Although haemorrhoids are common, usually following excessive straining, a low-fibre diet, pregnancy or long periods of sitting, they can damage skin and muscle tissue that surround your anus.
Haemorrhoids are swollen or irritated veins that appear in your anus and rectum. A vascular connective tissue framework made up of collagen and elastin supports the veins in your anus. When collagen is reduced or damaged, connective tissue becomes unstable and support to blood vessels weaken increasing their risk for inflammation.
Researchers who have examined haemorrhoid tissues samples under a microscope found a significantly reduced amount of collagen in the surrounding anal and rectal connective tissue.
If you are concerned about damage caused by haemorrhoids, treatment can include changing your diet, applying medicated creams and even surgery. However oral supplements can be a safe and effective addition to conventional treatment. Vitamin C and oligomeric proanthocyanidin (known as OPC) have proven to naturally relieve symptoms from haemorrhoids, while strengthening blood vessels and collagen in these sensitive areas.
Symptoms of haemorrhoids
Haemorrhoids can occur both inside and outside of the anus damaging the skin and tissue in these areas. Symptoms can be uncomfortable and painful and may include:
- Painless bleeding from a bowel motion
- Blood on your faeces
- Pain during a bowel motion
- Itching of anus
- Burning sensation during a bowel motion
- Surrounding skin irritation
Supplement benefits for haemorrhoids
Taking supplements can reduce the swollen and irritated haemorrhoid veins. Supplements work to strengthen and maintain healthy veins, reducing the painful symptoms of haemmorhoids. Research has found certain supplements have been successful in improving and maintaining healthy veins for people with haemorrhoids.
The inflammation of the veins that surround the anus and rectum breakdown and change the tissue they rest in. As these veins rest in collagen and elastic fibres matrix, any inflammation affects the collagen tissue surrounding the swollen veins.
Collagen is a flexible and strong protein that predominantly makes up connective tissue in the extracellular matrix that supports your body. Evidence from research has shown supplements can also help to improve the synthesis of collagen in the connective tissue that is damaged by haemorrhoids.
Supplements that help if you have haemorrhoids include:
- Oligomeric proanthocyanidin (OPC)
- Vitamin C
OPC for haemorrhoids
Oligomeric proanthocyanidin (OPC) is a combination of compounds found in a wide range of plant materials and is usually produced into supplements using grape pip or seeds or pine bark.
OPC have been found to sooth symptoms of haemorrhoids. The compounds contain anti-oxidant properties that can promote wound healing and reduce inflammation. It works on strengthening the tone in the swollen veins walls and has been proven to stop bleeding in haemorrhoids.
A randomised controlled trial found proanthocyanidin (an OPC compound) was safe and effective in resolving symptoms in 73 people with grade III haemorrhoids, including bleeding, pain, itching and irritation after a bowel motion.
Numerous studies have proven OPCs are optimal for stabilising collagen fibres when collagen is weakened. They work by improving the resistance to enzymes that breakdown collagen. OPC also boosts the production of collagen and elastin in the skin, which can be helpful for the repair of damaged skin from haemorrhoids.
OPC supplements can improve skin tissue in areas affected by haemorrhoids by:
- Promote wound healing
- Reduce inflammation
- Resolve bleeding, pain and itching from haemorrhoids
- Stabilise collagen damaged in the tissue from haemorrhoids
- Repair skin that has been damaged by haemorrhoids.
Vitamin C for haemorrhoids
Vitamin C is a natural anti-oxidant that is important in healing and helpful in the recovery from the tissue damage caused by haemorrhoids.
Research has found adding vitamin C in combination with other vitamins and supplements can help strengthen the walls of the haemorrhoid veins that are weakened.
Vitamin C has been found to tone and shrink veins that are inflamed, stabilising the overall appearance of affected veins in the anus and rectum. Some vitamin C supplements contain a compound called bioflavonoids that work together to strengthen blood vessel walls. Numerous clinical trials have shown the ability of flavonoids to improve tone and elasticity of veins. Researchers have discovered bioflavonoids act synergistically with vitamin C to improve the absorption of vitamin C in the body.
Vitamin C is also involved in every step of the process that makes collagen and can repair the tissue damage caused by haemorrhoids. Collagen is a chain of proteins that acts like a ‘glue’ twisted around one another like a rope. The stability of this collagen rope depends on the strength of the crosslinks (amino acids) between the protein chains. Vitamin C assembles the crosslinks in this chain, keeping it stable and mature.
As vitamin C can be degraded or diminished based on your lifestyle, diet or age. Your vitamin C requirements increase with age, as your body does not naturally produce enough collagen and elastin to repair damaged cells and veins. Make sure you are eating or taking the right amount of vitamin C supplements in your diet can help you avoid haemorrhoids, especially as you grow older.
Consider vitamin C supplements for haemorrhoids, especially if you
- Do not get enough vitamins with your diet
- Are older
- Have a serious medical condition that reduces absorption of vitamin C in your body
Who can benefit from taking a supplement for haemorrhoids?
- People who do not get enough vital nutrients from food, especially OPC and Vitamin C
- All those already having a treatment for recurrent haemorrhoids
- If you are experiencing painful or uncomfortable symptoms
- If you find the tissue damage from haemorrhoids is significant
- All those who suffer from recurrent constipation
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