Dealing with unsightly varicose veins can be much more than just an unpleasant aesthetic issue. For some, they cause significant discomfort and even pain. Those pesky, twisted, and often enlarged veins are most often found in the legs and feet and can indicate a potential circulatory problem. Burning, itching, muscle cramping, or swelling may be signs of a severe complication.
In other cases, the blue or dark purple veins are nothing more than a cosmetic worry. Regardless, there are natural remedies that can help tone down the appearance of varicose veins and even prevent them from developing in the first place.
1. Exercise regularly.
Throwing on a pair of short shorts and hitting the gym may be the last thing on your mind when varicose veins weave up and down your legs, but it’s important to lose any excess weight or to maintain a healthy BMI to keep the offenders at bay. Try a pair of loose, but flattering, sweatpants or yoga pants that don’t cut off circulation in your legs.
Then hit the elliptical, treadmill, or any number of weight machines to work up a sweat. Or, try swimming which will make you feel weightless and also hide any embarrassing veins. In addition to full-body exercise, some simple feet and leg movements will help promote circulation. Flex your feet back and forth, rotate your ankles in both directions, and raise yourself on your toes and back down again.
2. Fill up on fiber.
Most people would benefit from more daily fibre intake, and those with varicose veins could use the extra roughage to promote circulation and keep weight in check. Be sure to get plenty of fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains, and lean proteins. Foods, exceptionally high in vitamin C—like broccoli, berries, citrus fruits, and tomatoes—have been shown to help the body produce collagen.
3. Consider a witch hazel compress.
Soak a cloth in witch hazel and gently apply it to any varicose veins. The astringent properties are intended to tighten and also alleviate inflamed blood vessels temporarily. The tonic’s procyanidins, resin, and flavonoids are also soothing.
4. Eat some pineapple.
A natural anti-inflammatory, bromelain is a blend of digestive enzymes found in pineapple juice and the fruit’s stem. It’s usually taken in capsule or tablet form along with food and has been known to ease pain and swelling in enlarged veins.
5. Try acupuncture.
Those teeny tiny needles used in Traditional Chinese Medicine have been shown to relieve conditions as varied as fibromyalgia, high blood pressure, infertility, and smoking addiction. When it comes to varicose veins, an acupuncturist will focus on the spleen and stomach meridians to boost the patient’s qi, in addition to points near the veins themselves. Although the veins won’t disappear entirely, they may shrink and become less bothersome.
6. See an herbalist.
You may have become familiar with various vitamins and supplements to address all manner of health-related issues, and varicose veins are no different. Experienced herbalists often recommend herbs that contain large amounts of flavonoids to help bolster vein walls. It would help if you didn’t take anything without first asking a professional, but be sure to inquire about horse chestnut, butcher’s broom, and Pycnogenol.
7. Wear compression stockings.
Many medical professionals recommend compression stockings or support hose to gently, but firmly, squeeze your legs and keep the blood flowing correctly all day long. This can make large veins less painful and possibly keep them from worsening. That being said, you should avoid tight clothing that isn’t explicitly designed for the compression function. Putting on a pair of slim-fitting or too-small pants will be counterproductive.
8. Avoid standing or sitting for long periods.
Thanks in part to gravity, standing for a long time causes the blood to pool at the bottom of your legs. Meanwhile, sitting for hours on end at the computer, on the couch, or during a long flight will also stagnate blood flow at the bent hips and knees, and especially if you cross your legs. To keep circulation regulated, try alternating between sitting and standing as much as possible, with some light stretches in between to promote better flow. Also, try elevating your legs (with feet above your heart if possible) to help blood get back to your heart.
Although individual factors such as age and family history contribute to your overall risk level, preventative efforts can go a long way towards fending off varicose veins.