Alternative Treatments for Varicose Veins

People suffer from disfigured veins and spider veins on their legs and arms. Knowing more about these veins and what they mean can help you live longer.

Varicose veins can be genetic, and sometimes they depend on how and what a person does for work. The most important issue with varicose veins is that they occur due to poor circulation.

How Varicose Veins Occur

You can be born with weak veins that, as you get older, attempt to widen and dilate to receive all the fast moving blood, but actually swell up instead. It is this swelling that causes the veins to appear on the surface of patients’ legs and arms.

In the event that the veins have popped up out of nowhere, or if they are gradually appearing you may have noticed extensive joint stiffness and achiness as well.

Varicose veins can show up directly from a pregnancy, and as the body stretches to accommodate the baby, the veins in the body stretch as well. Moreover, weight gain is an issue during pregnancy; the extra weight could cause pressure on the veins in the legs, thus preventing a good flow of circulation.

If you are a worker who works in an area where you stand a on your feet throughout the day, you are also at risk for varicose veins. If you work in food stores where you have to carry fifty to sixty pounds, you are at risk for varicose veins.

Putting excessive pressure on the legs at any point during working or strenuous laboring can cause supreme pressure on the legs, which makes them tired. If you do this repeatedly and do not wear any kind of good protective shoes, then your veins will slowly continue to break down.

What to Do if Varicose Veins are Suspected

As a patient, try not to lose hope! These veins can be treated. Upon speaking with your physician you can opt for ambulatory phlebotomy or laser therapy. With either treatment, the veins start to clear up just after a few sessions and the patient will learn from the physician how to handle work-related issues and prevent the onset of more varicose veins.

If you notice any changes at all in your legs, arms or feet and ankles, you should contact your physician immediately. The reasoning behind this could be very simple, or could be very complex.

If you sit or stand for long periods of time, you might consider changing your habits to help increase blood flow to your legs. As with all medically related items, please contact your physician for more information.

Varicose and Spider Veins: Are They Dangerous?

Varicose and spider veins are similar in nature, with the varicose veins being larger, more prominent in appearance, and often painful. Spider veins generally aren't painful, but being closer to the surface of the skin, they may look less appealing, and can also show up on the face, arms and hands, not just the legs.

While more women than men are prone to varicose and spider veins, there are a number of other factors that put one at risk for varicose or spider veins besides gender. For example, heredity, jobs that require standing for long periods, obesity, hormones, certain birth control pill, some hormone replacement therapies, certain medical conditions, and believe it or not, constrictive clothing.

A history of blood clots can also cause someone to be prone to varicose veins, and this can be a very dangerous, even deadly, medical condition if a clot, which is raised, purple, swollen and tender is mistaken as a varicose vein, which can also be raised, purple, swollen and tender, and left untreated.

Lastly, trauma to the skin or bruising and underlying damage to the skin and excessive sun exposure can exacerbate or possibly even cause varicose or spider veins.

Symptoms of Varicose Veins and Spider Veins

Some patients with varicose veins or spider veins will experience no symptoms except those that are visible on the skin. Deep varicose veins might not even be visible. However, most varicose and spider veins will cause at least some discomfort or leg pain, including: aching, cramping, burning, throbbing, tingling or a feeling of heaviness in the legs. Some women report the symptoms can worsen during their menstrual cycle and pregnancy has been known to both exacerbate and cause varicose and spider veins.

In severe cases, varicose veins and spider veins can cause swelling, ulcers on the skin, darkening of the skin, and changes in skin pigmentation around the vein area.

Thrombophlebitis is a condition that can be caused by severe cases of varicose veins, which causes a painful blood clot and inflammation.

Alternative and Self-Care for Varicose Veins

Varicose veins are veins with malfunctioning valves. All veins have valves. As the heart pumps blood through the vessels and back to the heart the valves serve the function of preventing back flow between heart beats. Some individuals are born with damaged valves where others have damaged their valves with a sedentary lifestyle, obesity, smoking, standing in one place for long periods of time or hormonal changes during pregnancy and menopause.

