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Is Bilberry an Effective Treatment for Hemorrhoids?

Bilberry is a classic traditional remedy used for hundreds of years for improving night vision, increasing antioxidants, and even lowering diabetes risk. Another possible use is for treating hemorrhoids, but is bilberry an effective treatment option for this condition? Find out below
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Although over 50 percent of adults suffer from hemorrhoids (either permanently or temporarily), it is still considered an embarrassing and “off-limits” topic. This can make it difficult to bring up the issue with a doctor or other health professional.

Although there are many viable medical treatments for hemorrhoids, you may be able to cure your hemorrhoids on your own without ever having to have an uncomfortable and embarrassing medical procedure.

How can you do this? With the use of bilberry. Bilberry, although not as well-studied as a few other hemorrhoid remedies like butcher’s broom, is a scientifically-backed healing remedy for hemorrhoids. Certain ingredients in bilberry make it highly effective at treating and preventing hemorrhoids. If you suffer from painful hemorrhoids, take a look at how supplementing with bilberry could prevent your painful condition and stop all symptoms associated with the condition below.

Bilberry Facts

Bilberry is a relative of the blueberry, native to Europe. The bilberry is also related to cranberries and huckleberries. The inside of the berry is white, and the creamy fruit is used to make cake, jam, pie, cobblers, and other delicious desserts. Bilberry is not simply a delicious fruit that is easy to eat as a jam. It also has many traditional health uses.

Since bilberry is a relative of the blueberry, it has many of the same properties, including a high antioxidant count and the inclusion of flavonoids. In the past, bilberry was used for inducing menstruation, healing kidney and bladder stones, improving vision, curing fevers, improving heart-health, reducing diabetes risk, controlling inflammation, and improving intestinal health-among other uses.

One of the possible uses for bilberry backed by a few scientific studies is the use of bilberry for hemorrhoids.

Medical Uses for Bilberry

In traditional medicine, bilberries were claimed to improve hundreds of health conditions. Of course, most of these uses are not backed by scientific research. According to studies, the best use of bilberry may be for night vision. In WWII, pilots were given bilberry jam before night flights to improve their vision.

Bilberry contains anthocyanosides, which are beneficial for the eyes, reduce inflammation, improves the health of blood vessels, and stabilizes collagen. The best source of reliable scientific information about any product is a double-blind, placebo controlled study. In double-blind studies on bilberry, the highest benefit appears to be for diabetic retinopathy and hemorrhoids (more on the uses for hemorrhoids below).

The most useful ingredients in bilberry are known as anthocyanosides. In similar oligomeric proanthocyanidin complexes, it was shows that anthocyanosides can prevent minor bruising, heal varicose veins (hemorrhoids are a type of varicose vein), and support health during surgery. Studies on bilberry leaves have shown that bilberry could also be effective in controlling blood sugar and reducing triglyceride levels in patients with high cholesterol.

How Bilberry Could Help Hemorrhoids

Bilberry can help hemorrhoids in two ways. First, the anthocyanosides in bilberry help strengthen capillary walls. This helps prevent the buildup of fluid in the blood vessels around the anal area. Hemorrhoids are formed when fluid is trapped in the blood vessels and excessive swelling causes the veins to protrude from the rectum.

Secondly, circulation of the entire circulatory system is improved when bilberry supplements are taken. This means that not only are the blood vessels better able to prevent fluid from pooling in the vessels, the fluid is removed from the area faster. This combination makes bilberry the ideal supplement for preventing hemorrhoids.

Studies on Bilberry for Hemorrhoids

A total of 3 studies have been conducted on the effectiveness of bilberry for hemorrhoids.

The first study was conducted in 1974. This study looked at 40 individuals who suffered from hemorrhoids. During the study, the participants were given bilberry supplements or a placebo. The participants who took the bilberry showed an improvement in hemorrhoid symptoms and a decrease in pain and swelling.

In another study, 50 pregnant women either supplemented with bilberry or a placebo in support of both varicose veins and hemorrhoids. The pregnant women who took bilberry supplements showed a reduction in both varicose veins and hemorrhoid symptoms.

Another study conducted by Italian researchers found similar results. In the study, 47 participants who took bilberry had significantly less pain and swelling associated with hemorrhoids.

Risks and Side Effects

When taking any supplement, it is helpful to know if there are any risks or side effects of taking the supplement. Even supplements derived from fruit could have side effects when taken in larger doses. Fortunately, bilberry supplements have few side effects. In a study of bilberry side effects, side effects occurred in only about 4 percent of participants. The side effects were mild, and included digestive distress, drowsiness, and skin irritation.

Some of these reactions could be simply do to allergies to the fruit rather than true side effects of the supplement. However, when taking bilberry, it is best to watch for any potential side effects for a few weeks until you determine what dosages are safe for you.

Should Anyone Not Take Bilberry Supplements?

According to previous studies, it was suggested that bilberry could interfere with blood clotting. However, a study from 1981 conducted by German researchers found that bilberry supplements did not interfere with blood clotting.

