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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.
Natural Supplements for Varicose Veins
There are various natural supplements that can help in improving varicose veins, including:
1. Take horse chestnut seed supplements
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.
How to use:
You can take horse chestnut seed extract in supplement form.
Note: Horse chestnut may cause side effects such as liver injury, and therefore should not be used without consultation from a doctor.
2. Use oral grape seed extract
Grape seeds contain various compounds including vitamin E, flavonoids, and proanthocyanin that 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. Massage with 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. Consume 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. Use sweet clover
Sweet clover can help alleviate symptoms such as heaviness and leg pain associated with varicose veins. However, it has only anecdotal evidence. It is generally safe to use in moderate amounts.
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.
6. Try rutin/rutoside
Rutin is a bioflavonoid that enhances the working of veins. It also helps alleviate the pain and swelling associated with varicose veins and CVI. (3)
How to use:
You can consume rutin or rutoside supplements after consulting your doctor as they possess certain side effects.
7. Consume gotu kola
Gotu kola can help improve the symptoms of CVI, including leakage and inflammation. It also helps relieve anxiety and improves vein function. (4)
How to use:
Gotu kola can be consumed in the form of powder, pill, extract, or tea. Use its supplements only on discussing with your doctor as it can react with certain medications.
Caution: Avoid using gotu kola if you have liver problems.
At-Home Care for Varicose Veins
Several self-care tips 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. (5)
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:
- 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. (6)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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. (7)
- Avoid high heels: Wearing high heels of any kind can put undue pressure on your legs.
- Refrain from smoking or consuming alcohol: Alcohol intake or smoking can aggravate varicose veins and their associated symptoms.
- Avoid excess heat on your legs: The heat from hot tubs or hot water baths can increase swelling.
- Do not sit with crossed legs: This habit can put excess pressure on the legs and impede proper blood circulation.
- 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. (8)
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.
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.
Can massage help treat varicose veins?
While massaging a varicose vein isn’t harmful, it doesn’t help improve any symptoms. Rather, it is suspected that the pressure from massaging the veins can cause a blood clot or part of the vein to turn into a pulmonary embolism.
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.