man on toilet with a help sign, poop pills

Over the last few decades we have collected an amazing array of remedies for hemorrhoids, from blackstrap molasses and rutabaga to banana peel and green tea. More about these solutions in a moment. You will also learn the straight and skinny about what are hemorrhoids. But first, we wanted to share a recent comment about an old and very controversial home remedy for hemorrhoids: Vicks VapoRub! 

Vicks For Hemorrhoids? Opposing viewpoints! 

Roughly 19 years ago we published this comment in our syndicated newspaper column:

Q. A while back I ran out of Preparation H for my hemorrhoids, but Vicks VapoRub was handy. I tried it, and found it burned a few seconds, but then gave continuous relief from the itching for several hours. Now I prefer to use Vicks. I thought you would like to add this to your collection of uses for Vicks.

Some time later John Welter, another newspaper columnist, published this semi-humorous response:

“…In a clinical setting where no one could see me, I scientifically applied a sufficient amount of VapoRub to the inflamed area and waited for results…the active ingredients in VapoRub–which I think are menthol, camphor and napalm–instantly engulfed my hemorrhoidal locality in spontaneous combustion. The warmth of VapoRub on a congested chest might be comforting; applying it to the most sensitive escape route in the human abdomen made me imagine I was a jet fighter with afterburners. I moved distractedly through the house like an F-15 pilot saying: ‘Mayday! Mayday! I took a direct hit to my tail section! Eject! Eject!’

“The use of VapoRub for hemorrhoids was supposed to be a home remedy, although obviously it has military applications…I must politely report to Joe Graedon that while it’s possible that a few people might benefit from VapoRub on their hemorrhoids, I think most people will respond with such well-known expressions as, ‘Shots fired! Officer down! We have casualties!’” (Durham Herald-Sun, March 24, 2001).

A New Vicks Voice is Heard:

Needless to say, we have been reluctant to recommend Vicks VapoRub for hemorrhoids since John’s semi-humorous reaction. But here is a different perspective we recently received from Y.H. on March 6, 2019:

“This is more a comment than a question. I was reading one of your articles in which you discuss the effectiveness or ‘not’ of Vicks VapoRub on hemorrhoids.

“May I say to you that the man who claimed it felt like napalm…it was probably because he applied the rub to a not-so-dry surface. We all know that Vicks contains petroleum jelly as a carrier and eucalyptus oil. May I also say as one who uses Vicks VapoRub for a number of skin conditions, as well as the obvious chest congestion remedy, that Vicks VapoRub is great as a hemorrhoidal shrinkage and soothing treatment, and it does work amazingly well. It is both cooling, shrinking, and soothing, but again, apply on dry skin.

“Another thing it does is minimize bruises and causes them to heal much faster. Vicks works miracles on foot callouses, corns, and bunions.

“(My disclaimer is that I am in no way, shape, or form affiliated with the production, manufacturing, or selling of Vicks VapoRub. The stuff simply works. Yes, it’s a bit greasy and some don’t like the smell, but those are small tradeoffs for the relief and the many healing properties of this amazing ointment.)”

People’s Pharmacy Disclaimer!

First, the FDA has NOT approved Vicks VapoRub for the topical treatment of hemorrhoids. Anyone who contemplates this approach does so at his or her own risk. We take no responsibility for this experiment!

We suggest being extremely cautious about applying Vicks VapoRub to the nether regions. A tiny dab as a test would be preferable to a full bore application. And never apply Vicks internally! It is for external use only!

Read on for more home remedies for hemorrhoids.

What are hemorrhoids in the first place?

This is a really sore subject with a lot of our readers. And no wonder. Hemorrhoids are anal varicose veins. They come in two basic types: internal and external. Internal hemorrhoids are veins that have come loose from their moorings up in the anal canal. They may descend far enough to actually protrude through the anus, where their highly sensitive mucosal covering is subject to physical abuse from sitting, wiping, etc.

