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Don’t Smear Molasses on Hemorrhoids!

Hemorrhoids (also known inelegantly as piles) are swollen veins in or near the anus. They are rather like varicose veins, although their awkward location can cause trouble. They may bleed during bowel movements. If the blood flowing through that vein starts to clot, the hemorrhoid can cause quite intense pain. If this doesn’t improve within a week, you will want to make an appointment to have a doctor check it out. Heavy bleeding should get you to the doctor even more quickly, if possible, to make sure it is really a hemorrhoid and not something more serious. The doctor may remove the hemorrhoid with rubber band ligation, laser coagulation or sclerotherapy. Unless you have significant bleeding or pain, though, you might want to try a home remedy. One of the oddest we have encountered is taking a spoonful of blackstrap molasses.

Blackstrap Molasses Worked for Hemorrhoids:

This comment is from a reader in the UK.

Q. I worked for a general surgeon for many years, and we saw our share of ‘surgical ready’ hemorrhoids. For those willing to hold off, we recommended a daily spoonful of blackstrap molasses for a few weeks. Most had great results. Only one patient asked how to apply it to the rectal area.

A. We have no idea why consuming blackstrap molasses might ease the pain of hemorrhoids, but we have heard from many readers that it can be helpful.

One wrote:

“One of the side effects of the chemo I needed last year was hemorrhoids. My doctor told me that most of her patients suffered with them throughout the chemo treatments and that I would just have to endure.

“Instead, I tried blackstrap molasses and in just a few days, the hemorrhoids were gone! When I saw the doctor weeks later, she asked how I was surviving the hemorrhoids. She couldn’t believe they were gone!

“Before my appointment was over, she had the hospital pharmacist collect the specifics of my treatment. I told her I took one tablespoon twice a day. We both agreed there are enough side effects while going through chemotherapy that nobody should have to suffer with hemorrhoids, too.”

The patient who asked how to apply it was not the only one to wonder about this. Using molasses this way would be incredibly messy, however, and probably ineffective as well.

Don’t Apply Molasses to Hemorrhoids!

Q. My doctor would like to know how you apply blackstrap molasses to hemorrhoids. Does it come in a capsule form or is it an ointment? What strengths or milligrams does the molasses come in?

A. Do NOT apply blackstrap molasses to hemorrhoids. We shudder to think how messy that would be.

We first heard about swallowing a teaspoon of blackstrap molasses for hemorrhoids more than a decade ago. Since then, dozens of readers have reported success with this improbable supermarket remedy. We have no idea how or even if it actually works, since we have not seen any research on this approach.

Here is a compelling story:

“I was bleeding like crazy from my hemorrhoids. My hemoglobin was 6.4 (minimum is 12 for women) and my iron level was 5 (minimum healthy level is 45). They had been banded twice [a medical treatment for hemorrhoids], which hurt a lot and didn’t last. I had had a blood transfusion and surgery was the next step.

“I read in the People’s Pharmacy column about blackstrap molasses. A bottle of molasses cost about two dollars at the grocery store, so I figured I had nothing to lose. [This was a few years back. Like everything else, molasses is more expensive now.]

“I took a teaspoon twice a day, and much to my amazement, the bleeding stopped completely and immediately! My hemoglobin was 9 when it was checked a month later.

“Blackstrap molasses tastes awful, so I drink warm water after taking it. I only take it now when I start bleeding again. Usually one teaspoon stops the bleeding within 12 hours.

“I have no idea how this stuff works, but I am so glad I tried it! This remedy saved me from surgery.

If, like the reader above, you don’t care for the strong flavor of blackstrap molasses, some vitamin companies such as Swanson make molasses capsules–to be swallowed, not smeared.

More Testimonials Support Molasses Remedy:

Q. I tried numerous OTC remedies to ease my inflamed hemorrhoids, to no avail. I had pretty much resigned myself to the fact that surgery was the only answer left.

I was in absolute misery until I found a testimonial about blackstrap molasses for hemorrhoids in the People’s Pharmacy column and decided to give it a try. As crazy as it sounds, I take two teaspoons a day and the improvement has been amazing and immediate.

It has been three weeks and the problem is 95 percent better. The bleeding has stopped and the pain is gone. This is so astounding I had to encourage others to try it.

A. We have heard from many readers who have found taking a spoonful of blackstrap molasses helps hemorrhoid symptoms. Blackstrap molasses results from the third boiling of cane syrup to extract the sugar and contains residual minerals, such as manganese, copper, iron, calcium, potassium and magnesium. One of these, or perhaps the combination, might be responsible for the benefits you have observed. Taking a spoonful or two of blackstrap molasses may ease constipation, which could also help explain how it helps hemorrhoids. Two teaspoons contain 32 calories from 8 grams of carbohydrates.

Another Reader Loves This Remedy:

Q. I’m an avid reader of your column but I am skeptical about some of the suggested remedies such as a bar of soap for leg cramps. I see no rhyme or reason for it.

One article intrigued me, though: using blackstrap molasses for hemorrhoids. The current popular treatment didn’t work for me, especially since they took out the shark liver oil. Other products I’ve tried gave no more than temporary relief.

I began taking one tablespoon of blackstrap molasses daily two months ago. I have no more pain or itching! This is just short of a miracle.

A. You are by no means the only reader to find that swallowing a spoonful of blackstrap (unsulphured) molasses daily can banish hemorrhoids. We wish we knew why. This would not be good for anyone with diabetes because molasses is high in sugar.

Still Another:

Q. Recently a reader wrote you touting blackstrap molasses as a treatment or cure for hemorrhoids. I am a hemorrhoid sufferer. I’ve used over-the-counter medications and the prescription ointment Proctosol without much success.

My problem seems to flare up when I eat certain foods, especially spicy dishes, and engage in vigorous exercise such as running or bike riding.

I decided to try blackstrap molasses, taking one teaspoon twice a day. Remarkably, in less than a month I have found relief!
The condition has improved at least 75 percent, with only occasional minor irritation. The burning, itching and even blood spotting has all but disappeared.

Believe me, I was skeptical about this remedy, so even after some initial relief, I purposely ate foods that normally cause a flare-up. Much to my surprise, there was no outbreak.

A Word of Caution:

In addition to all those minerals, blackstrap molasses sometimes contains lead as well. In addition, the sugar in blackstrap molasses has been subjected to high heat.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies..
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