The first symptom of varicosities is when the vein becomes stiff and hard to touch. A swelling or blue coloring might be noticed at this time. Some feel no pain while others feel an aching fatigue accompanied by itching and a burning sensation. These varicosities are not limited to the legs; they can occur in the scrotum, throat or anus (hemorrhoids). As the situation becomes severe, the blood will start to pool where the valve is malfunctioning, causing pain and ulcerations. Due to compromised blood flow, these ulcerations can be very difficult to heal.

Self-Care Measures for Varicose Veins

The most common preventative as well as healing measure is to wear support hose. The hose help by preventing the pooling of blood in the area where the damaged valve is located. During pregnancy, support hose can prevent varicosities and post delivery clot formation. Daily walking and swimming can help by building muscle around the damaged valve. As the system supports the exercising muscle with additional oxygen and nutrients, blood flow increases to the area. In time, collateral circulation is built to support the exercise taking the burden off the damaged vessel.

Massaging the area will promote increases in circulation to prevent pooling of blood. Massaging in an upward motion toward the heart will assist the return blood flow. If the area becomes red or inflamed, massage should be discontinued and a physician visit is warranted. This could indicate infection or clot formation. Massaging a clot may cause it to break free and travel to the lungs, heart or brain, where it can have potential to cause a pulmonary embolism, heat attack or stroke. Lastly, maintain vitamin C levels and eat more fruits and vegetables to assist in the healing process.

Alternative Therapies for Varicose Veins

Fasting is the single most successful alternative therapy to heal varicose veins. A fasting clinic should be consulted for this method as it may take several weeks to heal if obesity or any secondary factors or medication management is needed. Herbal remedies have been successful with continued massage of the area with lotions infused with yarrow, myrrh, hawthorn and gingko. Most of these herbs work by increasing circulation in the area to heal the malfunctioning valve.

Juice feasting is a method that can be taken on by an individual at home that has a very high success rate. This method requires a person to drink from four to six quarts of fresh green plant juices a day for up to three months or more. This feast not only heals the varicosities but the whole body. Another method for those unable to fast or feast is to change to a 100% raw diet, eating mainly fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. Most of the alternative therapies that work require a complete overhaul of diet coupled with regular exercise for the best results.

Recipes for Relieving Venous Insufficiency Naturally

Ten to twenty percent of men develop varicose veins sometime during their lives, and up to one-third of women are affected. For reasons that aren’t clear, women report symptoms more often than men.

Once conservative treatment measures have failed—and they often do when varicose veins are truly symptomatic—medical management usually involves the use of invasive or expensive modalities (or both). Although such methods offer benefit, there doesn’t seem to be much middle ground for dealing with this common condition.

Even if an individual submits to one of several available treatments, it is quite possible that varicose veins will recur—or occur in a different location. The need for repeated visits to a physician can get tedious and frustrating.

Medical management of varicose veins includes conservative measures (weight loss, avoidance of prolonged standing, exercise, elevation of the affected extremity, compression hose or support stockings), external laser therapy, injection sclerotherapy, endovenous procedures, and surgery.

Alternative Treatments for Varicose Veins

Many non-medical treatments for varicose veins—herbs, homeopathy, ayurvedism, reflexology, massage, and aromatherapy—have become a part of popular culture and folk medicine. Few controlled trials have evaluated the effectiveness or safety of most of these approaches, but years of application and anecdotal evidence support their use and attest to their safety.

Herbal Treatments for Varicose Veins

Many herbs can be applied topically as well as taken orally. The advice of an herbalist and/or physician should be sought before using any herbal preparation.

Horse chestnut extract: One of the most popular herbs for treating varicose veins, both topically and systemically. A Cochrane review found that oral horse chestnut extract improved the signs and symptoms of varicose veins when compared to placebo.

Oligomeric proanthocyanidins (OPCs): Found in pine bark and grape seed extracts, these antioxidants—specifically those found in Pycnogenol®, a pine bark product—have proven beneficial for healing venous leg ulcers when applied topically. They can also be taken internally.

