What causes varicose veins?
Varicose veins can develop when your veins become stretched or enlarged, causing the tiny valves inside your veins to become weak.
These tiny valves are crucial for pumping blood around your body and when it comes to your legs, they already have a difficult job as they have to force the blood upwards against the flow of gravity.
If your valves are weakened, they will struggle to perform their function properly and instead the blood will flow backwards, collecting in your veins and stimulating a variety of symptoms, including their familiar appearance.
It’s estimated that 30% of the population will develop varicose veins at some point in their life and they can occur for a number of reasons – old age, pregnancy, a sedentary lifestyle or genetic predisposition.
4 ways to prevent varicose veins naturally
Fortunately varicose veins do not have to be inevitable – there are a number of precautions you can take to minimalise your risk of developing them. Here I’ve devised a list of my top 4 natural ways of preventing varicose veins naturally.
1 – Exercise
A sedentary lifestyle is one of the main causes of varicose veins. You may spend all day sitting down in front of a computer or standing behind a counter as part of your job, in which case the blood isn’t able to pump around your body correctly.
A sedentary lifestyle can also put you at risk of becoming obese, another offender when it comes towards developing varicose veins! If you are overweight it can place more pressure on your veins which are already working hard to fight against gravity.
Instead, you need to make sure that you are exercising regularly to get the blood pumping – it doesn’t have to be an intense session at the gym, even gentle exercise such as yoga or a brisk walk are enough to improve your circulation and tone your legs!
Have a look at our 5 best exercises for preventing varicose veins to find an exercise or type of exercise that suits you.
2 – Anti-inflammatory diet
What you eat can also influence your chances of developing varicose veins. Again obesity is a major contributor to the condition so following a nutrient-rich diet in addition to getting plenty of exercise should go a long way towards keeping you fit and healthy. In particular, foods that are high in refined sugars, caffeine or alcohol are all likely to stimulate an inflammatory reaction in your body.
This inflammatory reaction is bad news if you are trying to avoid varicose veins. When your body initiates a rush of inflammatory chemicals it can cause your blood vessels to dilate so the chemicals can travel faster around your body.
Instead, try to focus on a more anti-inflammatory diet. Make sure you are getting plenty of fibre – constipation can make you more vulnerable to varicose veins! Get plenty of fruit and veg – certain herbs and spices are also brilliant for tackling inflammation, with cinnamon, garlic, turmeric and cayenne pepper being excellent for supporting a healthy circulation!
Apple cider vinegar is another natural remedy that’s great for varicose veins as it’s known to help increase your blood flow. You can take a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar each day straight or you could stir a teaspoon into a glass of water to make it more palatable.
Also try to get a good intake of essential fatty acids – you can find these in oily fish or superfoods such as chia seeds!
3 – Massage
A gentle massage can be an excellent way to stimulate your circulatory system and get your blood pumping. However, if you are suffering from varicose veins, some massage therapists may avoid massaging the affected area which is why massages tend to work better as a preventative measure rather than as a treatment.
You could also try to incorporate an essential oil into the mix. Some essential oils such as lavender or chamomile have natural anti-inflammatory properties and can be very soothing, helping to support your joints and cartilage.
However, one of the best essential oils for varicose veins is Helichrysum. This oil can be a tad more expensive than the other oils that I’ve mentioned but it is believed to attack the coagulated blood inside your veins, which can go a long way towards minimalising existing varicose veins and preventing their appearance.1
4 – Horse chestnut
Horse chestnut seeds are a great natural remedy for preventing varicose veins. This is because their active ingredient, Aescin, is able to inhibit the enzymes responsible for causing damage to the vein walls. It’s also able to increase your circulation and acts as an anti-inflammatory, reducing swelling and sealing the walls of the capillaries – amazing!
Our horse chestnut tablets, Venaforce®, contain extracts of freshly harvested horse chestnut seeds and are suitable for use alongside other medications. One tablet, twice a day is all that is required, although if you’re not partial to tablets, we also have Venagel, a cooling and soothing gel that’s quick and easy to apply for aching, tired legs. It’s very useful for long journeys and can even be used during pregnancy!