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Hemorrhoids — irritated, swollen veins around the anus — can be very painful, itchy, and uncomfortable, making even sitting down a difficult task. Whether internal or external, about 50 percent of adults over age 50 have hemorrhoids.

Luckily, they’re usually treatable with over-the-counter remedies and home treatments.

But what about cannabidiol (CBD)? Can the natural remedy from the Cannabis plant work as a treatment for hemorrhoids? Keep reading to see what research has to say about it.

CBD is one of over 100 active compounds from the Cannabis plant. It’s one of the most popular, thanks to the potential health benefits it offers without getting users “high” like tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) does.

CBD may help ease common ailments, like:

Even though CBD is fairly easy to find, shopping for it for the first time can be a little overwhelming.

It helps to know that CBD comes in three main forms:

  • Full-spectrum. This form has all the naturally available compounds of the cannabis plant, meaning it does include some THC in it. Legal forms of hemp derived full-spectrum CBD have no more than 0.3 percent THC at the dry weight.
  • Broad-spectrum. With this form, all the naturally occurring compounds are included, except THC. Most commonly, all THC is taken out, with only a trace amount left. Broad-spectrum THC should still contain terpenes and flavonoids.
  • Isolate. This form of CBD is the purest form offered. It’s separated from all the other compounds of the hemp plant.

Keep in mind

All types of CBD products may contain trace levels of THC, which could show up on a drug test.

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Right now, there doesn’t seem to be research based specifically on CBD’s effectiveness on hemorrhoids.

However, while there’s still more to learn about CBD’s benefits and limitations, there’s some research that suggests CBD can help with pain and inflammation, which are common hemorrhoids symptoms.

Keep in mind that some studies so far were small and conducted on rats rather than humans.

CBD for pain management

A 2018 review evaluated how well cannabis (including CBD and THC) may be able to help ease chronic pain. Researchers explored studies performed between 1975 and March 2018. These studies included a look at a variety of pain types, like:

Researchers determined that cannabis was not only successful in overall pain management, but it also carried only mild to moderate side effects.

A 2015 study also looked at CBD use for pain, this time in rats with arthritis. The researchers put CBD gel on the rats for 4 days in a row, at dosages of 0.6, 3.1, 6.2, or 62.3 milligrams (mg) per day. They found that the 6.2 mg per day dose reduced swelling, inflammation, and pain.

CBD for inflammation

Some research suggests that CBD is able to lower inflammation by affecting the body’s activity with endocannabinoid receptors. This includes both chronic and acute inflammation.

Additionally, a 2017 study found that CBD lowered inflammation in rats with osteoarthritis.

An older review from 2009 noted that CBD may also lower acute inflammation, the body’s most common response to injury.

CBD with coconut oil for hemorrhoids

Many CBD oils have a coconut oil base.

Coconut oil is a natural ingredient commonly used for a slew of health and beauty uses — some people cook with it, some put it in their hair, and others apply it to their skin.

While the oil has limitations, it’s also known to help some cases of hemorrhoids. This is thanks to its powerful anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties. The oil also has antibacterial properties, which could possibly promote faster healing for hemorrhoids.

Plus, when ingested, coconut oil is thought to help ease constipation, working similarly to a laxative. This may help you strain less during bowel movements.

There’s no research to suggest that topically applied CBD can make hemorrhoids worse.

However, some people experience diarrhea after ingesting CBD. This side effect could make hemorrhoids worse, since extended time sitting on the toilet can worsen symptoms.

The World Health Organization says CBD is largely considered safe. However, if you’re applying CBD topically to hemorrhoids, it’s best to keep some safety information in mind:

  • Avoid applying CBD to broken skin.
  • Perform a patch test on your inner wrist before applying the product to a larger area of your skin. This can help you avoid any potential allergic reactions.

Especially if you’re ingesting CBD, keep in mind that you may experience mild side effects, including:

  • fatigue
  • diarrhea
  • changes in appetite
  • changes in weight

Remember, diarrhea is a side effect that could potentially worsen hemorrhoids, since it usually involves longer sitting time on the toilet, which is known to worsen hemorrhoids.