Butcher's broom: A member of the lily family, this herb contains ruscogenins, which are believed to strengthen the connective tissue of the vessel walls.
Witch hazel, yarrow, white oak bark, prickly ash, etc.: These herbs act as astringents that shrink inflamed tissues or stimulants that increase circulation.

Herbal Tea for Varicose Veins

  1. Mix three parts (cupfuls, handfuls, teaspoons, etc.) hawthorn berries, two parts yarrow, one part ginger, and two parts prickly ash bark.
  2. Place two tablespoons of mix in one cup of boiling water (use a tea ball).
  3. Add 30 drops of horse chestnut extract.
  4. Steep 15 minutes. Drink three times daily.
  5. Herbal Liniment for Varicose Veins
  6. Mix one part yarrow, one part shepherd’s purse, one part calendula, and a dash of cayenne in a lidded jar; cover with witch hazel extract.
  7. Let stand in cool, dark place for two weeks.
  8. Strain and rebottle.
  9. Apply liberally to affected area three to four times daily

Aromatherapy for Varicose Veins

While the benefits of aromatherapy are questioned by most Western physicians, its proponents swear by it. After all, smells evoke powerful responses, and many essential oils used in aromatherapy have also found use as topical or systemic healing agents.

Lavender, rosemary, chamomile, geranium, and other essential oils have been used for treating varicose veins. Usually, they can be applied to the area surrounding or directly over the affected area. As the oils warm, their essence is aerosolized.

Essential Oils for the Treatment of Varicose Veins

There are a number of essential oils and carrier oils that can help promote blood flow and circulation, help improve tone & elasticity of the veins and and help to prevent a build up of blood in the veins. Application of essential oils is recommended either in a bath or mixed in a blend with a carrier oil.
Massage can be administered for mild cases of varicose veins when they are only slightly darkened and when there is no associated pain. Massage in this case must be upward and gentle, starting from the feet and working up towards the heart.

Massage is contraindicated in the treatment of extreme varicose veins, where there is considerable pain and the veins are raised and visibly distorted from their original pathway.

Essential oils that can help in the treatment of varicose veins

Lemon Citrus limonum is a fabulous tonic for the circulatory system. It's astringent and rubefacient properties means it's very efficient in helping to increase blood flow as well as strengthening and tightening the vein walls. Very effective in any varicose veins treatment.

Cypress Cupressus sempervirens is also a tonic for the circulatory system. A qualified vasoconstrictor, cypress helps the vein walls contract and tighten thereby improving their tone and elasticity. Essential in any varicose veins treatment.

Geranium Pelargonium graveolens, juniper Juniperis communis and rosemary Rosemarinus officinalis all help to tighten the vein walls and improve circulation. NB. Rosemary should not be used if you have high blood pressure.

Carrier oils that can help in the treatment of varicose veins

Hazelnut Corylus avellana has light astringent properties that are helpful in tightening and toning the vein walls. It is also stimulating to the circulation, making it very beneficial as part of a varicose veins treatment.

Calendula Calendula officinalis helps to stop internal bleeding therefore is helpful in clearing away the build up of blood at the top of the valves. It is very effective as part of a varicose veins treatment.

Wheatgerm Triticum vulgare is an effective anticoagulant that helps prevent the build up of blood at the top of the valves. For those susceptible to varicose veins, wheatgerm is a very effective ingredient as part of a daily preventative body blend or a blend to treat varicose veins. It is also a natural preservative for any essential oil blend.

Essential oils and carrier oils can be an effective part of a strategy in the ongoing prevention and treatment of varicose veins. You can consult a professional Aromatherapist who will be able to create a bespoke aromatherapy treatment program for you. You can also use the oils above to create your own blends at home.

Aromatherapy Oil for Varicose Veins

Mix 12 drops each of essential oils of lavender, geranium, and cypress in four ounces of almond or sunflower oil. Gently massage into the skin around the varicose vein, avoiding pressure on the vein itself. Inhale deeply. Enjoy.

