Written by Eduardo Velasco Valido, AP, LAc, EAMP
Anyone suffering from hemorrhoids can tell you how painful it can be. Surgery has been indicated only in rare cases. For any other situation, if necessary, people rely upon prescription medication for pain relief. But relief usually lasts only a short time as Western Medicine primarily treats symptoms.
Traditional Chinese Medicine, however, is based on finding the root of the problem and using Chinese herbs, acupuncture, and proper nutrition, to fix the origin of the problem and provide long-term healing.
What are hemorrhoids?
Hemorrhoids are varicose veins of the hemorrhoidal veins. They are produced due to increased pressure in the venous plexus that drains the rectum and anus, in association with a weakness of the tone of the venous walls.
Hemorrhoids are prevalent; 50% of the population over 50 will suffer from them.
This common condition often is related to constipation. The patient has difficulty with bowel movements with dry stools, producing friction on the delicate rectal tissue, sometimes causing bleeding. Hemorrhoids are often a result of overconsumption of alcohol, spicy food, coffee, too much-fried food, lack of exercise, sitting for long periods, pregnancy, or chronic constipation.
Can acupuncture fix hemorrhoids?
Acupuncture for hemorrhoids could be the best treatment. In a study conducted in a hospital in Baotou in Mongolia province in China, seventy-six patients with hemorrhoids were treated: 86% of them resolved hemorrhoids just with essential acupuncture treatments.
Chinese medicine has been treating hemorrhoids for thousands of years: the treatment of hemorrhoids with acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine appears in ancient TCM texts. There is no doubt about its efficacy; you only need to find the right practitioner with the proper training and skills.
Traditional Chinese medicine etiology:
According to Chinese Medicine, overeating, eating at irregular hours or too late at night weakens the Stomach and Spleen Qi and produces Food Stagnation. Consuming too much raw or cold food declines the Spleen Qi and Yang. Excessive ingestion of rich and spicy foods and alcohol may lead to Food Stagnation and the production of Heat and dampness in the intestines.
A sedentary lifestyle inhibits the free flow of Q, reducing the circulation within the blood vessels in the anal area. Any physical activity that increases the pressure in the abdominal area may also contribute to the development of hemorrhoids, like lifting heavy weights or a chronic cough. For this same reason, hemorrhoids are common during pregnancy due to the downward pressure of the fetus, which reduces pelvic circulation.
Chronic constipation is the most common cause of hemorrhoids that we see clinically. The accumulation of fecal material in the intestine debilitates the venous walls and increases the internal pressure within the hemorrhoidal plexus.
Chronic diarrhea also weakens the rectal area due to repetitive bowel movements. In Chinese Medicine, diarrhea indicates a weakness of the Spleen, which is in charge of muscle tone. Spleen deficiency weakens the muscles, producing hemorrhoids or anal prolapse.
The imbalance of emotions is a classic sign of Liver Qi Stagnation. Repetitive emotional problems with the Liver overacting on Spleen will damage the Qi and produce Dampness accumulation. When this situation lasts too much time, it will produce heat, developing damp heat. This Damp-Heat in the Liver will increase the pressure in the portal system and elevate venous pressure in the rectal veins and hemorrhoidal plexus.
Severe grief will inhibit the Lung Qi from descending, which may also produce hemorrhoids by hindering the Large Intestine Qi and producing constipation.
Excessive worry will weaken Spleen Qi if the patients also sit for long periods and follow the wrong diet, which will impede the ability of the Spleen to hold the organs and produce hemorrhoids.
Traditional Chinese Medicine recommendations for the prevention and treatment of hemorrhoids
Especially for those patients that work sitting or standing and live a sedentary lifestyle, they need to practice regular exercise. Gentle movements are appropriate; patients with hemorrhoids should avoid activities with relentless pounding or increasing abdominal pressure.
To treat hemorrhoids, the patient needs to eat food that promotes healthy bowel movements, avoid foods that produce constipation, drink plenty of water, and consume the right amount of fiber from vegetables and fruits.
