Varicose veins occur when a person’s veins become swollen and enlarged.
For some people, they can cause pain and discomfort. However, there are a number of home treatments that can help reduce the appearance and pain of varicose veins.
About 20 percent of adults will experience varicose veins at some point.
There are several medical treatments for this condition, although a person may also want to try natural home remedies to relieve their symptoms.
In this article, we will look at 10 natural ways to treat varicose veins at home.
What are varicose veins?
Varicose veins are noticeable because of their dark blue or purple appearance, and they also often protrude under the skin on the legs.
Varicose veins can develop when the small valves in the veins become weak. These valves normally stop blood from flowing backwards through the veins, and when they are damaged, blood can pool in the veins. This causes twisted and swollen veins that also become very visible.
Other symptoms of varicose veins include:
- burning or throbbing sensation in the legs
- uncomfortable legs that feel heavy or painful
- muscle cramps that may be more noticeable at night
- swelling of the feet and ankles
- dry or itchy skin that appears thinner over varicose veins
The ten best natural treatments for varicose veins
If you have varicose veins, you can try the following home remedies to help manage the condition and improve symptoms:
Regular exercise promotes better blood circulation in the legs, which helps push the blood that has accumulated in the veins.
Exercise also helps to naturally lower a person’s blood pressure, which is another contributing factor to varicose veins.
Low-impact exercises help lower leg muscles work without excessive strain. Effective low-impact exercises include:
- Bike ride
2. Compression socks
Compression stockings are available at most pharmacies and can help put pressure on your legs. This helps the muscles and veins to push blood towards the heart.
Studies have found that people who used knee-high compression stockings with a pressure of 18 to 21 mmHg for one week reported a reduction in pain associated with varicose veins.
Compression stockings can be found in pharmacies or online stores.
3. Plant extracts
Research suggests that horse chestnut extract, Aesculus hippocastanum L., may help reduce leg pain, heaviness and itching in people with chronic venous insufficiency, which is the main cause of varicose veins.
Also, one study reports that an extract of maritime pine, Pinus maritima, and an extract of butcher’s broom, Ruscus aculeatus, can reduce leg swelling or edema often associated with varicose veins.
Plant extracts and essential oils should be diluted in carrier oils before topical application or use in an aromatherapy diffuser.
4. Changes in diet
Foods rich in potassium, such as almonds and pistachios, can help varicose veins by reducing water retention in the body.
Salty foods or foods high in sodium can cause the body to retain water, so cutting down on salty foods can reduce water retention. Foods rich in potassium can reduce water retention.
Foods rich in potassium include:
Food with fiber helps maintain proper bowel function and prevents constipation. This can be important, as stress can aggravate damaged valves or make them worse.
Foods rich in fiber include:
- nuts, seeds and legumes
- oats, wheat and linseed
- whole foods
People who are overweight are more likely to experience varicose veins, so shedding extra pounds can reduce pressure on the veins and relieve swelling and discomfort.
5. Eat more flavonoids
Adding foods that contain flavonoids can also help reduce varicose veins.
Flavonoids improve blood circulation, which will maintain blood flow and reduce the likelihood of pooling in the veins. They also help reduce blood pressure in the arteries and can relax blood vessels, all of which can reduce varicose veins.
Foods that contain flavonoids include:
- vegetables, including onions, peppers, spinach and broccoli
- citrus fruits and grapes, cherries, apples and blueberries
6. Herbal medicines
According to the European Institute of Health, taking grape seed extract, Vitis vinifera, orally can help reduce leg swelling and other symptoms of chronic venous insufficiency.
A person prescribed blood thinners should avoid taking grape seed extract as a dietary supplement, as it may interact with the medication and increase the risk of bleeding.
7. Choose clothes that do not restrict you
Wearing tight clothing can restrict blood flow. A person may find that their circulation improves by wearing loose clothing that does not restrict blood flow to the lower body.
Wearing flat shoes instead of high heels can also help with varicose veins in the legs.
8. The legs should be elevated
Keeping your legs elevated, ideally at or above your heart, will help improve circulation. This reduces the pressure in the veins of the legs, and gravity will help the blood flow smoothly back to the heart.
A person should aim to keep their legs elevated if they will be sitting for long periods of time, for example while working or resting.
Gently massaging the affected areas can help keep the blood moving through the vessels. For optimal effects, a person can use gentle massage oils or moisturizing cream.
It is crucial to avoid direct pressure on the veins, as this can damage the fragile tissues.
10. Keep moving
Avoid sitting for long periods of time. If a person has to sit for a long time at work, he should try to get up and move around or change his position often to keep the blood flowing smoothly.
Avoid sitting with your legs crossed, as this can further restrict blood flow to your legs and feet, which can lead to circulation problems.
Medical treatments of varicose veins
A number of medical options are available if home treatments have not improved the condition.
If home treatments for varicose veins do not work or cause severe discomfort, treatment is available to help control varicose veins. The doctor may prescribe the following:
- Endothermal ablation. This is a procedure where heat is used to seal the affected veins.
- Outpatient phlebectomy. There, the doctor will pierce the skin and remove varicose veins through small slits. Scarring afterwards is usually minimal.
- Sclerotherapy. This procedure uses a specific foam to close the veins and shrink them.
- Connecting and disconnecting. Varicose veins are surgically removed with this procedure.
- Laser operations. Here, intense bursts of light are directed at the vein, causing it to gradually fade and disappear.
- Endoscopic vein surgery. During this operation, a tiny video camera is inserted into the leg to help the surgeon see better. The veins are then removed through a series of small incisions.
A final message
Varicose veins can cause discomfort. Varicose veins can be treated at home, and diet and lifestyle changes can improve symptoms.
People with severe varicose veins may want to seek medical treatments to improve their symptoms.
Talking to your doctor about your options will help you make the best and most informed decision about the right treatment for varicose veins.