External hemorrhoids occur below the anorectal line, that point in the anal canal where the lining turns to mucous membrane. The veins become swollen and inflamed and the skin over them becomes extremely tender. Blood clots can form in these pillow-like outcroppings and when that happens the pain can be excruciating.

The severity and thus the symptoms of hemorrhoids varies considerably. Some people have minor problems but aren’t really bothered too much. Others suffer endlessly, until finally put out of their misery by surgery, or one of the non-surgical methods which can work if the condition isn’t too far advanced.

Hemorrhoids tend to get progressively worse, and the condition is greatly aggravated by constipation and straining while defecating, which puts tremendous pressure on the veins. Some people have a predisposition to weak anal veins, and pregnancy often produces hemorrhoids because of the pressure it puts on the veins.

Cold vs. Heat

We try never to turn a cold shoulder to our readers’ suffering, but in this case we gave a reader the cold probe in the hopes it would help.

Q. After a particularly strenuous workout, my hemorrhoids become quite swollen and painful. This situation also occurs when I have to sit for long periods of time. I have tried lots of over-the-counter products, but nothing works very well. Are there any home remedies or other techniques worth considering? I am not ready to consider surgery.

A. You might want to look into something called Anurex. It is an unusual treatment, but some folks have told us it works wonders.

Anurex is like an ice pack for your bottom. It is a small cylinder that contains a cold-retaining gel inside. It is stored in the freezer and can be inserted like a suppository for six to eight minutes. The cooling action theoretically relieves inflammation and pain.

If you don’t want to go to the trouble or expense of buying cold-in-a-tube, there is relief to be had by simply sitting on an icebag for a while. Break up the ice into small pieces, increasing the amount of surface area and making it easier for the ice to shape itself to the problem spot. Then, sit on it! A bag of frozen peas might work the same way.

Cooling works in two ways. First, it numbs the region for at least a little while. Second, it tends to reduce blood flow, which helps lessen the discomfort of the distended veins and give them a shot at returning to where they came from.

The opposite technique — a warm sitz bath — is also a frequent recommendation. We have long wondered where this term came from. As far as we can tell, this originates from the German word SitzbadBad is German for bath and sitzen mean to sit. So, a sitz bath means sit in warm water up to about hip level.

This offers temporary relief, at best, and eventually most people go looking for stronger medicine.

Home Remedies

Banana Peel, Rutin and Cabbage Leaves

Q. When I first developed hemorrhoids I could hardly believe this was happening to me. I called my doctor and she suggested surgery, but I didn’t want to go under the knife.

A favorite book about foods that heal suggested applying the inside of a banana peel to the affected area. It also recommended a pill, biorutin. I tried both approaches and within three days I had no sign of hemorrhoids. This may help someone else.

A. We were fascinated by your use of rutin, since this flavonoid is a constituent in many herbs, including chamomile, elderberry and hawthorn. Getting the banana peel to stay in position might be a challenge, but no more so than a cabbage leaf. We heard from another person:

“When I was in Italy, my mother-in-law used cabbage as a hemorrhoid relief. I guess cabbage has been used for years for relief from soreness, pain and swelling.”


Q. I was just at a routine prenatal visit and complained about a very painful external hemorrhoid. My nurse practitioner suggested scraping the inside of a banana peel and mixing it with a little petroleum jelly to make the mixture stick to the site. I tried it last night and got far more relief than the witch hazel pads I had been using.

A. Other readers sing the praises of banana peels for hemorrhoids. One man offered this formula:

“Cut the stem off a bunch of bananas (the part where all the bananas in the bunch are attached). Remove the outside skin so you have a cube of stem. Pulse the peeled banana stem cube in a mini food processor along with 1 tablespoon of witch hazel.

“Pour the mixture in a dish and dip a gauze strip into the mixture. Apply to the area of the hemorrhoids. Repeat 30 minutes later with a fresh dipped gauze strip. This is a powerful natural astringent and pain reliever. I do this twice a day if I have an outbreak. If hemorrhoids persist, see your doctor!”

