Hemorrhoids are a common problem for people who suffer from frequent constipation or inflammatory bowel disease, also known as IBD. While a number of treatments can help to alleviate discomfort of hemorrhoids and associated symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease, fish oil may also provide certain benefits, although there is not enough clinical evidence to support this claim. Consult your doctor before using nutritional supplements.
Causes of Hemorrhoids
Hemorrhoids aren't just uncomfortable; they can also cause other unpleasant or more serious symptoms such as anal bleeding and itching, blood in your toilet bowl after a bowel movement, pain during bowel movements and hard lumps near your anus. However, hemorrhoids are fairly common and aren't always cause for concern. Hemorrhoids frequently occur due to constipation or having to strain during bowel movements, according to PubMed Health, a consumer health website produced by the National Center for Biotechnology Information. If you suffer from one of the inflammatory bowel diseases, a group of conditions that include ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease, characterized by intestinal inflammation, abdominal cramping, constipation and bloody diarrhea, you may also suffer from an increased incidence of hemorrhoids. Although certain treatments may help, some research has shown that fish oil may have an indirect benefit on hemorrhoids by reducing symptoms of constipation and inflammation.
Benefits of Fish Oil
Fish oil contains high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, important nutrients that play a role in reducing inflammation and may also help to lower the risk of certain diseases such as cancer, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Additionally, fish oil can help to soften your stool, alleviating symptoms of constipation, thereby possibly reducing the incidence of hemorrhoids. In her book, "The Body Sense Natural Diet," author and medical journalist Lorna R. Vanderhaeghe states that fish oil can help to reduce constipation and move waste more effectively through your digestive tract. Some research has shown that omega-3 fatty acids can also help with symptoms of inflammatory bowel diseases.
A review published in the December 2005 issue of the "Journal of the American College of Nutrition" states that omega-3 fatty acid supplementation has been shown to produce significant benefits for patients suffering from inflammatory diseases including bowel-related conditions such as Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. However, as of the date of this writing, no research has been performed on the specific benefits of fish oil for the treatment of hemorrhoids or alleviation of symptoms.
While some anecdotal evidence suggests that fish oil may indirectly help hemorrhoids by reducing inflammation and constipation, there's not enough research to unequivocally support its specific benefits. Inform your doctor if you choose to use a fish oil supplement. Additionally, if you experience excessive pain and bleeding during bowel movements, consult your doctor. While hemorrhoids may not always be a cause for concern, they can be a sign of a more serious medical condition.