Varisose veins – may occur in almost any part of the body, but they are most common in the lower limbs and they can be caused by anything that restricts circulation:
- sitting or standing for lengths of time
- crossing the legs at the knees for prolonged periods
Other contributing factors include:
- low-fibre diet
- breakdown of capillary structure
Symptoms range from pain in the feet and ankles to swelling, skin ulcerations, right through to severe bleeding if the vein is injured.
The main type of treatment focuses on increasing circulation and strengthening connective tissue. Wearing elastic stockings and elevating the legs above the level of the head can relieve the congested feeling of varicose veins, but only temporarily. To tackle the root of the problem and look at long-term health, a programme including exercise, wholefood diet and herbs can make a big difference.
Exercise, in particular, increases circulation and strengthens the action of the venous valves. It helps improve muscle function around the vein, which in turn helps tighten and support the blood vessels.
What happens to make veins ‘sag’?
Veins are blood vessels that carry deoxygenated blood to the heart (except for pulmonary veins, which transport oxygenated blood). Varicose veins are the result of a breakdown or faulty design of the valve structure within the veins. Folds in the vein’s inner wall form valves that close temporarily after each heartbeat to prevent the blood from flowing backward until the next pump of the heart moves it on. This assists in returning blood to the heart against the pull of gravity. If these valves become weakened and blood does not flow, blood pools in the area and vein walls can become swollen and inflamed – varicose veins.
Prior to any self-treatment, consult your doctor to rule out hidden conditions such as deep blood clots.
Flavanoids – the circulation enhancers
Most herbal treaments for varicose veins include flavonoids, compounds that aid the circulatory system and strengthen capillaries. Flavonoids are pigments found in herbs and plants – they are responsible for the intense, bright colours you see in leaves, flowers and dark coloured fruits and veggies. Including more of them in your diet will help.
Flavonoid-rich foods include: cherries, rose hips, blackberries, apricots, buckwheat, capsicums, onions, asparagus, brussel sprouts, apples, pears, and the thin inner layer of citrus rinds.
Butcher’s broom (Ruscus aculeatus)
Butcher’s broom is very helpful for relieving the aches and discomfort of varicose veins due to its anti-inflammatory and ant-elastaseactivity. This herbs active compounds, known as ruscogenins, help reduce inflammation while constricting the veins.
Take 100 mg of butcher’s broom supplements three times a day. Created from the roots and seeds of the plant, butcher’s broom supplements have vitamins B and C along with calcium, chromium, magnesium, manganese, potassium, selenium, silicon and zinc.
These nutrients will help tighten, strengthen and decrease inflammation in the veins as well as improve blood flow up the legs.
Note: People with high blood pressure or benign prostate hyperplasia should not take this herb without consulting a doctor.
Horse chestnut – the vein strengthener
The seeds of horse chestnut have been used for ages to treat varicose veins. Horse chestnut seeds have anti-inflammatory and anti-swelling properties that can successfully increase ‘venous tone’ and in turn reduce the appearance of varicose veins.
Horse chestnut seed extract has a compound called aescin that improves the elastic strength of veins and prevents the release of enzymes that damage capillary walls.
A review of clinical studies by the Cochrane Collaboration found that horse chestnut extract is an effective short-term treatment for symptoms of varicose veins.
Parsley is rich in vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant that encourages the production of collagen and aids in cell repair and reproduction. It also contains rutin, which plays a key role in strengthening the capillaries and hence is very useful in reducing symptoms of varicose veins.
- Boil a handful of chopped fresh parsley in one cup of water for five minutes
- Remove from the heat, cover and allow the solution to cool to lukewarm. Then strain the solution
- Add one drop each of rose and marigold essential oils
- Put the solution in the refrigerator for several minutes
- Using a cotton ball, apply the solution to the affected area
- Do this daily for several months to see positive results
Also, try to eat raw parsley as often as you can.
The beautiful marigold flower is a rich source of flavonoids and vitamin C that stimulate the production of collagen and aid in cell repair and reproduction. It also helps improve circulation, thus helping alleviate various symptoms of varicose veins.
- Boil one cup of marigold flowers in four cups of water for five minutes
- Soak a cotton cloth in the solution and place the cloth on the affected area. Leave it on until it completely cools
- Repeat several times a day for a few months until you notice improvement
You can also eat fresh marigold petals.
Apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is a great treatment for varicose veins. It is a natural body cleansing product and it also improves blood flow and circulation. When the blood starts flowing naturally, the heaviness and swelling of varicose veins will decrease to a great extent.
- Apply undiluted apple cider vinegar on the skin over the varicose veins and gently massage the area. Do it every day before going to bed and again in the morning. Follow this remedy for a few months to reduce the size of varicose veins
- Add two teaspoons of apple cider vinegar to a glass of warm water and stir well. Drink the mixture twice a day for at least one month to see positive results
Cayenne pepper is considered a miracle treatment for varicose veins. Being a very rich source of vitamin C and bioflavonoids, it increases blood circulation and eases the pain of congested, swollen veins.
- Add one teaspoon of cayenne pepper powder to a cup of hot water and stir it well
- Drink this mixture three times a day for one or two months
Increasing blood circulation is essential to treating varicose veins. Massaging with olive oil can help increase circulation, thereby reducing pain and inflammation.
- Mix equal amounts of olive oil and vitamin E oil and warm it slightly. Massage the veins with the warm oil for several minutes. Do this twice daily for one to two months
- You can also mix four drops of cypress essential oil in two teaspoons of warm olive oil and massage with this mixture
Garlic is an excellent herb for reducing inflammation and the symptoms of varicose veins. It also helps break up harmful toxins in the blood vessels and improve circulation.
- Slice up six garlic cloves and put them in a clean glass jar
- Extract the juice from three oranges and add it to the jar. Also add two tablespoons of olive oil
- Let the mixture sit for about 12 hours
- Shake the jar and then put a few drops of the solution on your fingers. Massage the inflamed veins with the solution in a circular motion for 15 minutes
- Wrap the area with a cotton cloth and leave it on overnight
- Repeat daily for several months
Also, include fresh garlic in your diet.
Witch hazel is a very effective herb for strengthening blood vessels and hence can reduce symptoms of varicose veins. Apart from being an astringent, it also contains gallic acid and several essential oils that can help reduce the swelling as well as the pain.
- Soak a washcloth in witch hazel and place it on the affected area. Do this two or three times a day for one or two months
- Alternatively, fill a tub with lukewarm water and add 10 to 20 drops of distilled witch hazel. Soak your legs in the solution for at least 15 minutes. Then wash your legs with clean water and pat them dry. Follow this remedy once daily for one or two months
Grapevine leaves have a good amount of flavonoids, which help keep veins healthy. The leaves also have astringent, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and homeostatic properties that are very helpful for treating varicose veins.
- Boil one cup of grapevine leaves in four cups of water for 10 to 15 minutes. Allow it to steep for several minutes until it is lukewarm
- Pour it into a bucket and soak your feet in the solution for five minutes
- Then put your feet in another bucket filled with cold water for 10 seconds
- Do this three or four times at a stretch, ending with the cold water soak
- Afterward, massage your legs in an upward direction with castor oil
- Finish by putting your legs in an elevated position for a few minutes
With these remedies, you can reduce the swelling and discomfort of varicose veins as well as minimise their appearance. In addition, you should regularly go walking, bicycling, or swimming to improve blood circulation in the legs.
We’re always happy to help with advise into lifestyle and diet at the Natural Chemist. call now to book an appointment with one of our knowledgeable team 1300 882 303