Varicose veins are swollen and twisted blue, red, or skin-colored veins that usually appear in the legs. Although men can also experience varicose veins, varicose veins are most commonly experienced by women and often appear during a pregnancy. According to WomensHealth.gov, one out of two adults experience varicose veins over the age of 50. 1
Causes of Varicose Veins
Varicose veins are caused when the valves in your veins stop blood from flowing normally. Each of your veins have valves that act as one-way flaps. But, if the valves don't close correctly, blood can leak into the lower part of the vein rather than going toward the heart. After awhile, more blood gets stuck in the vein, building pressure, which weakens the vein walls. This causes the vein to grow larger and taken on a spidery appearance. (1)
Symptoms of Varicose Veins
Some women do not have visible signs of varicose veins, but can still experience hot, itchy, throbbing, and achiness in their legs. These symptoms usually become worse after standing or sitting for long periods of time.
It is also common for many pregnant women to develop varicose veins during their pregnancy in their thigh, calves and even their pelvic area. This is due to the extra pressure the uterus puts on the veins as more blood is produced to feed and nourish the unborn baby. It is also common for new varicose veins to develop with each new pregnancy. (1)
Increased Risk Factors
According to the Mayo Clinic, the following factors can increase your risk of developing varicose veins.
Age: As you age, so do your veins. The normal wear and tear of aging can impact the valves in your veins that pushes the blood towards the heart.
Gender: Women are more likely to experience varicose veins because of hormonal chances. Female hormones are more likely to weaken vein walls and cause issues like varicose veins.
Family History: If you have family members with varicose veins, you’re chances of developing them increase.
Obesity: Being overweight puts more pressure on your veins to push the blood back towards your heart. (2)
Prevention and Treatment
According to the Mayo Clinic, there still isn’t any way to completely get rid of varicose veins, but there are preventative measures you can take if you experience any of the above risk factors for developing varicose veins. The Mayo Clinic recommends exercising, watching your weight, Eating a high-fiber, low-salt diet, Avoiding high heels and tight hosiery, Elevating your legs when sitting for long periods of time, and changing your sitting or standing position regularly.(2)
Although there are many more invasive treatments being used by healthcare providers, there are still many natural home remedies that can be used to treat varicose veins if you are looking for a more natural approach. Medical News Today recommends the following natural home remedies to help treat your varicose veins.
Exercise - Swimming, hiking, walking, and yoga are all great ways to prevent and treat varicose veins.
Compression Stockings - you can purchase compression stockings from most pharmacies or they can be ordered online. According to Medical News Today, “a 2018 study found that people who used knee-high compression stockings with a pressure of 18 to 21 mmHg for one week, reported a reduction in the pain and aching associated with varicose veins.” (3)
Essential Oils - Research has shown that Horse Chestnut Oil or Aesculus hippocastanum L. can help to relieve varicose vein pain. Another study cited Sea Pine extract and Butcher's Broom extract call help relieve leg pain and edema which is often associated with varicose veins. Additionally, The Natural Institute of Health cites grape seed as being useful in reducing swelling that can occur with varicose veins.
Dietary Changes - Avoid salty or sodium-filled foods as they can cause the body to retain water. Increase fiber intake and eat more flavonoids like citrus, peppers, spinach, garlic, grapes, cherries, and broccoli. (4)
While there is no sure fire way to eliminate varicose veins or prevent them from developing, taking a more natural approach to prevention and treatment can lead to satisfying results for those experiencing varicose veins.
https://www.womenshealth.gov/files/documents/fact-sheet-varicose-spider-veins.pdf, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/varicose-veins/symptoms-causes/syc-20350643, https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321662.php, https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321703.php