Natural health: Haemorrhoids and liver health

Q. My mother has ongoing issues with haemorrhoids for as long as I can remember. Do you have any suggestions as to how she can get some relief?

She has good days and bad days, but they seem to be causing her more trouble than usual at present. 

A. Haemorrhoids are a very common issue following pregnancy and childbirth, but can also be triggered by the excessive strain caused by bowel disorders where constipation, diarrhoea (or both) are a symptom. 

Your mother is not alone — haemorrhoids are thought to affect around three quarters of the adult population at some point in their lives.

While bowel complaints are the main cause of haemorrhoids, there are individuals who are simply more susceptible to developing them, along with other associated conditions such as varicose veins. 

It does appear to run in families, so it is worth you also taking note of preventative measures.

For relatively fast relief, psyllium husks will reduce the pressure on enlarged and distended veins in the lower bowel.

Combine 1-2 teaspoons of psyllium husks (also known as psyllium hulls) each morning mixed well in a large glass of water or freshly pressed juice. 

This needs to be taken immediately, as these husks form a thick gel upon standing and are far more effective if you are able to swallow them before they set. 

They work to soften bowel motions, making them easier to pass, which means that swollen and prolapsed veins are far less likely to be irritated along the way.

Horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum) and Butcher’s Broom (Ruscus aculeatus) are two herbs that have long been in favour with herbalists for the treatment of varicosity. 

Horse chestnut helps to improve the tone and strength of the veins, blood vessels, and capillaries; Butcher’s Broom works by preventing inflammation of blood vessels, reducing the swelling and discomfort associated with these conditions. 

H-Care by Nelsons, Venaforce gel by A. Vogel, or Presto gel by Dan Pharm are all wonderful topical preparations that utilise the effectiveness of these herbs.

Rutin, a bioflavanoid found in brightly coloured fruits and vegetables, has specifically been shown to work in addressing varicose veins, haemorrhoids, and spider veins. Solgar’s 500mg Rutin capsules are available from health stores where 50 capsules cost €10.43.

Q. I have been preserving a number of dandelion weeds in my garden, and I have been adding the leaves to my salads. I have been told they are associated with liver health. Is this correct?

A. True dandelions have a single flower arising from each hollow stem, and the leaves grow in a rosette from the root. The leaves themselves are hairless, smooth and toothed in shape.

It is worth noting that the young, tender leaves are far more palatable than older, larger leaves.

You are quite correct — dandelions (Taraxacum officinale) have a bitter principle, which is what indicates the beneficial effect on the digestive system and the liver, stimulating the production of bile in the gallbladder.

Dandelion is known as a diuretic, bitter tonic, and detoxifying herb. The leaves help with fluid retention, helping to reduce blood pressure. Dandelion leaves are also high in potassium.

Dandelion root is a popular detoxifying herb, working mainly on the liver and gallbladder to facilitate the removal of wastes and toxins. 

This means that it can be useful in a number of conditions where the body is attempting to eliminate toxins through various channels — such as acne, eczema, psoriasis, constipation, flatulence, osteoarthritis, and gout.

Following the doctrine of signatures, the important aspects of the dandelion are the yellow colour of the flowers, the bitter and salty taste of the leaves, and sweet taste of the petals. 

The slight saltiness indicates the presence of minerals; the yellow colour indicates an effect on the stomach, liver,pancreas, kidneys and adrenals and can often indicate an association with healing melancholy states; the sweet taste of the petals suggests they benefit pancreatic health.


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