Squatting during defecation
The squatting position opens the anal sphincter and gently increases the intra-abdominal downward pressure, facilitating an easy evacuation. There are easy commercial solutions to solve this problem, like squatty-potty. This reduced the hemorrhoid pain.
It is recommended to wash the anal area with warm water after every bowel movement. Using toilet paper is less hygienic, may produce inflammation in the area, and inhibit healing when the patient has fissures and fistulae.
Usual Chinese medicine patterns that produce hemorrhoids.
Chronic Internal Heat
This pattern is due to chronic constipation, which puts pressure on the rectum and anus. The main focus of the therapy is to end constipation, reduce the pressure on the rectal area and allow the body's natural healing process.
Dry stools, infrequent defecation, thirst, abdominal pain, foul odor, breath, dry mouth, and a feeling of incomplete defecation.
Tongue: may be red with a yellow coat at the root and red dots around the middle and root of the tongue.
Pulse: Rapid and slippery
Clear Heat, drain Fire, moisten the Intestines, and soften the stools.
Li 4 and Li 11: Clear heat in the Large intestine
SJ 6: Clear Heat and promote the movement of the stools
Sp 14 and Sp 15; promote a downward movement
St 44: cleat Heat in Yang Ming
St 25 and Sp 15: together, these acupuncture points regulate the intestines
Kid 6: nourishes and moistens dryness and Yin.
Herbal Formula Treatment
Ma Zhi Ren Wan: this formula can heal to treat hemorrhoids, moisten the intestines, help to move downward, and clear Heat.
*Patients with a strong constitution, excessive Yang, and heavy bleeding can try Liang Xue Di Huang Tang.
Damp - Heat
Inflammation on internal hemorrhoids, typically from abusing damp-heat generating foods or for a chronic dysfunction produced by chronic Liver Qi stagnation. Typically the hemorrhoids are swollen and painful and usually protrude in the excretion.
Itching, discomfort, burning, irritation, tenesmus, thirst, scanty and yellow urination.
The tongue may have a red body with a greasy and yellow coat, more evident on the root of the tongue.
The pulse may be slippery and rapid or wiry and rapid.
Clear Damp Heat from the intestines, cool the blood, and stop bleeding.
Du 1: It can be the best local point to treat hemorrhoids, but it is not used often due to its location.
Bl 30: Similar actions of Du 1 but with less effect.
Bl 57: Empiric acupuncture point for hemorrhoids, regulates Large intestine and the rectum and stops bleeding.
St 37: Lower He Sea point of Large intestine clears Dampness, Heat and regulates LI.
Li 11: Hea Sea acupuncture point of Large intestine, clears Damp Heat
Herbal Formula Treatment
Huai Hua San
Cool the intestines, stop bleeding, and promote the movement of qi.
Spleen Qi Deficiency, Sinking Qi
This pattern is more common in older patients; the considerable differentiation is the prolapsing nature of hemorrhoids.
Hemorrhoids easily protrude with coughing, sneezing, defecation, or even by walking or standing, but they can be manually reduced.
Typical Spleen qi deficiency signs: Loss of appetite, fatigue, dull abdominal pain, shortness of breath, spontaneous sweating, etc.
Tongue: pale and swollen, usually with tooth marks
Pulse: weak, moderate, or thready.
Du 20: raises the yang Qi, indicated with moxibustion for treating hemorrhoid.
Ren 12: Front Mu point of the Stomach strengthens the Spleen.
St 25: Front Mu of Li regulates the intestine function
Sp 6 and Sp 3: strengthens Spleen function
Herbal formula treatment:
Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang
In Chinese medicine, many other patterns produce Hemorrhoids. We have explained here a little summary to show how we treat this kind of health issue from a Traditional Chinese Medicine point of view.
When someone suffers from hemorrhoid pain, it is a sign that the body is struggling. Our goal is to find the root of the problem; and, in addition, to reduce or eliminate pain, help the patient to improve their health, facilitate better digestion, increase energy, improve sleep and mood, etc.
When we treat the body holistically, we receive the gift of proper health rather than just eliminating a symptom.