For the bath: Use a maximum of six drops of any essential oil combination in the bath, ensuring you dilute them in one tbsp of carrier oil first. Lemon can irritate skin so limit the use of this oil in the bath to 2 drops.

For a daily body blend: Use a maximum of six drops of your chosen essential oils in 15ml of your selected carrier oils. You can apply gently to your skin, concentrating on the affected areas in the morning and evening in place of your regular moisturiser. You will have soft and nourished skin.

Other Modalities for Treating Varicose Veins

  1. Massage, when performed by a qualified practitioner, has been reported to improve the symptoms of varicose veins.
  2. Homeopathy—again, in the hands of an experienced practitioner—may be useful for some individuals. Homeopathic preparations commonly used include Hamamelis, Pulsatilla, Arnica, Aconite napellus, Belladonna, and Mercurius sol.
  3. Reflexology, yoga, juice therapy, hydrotherapy, and systemic cleanses have all been recommended for treating varicose veins. Individual responses vary widely.
  4. Varicose veins are a common and often troublesome problem. For those not wishing to embark immediately on a medical program—or for those seeking a pleasant addition to their medical treatment—alternative therapies might fill a useful niche.

Fruits and Vegetables for Varicose Veins

One of the easiest and most effective ways to help prevent and improve varicose veins, as well as some of the accompanying symptoms, is through diet changes. One of the easiest diet changes is to add certain fruits and vegetables to the diet. Some fruits and vegetables that can help to prevent and improve this condition include bilberries, blueberries and grapes.

Bilberries, Blueberries and Grapes for Varicose Veins

Bilberries are rich in phytonutrients that are known as anthocyanidins. These are antioxidants that work to help strengthen the capillaries, and can help to reduce the swelling of current varicose veins, as well as help to prevent future ones. Bilberries are also rich in fiber, which can help to prevent constipation, which is another common factor for those with this condition and in the development of the condition. Other fruits that are rich in anthocyanidins include blueberries, blackberries, grapes and cherries.

According to James Duke, author of The Green Pharmacy Guide to Healing Foods, a medical study found that taking 150 milligrams of proanthocyanidins in supplemental form, was able to improve the function of leg veins. This occurred after only one dosage. Because of this study, many medical professionals now suggest adding these to the diet through these fruits, or taking it in supplemental form.

Vegetables for Varicose Veins

Vitamin A plays an important role in skin health, and is one of the most important vitamins in regards to trying to prevent and improve varicose veins. Green leafy vegetables, especially those that are dark in color, are particularly rich in this vitamin. Other vegetables that are rich in vitamin C include sweet potatoes, winter squashes, broccoli and carrots.

Although these fruits and vegetables can be very beneficial for those that are trying to prevent or improve varicose veins, they should never be used to replace anything that has been prescribed by a doctor. They also should not be used to replace any suggestions that have been given by a medical professional.


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  • Kurz X, Kahn SR, Abenhaim L, et al. “Chronic venous disorders of the leg: epidemiology, outcomes, diagnosis and management. Summary of an evidence-based report of the V.E.I.N.E.S. task force.” International Angiology.
  • Goldberg, B, Alternative Medicine, Future Medicine Publishing, Inc.
  • Bates,B., Physical Examination, Lippincott
  • Pittler M, Ernst E. Horse chestnut seed extract for chronic venous insufficiency. Cochrane Database Syst Rev.;[1]:CD003230
  • Belcaro G, et al. Venous ulcers: microcirculatory improvement and faster healing with local use of Pycnogenol. Angiology;56[6]:699-705
  • Battaglia, Salvatore, The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy, Perfect Potion, Australia
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  • Murray, Michael & Pizzorno, Joseph & Pizzorno, Lara. The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods Atria.

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  1. Very informative article. My husband got varicose veins in his right leg early in life, and he thinks his were caused by cranking on an old motorcycle that would never start. He would kick on it for hours at a time. Of course delivering the mail for 35 years after that probably didn't help a whole lot. He walked about 15 miles a day, mostly up hills and down.