Natural Varicose Vein Treatments
First things first: today’s topic, varicose veins and spider veins, are rarely a health threat. But let’s face it—they’re not pretty and they can be sore or uncomfortable. So, for the 60 percent of you who have or might have one or both types of unattractive veins, learning how to prevent or eliminate them seems well worth it.
Two types of affected vein
The blue or purple, twisty, lumpy veins just beneath the skin of (most often) your legs and ankles are varicose veins. They carry blood from your legs back up to your heart.
The small, twisted, red, purple, or blue veins that appear in a spider web pattern on the legs or face are spider veins.
What causes spider/varicose veins?
Healthy veins carry blood from your legs to your heart through a series of one-way valves. These allow blood to flow only in the right direction, from surface or near surface veins to the deeper veins that send it on to the heart. All around these veins are muscles that provide the contractions that keep the blood moving.
Like many of our systems, as we age, our venous valves, our muscles, or our blood don’t always behave as they should. This can lead to blood flow slowing and collecting inside the vein.
As the blood pools, the pressure makes the vein bulge and twist. It’s like those long, skinny balloons clowns use to create fanciful critters for the kids—squeeze it here and it bulges there.
Whether it becomes a varicose or a spider vein depends on the vein’s size and on how much it swells.
As I mentioned, varicose and spider veins rarely threaten your health, but the varicose kind can cramp or throb at night as the unaccustomed amount of blood pools. This can also make your legs feel oddly heavy and difficult to lift. Sometimes fluid leakage from the overstretched vessels can impede blood circulation to the skin, which can cause an itchy rash or an ulcer.
Who Gets Spider/Varicose Veins?
Varicose and spider veins can show up in anyone. Women, however, are twice as likely to have them as men. A job that involves a lot of standing can be a contributing factor, and so can obesity, pregnancy, a past trauma, or a past surgery. People with genetic predisposition for weak veins are more susceptible, as well.
Hormones also play a significant role, which explains why women are so much more susceptible. Puberty, pregnancy and menopause, or taking estrogen, progesterone, or birth control pills all have been shown to weaken vein valves.
Preventing Spider/Varicose Veins
Exercise is the best way to keep spider and varicose veins from popping up. Keep your weight under control and your leg muscles toned, and your blood will flow freely.
I also recommend:
- Avoid sitting with your legs crossed—it puts a lot of pressure on the veins
- Elevate your legs when resting—especially pregnant women.
- If you’re stuck sitting somewhere—a long flight, your desk—get up and walk for at least a few minutes every hour.
- Losing weight and walking regularly can ease the symptoms of both spider veins and varicose veins. If swelling is a problem, try a low-salt diet to reduce water retention. Whenever possible, prop up your legs with a pillow or recliner, so they rest at or above the level of your heart.
- Wear sunscreen, especially to protect against spider veins on the face.
Of course, a healthy diet is the foundation of all good health. Go for fresh, organic, and local, with low carbs and high fiber to control your weight and keep circulatory systems running smoothly.
I recommend supplementing with:
- Coenzyme Q10, 100 mg daily, for healthy circulation and tissue oxygenation
- Omega-3 oils, 1,000 mg daily, to ensure blood vessel elasticity
- Ginkgo biloba, starting with 60 mg twice daily, up to 120 mg twice daily, for vein health
- Vitamin K, but only if you’re vitamin K-deficient (ask your doctor to check your levels)
- Horse chestnut seed extract, 100-150 mg per day, to thin the blood (be sure to check with your doctor if you’re already taking a blood thinner)
- Collisonia root, between 1 and 4 grams in capsule, or 3 cups of tea daily, to help strengthen vein walls and prevent blood pooling.
Removing affected vein(s)
If you’re looking for ways to eliminate varicose or spider veins, you have good choices. We can target and remove them more accurately and less invasively than ever before.
A new diagnostic tool, duplex ultrasound, takes sharp, three-dimensional pictures of the leg’s entire circulatory system, to pinpoint affected veins. This helps your doctor pick the best procedure for eliminating them. We used to have to listen to blood flow with a special audio detecting device and take an educated guess about which veins are affected and where.
What’s important here is that the veins that do the heavy lifting are deeper beneath the surface than the veins susceptible to becoming varicose or spider veins. So when affected veins are removed, the deeper veins take over to keep the blood moving.
Here are ways to eliminate spider and varicose veins.
Support stockings. It’s not yet time to toss those old-school compression stockings. You can’t beat the price or the simplicity, and they still help improve circulation and keep veins from bulging. Try them. If you get good results, continue wearing them. And if you’re genetically predisposed, or see early signs, or have had a procedure to remove affected veins, I recommend wearing them as often as you comfortably can.
Sclerotherapy. A doctor injects a solution into the affected vein. It’s a simple concept—the vein is destroyed, and eventually disappears. The procedure is not so simple, however, requiring high-level technical skills to prevent unwanted side effects. Sclerotherapy eliminates 80 percent of treated veins. Spider veins usually vanish in 3–6 weeks, varicose veins over 3–4 months. Once gone, the veins do not reappear.
Laser and light therapy. The heat of an intense pulse of light destroys spider veins and small varicose veins, creating scar tissue that eventually closes off the vein. It can take a year or more for the vein to disappear completely, and more than one session is usually needed. But the job gets done.
Radiofrequency ablation. The idea here is similar to laser/light therapy. A small catheter delivers radiofrequency energy (instead of laser energy) directly into the vein wall, causing it to heat up and collapse. After about a year, the dead vein disappears. The results are comparable to vein surgery, but there is less risk and pain.
Vein surgery. When veins don’t respond to other therapies, surgery is an option. This involves tying off a vein and removing the affected segment, with the patient under local or general anesthesia. The procedure is successful for most people and doesn’t require a hospital stay.
Ambulatory phlebectomy. This is an older technique that still works. The vein is extracted using a tiny hook. Once it’s out, that’s it. There’s no dead tissue that takes weeks, months, or years to break down and eliminate. Some people prefer this to an extended waiting time.
Always consult with your doctor before making any decisions to proceed with any of these options. And remember that exercise and diet are the best way to prevent problems of all sorts.
Take good care.
- “Normal Testosterone and Estrogen Levels in Women” Published NA. Last accessed January 29, 2017.
- “Gingko” Mayo Clinic. Updated November 1, 2013. Last accessed January 29, 2017.
- Lawrence, Star. “New Treatments for Varicose Veins” Published NA. Last accessed January 29, 2017.
- “Home remedies for varicose veins” Top 10 home remedies. Published NA. Last accessed January 29, 2017.
- “Horse chestnut”com. Published April 24, 2014. Last accessed January 29, 2017.
- “Varicose Veins and Spider Veins”gov. Updated January 4, 2017. Last accessed January 29, 2017.
- Seward, Marc. “6 Proven Collinsonia Root Benefits” Healthy Focus. Published August 28, 2016. Last accessed January 29, 2017.
Last Updated: August 16, 2018
Originally Published: February 24, 2017