Foods, herbs to manage hemorrhoids

Have you started eating locust beans? You have to because for this week it is part of the list of the natural remedies. Have you ever eaten cucumber and roasted groundnuts before? Hmmn, their marriage is made in heaven! This will at least encourage people who do not like eating cucumber because it does not have a sugary taste.

Today, I will talk about hemorrhoids popularly known as piles. This made me have a chat with the Head of Herbarium and Medicinal Plant Gardens, Department of Pharmacognosy, Faculty of Pharmacy, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State, Mr Ife Ogunlowo. He told me that the Drug Research and Production Unit of the university’s Faculty of Pharmacy has an herbal medicinal product called Jeddy Decoction. It comprises 10 Nigerian medicinal plants and top on the list are Picralima nitida (Abere) and Tetrapleura tetraptera (Aridan) because they are the plants with the highest ratio and in the herbal formulation. It has been in use for more than 20 years and has been listed by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control as safe for consumption. It is worthy of note that research is ongoing on the drug and it is used in managing piles and other symptoms such as incessant backache and waist pain.

Hemorrhoids are swollen veins similar to varicose veins in the anus and lower rectum. It can develop inside the rectum (internal hemorrhoids) or under the skin around the anus (external hemorrhoids).

Symptoms often include: painless bleeding, itching or irritation in the anal area, discomfort, pain or soreness in the same area, lumps and swelling in the anal region and leaking faeces

Causes 

Pregnancy: They occur more commonly in pregnant women because as the uterus enlarges, it presses on the vein in the colon, causing it to bulge.

Ageing: Hemorrhoids are most common among adults aged 45 to 65 years. This does not mean however that young people and children do not get them.

Diarrhea: Hemorrhoids can occur after cases of chronic diarrhea.

Chronic constipation: Straining to move stool puts additional pressure on the walls of the blood vessels.

Sitting for too long: Staying in a seated position for long periods of time can cause hemorrhoids.

Heavy lifting: Repeatedly lifting heavy objects can cause it.

Anal intercourse: This can cause new hemorrhoids or worsen existing ones.

Obesity: Diet-related obesity can cause hemorrhoids.

Genetics: Some people inherit a tendency to develop hemorrhoid

Easy ways to prevent hemorrhoids

Fill up on fiber: Hemorrhoids are more likely to occur in people who have infrequent bowel movements. One of the easiest, most natural ways to become more regular is by filling up on fiber either through your diet or supplements. Sources of fibre are:

Legumes, such as split peas, lentils, black beans, lima beans and baked beans

  • Whole grains, such as barley, bran flakes, oatmeal and brown rice
  • Vegetables such as artichoke, green peas, broccoli and Brussels sprouts
  • Fruits such as raspberries, pears, apples and bananas

Drink enough water: This hemorrhoid prevention strategy is simple and cheap, yet so few of us actually do it. Along with eating a healthy diet full of fiber, adequate hydration from water is the key to having healthy bowel movements.

Get plenty of exercise: Exercise helps keep the colon more regular. However, engaging in activities that increase abdominal pressure and/or straining (such as weight-lifting) can lead to the formation of hemorrhoids. Staying active reduces your time spent sitting and putting pressure on the veins in your lower rectum. If you have a history of problematic hemorrhoids, you might want to steer clear of lifting heavy weights or other strenuous activities and opt for more moderate exercise routines such as swimming or walking to prevent hemorrhoids from flaring.

Be careful when It comes to laxatives: When you are constipated, some fiber supplements, particularly psyllium capsules, have a track record of helping get you more regular, which can prevent painful hemorrhoids. As far as laxatives go, they can help as long as you choose the correct ones. Some laxatives work by stimulating intestinal contraction to move the contents along. This might increase hemorrhoid pressures and cause symptoms.

Do not fight the urge: When you have to go to the toilet, go. This is one of the simplest ways to prevent hemorrhoids. Ignoring the urge has its risks and hemorrhoids is one of them.

Avoid straining: Straining and putting more pressure on the veins in your rectum is one of the most common causes of painful or bleeding hemorrhoids. In some cases, this can happen as a result of pushing too hard when trying to have a bowel movement. Other situations can cause straining too such as lifting heavy objects, a chronic cough or even pregnancy.

In a study titled, “Ethnobotanical Survey of Plants Used in the Treatment of Haemorrhoids in South-Western Nigeria,’’ by Soladoye et al, these are some of the herbs listed: Ocimum gratissimum (efinrin/ leaves), Chromolaena odorata ( Ewe Akintola /leaves), Vernonia amygdalina (ewuro/leaves), Momordica  charantia (ejrin were), Jatropha curcas (lapalapa funfun /leaves), Jatropha multifida  (ogege/leaves), Senna alata (asunwon oyinbo/leaves), Acacia nilotica (booni/fruits), Parkia biglobosa (Almost all reported Parkia species are used in different forms to cure diarrhea and dysentery), Tetrapleura tetraptera (Aridan /pod), Abrus precatorius (Oju ologbo/ leaves), Lawsonia inermis (ewe laali /leaves), Hibiscus sabdariffa (Isapa/leaves), Azadirachta indica ( Dongoyaro /leaves), Amaranthus spinosus (dagunro/root) and Amaranthus viridis (tete abalaye/ whole plant).

Others are Anacardium occidentale (cashew plant/bark), Mangifera indica (Mango/stem bark), Spondias monbin (iyeye/leaves), Enantia chlorantha (awopa/ bark), Xylopia aethiopica (eru alamo/fruit), Anacardium occidentale  (Cashew plant /bark), Picralima nitida(Abere/ seed), Newbouldia laevis (Akoko plant/leaves), Carica papaya plant (ibepe/leaves), Moringa oleifera (leaves), Psidium guajava plant(guava/root), Enantia chlorantha plant (Awopa/bark), Alstonia boonei (Ahun/ bark), Talinum triangulare (gbure/root), Mondia whitei (Isirigun /root), Afromomum melegueta (ataare /seed pod) and Zingiber officinale (ginger).

Scientific studies

In a study titled, “Establishing a preliminary basis for the use of Ocimum gratissimum in the traditional management of haemorrhoids,’’ by Ede et al, the study suggests a scientific basis for the use of Ocimum gratissimum in the traditional management of hemorrhoids. In another study titled, “Anti-hemorrhoid Evaluation of Selected Medicinal Plants Used in Bali North-East Nigeria for the Treatment of Hemorrhoids (Pile),’’ by Ukwubile et al, six selected plants (locust beans is among) were screened for anti-hemorrhoid activities in mice. The study showed that the extracts of the plants investigated possessed anti-hemorrhoid activities.

SOURCE: THE PUNCH

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