Herbal relief for swollen, uncomfortable varicose veins

Herbal relief for swollen, uncomfortable varicose veins

How would you like to live in a house that had an exit but no entrance? I imagine it would make life rather difficult. It would make life just as difficult-impossible, really-if our hearts only had an exit. See, the system that returns blood to the heart is just as important as the system that delivers it to your body parts. Yet one of the most neglected fields of research has been the study of the veins. They may not seem as important as the dynamic arterial system that exits from the heart and pumps blood to the far reaches of your body: The venous system is quieter, and you can’t feel it as you can the pulsing arteries.

The blood coursing through your veins circulates at a very low pressure, and it has always amazed me that it works at all. But you probably don’t care much about the physiological explanation of your varicose veins. You just want to get rid of them.

Until recently, diseases of the veins, such as varicosities (varicose veins) and lymphedema (swelling of a body part), were considered, for the most part, to be untreatable-except for surgery and physical means such as bandaging. But research has started to emerge showing that there may be safe, effective herbal treatments available for the dangers associated with varicose veins.

Varicose veins: more than a vanity issue

Chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) is a nebulous term indicating that the patient’s vein circulation is failing and, as a consequence, the blood is “backing up” in the tissues and in the veins themselves. When blood backs up in the tissues, it produces edema (swelling). When blood pools in the veins, it causes the hated varicosities.

Things can get ugly with serious varicose veins. A reddish-brown discoloration of the lower leg may develop, but the risks extend beyond the cosmetic. Patients with venous insufficiency often complain of a dull ache in their leg(s) that worsens with prolonged standing and is alleviated when the legs are elevated. The swelling may get so severe that the person can only wear sandals. And ulcers may develop at the ankles. Cellulitis, a deep inflammation and infection of the skin may develop. The legs are literally drowning in their own juice.

Recent studies have shown that a product called Pycnogenol ® made from pine bark extract, significantly improves symptoms of CVI.

In one study, 40 participants were divided into two groups. One group was given 100 milligrams of Pycnogenol three times a day for two months. The other group was given a placebo. At the end of the study, 60 percent of the patients taking Pycnogenol showed complete disappearance of swelling. I’ll admit I’m still somewhat skeptical, but it appears to be very safe–so you should feel free to try Pycnogenol. Take 100 milligrams three times a day for two months and let me know how your results turn out.

Another herbal therapy that has shown dramatic results in treating varicose veins is horse chestnut extract. A 1996 study involving more than 5,000 patients with CVI found that horse chestnut extract improved symptoms of swelling and leg heaviness significantly.

We need to know more about the physiology and the pathology of veins. I’ll look into it and report back. Here are some things you can do in the meantime.

Actions to take:

(1) Pycnogenol is available from many health food stores. Take 100 milligrams three times a day for two months.

(2) Horse chestnut extract is also available in most health food stores. Take 600 milligrams per day.

(3) First thing in the morning, walk as much as you can. After the walk, elevate your legs to 45 degrees for at least 30 minutes.

(4) Always sleep with your legs elevated.

(5) Wear well-fitting support stockings when exercising and during the day. Don’t wear them to bed. RH

“Pycnogenol in chronic venous insufficiency,” Fitoterapia 2000; 71(3): 236-244

“A treatment so effective for varicose veins, even mainstream medicine accepts it,” Nutrition & Healing 2001; 8(11): 6-7