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Varicose veins rarely cause any problems other than the superficial appearance of blue or red twisted veins.
While many medical interventions are available for the treatment of varicose veins, self-care measures are preferred for their ease, safety, and cost-effectiveness.
You can employ various home remedies and preventive measures to help manage the condition by alleviating the discomfort and reducing the appearance of the varicose veins.
Herbal Supplements for Varicose Veins
There are various natural supplements that can help in improving varicose veins, including:
1. Horse chestnut seed
Extracts obtained from horse chestnut seeds or leaves help subside the pain and swelling associated with varicose veins. (1)
However, further research is required to establish its use. Moreover, horse chestnut may cause side effects such as liver injury, and therefore should not be used without consultation from a doctor.
How to use:
You can take horse chestnut seed extract in supplement form, but only after consulting your doctor about the safety and correct dosage.
2. Grape seed extract
Grape seeds contain various compounds including vitamin E, flavonoids, and proanthocyanin. Therefore, the oral use of grape seed extracts can help subside the symptoms associated with CVI and also improve venous tone. However, this claim is based on anecdotal evidence only.
How to use:
Grape seeds can be used as a supplement in the form of capsules, extracts, or tablets upon recommendation by a doctor. Avoid its use if you are on blood thinner medications.
3. Apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar can improve the effectiveness of standard treatment of varicose veins when applied topically on the affected area. It should, therefore, be used as an adjunctive therapy rather than a standalone treatment. (2)
How to use:
Gently massage the undiluted ACV over the varicose veins at morning and night for maximum healing effects.
4. Butcher’s broom
This herb is popularly used for treating symptoms associated with CVI, such as heaviness, leg cramps, itching, edema, and swelling.
While it is also supposed to help treat varicose veins, there is a lack of scientific research to support this claim. Avoid using this herb if you have any gastrointestinal problems.
How to use:
You can take butcher’s broom in the form of an oral supplement but not without getting your doctor’s approval first.
5. Sweet clover
It can be consumed orally to alleviate symptoms such as heaviness and leg pain associated with varicose veins.
Sweet clover is a popular diuretic. However, it has only anecdotal evidence. It is generally safe to use in moderate amounts. You must discontinue its use if you experience any side effects.
How to use:
Sweet clover is available as a supplement in capsule or tablet form, but you must always talk to your doctor before starting its medicinal use. The doctor will consider all the relevant health factors to see if its suitable for you, and recommend the appropriate dosage.
At-Home Care for Varicose Veins
Several home remedies that can help alleviate the symptoms of varicose veins include:
1. Wearing compression stockings
These knee-high stockings help compress the veins, preventing the accumulation of blood in the legs and thus alleviating the symptoms such as swelling and pain. Stockings with 20-30 mmHg compression pressure are recommended. (3)
One study found that these stockings helped improve symptoms in 90% of patients with varicose veins. (4)
2. Elevating the legs
Elevating your legs can help improve swelling and other symptoms if you have mild to moderate varicose veins.
3. Moisturizing the skin
The skin is the first line of defense. It protects your internal organs, including the veins. Therefore, it is vital to moisturize your skin daily to maintain its health, especially if it is dry or cracked.
Tips to Prevent Varicose Veins
The following tips can help prevent the formation of varicose veins:
1. Exercise regularly
Daily physical activity, especially walking and foot flexion activities aid the calf muscle pump. You may also try walking and water aerobics to help prevent varicose veins while maintaining body weight. (5)
2. Eat a low-salt diet
Excess sodium consumption leads to water retention in the body. As a result, fluid may accumulate in the legs, causing swelling. The swelling puts extra pressure on the veins and increases the risk of varicose veins.
3. Include high potassium in your diet
Consuming foods such as salmon, tuna, and green leafy vegetables supplies you with optimum potassium required for proper nerve and muscle functioning, maintaining heart rhythm, and regulating fluid levels. Low levels of potassium can cause water retention.
4. Make your diet flavonoid-rich
Flavonoids are the phytochemicals that impart color to the fruits and vegetables. Therefore, including a variety of fruits and vegetables such as dark berries, garlic, onion, and leafy greens to your diet is necessary.
Additionally, consume foods with high fiber content such as whole grains.
5. Maintain a healthy weight
Overweight or obesity puts excess pressure on the leg veins, often leading to varicose veins. One study observed that adult males with a high body mass index (BMI) are more likely to develop varicose veins. (6)
6. Avoid high heels
Wearing high heels of any kind can put undue pressure on your legs.
7. Refrain from smoking or consuming alcohol
Alcohol intake or smoking can aggravate varicose veins and their associated symptoms.
8. Avoid excess heat on your legs
The heat from hot tubs or hot water baths can increase swelling.
9. Avoid sitting with crossed legs
This habit can put excess pressure on the legs and impede proper blood circulation.
10. Refrain from prolonged standing
Standing still for long periods can affect blood flow. Moving every hour or so stimulates blood flow to the veins.
A study found that standing for more than 8 hours a day often results in the development of varicose veins. (7)
Most-Asked Questions About Varicose Veins
Are spider veins and varicose veins the same?
Varicose veins and spider veins have common causes, but they differ in their appearance.
Varicose veins are larger, more prominent, and blue or green in color. These veins can be felt on the skin surface due to bulging.
Spider veins are small veins with a web-like pattern. They appear as blue, purple, or reddish compact veins on the surface of the skin.
Are varicose veins dangerous?
Varicose veins do not pose a serious health risk but can turn severely painful without proper treatment.
The blood pooling inside these veins starts to clot after a point and triggers a lot of pain. This condition is known as superficial phlebitis, which can only be avoided through timely treatment.
Can you reverse varicose veins?
Varicose veins are often dismissed as a cosmetic concern, when in fact it is a progressive medical condition that causes irreversible damage.
Early-stage treatment is the only way to limit the progression of the disease and the extent of damage caused by it.
You cannot cure the condition or repair the damage it has already done, but can certainly manage your discomfort through the above-mentioned self-care measures besides following the doctor-recommended treatment.
It is difficult to cure varicose veins completely, but home remedies and preventive measures can help relieve the pain and inhibit the formation of new varicose veins.
These remedies are cost-effective and easy. However, if these measures do not help improve the condition and the pain is worsening, consult your doctor.