Are there any natural solutions for varicose veins?

Response from Irene McCabe Naturopathic Nutritionist:

Varicose veins are enlarged uncomfortable veins which are generally just below the skin surface on the legs. Up to half of all adults are affected by this condition. Veins are thin walled vessels that if put under too much pressure and unsupported by surrounding tissues, will gradually become stretched. Contributing factors include standing for long hours, constipation, heavy lifting and pregnancy.

A hydrating diet with good levels of fibre is essential to avoid constipation and straining and funnily enough varicose veins are rare in populations who have high fibre intakes.

Bilberries have been shown in two studies to help resolve varicose veins and haemorrhoids perhaps due to their capillary strengthening effect.

Supporting the liver may also be useful. Toxicity is carried via the blood (and lymph) to the liver to be processed and then eliminated, usually via the bowel. If the liver is overloaded, then toxicity may back up into blood putting extra pressure on the veins.

Standing for long periods should be avoided if possible. Exercise such as walking and cycling can also help. When resting, legs should be raised, and not crossed.

Helpful supplements include grape seed, bilberry, and pine bark extract which are known to help in the repair of blood vessels and leg ulcers. Vitamin C with bioflavanoids which helps build collagen and Vitamin E which may help improve circulation and has many healing properties. The herb Gingko Biloba is also helpful for improving circulation

Response from Nikki Biddiss, Medical Herbalist:

Varicose veins are knobbly, distended veins in the legs. Veins carry blood back to the heart and valves help push blood up against gravity. Sometimes the vein or valve can become damaged and the blood pools, causing the vein to widen. There may be no symptoms or there can be pain, aching and itchiness or legs can feel heavy.

Often the cause is unknown but it can be linked to sedentary jobs or jobs which involve standing for long periods- leg circulation is greatly aided by movement so try to walk around often. It can also be linked to increased body weight (including in pregnancy) or rarely an abdominal swelling so it you have any other symptoms, visit your GP. Losing weight will make a difference.

Some people opt for a procedure to tackle the varicose veins but if it’s purely for cosmetic reasons, it may not be available on the NHS. There are a number of natural remedies which may help control the symptoms. Applying witch hazel topically or a cream made up of venous tonics such as horse-chestnut can help. Apply them gently in an upwards direction. I wouldn’t recommend having varicose veins massaged so advise your massage therapist accordingly. Rutin, found in buckwheat, is another venous tonic and can be taken in a tincture or capsule form but I would recommend seeing a herbalist to check the most suitable herbs for you. Blasting the area with cold water in the shower will also help stimulate lower leg circulation.

Consult your health practitioner before following any advice if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, have underlying health issues or are on any other medication.

Nikki Biddiss is a Medical Herbalist, Aromatherapy Massage Therapist and Stress and Wellbeing Coach. To book a consultation For Nikki call Napier’s, 61 Cresswell Street, Glasgow on 0141 339 5859.

Irene McCabe is a Naturopathic Nutritionist and has been an Independent Nutritional Researcher for over 30 years. Irene also practices Allergy and Intolerance Testing and Advanced Clinical Hypnotherapy and is the former owner of Napier’s in Glasgow’s West End. To book a consultation For Irene call The Harvest Clinic, 201 West George Street, Glasgow on 0141 333 0878