Horse Chestnut for Hemorrhoids

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

Nobody likes to talk about hemorrhoids. Frankly, I would be a little worried if you DID like to talk about hemorrhoids. And what is worse than talking about them, is having them. And many people do. The thing about hemorrhoids is that many people suffer in silence when there are many things that can help, and that is what I want to talk about.

Hemorrhoids

Ok, lets get the gory bits out of the way. What is a hemorrhoid? A hemorrhoid is literally a varicose vein located in the anus and/or rectum. There are two types, internal and external depending on their location. It is thought that about 50% of people will have hemorrhoids by the age of fifty, some say it is 50% by the age of thirty. Because those don't sound like very good odds, the rest of this article should be very useful. :) But first, lets talk about other things that can happen in that general vicinity according to Chinese medicine so that you know the difference and can proceed with appropriate treatments. Hemorrhoids are also called piles.

Hemorrhoids : Chinese Medicine Living

Anal Prolapse

Anal prolapse (also called rectal prolapse) is defined as a condition in which the rectum, which is the lower end of the colon, just above the anus, becomes stretched out and protrudes outside of the anus. The prolapse is often due to weakening of the sphincter muscle and can result in leakage of stool and/or mucus. The condition appears to be more common in women but does occur in both sexes. In Chinese medicine, anal prolapse is often caused by a deficiency of spleen qi, causing it to "sink". The prolapse of other organs, such as the bladder, uterus and vagina are also often due to sinking of spleen qi.

Anal Fissure

Anal fissures are cracks or tears in the anus or anal canal. They can be acute of chronic. In Western medicine they are seen to be largely caused by trauma, but in Chinese medicine they are mostly a result of deficiency (deficiency of blood causing dryness in the intestines) and fire and damp heat.

Anal Fistula

An anal fistula is a small tunnel that develops between the end of the bowel (the anal canal) and the anus. In Western medicine, surgery is often needed, but in Chinese medicine they can be treated successfully with Chinese herbs and acupuncture. The causes in Western medicine are that fistula's are often the result of an abscess (a collection of puss) that has not been treated properly and has burst. Fistulas are also common in people with conditions that affect the intestines like Crohn's disease, IBD (inflammatory bowel disease) and diverticulitis. 30% of HIV patients develop anal fistula's, probably as a result of the body's immune system attacking the body. Fistula seems to be more common in women than men, although both are affected.

In Chinese medicine, anal fistula's are a result of heat, either from an excess or deficiency, or from deficiency cold.

anal fissure / fistula : Chinese Medicine Living

Anal Ulcers

These are literally ulcers located near or on the anus. In Chinese medicine, they are due to deficiency of the lungs, spleen and kidney or to toxic heat.

Horse Chestnut

For years whenever I have a patient who has varicose veins, or is suffering with hemorrhoids (and for every person who has told me they are suffering with hemorrhoids, I suspect there are ten that don't) I recommend they take horse chestnut. Horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum) is an herb that comes from the horse chestnut tree and is used to help build up the walls and elasticity of the veins. It also increases circulation and is an anti inflammatory. The flowers and seeds of the horse chestnut tree have been used for thousands of years in traditional medicines, and is still a common treatment for disorders of the vessels, circulation problems and arthritis for its anti-inflammatory properties.

horse chestnut for hemorrhoids

Horse Chestnut for Hemorrhoids

Horse chestnut contains several chemical compounds called saponins, the most potent of which is called aescin. Aescin has a very strong anti-inflammatory effect and is why horse chestnut is used to treat varicose veins (which is what hemorrhoids are), arthritis and rheumatic conditions and is used to reduce inflammation after trauma or surgery. Horse chestnut is used to treat hemorrhoids because it strengthens the walls of the veins, increases their elasticity, reduces inflammation and prevents the breakdown of smaller capillaries.

Horse chestnut can be taken orally or applied topically. The recommended dose for oral use of horse chestnut when treating hemorrhoids is 300mg twice a day. Horse chestnut contains esculin which is toxic when eaten raw, so be careful to look on the bottle of your horse chestnut to see that esculin has been removed. This is a standard practice to make sure it is safe.

