Turning thirty this year has brought more attention to skincare than ever before. Somehow when I believed acne was and ever would be the worst of my problems, life decides to throw in fine lines, dark circles, and a few varicose veins to keep me on my toes.
To clarify, I don’t actually have full on varicose veins, they’re more like light spindly spider veins. This doesn’t make them any less worrisome since spider veins are the beginning stages of varicose veins and can easily worsen without treatment.
I’m a blogger you see (in case you didn’t notice), and that means I spend a pretty good amount of my day on the computer. This lack of movement is what causes circulation issues to surface and become problematic. The blood gets a bit thicker and more sluggish and the veins begin to weaken and stretch with the force of blood trying to get where it needs to go. Left unchecked, varicose veins can become throbbing, painful, and twisted masses that are uncomfortable on the best of days.
A Little More on Varicose Veins
There are two types of blood vessels that exist in the circulatory system; arteries, which pump blood away from the heart, and veins which pump blood back to the heart. Of the two, veins have the more difficult task as they need to fight against the pull of gravity. They also can’t rely on the heart’s pumping action to propel the blood to its destination. Instead, the pumping action comes from the contracting and relaxing motion of the muscles surrounding the veins as well as a number of valves that keep blood flowing toward the heart.
When one of these valves become weakened or begins to malfunction, blood cannot continue to flow properly in one direction toward the heart. Instead, the blood pools and accumulates within the vein causing it to stretch and bulge. These enlarged veins are called varicose veins.
Some of the root causes of varicose veins include:
• A genetic predisposition
• A diet too low in fiber and too high in refined food
• Long periods of standing or sitting
• Liver disease
• Hormonal imbalances
• Nutritional deficiencies
Symptoms of Varicose Veins
Varicose veins may be tender and painful and cause the legs to feel tender, tight, or swollen. They usually don’t pose a health risk however.
Some of the most common symptoms include:
• Swollen or raised veins that may feel tender or painful
• Heavy, tight, swollen, or fatigued feeling legs
• Dry itchy skin on or near the varicose veins
• Ulceration over the varicose veins
Varicose veins are quite common and affect about 50% of middle-aged Americans. For some, they are caused by a genetic predisposition or excess pressure on the veins. Diets high in fat but low in fiber can cause constipation which stresses the veins during defecation. Inactivity, obesity, pregnancy, hormone imbalance, and long periods of standing or sitting can also weaken vein walls.
Herbal Remedies for Varicose Veins
Despite there not being a true cure for varicose veins, there are several remedies that are quite effective in reducing pain, swelling, and appearance. Some therapies can even strengthen the vein walls and prevent the condition from worsening.
Using venotonic herbs will help tone and strengthen veins by gently increasing circulation, tightening vein walls, and reducing inflammation.
The Best Herbs and Therapeutic Treatments for Varicose Veins
Diet for Healthy Veins
Many people who suffer from varicose veins eat a low fiber diet which leads to constipation. If you have digestive troubles, it would be a good idea to up your fiber intake by including more fresh fruit, dark leafy vegetables, soaked whole grains, nuts, and seeds. Drinking plenty of water daily will also keep your digestive system moist and hydrated.
Eating high flavonoid foods that have a deep bluish or red color like berries, beets, chard, peppers, cherries etc. will help improve circulation and strengthen the veins.
Buckwheat in all its forms (including the delicious tea) is high in rutin, a flavonoid that increases the strength of capillaries.
Eat plenty of fresh garlic, onion, ginger, and cayenne for added circulation support.
Avoid eating hydrogenated oils as they slow circulation and increase inflammation in the body. Too much sugar and carbohydrates can cause constipation. Caffeine and alcohol also dehydrate the body and worsen varicose veins.
Herbs for Varicose Vein Support
Below are some of the best herbs to use for treating varicose veins naturally by strengthening, toning, and rebuilding vein walls, capillaries, and valves. The most popular herbs for vein support are butcher’s broom and horse chestnut due to their potent vasoprotective properties so I recommend trying those first.
