Should You Worry About Varicose Veins?
Your first reaction and concern with varicose veins may be the way they look, but recent studies suggest there may be a possible link between varicose veins and other health problems. Let’s first talk biology and how your veins work. The blood circulatory system functions to deliver nutrients and oxygen to all cells in the body. It consists of the heart and numerous blood vessels. Some blood vessels have more important jobs than others, such as the blood vessels that carry blood to and from the heart.
Blood vessels that carry blood away from the heart are called “arteries” (aorta and vena cava), and blood vessels that carry blood to the heart are called “veins.” Of the two, “veins” have to fight against the pull of gravity to transport blood that has been cleaned and oxygenated back to your heart. In order to stop the blood flow from moving backwards, your veins are equipped with a one-way valve. When these valves are weak or damaged, blood can back up and begin to pool in your veins. The veins then enlarge and become engorged with pooling blood, known as varicose veins, also referred to as venous insufficiency. A vein that has enlarged and twisted often appears as a bulging, blue, red or flesh colour blood vessel that is visible through the skin. The vessels may appear blue because light has penetrated the skin, affecting the colour wavelength and illuminating them. Blood in your body is red, not blue. Varicose veins are more likely to affect the legs because they are the farthest from your heart. There are many factors that can increase your risk for varicose veins including family history (50% more likely to have varicose veins) older age wear and tear on veins and valves, pregnancy, (growing fetus puts pressure on veins in mothers’ legs), gender (women more likely than men), overweight and obesity, (causes more stress on seams), lack of movement and leg trauma. Another important take away before we discuss natural remedies for prevention is that “varicose veins” are not “spider veins.” “Spider veins” are smaller, red, blue or purple vessels that spread out like a web, close to the skins’ surface, hence the name. A weakness in the vein creates them, most likely the capillaries and they don’t typically cause any discomfort.
Natural Remedies for Varicose Veins
Your varicose veins may never bother you, but in some cases, they can cause pain in the legs, blood clots, skin ulcers, swelling of the legs or ankles and a heavy feeling in the legs. They may also increase a person’s risks of blood clots and deep vein thrombosis. You cannot naturally reverse varicose veins or spider veins; both often involve painful cosmetic procedures. There is also no cure for varicose veins, so your best course of action is to help prevent them if you are at risk. Support the symptoms and the underlying cause (the breakdown of the vein). Veins lose their elasticity, causing weak vein walls, which then create weak vein valves. The first step is just that…taking steps.
Exercise, even moderate walking, will help increase circulation. Avoid standing for extended periods. Set a timer to remind yourself to get up and walk around. Strengthen and help rebuild vein walls, capillaries and valves with herbs such as Horse Chestnut and Grape Seed Extract. Horse Chestnut may help reduce inflammation and edema as well as enhance the tone and fluid balance of veins. It also helps improve the elastic strength of veins and block the release of enzymes that may form holes in capillary walls. The process of Horse Chestnut may help to reduce the heavy sensation of legs, restless leg cramping, itching and swelling. Grape Seed Extract contains proanthocyanidins, which can help reduce leakage in the veins and swelling in the legs and strengthen blood vessels and circulation. Natural Factors Horse Chestnut and Grape Seed Extract are excellent supplement options as both recommended products are in one supplement. Topically, try Witch Hazel (as an astringent to help tighten, tone, and shrink visible veins). Cypress Essential Oil helps increase circulation and supports the circulatory system. Try rubbing five drops of cypress essential oil mixed with a carrier oil on the problematic area twice daily for several weeks.
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