Orally: take at least 40mg of horse chestnut three times a day (the recommended dose for treating hemorrhoids is 300mg twice a day).

Topically: Many hemorrhoid cremes and ointments contain horse chestnut extract. Although this will help, you want to make sure that there is no bleeding as the horse chestnut may increase the bleeding temporarily.

 

Hemorrhoids And The Spleen

So, what do hemorrhoids have to do with the spleen? Well, by now you should know that almost everything has to do with the spleen!! The spleen, in Chinese medicine, is responsible for the body's holding function. This means the ability to hold organs in place is determined by the spleen's energy. Things like prolapses, prolapse of uterus, bladder, vagina, hernias and yes, hemorrhoids (this is literally a prolapse of the anus) are governed by the spleen. I often see these problems with patients who have chronically deficient spleen's. There is a lot we can do to strengthen the spleen, and you can read about that here - Loving Your Spleen in Chinese Medicine. :)

Horse Chestnut Leaves : Chinese Medicine Living

The leaves of a horse chestnut tree - so pretty!

Other Helpful Things

Many people think that if you have hemorrhoids that you just have to live with them, or that surgery may be the only option. Not so! There are other things that you can do to help heal your hemorrhoids.

  • Eat a clean diet with lots of fruits and vegetables (but go easy on the fibre, as this can make hemorrhoids worse)
  • Stay away from foods that cause inflammation like processed foods and sugar
  • Exercise to keep things moving through your digestive tract - this will make sure that nothing sits in your intestines too long which will aggravate your hemorrhoids
  • Drink plenty of water - this will help with constipation which is a major cause of hemorrhoids
  • Don't rush when you poop! Take your time and relax. Don't strain, give yourself the time to poop and don't rush.
  • Using probiotics with help keep everything in the digestive tract healthy and happy.
  • Taking supplements like horse chestnut will help strengthen the walls of your veins and combat inflammation.
  • Be mindful! This is the first step to healing any problem. :)

 

Horse Chestnut Tree Flower : Chinese Medicine Living

The flowers of a horse chestnut tree - beautiful! 

Hemorrhoids are a very common problem, but you don't have to suffer. Diet, exercise and supplements can really help to improve hemorrhoids and give you a better quality of life. With these simple steps instead of dreading a bowel movement, you can have everything move freely with no discomfort, and we all deserve that. :)


Documentary - Cancer Is Curable Now

This is a very interesting documentary about curing cancer with non-conventional (non Western) treatments. Is this even possible? YES, and it has been going on all over the world for years. There are many, many alternatives to the standard Western treatments of radiation and chemotherapy. Cancer is big business, especially in the United States, so many of the other treatments available for cancer are suppressed so people don't find out about them. Most of these treatments are safer, less expensive and way less destructive than conventional treatments. If you know anyone with cancer, this is definitely something they should see. Everyone of course has the right to choose what treatment they would like, but it is important to make an informed decision and get all the information about what it out there.

Many of these treatments use the philosophy that if you rebalance the body and give it what it needs then it will heal itself. (This is also the Chinese medicine philosophy). This is so often why conventional treatments may work temporarily but the cancer inevitable returns. It is because it is dealing with the symptoms (the cancer), and not the reason the cancer developed in the first place.

There is a lot of excellent information in here, and hopefully this will introduce some of you to some treatments that you did not know about. It all seems like common sense to me, but I will let you be the judge. Knowledge is power. :)

Documentary - Cancer is Curable Now

 

Natural Laundry Soap : Chinese Medicine Living9000 Needles : Chinese Medicine LivingChinese Herbs : Chinese Medicine Living


Can You Die of a Broken Heart?

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

Can you die of a broken heart? Surprisingly perhaps, the answer is yes.

Anyone who has had their heart broken wouldn't even have to think about the answer to this. "Yes" they would say, or at least that is what it feels like. Heartbreak is like walking around with tiny shards of glass in your chest. You feel a crushing sense of sadness, and you are miserable. I suspect that most of us have had our hearts broken at least once, and it feels awful. Sometimes it is so bad that you literally feel like you want to die. But did you know that you can actually die of a broken heart? Yes, that's right. You CAN. And the medical name for it is Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy.

