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Varicose Veins

Two primary kinds of blood vessels exist in the circulatory system. Arteries are one kind; they deliver blood away from the heart to the rest of the body. Veins are the second type of blood vessel, and their function is to conduct blood back to the heart. Of the two kinds of vessels, veins have the more difficult task. Unlike the arteries, they cannot rely upon the heart’s direct pumping motion to propel the blood to its destination. Instead, the pumping action comes from contracting and relaxing effect of muscles surrounding the veins. Luckily, however, the veins are equipped with a series of valves that help keep the blood flowing in one direction only: toward the heart.

When one of these valves malfunctions, or when a vein wall is somehow weakened, the blood cannot continue to flow properly. Instead, it pools and accumulates within the veins, which are burdened by the excess blood. They grow weaker, and they begin to stretch and bulge. These enlarged, raised blood vessels are called varicose veins. They usually appear on the legs—especially on the thigh or the back of the calf—where the veins have to fight strong gravitational pressure as they push blood back up to the heart. Varicose veins can also appear in other parts of the body, including the anus, where they are called hemorrhoids.

Varicose veins may be tender and painful and may cause the legs to feel tight and swollen, but in general, they do not pose a health risk. They are also quite common: about 50 percent of middle-aged Americans have some varicose veins. In many people, the condition is brought on by a genetic weakness in a vein or valve, but it can also be caused by anything that puts excess pressure on the veins. A diet that’s high in fat and low in fiber can stress the veins (because this contributes to constipation), as can inactivity, obesity, and long periods of sitting or standing. Many women develop varicose veins during pregnancy, when the legs are burdened with a great deal of extra pressure. We often see women with hormone imbalances who have problems with varicose veins, particularly women taking a synthetic hormone replacement.

Although no one has a cure for varicose veins, home treatment is quite effective at reducing the pain and the swelling. Home therapies can also strengthen the vein walls and prevent the condition from growing worse. Of particular importance is a group of herbs known as venotonics. This class of herbs improves the tone of the venous wall. Horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum) and butcher’s broom (Ruscus aculeatus) are two prime examples and are discussed in this section. We find that the natural therapies in this section often prevent a further progression of varicose veins, and in some cases, there is a mild improvement. In most cases, patients find that their circulation improves. Sometimes, however, professional care is in order. In rare cases, varicose veins deep in the leg can lead to a more serious circulatory disorder, such as phlebitis or a blood clot that can travel to the lungs, resulting in a life-threatening pulmonary embolism. If you have an intense pain deep in your legs, or if you experience persistent swelling in one or both your legs, consult your doctor.


** All of these prescriptions below have been proven effective; level of effectiveness depends on the individual. Please consult your doctor when taking any and all supplements.


LifeSource’s Super Prescriptions – Varicose Veins
Super Prescription #1 Horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum)

Take a standardized extract that contains 100 mg of aescin daily. This herb strengthens vein walls and valves and also improves circulation and reduces swelling.
Super Prescription #2 Butcher’s broom (Ruscus aculeatus)

Take a standardized extract that gives you 200 to 300 mg of ruscogenins daily. Ruscogenins are constituents within this herb that are believed to reduce inflammation of veins.
Super Prescription #3 Grape seed extract - LifeSource Product

Take as directed daily daily. This supplement contain proanthocyandins, constituents, which is helpful for Varicose Veins.
Super Prescription #4 Bioflavonoid complex

Take 1,000 mg two to three times daily. Various flavonoids, such as rutin and hesperidin, have been shown to be effective as accessory nutrients in treating varicose veins.
Super Prescription #5 Bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus) - LifeSource Product

Take a standardized extract containing 25 percent anthocyanosides at 160 mg twice daily. Bilberry improves the circulation and strengthens capillary walls.
Super Prescription #6 Vitamin E - LifeSource Product

Take 400 IU of a mixed complex twice daily. Vitamin E acts as a natural blood thinner, to promote blood flow and reduce inflammation of the veins.
Super Prescription #7 Witch hazel (Hammamelis virginiana)

Apply as a gel or a cream to external hemorrhoids, or add 1 ounce to a sitz bath daily. Witch hazel has an astringent effect on external varicose veins.

 


Symptoms

  • Swollen, raised veins that may be tender and painful
  • Heavy, tight, swollen, or fatigued legs
  • Bruising in the affected area
  • Itchy skin near the varicose veins
  • Ulceration over the varicose veins.

Root Causes

  • A genetic weakness in the vein or a vein’s valve
  • A diet that’s low in fiber and high in fatty and refined food
  • Obesity
  • Inactivity
  • Long periods of sitting or standing
  • Liver disease
  • A hormone imbalance
  • Nutritional deficiencies

TREATMENT

Diet

The low-fiber Western diet leads to constipation. Straining during bowel movements puts intense pressure on the veins of the lower body; over time, it can cause veins to weaken and enlarge. Therapies that encourage regular elimination are an important part of the treatment for varicose veins.

Recommended Food

A high-fiber diet is your best weapon against varicose veins. Reduce your risk of constipation by eating plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits, whole grains, and nuts and seeds.

Consume 1 to 2 tablespoons of ground flaxseeds, along with 10 ounces of water, daily to obtain healthful fiber.

Certain kinds of flavonoids will strengthen the walls of the veins and improve their elasticity. Berries that have a bluish-red color—cherries, blueberries, and blackberries, for example—are rich in the flavonoids you need, so enjoy them often as snacks or dessert. Buckwheat, as a food and in tea forms, is a good source of a flavonoid called rutin, which increases the strength of capillaries. Use it in whole-grain pancakes or breads.

To improve circulation, flavor your meals with garlic, onions, ginger, or cayenne pepper.

Vitamin E is good for the circulation and also helps prevent blood clots. Wheat germ is an excellent source, as are soybeans and leafy greens.


Foods to Avoid

Saturated fats, along with hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils, slow down your circulation and worsen the inflammation of the blood vessels. Avoid them.

Sugar and other refined carbohydrates can lead to weight gain and constipation. Dramatically reduce your intake of sweets and refined foods.

Caffeine and alcohol are dehydrating, and they worsen varicose veins.


Other Recommendations

  • Exercise is one of the best ways to improve varicose veins. Bicycling is highly recommended, as it works the legs without putting a great deal of pressure on them.
  • Avoid long periods of standing and sitting, if you can. Take frequent breaks to walk around or to put your feet up.
  • Elevate the foot of your mattress so that its five to eight inches higher than the head. When you sleep, your blood will flow to your heart more easily, instead of pooling in your veins.
  • Support hose will take pressure off your veins and improve circulation. To get the maximum results, lie down with your legs raised before putting on the hose, so that you aren’t trapping blood in the lower half of your body.
  • If you’re obese, you can significantly reduce varicose veins by losing weight. The dietary suggestions in this section will give you a start.
  • Don’t wear tight clothes that restrict your circulation. Tight pants, garters, and poorly fitting pantyhose will just make the condition worse.


Please consult your Doctor before taking any supplements.




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