Varicose veins

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Varicose veins are caused by dilation of the veins of the lower limbs and damage to their valves, resulting in sluggish circulation and the backflow and pooling of blood which in normal circumstances would be efficiently ‘pushed’ back to the heart. Among the causes are excessive weight, high blood pressure, pregnancy, or a sedentary occupation. Symptoms include aching, heavy legs, distorted rope-like veins, fluid retention, and discoloured, flaking or itching skin. Haemorrhoids are varicose veins affecting the rectum, often the result of excessive straining due to constipation. A wide variety of herbal remedies and vitamin/mineral supplements are available to help those suffering from varicose veins. Choose those which you feel are most appropriate for your particular symptoms, and try to address any underlying problem that may have contributed to your condition.

Both Witch Hazel and Calendula ointment have an astringent, toning action, while Chickweed ointment may help relieve itching. Keep them in the fridge for a cooling effect. When applying, always massage very gently towards the heart, and avoid applying pressure to the veins themselves.

Hawthorn may help sustain the heart and regulate blood pressure. Remedies considered to be of benefit in improving circulation in the lower limbs in particular include Ginkgo leaf and Prickly Ash bark. To stimulate the circulation generally, try Capsicum or Ginger. Buckwheat contains rutin and bioflavonoids to help tone and maintain the integrity of the blood vessels. Melilot also contains flavonoids as well as coumarins to help strengthen blood vessels, although this herb should not be taken in conjunction with warfarin. Vitamin B Complex helps maintain healthy blood vessels, while Vitamin E can improve circulation and reduce susceptibility to varicose veins. Motherwort may alleviate aching ‘heavy’ legs. Exercise regularly so that the muscles of the legs can help push the blood upwards - walking or dancing are ideal activities. If you have to stand or sit for long periods take regular breaks to move around. Restrictive clothing should be avoided. When at rest, keep your legs elevated; never cross your legs as this restricts the circulation. You may find it helpful to raise the foot of your bed.

Fluid accumulation may respond to natural diuretics such as Dandelion leaf. Avoid constipation by adopting a high-fibre diet and drink lots of water. If you need a little extra help, try Psyllium husk or Dandelion root.

Varicose ulcers sometimes occur as the result of a knock or injury to the leg, particularly if the skin has been stretched due to fluid retention. They tend to affect the lower third of the limb and are usually painless. They require strict hygiene and expert treatment, but you can help the healing process along with Marigold ointment in addition to those remedies listed above. Zinc and Vitamin C can promote more rapid healing.



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Christine Haughton, MA MNIMH MCPP FRSPH

Wold Farm, West Heslerton, Malton, North Yorkshire YO17 8RY, UK

Last updated 27th November 2014     ©Purple Sage Botanicals