Visiting CSN on Tuesday someone acquired about varicose veins. I racked my brain but was surprised to realize I’d never written or even researched varicose veins. It really baffles me because so many of my family members have them. Even my sister who is only 32 has them, but once I learned that pregnancy usually bring them about, it made sense. Granted this picture is gnarly and kind of extreme, many get the lesser purpley blue spider veins. So let’s begin with what they are, what causes them, and then delve into what can be done. Veins have the daunting task of pushing blood back to the heart. Therefore working against gravity. Sometimes the veins can become weak and blood will begin to pool in the area. Legs can become swollen or enlarged. Symptoms can be aching, tenderness, itching, and muscle cramping. Note: when this happens in the rectum, they’re called hemorrhoids. Estimates suggest that 25% of women and 15% of men get them (although I read some will significantly higher numbers upwards of 50). What causes them:
- Hormone changes that come with pregnancy and menopause
- being overweight
- heavy lifting
- prolonged standing/sitting
- chronic constipation
So how to alleviate them. Obviously medical treatments are popular and I will list them, but as I am not a doctor take note I am not prescribing anything. I will list some possible alternative methods for treatment or to alleviate swelling and inflammation, but keep in mind that even these come with side effects (especially if you take any other medications), so if you’re considering an alternative treatment and you have other health problems, you should see a physician. Okay with that advisory out-of-the-way, sclerotherapy is the most popular treatment. Here veins swell, stick, seal and then fade with a solution. Results usually show 50-90% improvement. A newer solution called microsclerotherapy is said to show even more improvement. Laser treatments are also another options. It takes 2-5 treatments generally to be effective, although veins bigger than 3 mm typically don’t work with this treatment. Surgery is an option for larger veins. Now if you’re looking for alternative methods whether you don’t like surgery or can’t afford it here are some homeopathic possibilities:
- Horse Chestnut Extract: aescin blocks possible damage to capillary walls.
- Grapessed: OPCs can strengthen connective tissue and decrease inflammation
- Pine Bark
- Butchers Broom: strengthen collagen and improve circulation
- St Johns Wort
- Witch Hazel: reduce pain and swelling
- Rosemary: strengthen and protect vessels
- compression stockings
Preventative measures would be to eat flavonoid rich foods (reds, blues, and purples), keep weight under control, compression hose, avoid standing or sitting for continually extended time. While pregnant you may try reflexology, which they say can work better than rest at reducing leg stress. If you already have them, treatment depends on your comfort, budget, and beliefs. If they are hurting, I’d see a doctor (or someone certified in alternative medicine) about what you may be able to do.