The first time people become aware of having varicose veins is when the vein starts to swell up and take on a blue or red colour. This is the beginning of valve damage. These valves normally aid in pushing blood towards the heart.
Because of the damage, blood collects in veins which is what causes the discolouration. It also becomes more difficult for the body to keep oxygen levels up in tissues. (1)
Varicose Vein Treatments
The way this issue is usually dealt with is using a surgical technique called sclerotherapy. This is not normally covered by insurance and therefore can be quite expensive. Lots of women would prefer a more natural treatment for this problem, particularly if that treatment can prevent further damage.
If you have varicose veins you might recognise that they tend to run in families. This means your veins are genetically predisposed to be susceptible to damage. This doesn’t mean you can’t treat them. If you follow some of the tips below you can help to prevent and treat this problem.
Before you try these natural treatments you should check with a doctor if you have any current medical conditions.
A primary cause of varicose and spider veins is low intensity in muscle contractions not being able to pump enough blood through the veins. Exercises such as calf raises during your daily activities will aid in boosting your muscular strength and therefore make it less likely that blood will pool.
You do calf raises using a set of stairs. Place the front of your foot on a step and lower yourself using just the ball of your foot. This really helps in getting blood pumping in veins.
You should aim to be doing around 50 calf raises every day as well as lifting yourself onto your toes regularly during the day. Stretch out your calf muscles regularly too.
It would be wise to walk every day for as long as you can manage because walking helps to get blood moving, not just when you are walking but afterwards too.
Try to move every 15 minutes if you will be sitting for a long time. Some of us have job that require us to stand for a long period of time.
If this is the case for you then try to do calf raises and lift onto your toes every ten minutes and when you get home you should raise your legs above your heart for 20 minutes.
Compression stockings have been used for a long time as a way to alleviate the discomfort associated with varicose veins. They help to improve circulation and therefore can be used to prevent this problem, even if you are genetically predisposed to getting them. If you already have varicose veins you should feel some relief from symptoms when wearing them. (2,3)
Another factor for determining whether you are risk of developing varicose veins is being overweight. Overweight people do not have the same level of circulation in their legs and the excess weight also puts pressure on venous valves, making it more likely that damage will occur.
You can follow some common sense tactics like eating a healthier diet. It is also important to get the right nutrients such as vitamin C and protein, both of which are used in the creation of collagen. Collagen makes up a part of veins and valves, so if you have enough of it you will be less likely to get varicose veins.
Sitting for long periods of time is not good for your vein health because being bent at the knees slows blood flow to the heart. So if you are going to be sitting down for a while, for example during a flight or at a desk job, then you should move your legs around every now and then, rotating your ankles and crunching up your toes.
Crossing your legs is bad news for varicose veins, so always cross them at the ankles. This decreases pressure on veins.
Try to sleep with pillows under your feet so as to raise your legs above your heart and allow blood to flow back up the body. Shoes can be changed for lower heels or even the new type of shoes designed for women to burn more calories when walking. These encourage the calf muscles to work more and get blood pumping back through the body instead of pooling.
Tight underwear is a risk factor because it reduces blood flow back up the body from the legs. It can also cause cellulite.
There are a few herbal remedies you can try that include vitamin E, witch hazel and Apple cider vinegar. When applied to affected skin it is thought that these herbs and vitamins can reduce varicose veins and spider veins. Horse chestnut is also used in an attempt to prevent damage to capillaries.
Not all herbal remedies are safe. In 2006, a study was carried out into the effects of horse-chestnut on veins. There were side effects including diarrhea and vomiting. This is because it contains a toxic compound that is only removed in more expensive preparations, and it can even lead to poisoning and death (4).
Grape seed extract and pine bark both are both powerful anti-oxidants that give strength to connective tissues, but again it is not always safe. Side effects include vomiting and some people with immune disorders like arthritis or Chron’s disease should avoid them completely (5,6)
The Best Natural Cure
We have looked at a few herbal remedies and saw that they are not without side effects. One woman called Diane Thompson wrote a downloadable book detailing the best way to naturally cure and alleviate the symptoms of varicose veins and spider veins.
In this book she weeds out the dangerous herbs and shows you the best ones to use, along with the top exercises,diet tips and folk remedies all designed to improve vein health and successfully treat varicose veins easily and naturally.
(1) WomensHealth.gov: Varicose Veins and Spider Veins Fact Sheet
(2) Mayoclinic.com: Varicose Veins
(3) Phlebology: A Systematic Review of Compression Hosiery for Uncomplicated Varicose Veins
(4) Medline Plus: Horse Chestnut
(5) University of Maryland Medical Center: Grape Seed
(6) MedlinePlus: Pycnogenol