Bilberry contains a potent antioxidant known as anthocyanosides that strengthens and protects blood vessels and capillaries. It dilates blood vessels, lowers blood pressure, and improves the collagen structure of vein walls which keeps veins strong and efficient.
Find a standardized extract of bilberry that contains 25% anthocyanosides at 160mg twice daily.
Taking herbal bitters before meals can help your body produce much needed bile for proper digestion and promote regularity. Constipation is one of the main causes of varicose veins so good and easy digestion is key to preventing varicose veins.
You can also take magnesium once daily or add psyllium to your diet with plenty of water to help prevent constipation.
Butcher’s Broom is an excellent herb to use for improving vein efficiency and helping the body create its own steroids to stimulate vein resiliency. It also tones and smooths the vein walls bringing it back to its original shape and reducing visible spider and varicose veins. It increases circulation and reduces inflammation.
Take the standardized extract of butcher’s broom with a ruscogenin content of 200-300mg once daily.
If your varicose veins are itchy, dry, inflamed, or irritated then calendula is just what you need to relieve symptoms. Its anti-inflammatory properties with bring down swelling and reduce pain while restoring the skin and improving circulation.
Cayenne pepper is rich in Vitamin C and flavonoids that help protect blood vessels from free radicals. It also promotes the formation of collagen in the vein walls to help keep them healthy and elastic. Cayenne’s capsaicin content gives it potent anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and blood thinning properties which can help reduce varicose veins.
You can take cayenne in capsule form or apply it as a cream on affected veins in a gentle upward motion.
The triterpenoids found in gotu kola help strengthen blood vessels and veins and helps improve blood flow and the integrity of vein walls. It also reduces vein leakage, insufficiency, and inflammation.
Take a gotu kola supplement that includes 60mg of triterpenoids once daily.
Horse chestnut is one of the most popular remedies for treating varicose veins naturally, and for good reason! It contains and active chemical known as aescin; a vasoprotective agent that inhibits the enzyme that causes damage to blood vessels.
Aescin has astringent qualities that contrict, tighten, and shrink blood vessels and works just as well as using a pair of compression stockings. Horse chestnut also thins the blood and increases circulation thereby reducing varicose vein formation. Its diuretic action and anti-inflammatory properties reduce pain and swelling as well.
Take the standardized extract of horse chestnut that contains 100mg of aescin once a day. (this is the closest supplement I could find)
Pine bark extract (aka Picnogenol) is an excellent vein remedy that comes from the French maritime pine. It has high amounts of phenolic acids, flavonoids, and proanthocyanidins that visibly reduce inflammation and varicose veins. Pine bark extract also improves circulation and restores the elasticity and strength of vein walls while reducing leg cramps and pain associated with varicose veins. It has been shown to visibly reduce spider vein clusters.
Take 50mg of pycnogenol twice daily.
Although you wouldn’t necessarily take witch hazel internally, its astringent qualities make it an excellent herb to use externally on varicose veins to tighten, tone, and shrink visible veins. This action helps restore the vein’s natural elasticity and can help relieve the pain and itching associated with varicose veins.
Simply use a cotton ball and apply the witch hazel on affected areas in a gentle upward motion 2-3 times a day.
Other Recommendations for Improving Varicose Veins
• Exercise – getting plenty of daily movement is one of the best ways to improve varicose veins especially exercises that don’t put a lot of pressure on your legs like cycling, swimming, walking, etc.
• Avoid standing or sitting for long periods of time. Take frequent breaks to keep your blood flowing.
• Elevation – elevate the foot of your mattress by a few inches to keep the blood from pooling in your veins while you sleep. You can also take breaks during the day by elevating your feet.
• Essential Oils – using potent essential oils topically will help stimulate circulation, tonify the veins, and strengthen vein walls and valves. Learn about my top essential oils for shrinking varicose veins here.
• Weight – staying at a healthy weight will reduce varicose veins.
• Clothing – try not to wear restricting or tight clothing that disrupts good circulation.
• Supplements – take a good vitamin c supplement and essential fatty acids to support healthy and strong veins and reduce inflammation.
• Homeopathics – use homeopathics like arnica to help relieve pain, swelling, and discoloration.
Check out the article below for more on vein health:
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