It’s best to talk with your doctor before trying CBD, especially if you’re taking any medications. CBD may interact with some medications, including those with a grapefruit warning.

Even though CBD is available over the counter, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) hasn’t approved any of these products. That means it’s up to you to research before you buy.

Here are some tips to get you started.

Buy directly from transparent companies

The best CBD companies are clear and upfront about how the products are made and where the hemp is grown. This information should always be clearly displayed on the company’s website. If it’s not, look elsewhere.

Also, avoid online marketplaces like Amazon. Amazon doesn’t allow CBD product sales through its site, meaning any “CBD” items you find there are most likely to be fake or unsafe.

Check the brand’s reputation carefully

After picking out a brand, you’ll want to do a quick search to make sure the company doesn’t have any pending lawsuits and hasn’t received any FDA warning letters.

It’s also a good idea to look at online reviews. Third-party review sites, like Trustpilot, are the most reliable, since some brand websites only display positive reviews.

Look at the ingredients

Scanning your product’s listed ingredients is important. Keep an eye out for any ingredients you may be allergic to. Plus, see if the product includes any added ingredients that may be helpful with the condition you’re looking to treat.

For example, if you want to use CBD for hemorrhoids, you may want to look for a product with coconut oil, as mentioned earlier.

Look at third-party lab tests

Any CBD product you buy should have undergone testing by a reputable third-party lab. These will come with a certificate of analysis (COA).

The COA will show you exactly how much CBD and THC the product includes. It should match the amount stated on the label, though a 10 to 20 percent margin of error is common.

The COA will also say if the product has been tested for contaminants, like mold, pesticides, and heavy metals.

If you decide not to try CBD, there are other ways to treat hemorrhoids that are backed by more evidence. Here are some options for easing pain and discomfort at home:

  • Soak in a warm tub of water for at least 10 minutes daily, or take a sitz bath for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Sit on a warm water bottle to ease the pain of external hemorrhoids.
  • Apply a cold compress on your anus to decrease swelling.
  • Try an over-the-counter medication, like:
  • Practice good hygiene around your anus. However, avoid soap, which can irritate hemorrhoids.
  • Avoid using rough towels or toilet paper to wipe.

If your pain and discomfort are not lessened with home remedies, your doctor may suggest a rubber band ligation.

This procedure requires your doctor to cut off circulation to the hemorrhoid by applying a rubber band around it. This is not a procedure that you can do yourself, so don’t try to perform this at home.

Another option involves an injection from your doctor that releases a chemical directly into the blood vessel, shrinking the hemorrhoid.

Some cases of hemorrhoids may need more involved treatment than you can do at home.

Intense pain or bleeding are signs you should see your doctor. They can help you determine the cause behind your hemorrhoids and discuss treatment options with you.

Hemorrhoids can cause intense pain and discomfort. CBD may be able to help, thanks to its pain relieving and anti-inflammatory properties.

It can also cause diarrhea for some people, though, which can worsen hemorrhoids.

If you decide to use CBD for hemorrhoids, consider using a formula that includes coconut oil, which is shown to help hemorrhoid pain. Be careful not to apply topical CBD to broken skin.

Otherwise, know that there are other treatment options available that are backed by more research than CBD at this time. Talk with your doctor to decide what’s right for you.

Is CBD legal? The 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp from the legal definition of marijuana in the Controlled Substances Act. This made some hemp-derived CBD products with less than 0.3% THC legal at the federal level. However, CBD products containing more than 0.3% THC still fall under the legal definition of marijuana, making them illegal at the federal level. Some states have legalized CBD, so be sure to check state laws, especially when traveling. Also, keep in mind that the FDA has not approved nonprescription CBD products, and some products may be inaccurately labeled.

Breanna Mona is a writer based in Cleveland, OH. She holds a master’s degree in media and journalism and writes about health, lifestyle, and entertainment.