If that sounds too complicated, here’s another reader’s suggestion: “Ready-made banana cream is much easier and more convenient to use than actual banana peels. Just Google ‘banana peel extract cream’ to find sellers.”


Q. I would like to give you my family cure for hemorrhoids. Take rutabaga, peel, boil and then drain it well to make a poultice in gauze. Put it on the hemorrhoids while it is still warm.

Do this at night and they will be gone by morning. If they are not, you can do a second application the next night.

I am from Scotland. When my mother came to the States to visit back in the 40s she told this cure to a lady from Ohio. My husband used it too, and his hemorrhoids never came back.

A. Rutabaga is a root vegetable related to turnip. It has long been cooked, mashed and used in poultices, but this is the first time we’ve heard of using such a poultice on hemorrhoids.

Hemorrhoids are swollen blood vessels, much like varicose veins. If a blood clot forms in one, it can become very sore. Warm baths can help the clot resolve and ease the discomfort, so perhaps that is how the rutabaga poultice works.

Witch Hazel

Q. For many years I have made a wad of toilet paper, saturated it with witch hazel and washed myself after going to the bathroom. I have hemorrhoids and find that I suffer from itching and discomfort if I neglect this practice.

What is witch hazel? I think sometimes the label also says something like “hamamelis water.”

A. Witch hazel is a woody shrub that’s been used in folk medicine for years. The hamamelis water you are using is steam distilled from twigs and bark of this plant. In addition, commercial witch hazel found in pharmacies contains 14% pure ethyl alcohol. This combination is popular as an astringent, which makes it helpful in treating hemorrhoids and skin inflammation. Commercial witch hazel has both antibacterial and anti-oxidant activity which may explain why it is so helpful for cleanliness in that delicate area.

Zinc Oxide

Q. Someone wrote to you about using zinc oxide as a deodorant. I tried it but it didn’t work for me.

At the same time my hemorrhoids were burning and itching, and even Preparation H didn’t seem to help. Since zinc oxide is used in diaper cream, I thought why not give it a try?

From the first time I used it I have not had any recurrence of the symptoms. At first I applied it every night but now I only use it once a week or less.

A. The person who wrote to us found that zinc oxide cream (commonly used for diaper rash or sunburn protection) was effective as an underarm deodorant. Your experience shows that it may not work for everyone to control body odor.

We could find only one reference to the use of zinc oxide for the itching and burning of hemorrhoids. A German salve (Mirfulan) that contains zinc oxide plus witch hazel, urea and vitamins A and D was reported helpful (ZFA Stuttgart, Oct. 20, 1979).

Blackstrap Molasses

Q. Several years ago I had hemorrhoids so bad that I couldn’t even go to work. The only comfort I could find was sitting in a tub of warm water.

A friend who was into old folk remedies told me to get some BLACKSTRAP molasses. I was to swallow a couple of tablespoons every few hours.

Since I was desperate, I felt I had nothing to lose, even though it seemed like a silly remedy. To make a long story short, I went back to work the next day.

Regular molasses does not work for this problem, only blackstrap. Even blackstrap molasses will not work if the pain is caused by a fissure and not by hemorrhoids.

My elderly father took the test one step further: he took a couple of tablespoons of blackstrap molasses daily for several months. His varicose veins disappeared!

A. Blackstrap molasses is a byproduct of the sugar refining process. This thick dark liquid sweetener is rich in minerals such as manganese, copper, iron, calcium and potassium.

Although there are reports on the Web of blackstrap molasses helping hemorrhoids and varicose veins, we could find no scientific studies to support these claims. Two teaspoons of blackstrap molasses have 32 calories, just like sugar, so people with diabetes should avoid using it.

We have heard from a number of people who agree with you that blackstrap molasses saved the day. Others, however, have been disappointed. Here is one more story.

