The veins are the blood vessels that carry blood from your tissues to your heart, so the blood can be recirculated. Varicose veins, also known as varicosities, are characterized by enlarged, dilated, and twisted blood vessels. This occurs when your veins allow blood to flow in the wrong direction and results in overfilling. Most commonly affected are the ones in your legs, since standing and walking upright increases the pressure in the veins of your lower body, however they can occur in other parts of the body as well. Varicose veins, apart from being just a cosmetic concern can cause in addition a lot of aching and discomfort for many people. Data shows that almost 1/4th of the adult population suffers from the condition. An estimated 3.7 million Canadians have varicose veins, a majority of which are women.
What are the symptoms of Varicose Veins?
The primary symptoms of the varicose veins are usually visible. You may observe:
- Dark purple or blue, highly visible blood vessels on your limbs
- Twisted, bulging, protruding, looking like cord veins
You may experience as well:
- Swelling of the ankles, calves and feet
- Cramps, especially with sudden movements
- Skin discoloration around affected veins
What Causes Varicose Veins?
Tiny valves in the veins prevent blood from flowing backward. When the valves are week and damaged, the blood accumulates, causing the veins to stretch or twist. Lack of movement or weakness in the leg muscles that squeeze blood forward can also contribute, as well as reduced vein wall elasticity.
Fig.A: A healthy vein; the blood cells flow in only one direction because of the valve
Fig. B: A Varicose Vein; the valve no longer works correctly, allowing blood to flow in both directions, causing accumulation.
Risk factors for developing the condition:
- Family history of venous disease;
- Female sex;
- Older age;
- Chronically increased intra-abdominal pressure due to obesity, pregnancy, chronic constipation;
- Prolonged standing;
- Poor eating habits and sedentary lifestyle.
When should you go see your doctor?
If you're concerned about how your veins look, experience the above symptoms and self-care measures haven't stopped your condition from getting worse, consult with your doctor. Initially, this condition will not bring some serious problems, but in advanced untreated cases, various complications may happen due to the poor circulation through the affected leg, to name few:
- Dermatological problems (varicose eczema, stasis dermatitis, varicose ulcers, bleedings, etc.)
- Superficial thrombophlebitis (ST)
- Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
Thus, any persistent leg pain or swelling warrants medical attention.
Natural approach to varicose veins?
Thankfully, there are many ways in which to address the condition and improve symptoms, based on severity. Non-surgical management includes changing your lifestyles to prevent varicose veins from forming or becoming worse.
A healthy lifestyle change may include:
- Exercise. Get moving. Walking is a great way to encourage blood circulation in your legs. The stretching done in Yoga exercises is great for relieving the swelling and soreness in your legs as well. See our recommended Yoga and Exercise Videos.
- Watch your weight and your diet. Shedding excess pounds takes unnecessary pressure off your veins. What you eat can help, too. High-antioxidant foods rich in flavonoids, vitamin C, vitamin E and vitamin K (berries, green veggies and citrus fruits), help strengthen veins and fight inflammation. Dietary fibre (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes) helps with healthy bowel function and omega-3 fatty acids rich foods (wild salmon, nuts and seeds) are anti-inflammatory and important for proper blood flow. Follow our SlimKurv diet and supplement program to maintain healthy weight.
- Watch what you wear. Avoid high heels. Low-heeled shoes work calf muscles more, which is better for your veins. Don't wear tight clothes around your waist, legs or groin because these garments can reduce blood flow.
- Elevate your legs. To improve the circulation in your legs, take several short breaks daily to elevate your legs above the level of your heart. For example, lie down with your legs resting on three or four pillows.
- Avoid long periods of sitting or standing. Make a point of changing your position frequently to encourage blood flow.
- Dry brushing. This is a technique that can improve circulation in the legs. Through the use of a body brush in circular motion to stimulate blood flow. (Urban spa Bamboo brush, available in our store)
- Use compression Socks – studies have evaluated the effectiveness of graduated elastic compression stockings below the knee in improving symptoms in patients with varicose veins and found amelioration in pain and aching after a week of use.
Some natural compounds with therapeutic potential:
- Flavonoids are natural substances found in plants, including fruits, vegetables, flowers, and others. They are important to the circulatory system and critical to blood vessels and the blood flow.
You can find nice variety in our Biogenique store and online shop under the category called Health Category:
Bioflavonoid complexes (New roots Citrus bioflavonoids plus hesperidin, 90 caps; New roots Quercetin bioflavonoids 500mg, 90 caps; New roots Quercetin bioflavonoid complex 250mg, 90caps; Flora CircuVein with diosmin and hesperidin, 60caps; New roots Vitamin C8, 45caps)
Grape seed extract products, dietary supplements rich in polyphenols and known to benefit various conditions, including venous insufficiency (Organika Grape seed extract 100mg, 60 or 120caps: Flora Beyond grape seed, 60caps)
Pycnogenol, a supplement made of up to 40 different types of flavonoids extracted from the bark of pine trees (Organika Pycnogenol 50mg, 100 caps; Organika Pycnogenol 25mg, 60caps;)
- Herbal remedies like:
Horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum), Chrysantellum (Chrysanthellum Americanum) or Witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) can be of great help with pain and swelling, as well as for strengthening of the blood vessel walls.
They are available in different forms - tablet forms, liquid herbal extracts, creams, or homeopathic preparations at Biogenique (A.Vogel’s Venaforce tablets, A.Vogel’s Venaforce tincture, 50ml; Phyto santé Aesculus T.M. cream, 50g; Phyto santé Compose Magistrale avec Aesculus, Hamamelis, Vigne rouge et Vipera, 60ml preparé pour Biogenique; Phyto santé Chrysantellum and Hamamelis mother tinctures; Homeodel oral drops G01).
Ginkgo biloba, another plant good for blood circulation (Organika Ginkgo biloba 60mg, 60 caps; Botanica Ginkgo biloba liquid herb, 50ml).
- Vitamins such as vitamin A, B, C, D, E and K help strengthen veins, fight inflammation and improve vascular health, as well as keeping blood flowing smoothly through the veins.
They are available in powder, chewable or capsule forms, to name few of the offered in Biogenique store: Nova Scotia Organics Vit C Acerola, powder 100g; Nova Scotia Organics Vit C 30 chewable tab; Nova Scotia Organics Vit C 30 caplets; New roots Vit C crystals, 150g; New roots Vit C plus 1000mg, 60 tab.; New roots Vit C8, 45caps; New roots Vit E8, 400IU, 60 caps; Biogenique Tocoderma, vit E 400IU, 100caps; New roots Active folic acid, 60caps; Genestra Active chewable B12 with L-Methylfolate, 60 tab; Genestra Methylation support, 90 caps; New roots ultra B complex 100 or 50mg, 60 caps; New roots multi-Max Immune multivitamin, 60 caps., etc.
- Relaxant phytogels and Essential oils for topical use
Akileine Tired Legs phytogel 150ml (with ginkgo biloba, horse chestnut, grape seed oil, sweet clover and rutin); Essential oils like Lavender, Rosemary, Cypress, Clary Sage, etc.
If none of the above options work for you, your doctor might advise you to opt for interventional treatments such as, to name few, external laser thermal ablation, endovenous thermal ablation, endovenous sclerotherapy, and surgery. Please consult with your doctor or a specialised varicose clinic to select the best one for you.