Varicose veins are twisted, enlarged veins close to the surface of the skin. They most commonly occur in the legs but can also occur in the oesophagus, vulva or scrotum and testicle. They arise as a result of the veins being exposed to higher pressure than they are designed for. In the leg, for example, the superficial veins, called the long saphenours veins, are usually protected from the pressure in the veins deep in the leg muscles by a series of valves. the main one of these lies in the groin. If the pressure inside the deeper veins increases, for example, during pregnancy, these valves fail to work and the superficial veins swell up and become varicose.
All veins, which return blood to the heart, contain valves that keep blood from flowing backward as a result of gravity. When these valves become weak, blood pools in the veins of the legs and causes them to bulge. Standing and sitting for long periods of time, lack of exercise, constipation, obesity, and pregnancy all tend to promote the formation of varicose veins. Sometimes varicose veins are painful, but elevating the affected leg usually brings significant relief.
Symptoms of varicose veins may include a dull pain, itch, or heavy sensation in the legs. The sensation is worse after prolonged standing and better when the legs are elevated. Varicose veins typically appear on the legs as dilated, tortuous veins close to the surface of the skin, and may look blue. Advanced varicose veins may cause ankle and leg swelling or skin ulcers.
Nutritional Supplements that could help. (Refer to the individual supplement for cautions in use.)
|Supplement/Herb||What it does||Dosage|
|Horse Chestnut||Horse chestnut acts as a lower limb circulatory tonic and improves the tone of the veins helping to reduce oedema.||250 – 500mg per day|
|Bromelain||Helps to break down fibrin, a substance that is deposited in the blood vessels, leading to reduced circulation and excessive clotting. Fibrin deposits outside the veins can lead to a lumpy, hardened texture to the surrounding area.||500 – 2000mg per day (away from food)|
|Gotu Kola||Helps to improve the integrity of the connective tissue sheath that surrounds the veins, promoting blood flow and reducing oedema.||500 – 2000mg per day|
|Pine bark extract||Anti-inflammatory, helps to protect the walls of blood vessels from free radical damage helping to maintain their elasticity.||30 – 200mg per day|
|Psyllium||The combination of insoluble and soluble fibre in psyllium seed husks assists the transit of intestinal waste thereby reducing straining.||1000 – 3000mg per day|
|Rutin||Anti-inflammatory, it help strengthen capilleries and other connective tissue, keeping them more flexible so that blood is able to flow more freely.||500-1000mg daily|
|Bilberry||Anti-inflammatory, it acts a tonic to the circulation.||500-2000mg daily|
|Butchers Broom||Tonifies the veins and helps improve lower limb circulation.||500-1000mg daily|
|Witch hazel or horse chestnut ointment||For gentle massage.|
Diet and Lifestyle Factors
Keeping the legs elevated relieves pain. People with varicose veins should avoid sitting or standing for prolonged periods of time and should walk regularly.
Avoid straining during bowel movements as straining increases pressure in the abdomen, which obstructs the flow of blood up the legs, a factor that, over time, may weaken the vein wall and lead to varicose veins. A high fibre diet may therefore be an important factor in the prevention and treatment of varicose veins.
Excessive amount of caffeine, salt and alcohol all have adverse effects on the heart and blood vessels and should be cut out of the diet. You should also reduce or avoid sugar, refined carbohydrates, trans fats/fried foods
Increase intake of Fibre
Garlic, onions, cayenne, ginger all promote the breakdown of fibrin.
Fruit (especially blackberries, blueberries and cherries.)
Nuts and seeds
Homoeopathic Remedies which may help. (Refer to the individual remedy for guidance on the one that is most appropriate for you.)
- Calc Carb
- Carbo Veg
Suggested further reading:
- How varicose veins form
- Preventing varicose veins
- Tab 1
- Tab 2