How can I improve my varicose veins?
Varicose veins are veins that have expanded so that the valves within are unable to close properly. This causes a back-flow of blood meaning the veins lose their elasticity and become twisted and fibrous.
This can cause a great deal of discomfort but, fortunately, a number of natural, home remedies can be used to address the problem, including:
- Good nutrition
- Plenty of water
- Liver support
- Compression socks
- Horse chestnut
- Essential oils
- Ginkgo biloba
Read on to find out more about how these remedies can improve your varicose veins.
1. Good nutrition
You need a steady supply of nutrients to support your digestive and circulatory systems.
Try to reduce the amounts of refined sugars and processed fats that you consume and, instead, choose high-fibre alternatives that are rich in B vitamins. These will help to aid digestion, lower the risk of constipation and will not irritate your symptoms with their inflammatory properties.
Fresh fruit and vegetables are also essential, especially if they are packed with antioxidant vitamins like vitamin C and vitamin E. You could try our own vitamin C supplement, Nature-C if you feel as though your diet is lacking in this nutrient.
Ginger is a very potent spice that is great for relieving the symptoms of varicose veins and can even prevent blood clotting.
2. Drink plenty of water
It might seem like an obvious step, but most of us can become dehydrated throughout the day, either because we are too busy to notice our fluid intake, or because we simply substitute drinking water in favour of coffee, tea and other caffeinated drinks.
Water, however, is crucial and, if you don't get enough of it your entire body will suffer as a consequence. If you do not consume enough water, your circulatory system, for example, will become sluggish, digestive complaints like constipation will become more commonplace and you will not be able to absorb the nutrients that you need from your food.
You should be aiming to drink between 8 and 10 glasses of water a day. It might be worthwhile considering limiting your intake of alcohol and caffeinated drinks, as these often contain inflammatory properties and can even act as diuretics.
3. Support your liver
Your liver is very important when it comes to the production of hormones and the health of your vascular system. When your liver function is inhibited, it can result in blood becoming clogged up and hormones like oestrogen can linger in your system. This is significant as hormonal changes (including during menstruation and the menopause) can make varicose veins worse.
In order to support your liver, you could try a liver detox, which would involve removing toxic foods from your diet and increasing your intake of raw vegetables and potassium-rich foods.
Taking a supplement like Milk Thistle Complex might also be very beneficial as it contains fresh extracts of dandelion and peppermint, and can support the overall function of your liver, keeping it healthy and strong.
4. Wear compression stockings
Compression stockings might not be the most fashionable item of clothing in your wardrobe, but they are an essential accessory when it comes to combatting the symptoms of varicose veins.
The stockings work by adding pressure to your legs, stimulating the blood flow and easing any inflammation. You should wear the stocking whilst you are sitting down and when you are on the move. If you are considering a holiday abroad, you should consider wearing flight socks whilst you are on-board the plane as flying does sometimes carry certain health risks for sufferers of varicose veins.
4. Try horse chestnut
Horse chestnut has been used for years in the treatment of varicose veins, being able to encourage healthy blood circulation and support the blood vessels.
Our Venaforce and Venagel remedies are made from fresh extracts of horse chestnut seeds and are excellent at easing the symptoms of varicose veins, such as fatigue, cramping and swelling.
You can take one Venaforce tablet twice a day, as long as you are not pregnant. If you suffer from varicose ulcers, I'd recommend visiting your doctor as herbal remedies may not be suitable.
Exercising can be tricky in cases of varicose veins. If you are experiencing a great deal of pain and discomfort in your legs, the chances are you won't feel in a particularly active mood. However, it is important that you try to keep as mobile as possible.
This doesn't mean that you should be trying out for the London marathon or going mad on the cross-trainer. Gentle but brisk exercise is recommended – walking should help to stimulate your blood flow but it won't place too much pressure on your body. You could even try exercises like yoga as these will force you to stretch your muscles, flex your feet and encourage the flow of blood in your veins.
Read our article on the best exercises for preventing varicose veins for some more tips.
It might seem difficult, impossible even, but you should try to avoid stressful emotions when you are suffering from a condition like varicose veins.
Stress can have all sorts of nasty repercussions for your body and this is mainly due to the 'fight or flight' reaction that is stimulated by the immune system. This reaction causes you to feel more alert and on edge, with your blood being pumped more forcefully around your body and inflammatory chemicals like adrenalin flooding your system, even triggering an episode of varicose eczema.
Your digestion is also likely to be affected as your nervous system will want to be rid of unnecessary baggage and will struggle to break down your food, possibly leading to malnutrition and bouts of diarrhoea and indigestion.
Instead of getting worked up over your symptoms, you should try to relax and make some time for yourself, either to enjoy a good book, binge-watch your favourite television programme or indulge in a luxurious hot bath. Meditation might be of added benefit as it can teach you proper breathing techniques and natural ways of calming yourself down when you feel anxious or apprehensive.
You could even try taking our natural stress remedy AvenaCalm. When taken consistently, AvenaCalm should support your mood and work to ease the stress triggers in your nervous system, gradually calming you and making you feel more in control of your day-to-day activities.
8. Use essential oils
Essential oils like rose and lavender have been used for years to soothe troubled skin, lift your emotions and even enhance your circulation.
A yarrow-based massage blend or cypress oils are believed to be very effective at easing the symptoms of varicose veins. Yarrow works to support your blood vessels and stimulate your circulation, whilst cypress is thought to be good for constricting your blood vessels and promoting your liver function.
Once diluted with some water, you can massage these oils into your skin or even add them to your evening bath.
9. Try Ginkgo biloba
Ginkgo biloba is harvested from fresh leaves from the ginkgo tree, otherwise known as the tree of knowledge. Ginkgo has been used in herbal medicines for hundreds, if not thousands, of years and is believed to have all sorts of useful properties.
It is traditionally recommended for circulatory conditions like Raynaud's syndrome or concentration issues, as the plant is known to support a healthy blood flow to the brain. However, it could also be beneficial for other circulatory conditions like varicose veins.
In a study conducted by the Spitalul Universitar in Bucharest, ginkgo was an essential ingredient in Ginkor fort, which was used to treat test subjects with varicose veins pathology.1 The study proved to be successful in 73% of the subjects, giving some relevance to the benefits of Ginkgo biloba in the treatment of varicose veins.