Hemorrhoids, swollen blood vessels located in or near the anus, can lead to rectal bleeding, itching and pain. The condition results from increased pressure in the veins and can occur by factors such as sitting or standing for prolonged periods of time, violent coughing, pregnancy, low-fiber diets, lifting heavy objects or straining to pass hard stools. Commercial preparations offer the fastest and most effective relief. However, while further scientific analysis is needed to confirm the efficacy of herbs as a treatment for hemorrhoids, herbal teas can offer valuable benefits by soothing irritation, softening stools or reducing inflammation.
Butcher's broom, otherwise known as box holly, sweet broom or pettigree, yields beneficial results when used to treat hemorrhoids. According to Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, a 2008 study found that ruscogenin, a primary ingredient found in butcher's broom, demonstrates anti-inflammatory properties in live isolated cells. (See Reference 2)
Although further scientific research is needed to confirm butcher's broom's efficacy as a treatment for hemorrhoids, Utah-based master herbalist Rita Elkins touts the herb's effectiveness. "The herb butcher's broom is believed to have the same effects as over-the-counter hemorrhoid preparation. It's an astringent herb, and it works to shrink swollen hemorrhoids," states Elkins in the book "Alternative Cures." (See Reference 1)
To prepare a tea, pour one cup boiling water over 1/2 tsp. butcher's broom, steep for 10 minutes and strain. You can drink up to four cups a day, but excess use may cause diarrhea.
Mullein, also known as verbascum, enjoys wide use in Mexico as an herbal treatment for hemorrhoids, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information. (See Reference 3) The herb's flowers and leaves contain tannins that help constrict hemorrhoidal tissue and stop bleeding.
While supporting research is weak regarding the effectiveness of mullein in treating hemorrhoids, Phyllis A. Balch, nutritional consultant and author of "Prescription for Herbal Healing," claims, "Wounds and hemorrhoids react favorably when mullein is used externally." (See Reference 4)
Steep one tsp. dried mullein leaves in one cup of boiling water for 10 minutes. Strain, soak a washcloth in the tea and swab your affected areas. Pregnant and nursing women, as well as people with a history of cancer, should refrain from ingesting mullein. Avoid mullein seeds, as they contain toxins.
Dandelion helps to cleanse the liver by stimulating the production of bile. Increased release of bile softens and lubricates stools without causing diarrhea. According to the book "Herbal Pharmacy," the compound in dandelion leaves and roots work as a laxative, digestion stimulator and tonic. (See Reference 5)
Although supporting evidence is preliminary regarding dandelion's effectiveness as a hemorrhoid remedy, it may warrant a try. To make a tea, mix two tsp. dandelion root in one cup boiling water. Steep for 15 minutes and strain. Drink up to three cups a day. Pregnant and nursing women should avoid consuming dandelion.