Our circulatory system is made up of a complex web of arteries and veins. Our arteries carry oxygen rich blood to the cells of our bodies, while the veins are designed to pump oxygen poor blood back to the heart.
This is accomplished through a series of one-way valves that do not allow blood to flow backwards into the vein. When someone suffers from varicose veins, the one-way valves of their veins do not close adequately, resulting in the inefficient transport of blood back to the heart. This causes the blood to flow backward within the vein, creating pressure and causing the vein to become swollen and distended.
While rather benign, this health condition affects about 15% of all adults worldwide. Most people recognize varicose veins because of their knotted, twisted, swollen and often bluish of these veins. In addition to any cosmetic concerns they may pose, these veins can cause discomfort in the form of dull nagging aches and pains, night cramps, ankle swelling, feelings of burning or leg fatigue after prolonged standing.
There are a number of factors that play a part in the development of varicose veins including heredity, gender, lifestyle, occupation and age. They are also known to form during pregnancy due to the dilating effect progesterone has on the veins. Because they are associated with lack of circulation, the formation of varicose veins is more common in people who sit or stand in one position for long periods of time, habitually sit with their legs crossed and those who lack regular exercise.
Wellness for Varicose Veins
- Avoid standing for prolonged periods of time. If this is unavoidable, move your legs often. Stretching and flexing your ankle will work to pump the blood out of your legs and get it circulating again.
- If you find yourself sitting for extended periods of time, get up and move around every 35 to 45 minutes.
- Take regular walks to help exercise the muscles of the legs and increase blood flow.
- Avoid clothing that may restrict blood flow.
- Keep your weight down. This can help to reduce pressure on your legs.
- To help prevent leg and ankle swelling, reduce your salt intake.
- Elevate your legs whenever possible especially when sitting.
- Topically, witch hazel can be applied to the legs to ease discomfort.
- Butcher’s Broom has historically been used when dealing with circulatory ailments such as varicose veins.
- Supplements such as ginkgo biloba, gotu kola or capsicum have been shown to improve circulation.
- Coenzyme Q10 also improved tissue oxygenation and increases circulation.
- Vitamin C with bioflavonoids and rutin can help this condition by reducing blood clotting tendencies, promoting healing and helping to strengthen the blood vessels.
- White oak bark can be used to help reduce inflammation of the veins as well as to tighten tissues and strengthen blood vessels.
- Essential fatty acids such as omega 3 or flax seed oil can help to reduce the pain and inflammation associated with varicose veins.