(NaturalNews) Varicose veins are swollen, raised veins which could be tender and painful and cause the legs to feel tired, achy, tight and heavy. In general, they do not pose any significant health risks, although they could be uncomfortable and unsightly. Some supplements can help provide relief.
How they happen
About half of middle-aged Americans have some form of varicose veins. Poor diets (low-fiber and high-fat), lack of physical activity and obesity can burden the veins, while women who are pregnant or who have hormonal imbalances are also more susceptible to the condition.
Other risk factors include genetic weakness in the veins or their valves, liver disease, nutritional deficiencies and prolonged sitting or standing.
Arteries bring blood from the heart to various parts of the body, while veins bring the blood back to the heart. Unlike arteries, veins cannot depend on the pumping action of the heart to transport blood. Instead, blood movement in veins is brought about by the contraction and relaxation of the muscles around them. Veins have valves which ensure that blood only flows in one direction.
When these valves malfunction, vein walls are weakened or there is poor circulation, blood flow could be hampered. This causes blood accumulation in the veins, weakening them and causing them to stretch and bulge. Varicose veins usually appear on the legs -- where the veins are constantly working against gravity -- and the anus, where they are called hemorrhoids.
James Balch, MD, and Mark Stengler, ND, recommended these supplements:
• Bilberry -- boosts blood circulation and helps strengthen capillary walls. Take a standardized extract with 25% anthocyanosides, at a dose of 160 mg twice per day.
• Horse chestnut -- strengthens vein walls and valves, boosts circulation and alleviates swelling. Take a standardized extract with 100 mg of aescin daily.
• Butcher's broom -- reduces inflammation in veins. Take a standardized extract with 200-300 mg of ruscogenins daily.
• Grape seed extract -- contains compounds which boost circulation and improve vein wall integrity. Take 200-300 mg daily.
• Vitamin E -- thins the blood, promoting blood flow and alleviating inflammation in veins. Take 400 IU twice daily.
• Ginkgo biloba -- frequently used for circulatory issues. Take an extract standardized to 24% flavone glycosides, at a dose of 60-120mg twice per day.
• Vitamin C -- improves health of vein walls. Take 500 mg twice or thrice daily.
• Bromelain -- alleviates inflammation in the veins and could help prevent blood clots. Take 500 mg thrice daily, in-between meals.
• Bioflavonoid complex -- some flavonoids, for example hesperidin and rutin, have been found to be helpful with treating varicose veins. They improve the integrity of the support structures of the veins as well as the whole vascular system. Take 1,000 mg twice or thrice daily. You could also consume bluish-red berries, such as cherries, blackberries, hawthorn berries and blueberries, as they contain flavonoids which improve the strength and elasticity of vein walls. Extracts of some of these berries are widely used in Europe to treat different types of circulatory disorders, including varicose veins.
Bilberry, butcher's broom, bioflavonoids and horse chestnut were also recommended by Michael Murray, ND.
Calendula ointments, in the form of creams and salves, could be applied topically onto varicose veins on the lower legs to reduce their swollen appearance.
A high-fiber diet comprised of good amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, seeds and nuts would be helpful. Buckwheat contains rutin, which boosts capillary strength.
Herbs and spices such as cayenne, ginger, garlic and onions help boost circulation and could be added to one's diet too.
Sources for this article include:
Balch, James F., MD, and Stengler, Mark, ND. Prescription for Natural Cures: A Self-Care Guide for Treating Health Problems with Natural Remedies Including Diet and Nutrition, Nutritional Supplements, Bodywork, and More. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc, 2004. Print.
Stengler, Mark, ND. The Natural Physician's Healing Therapies: Proven Remedies Medical Doctors Don't Know. New York, NY: Prentice Hall Press, 2010. Print.
Murray, Michael, ND. The Pill Book Guide to Natural Medicines: Vitamins, Minerals, Nutritional Supplements, Herbs, And Other Natural Products. New York, NY: Bantam Books, 2002. Print.
About the author: Reuben Chow has a keen interest in natural health and healing as well as personal growth.