An unsightly condition most often seen in the legs, varicose veins are the result of blood pooling in the veins. When leaving the heart, blood can rely on the pumping action of this organ to propel it through the body. For the return trip, however, muscles surrounding our veins must contract and relax in order to pump the blood back. Special valves in our veins help the process by prohibiting the blood from flowing back the way it’s being pumped.
Varicose veins can be caused by a number of factors. As we age, our veins stretch and enlarge, which allows excess blood to accumulate in them. This in turn can cause the valves in our veins to malfunction, preventing the proper flow of blood back to the heart. As the blood accumulates, it causes the veins to appear enlarged and raised. Varicose veins are often seen on the legs, where the muscle contractions have to fight the pull of gravity. Because veins weaken with age, varicose veins are often seen in middle-aged people and older, although any sort of condition that puts extra pressure on the veins such as a high-fat diet, inactivity, obesity, pregnancy or standing or sitting for long periods of time can also contribute to varicose veins.
Varicose veins are most often a cosmetic issue only, although occasionally they can cause pain and discomfort and may be a sign of larger circulatory issues. If the pain of varicose veins is intense, consult a doctor. For cosmetic-only issues, however, try these natural home remedies for varicose veins.
Horse chestnut is one of several herbal remedies you can take to treat varicose veins. Photo By Rhisiart Hincks/Courtesy Flickr
Natural Home Remedies for Varicose Veins
Horse chestnut is widely prescribed in Germany for the treatment of conditions associated with varicose veins. Horse chestnut helps strengthen vein walls and valves by preventing damage to the capillaries. Take a standardized extract containing 100 mg of aescin (horse chestnut’s main active compound) daily.
Butcher’s broom can reduce inflammation and cause blood vessels to constrict, tightening up and strengthening the veins, helping blood to flow more smoothly. Because of its blood vessel-constricting properties, butcher’s broom is not recommended for people with high blood pressure. Take an extract with 200 to 300 mg ruscogenins (the compound responsible for butcher’s broom’s helpful properties) daily.
Bilberry, like grape seed extract, contains proanthocyanidins. Bilberry can thin blood, so don’t take this herb if you are on blood-thinning medications such as warfarin or aspirin, or if you’re taking a prescription diuretic. Take 80 to 160 mg three times daily.
Witch hazel: The tannins in this astringent can constrict the blood vessels and help to reduce swelling and inflammation. Witch hazel works best when used externally. Try a cold compress, or add 1 ounce of witch hazel to a bath daily.
Bilberries can help strengthen and tone blood vessels. Photo By tin G/Courtesy Flickr
Lifestyle Treatments for Varicose Veins
Avoid sitting or standing for long periods of time. Changing position every half hour or so will improve circulation in your legs.
Exercise. Frequent exercise can also stimulate blood flow. Try walking or cycling.
Watch what you wear. Tight clothes restrict circulation, especially when they’re tight in the waist, groin or leg area. Avoid panty hose, and high heels—low-heeled shoes work the calf muscles more, helping to improve circulation.
Elevate your legs. Putting your legs in a position higher than your heart will help blood flow back to heart, decreasing pooling in the veins in your leg.
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