Hemorrhoids affect nearly three-quarters of the population in the US, but no one wants to talk about it. Well, we want to change that. Keep scrolling for the lowdown on using cannabis to relieve hemorrhoid pain.
Let’s be honest: Hemorrhoids are embarrassing and uncomfortable. Many hemorrhoid sufferers don’t want to discuss it, even if they’re in pain.
But the truth is, hemorrhoids are extremely common and treatable. Three out of four Americans, men and women, will deal with hemorrhoids at some point in their life. All hemorrhoids are unpleasant, but most people experience no complications during treatment. For those with extreme cases involving intense pain, potential out-patient surgery and weeks of healing, cannabis can be an effective tool for managing pain and inflammation.
What Are Hemorrhoids?
Simply put, hemorrhoids are swollen or bulging veins in the anus. Think a varicose vein, but in an extremely sensitive and active part of the body. According to the Mayo Clinic, hemorrhoids can be caused by many factors including the following:
- Straining during bowel movements
- Sitting for a long time
- Chronic diarrhea
- Persistent constipation
- Anal intercourse
- Low-fiber diet
Different Types of Hemorrhoids
There are three distinct types of hemorrhoids, each with varying degrees of pain and discomfort.
Internal: Internal hemorrhoids are found inside the rectum. These are usually the mildest type of hemorrhoid, typically not causing much discomfort. But occasionally, straining or irritation can further aggravate an internal hemorrhoid, which can lead to bleeding. In the most extreme cases, straining can cause internal hemorrhoids to protrude out of the anus. If this happens, there can be a lot of pain and discomfort.
External: External hemorrhoids are found under the skin around the anus and can generally be seen and felt. These can be pretty painful and extremely sensitive to the touch, which can make it hard to sit, walk and go to the bathroom. External hemorrhoids are often treated with some sort of topical pain treatment.
Thrombosed: If there’s one type of hemorrhoid you want to avoid, it’s a thrombosed one. These occur when an external hemorrhoid forms a blood clot. They often become swollen and hard, and they can turn purple or blue and run the risk of bursting. A doctor should examine thrombosed hemorrhoids as soon as possible to determine the best path forward. Sometimes, in minor cases, patients may just have to wait it out. In more extreme cases, it may need to be removed by the doctor in an out-patient surgery.
Can Cannabis Help Relieve Hemorrhoid Pain & Inflammation?
While there is no tried-and-true cannabis treatment for hemorrhoids, everything we know about cannabis in terms of pain and inflammation applies. According to the Hemorrhoid Treatment Centre of Florida, “Medical marijuana has anti-inflammatory and analgesic (pain-relieving) effects. This can help hemorrhoid patients feel less discomfort from hemorrhoids. Additionally, since cannabis is known to naturally relieve stress, anxiety and insomnia, it can be used to fend off many of the ramifications of hemorrhoidal disease.”
But what type of cannabis product would be best for managing hemorrhoid-related symptoms?
Smoking or vaping may result in coughing, the strain of which could exacerbate hemorrhoids, so it might be best to try another method of consumption. Consider a topical placed directly on the hemorrhoid itself; because of cannabis’s highly effective anti-inflammatory properties, this application may help with itching, swelling and pain. You can also try taking a tincture—especially one formulated for pain relief—to help relax the body and alleviate the more painful aspects of hemorrhoids.
Traditional Hemorrhoid Pain Relief
When dealing with more extreme hemorrhoids, doctors may suggest a surgery in which the doctor removes the hemorrhoid. They typically do this as an out-patient procedure in an exam room with local anesthetic; this can be extremely painful.
Unfortunately, opioid painkillers aren’t only highly addictive, but they can also cause constipation, which can exacerbate the hemorrhoid issue. As a result, many doctors forego writing painkiller prescriptions and opt to give patients a high dose of Tylenol instead.
High-dose Tylenol doesn’t always provide enough relief to patients who’ve just had a hemorrhoid removed. This is where cannabis can step in to provide an added boost of anti-itch and anti-inflammatory pain relief.
Allison’s Story: Using Cannabis to Relieve Hemorrhoid Pain
Allison is a working mother in her mid-40s with a long history of hemorrhoids. Unfortunately for her, they often end up external and thrombosed, which can result in severe pain.
Allison has undergone multiple out-patient hemorrhoid removals. She explains that the local anesthetic did little to stop the pain of the removal and an extra-strength Tylenol didn’t do much for her either. Plus, because hemorrhoids are in such a delicate area, the healing process can be hard. The anus must continue to be used, wiped and stretched—all things that can reopen wounds and complicate healing.
During a particularly challenging external thrombosed hemorrhoid, Allison’s friend suggested using cannabis in the days leading up to and following its removal. Her friend, who Allison lovingly refers to as her “cannabis angel,” dropped off some cannabidiol (CBD) salve.
After consulting with her doctor about applying it directly to the site of the hemorrhoid, she began using the topical a couple days before her surgery to help manage the pain. She was stunned by how effective it was, so she kept using it during her recovery.
After her surgery, Allison continued to apply the CBD salve directly to the affected area. Its anti-inflammatory properties helped to alleviate pain better than any other treatment she had used in her 20 years of dealing with hemorrhoids. Allison also used a CBD vape pen, which she’d historically used to help her sleep, to calm her nerves after surgery. Because she doesn’t like the psychoactive effects of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD vape pens and topicals were the perfect options for her.
Allison was so shocked by the effectiveness of cannabis in treating the pain of hemorrhoids that she had to tell her doctor about it. She encouraged her doctor to suggest CBD for anyone dealing with hemorrhoid pain and swelling.
If you’re reading this and currently suffering from hemorrhoids, cannabis could be the key to ending the pain and swelling. Consult with your doctor about using a CBD topical to alleviate inflammation and a tincture or vape pen to help numb the pain.
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