In Western medicine the condition has several different names; transient apical ballooning syndrome, apical ballooning cardiomyopathy, stress-induced cardiomyopathy, stress cardiomyopathy and Gebrochenes-Herz-syndrom. The syndrome is characterized by a sudden weakening of the myocardium, or heart muscle. Broken heart syndrome is a well recognized cause of acute heart failure, and the interesting thing is that there are often no structural problems in or around the heart which is why, at least to Western medicine, its cause is a bit mysterious. Broken heart syndrome symptoms mimic those of a heart attack so people report symptoms like chest pains and shortness of breath. A heart attack results from a near or almost complete blockage of a heart artery. In broken heart syndrome, there is no such blockage.

Broken Heart Syndrome : Chinese Medicine Living

Broken heart syndrome has been well documented. If the sufferer survives the initial attack (which most do), all the symptoms often resolve completely in a couple of months. But perhaps the most significant thing about broken heart syndrome is that it is usually preceded by an intense emotional event, either a sudden shock, like the death of a loved one, or an ongoing emotional stressor like the breakup of a relationship. It can also be brought about by a constant state of anxiety - for example, living in a war torn country where you have watched your family die and have been torn from your home. This kind of ongoing stress and anxiety puts a huge load on the heart, both physically, spiritually and emotionally.

Interestingly, broken heart syndrome was first documented in Japan in the 1990's, and it gets its name - Tako-tsubo - from the Japanese literally meaning "octopus pot". It gets this name because of the shape of the heart when the syndrome is present - apical ballooning, a reversible abnormality characteristic of takotsubo cardiomyopathy. During systole (when the heart contracts) the midsection and tip (apex) of the left ventricle balloon out, while the area above, called the base, contracts normally. The shape is similar to the tako-tsubo - a round bottomed vessel with a narrow neck used to catch octopuses in Japan. The syndrome also seems to occur in much higher instances in women than in men, and most reported cases are of women from ages 58-75.

The Heart in Chinese Medicine

In Chinese medicine, the heart is at the centre of the body and its activities. The heart is said to govern and be responsible for all of the bodies functions via the other organs. The heart is also the residence of a very subtle but profoundly important energy, called the Shen. The Shen has been loosely translated as "spirit", but this does not encapsulate the entirety of what Shen means. It is a difficult concept to explain, but many mental illnesses are described in Chinese medicine as disturbances of the Shen. When you look into someones eyes and they are clear and bright and full of intelligence, this is someone with healthy Shen. When you look into the eyes of someone who is depressed, deeply sad, or is going through something very difficult in their lives that is, at least at that moment, getting the better of them, their eyes have a cloudy, unfocused appearance. This points to a disturbance of the Shen. Our Shen is our ability to be in the world, deal with problems effectively, be emotionally balanced and be clear and focused in our thoughts, feelings and ability to handle life and everything is throws at us. So, having a healthy Shen is of supreme importance, and its residence is the heart.

Broken Heart Syndrome : Chinese Medicine Living

To anyone who practices Chinese medicine, dying of a broken heart isn't such a bizarre thought. A sudden shock, or prolonged emotions like worry, sadness, anger and guilt (which is a uniquely Western emotion) weaken the heart and its energies. As we know, Chinese medicine takes the emotions very seriously and they are one of the main causes of disease. Now, for those of you who this is new to, let me clarify - it is not HAVING emotions that can cause disease, emotions are a natural part of being human. But emotions that are repressed, unexpressed or experienced intensely for extended periods of time without being resolved can certainly be a cause of disease.

In Chinese medicine, the body is like a garden, and everything must be working in harmony for the garden to flourish and grow. This means that the physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects of a person must all be in harmony for ultimate health to be achieved. So, take care of your heart. If you are dealing with something difficult in your life, acknowledging it and either dealing with it or seeking out help to get you through it is my best advice to keep your heart, and your Shen happy and balanced for many years to come.  And if you are having symptoms of a heart attack, even if you have no prior history of heart problems, take them seriously. Especially if they occur after an intense emotional event or sudden shock. Broken heart syndrome is real, and arming yourself with information is the best way to avoid problems in the present and the future.

Broken Heart Syndrome : Chinese Medicine Living

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Can You Die of a Broken Heart? : Chinese Medicine Living