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Home > Research Department  > Health Concerns Articles > Varicose Veins
    Health Concerns Articles  
VARICOSE VEINS
Articles by a Naturopathic Doctor ( N.D.)

LEG CIRCULATION

Poor circulation to your legs can result in painful and unsightly varicose veins. Exercise & the right nutritional support are essential.
When you have a varicose vein, you sure know it.  From the pain to the tired, heavy felling in your legs, to the purple colour, varicose veins are just that -  a pain.  But, did you know that several herbs and nutritional supplements have been clinically proven to help?  Read on to find out more...

Varicose veins are swollen, enlarged veins occurring on the lower leg and occasionally the abdomen. They may start as small “spider” veins, and then gradually become larger over time, often becoming progressively painful. Several factors contribute to the development of varicose veins:  weakening of the vessel walls, faulty valves and added pressure in the area.

Vein walls may become weak due to deficiencies in important nutrients such as  bioflavanoids and vitamin C.  When the vein wall weakens, the blood inside presses against it, and causes it to balloon out, becoming varicose because of the loss in elasticity.

Valves can become faulty primarily due to poor circulation from a lack of exercise.  However, they also need bioflavanoids to function effectively and to maintain their shape and when you do not ingest enough, the flow of blood is affected, causing further ballooning of the vein wall.

Increased pressure in the affected are can be caused by  prolonged periods of sitting or standing with the accompanying impairment in circulation and pooling of blood.

Other factors can include: obesity, genetics, hormonal changes like pregnancy, constipation, and hot weather.

What you can do if you have varicose veins:

- EXERCISE
- TAKE SUPPLEMENTS TO SUPPORT THE STRENGTH OF THE VEIN WALL (SEE THE LIST BELOW)
- DO NOT DRINK COFFEE;  IT CONSTRICTS THE FLOW OF BLOOD
- EAT PLENTY OF VEGETABLES
- DO NOT SIT IN ONE PLACE FOR LONG PERIODS OF TIME
- TAKE SUPPLEMENTS LIKE GINKGO, COENZYME Q10 AND HAWTHORN TO IMPROVE BLOOD FLOW.
- USE LEG MASSAGE TO STIMULATE CIRCULATION

DID YOU KNOW?
(VARICOSE VEIN FACTS)

- A HEMORRHOID IS A TYPE OF VARICOSE VEIN
- SPIDER VEINS WILL USUALLY BECOME VARICOSE
- VARICOSE VEINS CAN BE HEREDITARY

When a vein is varicose, it will usually appear purple or blue underneath the skin.  They are often raised up from the surface of the skin, creating a bumpy texture. They can ache dully, but if knocked against something hard can hurt quite a lot.

Heavy, tired and aching legs are the most common symptoms of varicose veins.  Swelling, leg cramps, itchy and thin skin, ulcers and blood clots may also occur as the condition worsens.  The symptoms are improved when walking and by elevating the legs.

It is interesting to note that a hemorrhoid is also a varicose vein, just in a different part of the body.  The usual cause in the cause of hemorrhoids is prolonged constipation and straining during bowel movements.

Conventional treatment of varicose veins involves injections, surgery and compression therapy.  Injections and surgery scar, or remove, the affected vessels and the body compensates by increasing the use of other veins.  Compression stockings help varicose veins by exerting pressure on the area to prevent blood pooling. These therapies take care of the problematic vein but they will not correct lifestyle factors to prevent recurrence.

Nutritional therapy for varicose vein treatment focuses on:  strengthening the vein wall, improving the flow of blood, and enhancing the functioning of the valves that control the flow of blood through the vein.

·          You can support vein wall strength with vitamin C and bioflavanoids.  You can also use horsechestnut seed extract.  It has been clinically proven to reducing the ballooning of the vein wall and to reduce pain.  You might also consider the herb hawthorn.  It has active bioflavanoids specific for blood vessel walls.

·          You can also improve the flow of blood with horsechestnut seed extract.  It helps tonify the valves inside the vein so that they are better able to regulate blood flow.  Gingko biloba can also make a difference in this respect.

·          Coenzyme Q10 and vitamin E can be used to enhance general circulation throughout the vein.

Lifestyle changes to help with varicose veins include regular exercise and weight management.  Avoid staying stationary for long periods of time because it stagnates circulation.  Avoid tight clothing on the legs.  Move the bowels regularly.  Raise your legs above your heart level for 10-15 minutes every day.  Alternate hot and cold leg baths to increase circulation.  Massage around the area and towards the heart to ease blood congestion.  Topically apply horse chestnut gel to the legs or add horse chestnut tea to bath water.  It firms and tones vessels and reduces inflammation.

Dietary changes aimed at improving blood circulation and regulating bowel movements prevent varicose vein formation.  Eat a high fibre diet to add bulk to the stool and maintain regularity.  Eat whole grain products, flax seeds, fruits and vegetables.  Eat one salad of raw vegetables daily.  Be sure to drink 2L of filtered water daily to soften stools and maintain regularity.  Eat citrus fruits and berries for bioflavinoids, which strengthen veins.  Eat wheat germ, as a source of vitamin E, to improve circulation and tissue elasticity.   Avoid constipating and irritating foods such as, dairy products, spicy food, fats, processed foods, salt, alcohol, coffee, chocolate, cocoa, cola and black tea.

The following list of supplements can be used for preventing and treating varicose veins.  Adult doses are given.   Consult a health professional before starting supplementation if you are pregnant. (CLICK SUPPLEMENT NAME FOR PRODUCTS).

SUPPLEMENT DOSAGE THERAPEUTIC EFFECT
Horse chestnut extract 300mg twice daily at 12 hour intervals. Strengthens the vein wall.  Improves the function of valves in the veins, allowing blood to flow.  Do not use if you have a heart condition
ginkgo biloba 120-240mg daily Enhances circulation to the extremities.  Do not use if taking blood thinners.
Rutin 500mg twice daily Helps to maintain blood vessel elasticity.
hawthorn As directed Strengthens blood vessel walls and improves blood flow.
Vitamin C with bioflavinoids 3000-5000mg daily, rutin 150mg daily Strengthens vessel walls and promotes healing.  Ensure that you are getting 300mg daily of bioflavinoids in your vitamin C preparation. 
Vitamin E 400-1000IU daily Maintains tissue elasticity and supports healing. Use with caution if you are taking blood-thinning medication.
Coenzyme Q10 60-120mg daily Increases circulation and enhances tissue oxygenation.
Vitamin B complex 100mg daily Helps build vessels and supports digestion.
Essential fatty acids As directed Reduces pain and maintains vessel elasticity.
Grape seed extract or pycnogenol 100-200mg daily A source of bioflavinoids.  Strengthens vessels.
Also beneficial for VARICOSE VEIN SUPPORT: Multivitamins, vitamin A, vitamin D, calcium, magnesium, dimethylglycine, glutathione, aloe vera gel, bilberry, silica, nettle, dandelion, gingko biloba, and bromelain.
For informational purposes only.  Please consult your health care practitioner before taking natural health care products. Click here for full disclaimer.


All articles copyright National Nutrition 2001 - 2014.  For educational purposes only.  Please note that while National Nutrition supports your right to use natural health care products for any therapeutic purpose that you see fit, that the information on this website should not be considered as a claim or as a substitute for medical advice.

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