Apple Cider Vinegar for Hemorrhoids: Does It Really Work?
Vinegar is not just something that can be used in cooking. The uses of vinegar are innumerable and range from cleaning, medicinal, laboratory, preservation, etc. Vinegar is an acidic liquid that is produced by fermentation of ethanol alcohol. The source material used in its preparation gives vinegar unique properties. Some of the most commonly used types of vinegar are spirit vinegar, white vinegar, apple cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar, malt vinegar, etc.
Apple Cider Vinegar
It is a common ingredient found in households across the world. Apple cider vinegar is made from fermented apple juice. It has been used for both medicinal and therapeutic purposes since ancient times (1). The most common health benefits of apple cider vinegar are outlined below:
- Maintaining the gut flora– The fermented content in apple cider vinegar helps in the growth and is beneficial for the overall health of the gut microbes. It further improves the digestion process.
- Managing blood sugar levels– It has been seen that apple cider helps to reduce the post-meal blood sugar levels. This is very useful for diabetic patients (2).
- Helps in weight loss– Apple cider vinegar helps in maintaining a healthy weight by reducing appetite and delaying gastric emptying.
- Skin toner– The anti-inflammatory properties of apple cider vinegar makes it a great ingredient for skincare routine. Apply diluted apple cider vinegar for the best results.
- Tooth-whitening– Apple cider vinegar along with baking soda can whiten the teeth and also reduce the bad odor of the mouth.
Apple Cider Vinegar for Hemorrhoids
Hemorrhoids are swollen veins that are present in the lower part of the rectum and the anus. It occurs due to excess pressure on the veins of this area. They can be external or depending on their location and can be very painful. The patient might suffer from severe itching, pain, bleeding, and other discomforts when he/she has hemorrhoids (3).
Along with a bundle of health benefits, the use of apple cider vinegar for treating hemorrhoids has been gaining a lot of popularity. It is one of the most sought-after natural remedies for piles and has been in use for ages.
Acetic acid, the main content of apple cider vinegar, has excellent astringent properties and helps in the shrinking of tissues. Since scientific studies do not support these pieces of evidence, always start the treatment after some advice from health experts.
How to Use Apple Cider Vinegar for Hemorrhoids
Apple cider vinegar is used as a topical agent for hemorrhoids treatment. Apply it to the affected area until the size of hemorrhoids shrinks. Initially, the patient might experience a stinging sensation after applying it. However, the body adapts to it and subside after some time. There are four different ways in which we use apple cider vinegar in the treatment of hemorrhoids.
1. On a Cotton Ball
Dilute and apply apple cider vinegar directly to the area for the best therapeutic effects. This direct contact will enhance the effect of apple cider vinegar on swelling and pain. After soaking a cotton ball or toilet paper with the vinegar, apply directly to the affected area. Repeat these 3 to 4 times a day and continue this till the size shrinks.
2. As a Tonic
For relief from hemorrhoids pain, some people have found apple cider vinegar tonic effective. Mix 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar to a cup of water and drink the tonic twice a day. This, in addition to the direct application on the site of pain, can help to reduce inflammation and associated pain.
3. Sitz Bath
A sitz bath includes sitting in warm water for a recommended period so that there is relief from pain and swelling in the affected area. It is a natural way to relieve the symptoms of hemorrhoids. The soothing properties enhance when you add apple cider vinegar to the water for a sitz bath. For this, mix ½ cup apple cider vinegar into a sitz bath. The patient should soak in the sitz bath for 10 to 20 minutes for the best results. Depending on the severity of the condition, this sitz bath can be repeated several times a day.
4. As Ice Cubes
Applying ice on the affected area is the best way to manage the pain in hemorrhoids. The cooling sensation would act as an anti-inflammatory agent. After mixing ½ cup apple cider vinegar with half cup water, pour it into a tray and refrigerate overnight. Apply the ice to the affected area preferably about 3 times a day for best results
It should always be noted that apple cider vinegar or any other home remedy is useful only as a temporary source of relief from pain and inflammation. If the condition worsens, consult a medical practitioner. Especially if the hemorrhoids bleed frequently or severe pain persists, report to the doctor immediately.
Side Effects of Apple Cider Vinegar for Hemorrhoids
Home remedies are easy and offer the relief of using natural ingredients in recipes. However, there are side effects for such recipes since the body nature varies from person to person. Some of the common side effects of using apple cider vinegar for hemorrhoids are:
- The topical application of apple cider vinegar may cause a stinging sensation in the affected area. This might require some time to subside and could aggravate the inflammation and pain. Apply coconut or castor oil on the affected area for relief.
- The affected area might be prone to itching after the direct application of apple cider vinegar.
Some patients experience the formation of chemical burns where they apply apple cider vinegar (5).
- Consuming apple cider vinegar can sometimes lead to throat burns.
- In certain cases, it affects the digestive system resulting in improper functioning.
- There is a possible risk of lowered potassium concentration in the body due to the consumption of apple cider vinegar.
- Apple cider vinegar might interact with other medications like diabetic drugs, drugs used in cardiac conditions, etc. and affect their action.
Home remedies for Hemorrhoids
Apart from apple cider vinegar, there are other effective home remedies to counter the initial problems associated with hemorrhoids. Use these recipes only when the condition remains manageable.
1. Epsom salt and glycerine
Epsom salt or magnesium sulfate is a well-known healing agent and pain reliever. Glycerine is equally therapeutic with its anti-inflammatory and moisturizing effects on the skin. Both these ingredients when combined can have a great effect on the hemorrhoids. Prepare the epsom salt and glycerine paste as follows:
Preparation- Take 2 tbsp of Epsom salt and glycerine and mix well. Apply this paste over a clean gauze pad. Place this medicated gauze pad over the affected area and leave it for 20 minutes. Do this every 6 hours until there is relief from the pain.
2. Witch Hazel
Witch hazel is a natural remedy for irritation and pain. The anti-inflammatory property of witch hazel makes it suitable for treating the swelling associated with hemorrhoids. Witch hazel is available in the form of liquid. Apply this directly to the affected area. Also, there are other formulations of witch hazel like anti-itch wipes and soaps which are also beneficial in treating the different symptoms of piles.
3. Aloe Vera
A well-known natural remedy for various skin conditions, aloe vera has been a part of home remedies for different ailments since ancient times. The anti-inflammatory properties make aloe effective in managing irritation and swelling in hemorrhoids. Apply aloe vera gel on the site of piles for the best results. Since there are chances of allergic reactions, conduct a patch test before using aloe vera.
4. Psyllium Husk
Since one of the main causes of hemorrhoids is the lack of fibers in food, supplements containing fibers can be added to the diet. Adding the psyllium supplement would enhance the fiber content in the diet and eventually softens the stools. This would act as a relief from the symptoms of hemorrhoids.