Although the safety of bilberry has not been tested specifically for pregnant women, it is generally considered safe. Several bilberry studies have included pregnant women without any side effects to the mother or baby.

Are There Drug Interactions?

According to research, bilberry can lower blood sugar. If you are already taking blood sugar-lowering supplements, taking bilberry along with these medications could drop your blood sugar to dangerous levels. Talk with your doctor about the right balance between bilberry and your existing antidiabetes medication. In some cases, you may be able to take a lower dose of diabetes medication if you take bilberry supplements.

Possible Drugs with Bilberry Interactions
  • Amaryl
  • Diabeta
  • Glynase
  • PresTab
  • Micronase
  • Actos
  • Avandia
  • Diabinese
  • Glucotrol
  • Orinase

Bilberry could interact with other herbs and supplements as well. One of the main issues with bilberry is the chromium content. When taken alone, the chromium level is not high enough to cause any danger. However, if you combine bilberry with other chromium-containing herbs, there could be a problem. Other herbs with high levels of chromium include horsetail, cascara, and brewer’s yeast.

A few other herbs also lower blood sugar levels. Monitor blood sugar levels carefully if you are taking any of the following supplements:

Blood Sugar-Lowering Supplements
  • Devil’s claw
  • Garlic
  • Horse chestnut
  • Fenugreek
  • Guar gum
  • Ginseng
  • Psyllium

How to Use Bilberry for Hemorrhoids

There are two forms of bilberry supplements that could both be beneficial for hemorrhoids. One is an extract of the fruit and the other is an extract from the leaves. A typical anti-hemorrhoid dose is 20-60 grams daily.

You can also make a berry tea made from 1-2 teaspoons of mashed berries. Bilberry leaf tea containing 1-2 teaspoons of dried leaves per 150 mL of boiling water is effective at fighting hemorrhoids. You can drink the tea safely for several weeks at a time.

You may also allow the mixture to cool and apply it directly to sensitive hemorrhoids to reduce swelling from the outside.

Hemorrhoid Herbs Synergistic With Bilberry

There are four main herbs that are synergistic with bilberry. These two herbs provide additional hemorrhoid-fighting ingredients that strengthen the blood vessels and stop hemorrhoids from flaring up in the future. If you want to see the end of hemorrhoid pain permanently, use a treatment method combining these five ingredients. Within a few weeks, you should have complete relief from your hemorrhoid pain.

Horse Chestnut

Horse chestnut is an extract from the nuts of a tree native to Europe. It is related to the American Ohio Buckeye tree, although the American version of the tree has toxic ingredients. Horse chestnut has been used for many years as a remedy for varicose veins. Studies show that the extract is highly effective for this purpose. Since hemorrhoids are a form of varicose veins, horse chestnut is also highly effective at relieving hemorrhoid symptoms.

According to one double-blind study, supplementing with 40 mg of aescin (the ingredient most beneficial for hemorrhoids in horse chestnut) three times a day was able to visibly improve hemorrhoid symptoms within 2 weeks. Participants reported less pain, swelling, and bleeding after starting the supplements.

Grape Seed

Grape seed is simply the seeds from ordinary grapes. Grapes contain many beneficial properties, including antioxidants, flavonoids, and; most importantly for hemorrhoids, anthocyanidins. A German study conducted in 2009 looked at how grape seed could benefit individuals with hemorrhoids.

According to the study, taking 150 mg of grape seed extract for 4 days was able to improve pain levels, reduce swelling, and stop bleeding in most patients. Significant improvement was seen within 7 days in the supplement group, but not in the placebo group.

Cascara Sagrada

Cascara sagrada is a plant containing anthraquinone which is able to stimulate intestinal contractions to help clear the bowels sooner. This helps prevent constipation and make bowel movements easier. One of the main causes of hemorrhoids is constipation, which means that by eliminating constipation, you reduce your chances for getting hemorrhoids in the first place. Studies have also shown that cascara sagrada can ease chronic constipation as well as hemorrhoids.

Butcher's Broom

Butcher's Broom is one of the most effective vein-boosting herbs. Butcher’s broom contains the helpful ingredients anthocyanins and flavonoids. According to a review of over 124 studies on Butcher’s Broom in 1999, 75 percent of physicians recommend Butcher’s broom as an effective remedy for hemorrhoids and other forms of varicose veins.

Using Bilberry to Heal Hemorrhoids

If you suffer from hemorrhoids, like over 50 percent of adults do, then you will be pleased at the results that supplements like bilberry can provide. Bilberry can not only help prevent hemorrhoids, but it can also improve your vein health throughout the body- leading to better circulation, fewer varicose veins, and better health throughout life.

Always consult with your doctor before starting any new supplement routine, particularly if you are pregnant or taking other medications. However, since bilberry is such a mild supplement, you can take it throughout life without fear and without much danger of side effects or interactions with other medications.

Sources


http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/202.html

http://therapy.epnet.com/nat/GetContent.asp?siteid=EBSCO&chunkiid=21568

http://www.longwoodherbal.org/bilberry/bilberry.pdf

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