“Okay, I couldn’t stop the bleeding and I tried zinc oxide, witch hazel, OTC’s, you name it. Those things helped with the itching, but I had the bleeding for a good week and a half.

“Finally, I bought blackstrap molasses. I took a couple teaspoons (it tastes ok to me, tho most people mix it with water.) The bleeding stopped later that day and has not returned in these last 5 days! I took about 2 teaspoons to a tablespoon a day, twice a day, just to be sure. I haven’t taken it today, and the bleeding hasn’t come back. I swear by it now, but have no idea why it works-but it DOES!”

Persistent bleeding requires medical oversight. It is essential to rule out other causes for bleeding, just to be on the safe side.

Horse Chestnut

Herbal teas containing horse chestnut have been used in folk medicine to treat both hemorrhoids and diarrhea for centuries. This reader discovered the remedy on her own:

Carolyn shared this fascinating story:

“I have been suffering for six months with hemorrhoids. I was buying a tube of Preparation H at least once a week and getting very little in relief.

 “I searched for an herbal remedy to relieve hemorrhoids and discovered a suggestion of Horse Chestnut. I already had a box of Venastat (horse chestnut) on hand (I was meaning to try it for spider veins).

“The results have been fantastic, more than I could have possibly hoped for! I do have to take it every day, however, or the symptoms return. It’s certainly worth a try for anyone who is suffering.”

Learn more about horse chestnut at this link. There is actual research (Advances in Therapy, Jan-Feb., 2006) to support horse chestnut extract against venous insufficiency and varicose veins. Since hemorrhoids are a lot like varicose veins, this approach might make sense.

What About Preparation H?

Once upon a time Preparation H virtually owned the marketplace when it came to hemorrhoid remedies. That might have been in part due to heavy doses of advertising. We also suspect it had something to do with the formula. In the good old days, Prep H contained two natural ingredients: live yeast cell derivative (LYCD) and shark liver oil. We feel bad about the sharks that were sacrificed for this product, but we suspect this combination of ingredients actually did ease discomfort and speed healing.

Sadly, the FDA forced the manufacturer of Preparation H to revise its formula. After reviewing the scientific evidence the agency determined that there were not enough data to support the benefits of LYCD.

We disagree. We have discovered research that suggests live yeast cell derivative accelerates wound healing. Readers have insisted that the original Prep H formula relieved their hemorrhoids better than anything. They also maintained that it eased dry, cracked skin, soothed itching from surgical scars and even worked against wrinkles and bags under the eyes.

There are lots of Preparation H formulas in the U.S. these days. Preparation H Hemorrhoidal Ointment contains:

Active Ingredients: Mineral Oil (Paraffinum Liquidum) (Protectant), Petrolatum (71.9%) (Protectant), Phenylephrine HCl (0.25%) (Vasoconstrictor), Shark Liver Oil 3.0% (Protectant)

Inactive Ingredients: Beeswax (Apis Mellifera), Benzoic Acid, BHA, Corn Oil, Glycerin, Lanolin, Lanolin Alcohol, Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Thyme (Thymus Vulgaris) Oil, Tocopherol (Natural Vitamin E), Water.

We are not thrilled with the idea of putting a vasoconstrictor (phenylephrine)  on sensitive tissue. Our concern is that it might raise blood pressure for some people (see this link). We wish the FDA had not meddled with a perfectly fine product.

What is your solution to Hemorrhoids?

We love hearing from visitors to this website about their favorite home remedies? The People’s Pharmacy is a community where people share their experiences.  Others have told us that blackstrap molasses works for hemorrhoids, while many say it is worthless. What is your story? Tell us your successes and disappointments in the comment section below.

Revised, April 4, 2018

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  1. michael

    Puncture a vitamin e capsule, and apply the contents to the clean area.
    if the ‘roid is external push it back in.

    • Terry Graedon

      Please keep in mind that some people react to vitamin E on the skin by developing a rash. Test elsewhere first.

