If you're one of the 80 million Americans with varicose veins, your legs probably spend most of the time hidden under long pants and floor length skirts. Unfortunately, up to 25% of women and 18% of men will develop varicose veins at some point in their lives. Typically, varicose veins are characterized by bulging, blue, sometimes painful and inflamed veins that appear primarily in the calves and thighs. While age and heredity play a role in the development of these circulatory problems, there are steps you can take to help prevent varicose veins or, if you already suffer from them, ease the discomfort they can create.
Eating a well-balanced diet centered around colorful fruits and vegetables, and fiber-rich whole grains supports a healthy circulatory system. Research also suggests that monounsaturated fats from foods like olives, avocados, and nuts , as well as omega-3 fatty acids from fish and flaxseed enhances circulation.
Your strategy for battling varicose veins is twofold: improving the circulation and strengthening the vein walls. Regular walking and gentle stretching exercises strengthen the muscles around the veins and enhance circulation. This may help to lessen the pain and discomfort. But choose your exercise carefully. Jogging and other higher-impact exercises (like step aerobics) put too much pressure on the already overtaxed leg veins. If walking isn’t an option, swimming and bicycling are good alternatives. Exercise can also help you lose extra weight, which will lower pressure on the leg veins. Since blood has a tendency to pool around the ankles when you have vein problems, try putting your feet up for 10 minutes every day, making sure that your legs are higher than your head. This strategy uses gravity to help return blood to the heart.
Butcher’s broom: relieves the discomforts of varicose veins, including leg pain, swelling, numbness, cramping, and that “heavy leg” sensation, according to one review of 25 clinical trials that appeared in the journal International Angiology. For even better results, try taking butcher's broom along with vitamin C to boost its effectiveness; several studies have shown that the combination increases the herb's potency. Typical dosage: 150 mg three times a day.
Diosmin: is an antioxidant-rich bioflavonoid clinically shown to reduce the visible signs of varicose veins, and alleviate swelling and heaviness. What makes diosmin so unique is its ability to specifically target the blood vessels in the legs, improving both elasticity and microcirculation while relieving pain and inflammation. Because of its direct action on the integrity of vein walls, diosmin also reduces the amount of fluid that leaks out of them. And because it is a potent antioxidant, diosmin also prevents free radical damage that can undermine vein health. Typical dosage: 500 to 1,000 mg daily.
Horse chestnut: reduces fluid leakage from blood vessel walls, making it effective for the prevention of varicose veins. Horse chestnut seed extract’s active ingredient, a triterpene saponin called escin, inhibits enzymes that corrode a vein’s support structure and cause it to leak. It’s so effective that one study found that it reduced capillary leakage by 22 percent. It also tones veins and improves blood flow by increasing elasticity in the vein walls. Typical dosage: 300 mg twice a day of a standardized extract containing 50 mg of escin.