and cold foods
Dehydrated, packaged foods
Sour foods (like yogurt, sour cream, and pickles)
Sweets and candies
Dairy products (except goat milk, in moderation)
Generally, Ayurveda discourages the consumption of too many cold beverages, as doing so hinders the strength of the body’s digestive fire. Instead, favor room temperature or hot beverages to encourage the strength of the digestive fire.
Herbs are used in the Ayurvedic system much like Western medicine utilizes drugs and vitamins and can be taken like tea 2 to 3 times a day. Herbs aid in the digestion of food, the breakdown and elimination of toxins, and help to strengthen the cellular structure of our system for greater vitality. Herbs become more potent once mixed with other herbs of similar properties. Mix together 2 to 4 different herbs from the below list by adding a quarter to a half teaspoon full of each, for a total of 1 teaspoon. Drink these in half cup of hot water.
When applied therapeutically to specific ailments, yoga postures provide an opportunity to strengthen the body, rid it of toxic matter, and restore balance. The postures included in this section can be practiced as part of a more general sequence or can be focused on in short sessions. When first exploring yoga postures, it is best to only practice them for twenty minutes or so per day and buildup from there once the body becomes more flexible.
Aromatherapy utilizes the fragrances of essential oils when applied to the skin. Essential oils can burn the skin and therefore must be diluted with a base oil such as sesame, coconut, sunflower, canola, or mustard oil. Mix 1 fluid ounce of base oil with about 12 drops of essential oil before applying to skin. You can also just mix 5 drops of base oil to one drop of essential oil if using on one spot.
Vata-related hemorrhoids can be treated with basil, camphor, cedar, eucalyptus, frankincense, ginger, lavender, lily, lotus, musk, myrrh, patchouli, sandalwood, or cinnamon oil.
Pitta-related hemorrhoids can be treated with sandalwood, tea tree, rose, honeysuckle, gardenia, lily, iris, mint, lavender, or lotus oil.
Kapha-related hemorrhoids can be treated with cinnamon, eucalyptus, sage, basil, musk, cedar, frankincense, or myrrh oil.
Burning arka root, vidanga, barley, ashwagandha, or pippali mixed with ghee can be used as a therapy for hemorrhoids in general.
Ayurvedic tradition suggests that repeating certain words or sounds can help a person suffering from an ailment to restore subtle balance to nerve tissue and enhance one’s mental clarity. Different sounds are prescribed to either repeat mentally or chant outwardly. These sounds are also used and repeated in the mind for the purpose of spiritual growth.
For Vata-related hemorrhoids, repeat the syllable “Lam” for several minutes a few times a day and build more practice over time.
As a Vata-related disorder, it is helpful to inwardly repeat this syllable for the duration of time it is practiced.
For Pitta-related hemorrhoids, repeat the syllable “Aum” (pronounced ohm) for several minutes a few times a day and build more practice over time.
As a Pitta-related disorder, it is helpful to both outwardly chant and inwardly repeat this syllable for the duration of time it is practiced.
For Kapha-related hemorrhoids, repeat the syllable “Ham” (pronounced hahm) for several minutes a few times a day and build more practice over time.
As a Kapha-related disorder, it is helpful to outwardly chant this syllable for the duration of time it is practiced.
Controlling the breath is a central practice toward developing peace and stillness in the mind and body. When the breath is under our control, we are no longer at the mercy of the senses that are stimulated by everything and lead to greater fluctuations of the mind. When applied to the context of resolving specific ailments, the breath is used as a tool for developing lung capacity, heating and cooling the body and resolving mental afflictions like anxiety and stress. Like with the yoga postures above, breathing exercises are likely to be of significant benefit to those who suffer from considerable amounts of stress.
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