  2. Jenny
    Phoenix, AZ

    As a colon hydrotherapist and sufferer with hemorrhoids, I’ve learned that toxicity in the body will cause them to bleed and/or itch ferociously. A short enema can relieve it quickly as well as a good detoxifier from the health food store. Keeping the body chemically alkaline also helps keep the itching at bay.


    I tried milk thistle and found it got rid of my hemorrhoids as well as improving my leg varicose veins

  4. Ted

    Like one of your readers already mentioned, a bidet solved the problem for me. Rather than wiping, just a steady stream of water for 30 seconds from the bidet, and then a gentle blotting with TP, gradually eliminated the itching and pain. There are attachable bidets that can be purchased online and attached to your toilet. When away from home, I use hemorrhoidal medicated wipes.

  5. Steve

    This is a humorous story that I in no way recommend. I didn’t read all the comments but I’m sure this one isn’t one of them. When I was a teenager (in the 1960’s) we lived out the country on a farm and had lots of home remedies for various ailments. I had developed a bad case of hemorrhoids (my first case actually), and it was bothering me something awful. My Grandfather took a shotgun shell, cut it open, and dumped out all the gunpowder. He then mixed it with lard (grease from pig fat that they put into practically everything they cooked) and told me to apply it as needed. I can’t say that his cure worked but the hemorrhoids did go away.

  6. Jan
    Alabama, USA

    I’ve had stage 4 hemorrhoids for many years. Even doctors have gasped when they examined me. During a particularly bad bout a few years ago, I used OTC pain relieving antibiotic cream (not ointment), along with my regular OTC cortisone cream. I use a finger cot to apply this. (I push it up inside just a bit.) Then I get off my feet for a little while. Voila!!! The pain starts to subside, and within a couple of hours the bleeding has stopped. I’ve used this ever since, with a lot of success. I’ve learned to live with the darn things by using this combination. Hope it can help someone else.

  7. connie
    Portland, OR

    After a trip to Thailand, and Laos, i discovered the benefit of using a bidet. So there are 3 suggestions I have. 1. Be sure you are taking enough magnesium, to keep your stools from being hard. 2. Be sure to get your body into a squatting position when you defecate, which allows your anatomy to help you. 3. Use a stream of water after every bowel movement to keep that area clean.

  8. Paul
    Raleigh, nc

    Mild to moderate hemorrhoids were a periodic problem. As a trial, I would wipe a light layer of Vaseline Intensive Care cream (with Aloe) on the external anus area, when they were a problem. Applied several times a day when very sore. Usually would reduce the problem to nothing in relatively short time (couple of days +/-).
    If the area could use some re-softening, I would again apply some cream (usually at weeks or months intervals. This has worked well for me for several years and bicycling 20 mile or more rides does not cause any problems. Hope it works for someone else!

  9. Linda
    Tacoma WA USA

    After trying many different products for hemorrhoids and accompanying itching, this is what works for me: Preparation H ointment, and suppositories, with Biodyne, (which I order from Canada), and Preparation H witch Hazel wipes,(wipes available in the USA). The PH with Biodyne, is no longer available in the USA, and the version available in the USA does not work for me.

    After trying a wide range of products, and being driven to distraction by my symptoms, I had nearly immediate relief with the PH products with Biodyne I ordered from CanOutlet in Canada, and now have nearly 100% relief, which I can live with! They ship quickly and I have re-ordered. I strongly recommend you locate a Canadian seller if you are in the USA, and try these products.

  10. Esbe
    CT, USA

    I have been experiencing throbbing hemorrhoids lately and am so happy that I found your site. I had just bought a new bottle of honey, so decided to give that a try. Within an hour the pulsating feeling subsided to almost nothing. I put a little bit of honey onto a piece of tissue and dipped a q tip 2/3 times and applied to the area. I haven’t visited the bathroom since, so it’s hard to say what the aftermath would feel like. But so far so good. I plan to reapply in a few hours.

