Varicose Veins


Varicose veins begin to develop when the valves in the leg veins start to fail from excessive pressure or simply from age.   The blood pools and the vein wall is stretched as injuries are caused to the lining.  Varicose veins occur most often in the legs, and are usually found along the inner thighs and on the calves. However, varicose veins can also occur elsewhere:  when they occur around the anus they are called hemmorhoids, and when they develop in the scrotum they are known as varicoceles.

Causes of Varicose Veins

Obesity and pregnancy can cause varicose veins due to the increased pressure in the abdomen, which makes it more difficult for blood to return from the legs.  Those professions which involve long periods of standing on a routine basis are also known to cause varicose veins.

Symptoms of Varicose Veins

Symptoms of varicose veins include swollen and painful legs, cramps in the legs during night-time or sleeping, a creeping sensation on the skin of the legs, and tiredness or heaviness of the legs, particularly after periods of standing for a long time. 

How Varicose Veins is Diagnosed

Although it is wise to seek a physician’s advice regarding varicose veins, their presence is quite distinguishable by noting the appearance of the bluish streaks or trails in the legs.  The discoloration is caused by blood which forms in pools, distending the nearby capillaries by leaking blood and other fluid into the surrounding tissues.

Varicose Veins Treatment

In the early stages of varicose veins, compression hose or stockings can help prevent the pooling of blood in the veins.  These elasticized support stockings or tights should be properly fitted to each individual by a pharmacist or other health care professional.  If the individual is overweight, losing weight can help as it lessens the pressure on the legs.

Applying aloe vera gel to the legs can help to reduce inflammation.  Witch hazel can also be applied in an ointment or gel three times a day.  Results can usually be seen within two or three weeks.

The plant gotu kola is frequently consumed for treatment of varicose veins, as gotu kola can at least partially restore the vein wall and lining.  Butcher’s broom in an extract form can be taken three times daily, as can pineapple extract (500 mg of bromelain) also three times daily.  Antioxidants known as PCOs are extracted from grape seeds and can be used for treating varicose veins.  The usual dose is 150 mg twice a day.

Taking 120 mg of gingko biloba twice a day can strengthen the blood vessels and help to improve peripheral circulation in the legs.  New research is showing that the fruit of the bilberry plant is an excellent source of vitamin C and some other powerful antioxidants and may be an effective remedy for treating varicose veins.  Dosage for this treatment is 50-200 mg of bilberry extract to be taken three times daily.  Note:  do not take bilberry if currently taking anti-thrombotic drugs.

Some alternative medicine practitioners believe vitamin A in the form of beta carotene should be taken to enhance the integrity of the skin and to promote healing of varicose vein ulcers.  Vitamin C and bioflavonoids also help to heal sores, aid in circulation in the legs, and strengthen vein walls.

Try cooking with spices known to have anti-inflammatory properties, such as ginger, cayenne pepper, onions and garlic.  Buckwheat pancakes are also a good choice, as the rutin found in the buckwheat can strengthen the blood vessels.

Some health care professionals believe that alternating between hot and cold baths can stimulate circulation in the legs and lessen the condition of varicose veins.  To accomplish this, take two buckets which are tall enough to submerge the legs up to the knees.  One bucket should contain hot water and the other should have cold water.  Soak the legs in alternating buckets for 30 seconds at a time. This treatment should be tried for at least one month to see if positive results occur. 

Prevention of Varicose Veins

Perhaps the best way to help prevent varicose veins is to avoid putting pressure on areas which are vulnerable to this condition.  For instance, cross the legs gently at the ankles instead of at the knees.  Walk as much as possible to help stimulate circulation in the legs and avoid standing for long periods of time whenever feasible.  It may help to rest with the feet raised on a stool after a long day of standing.

Staying fit helps to avoid varicose veins, so exercise on a routine basis.  When the leg muscles are toned, blood flows more efficiently.  Maintain a healthy diet to avoid becoming overweight, which is a known cause for varicose veins. 

Pregnant women should try to sleep on their left side rather than on their back to minimize pressure from the uterus on the veins in the pelvic area.  This also increases blood flow to the fetus.

When the varicose veins are not treated and continue to worsen, there is a chance for developing phlebitis, an inflammation of the wall of the vein, as well as eczema, deep vein thrombosis (DVT), and leg ulcers.

Who is at Risk

Some 40 percent of the older population develops varicose veins, with women becoming victim to this condition much more than men (nearly three times more often).  Varicose veins may also be hereditary.   Those individuals who are overweight and do not follow routine exercise programs are at a higher risk for developing varicose veins.



  1. Bratman, S. The Alternative Medicine Ratings Guide: an expert panel rates the best treatments for over 80 conditions, Prima Health A Division of Prima Publishing (1998)
  2. Brown, L. Alternative Medicine, NTC/Contemporary Publishing (1999)
  3. Deepak Chopra, M.D. Alternative Medicine: The Definitive Guide, Celestial Arts (2002)
  4. Duke, J. The Green Pharmacy: Herbal remedies for common diseases and conditions from the world's foremost authority on healing herbs,Rodale Limited (2003)
  5. Nancy Allison. The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Body-Mind Disciplines, The Rosen Publishing Group (1999)
  6. Servan-Schreiber, D. The Encyclopedia of New Medicine: Conventional & Alternative Medicine For All Ages, Rodale International Limited (2006)

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