  11. Edward
    Houston, TX

    Thanks for all your good advice here. Some I agree with and some I don’t. It was great to learn that Prep H changed its regular cream formula, which maybe is why it doesn’t work for me at all! Although I think their Cooling Gel ointment is a godsend. Anyway, after 25 years of battling hemorrhoids, I’ve figured out a few things, too, and now I get a flare up maybe once a year, if that. Which is so much better than every other month like it used to be. So awful. Here’s my write up with all the things I’ve learned:

  12. Terence

    Just want thank God for using this website provide a solution to the embarrassing condition of harm hemorrhoids which I was suffering. My solution came through Elene Steward Victoria’s contribution of June 3rd 2016 where she recommended Honey. Of all the others recommended, This was the easy item I could afford and besides, I was motivated by the fact that she received the idea after prayers. Today is around the 7th day I am applying the honey on the haemorhoids and the healing is tremendous. Please your contribution is saving a life some where. Thanks.

  13. RTU
    Rowland heights ca

    I used proctosedyl made by sanofi. It greatly helps in the remedy of my hemorrhoids! I don’t know if they are selling this in the states.
    I use preparation H too..although I prefer using proctosedyl.

  14. Marica B
    Winter Garden, Fl

    After my oldest Girl I thought I had an entire grape tree trying to grow out my butt, to me it was much worse than childbirth. The Dr office had me send hubby to the pharmacy for a SitZ bath(gadget to putunder of the seat toilet and turn warm water with a little rolly thing like and IV to gently clean and almost “massage that area’ , I was wonderful.

    Then he got extra strength Lidocaine, He would help me out put me dry, but it on to make sure they were all covered, and also GET a Hemorrhoid Circle to sit on, or lots of super soft pillows and move your position at least every 2 hrs. Before you know it you will notice the swelling is going down and also take stool softners, I took 2 morning and night till all this craziness passed. Hope this helped.

    I Know it sounds off the wall but hey it was My But and it is a “exit only ” and she was in trama after all of that pushing and such to et Our little one to get her to make her way into the world to us,


    What works for me, with immediate effect is, a generous application of anti-bacteria mouthwash, any that contain chlorhexidine gluconate,are suitable, applied to the effected area, relieves pain instantly!!

  16. Don P

    I have no insurance (and no money), so seeing a doctor was not an option for me. Through months of torture with external hemorrhoids, I finally came up with my own cure. It really works and you need to try this.

    First, take a laxative if constipation is the reason, then mix extra strength preparation H with 3 parts witch hazel and store in a small sealed container. (I used a fast food ketchup cup with lid). Clean the area well (especially after a bowel movement), and apply, and within 24 (48 max) hours relief is 100%.

    However, I still had problems with constipation no matter how much water, fruit etc. I ate, which reactivated the hemorrhoids. I FINALLY found through research that the lack of magnesium causes constipation, so I continued with laxatives, but took 250 mg of magnesium every day. Within 3 to 4 weeks the constipation completely left and I am now free of constipation.

    I still use the preparation H remedy every so often because they get slightly irritated, but now all is well. So buy some laxatives, preation H, Witch hazel, and magnesium and if constipation caused you hemorrhoids, they will be cured.

  17. peter

    seems like anything works for some people, ice is the only thing that seem to do anything for me, all the creams etc are pretty much the same, might as well use anything. I would not recommend banding, agony and had to return to have one cut off the next day.

  18. Elene Stewart

    Hi my mum had terrible hemorrhoids over 20 years ago, she was due to have surgery to remove them, but being a strong Christian she prayed. She heard avoice tell her to apply honey to them. She was totally healed! When she went back to her doctor he laughted at her, but upon examining her admitted thatbthe honey had worked. She has told everyone she knows who has them and many have been spared surgery. You have to apply it and then wait before showering. Do this a couple of times a day, they will shrink within 24-48 hours with relief from the first application.

  19. John

    Does anyone know the name of a company where I can buy banana peel extract cream?

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