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VARICOSE VEINS

Veins are blood vessels in the body that transport deoxygenated blood from the outer parts of the body back to the heart and lungs. Sometimes, veins can become abnormally thick or enlarged. These are known as varicose veins. While varicose veins can form anywhere in the body, they are generally located in the legs and in the U.S. alone, an estimated 19% of men and 36% of women have them.

Varicosities is the term used to describe the thickened, twisting or dilated parts of the vein.

Varicose veins can form anywhere in the body, but they are most often located in the legs and are inherited in most cases. They also tend to become more prominent with age.

The veins in the legs are either superficial, which are close to the skin or deep, which are embedded in muscle and connective tissue which aid in pumping blood. Both are connected by the communicator or perforator veins. The superficial veins are usually the veins that become varicosed. The deep veins have one-way valves to prevent them from developing varicosities.

Generally, blood travels from the superficial veins to the deep veins. From there, the blood travels through a network of larger veins back to the heart.

There are many theories pertaining to the cause of varicose veins but the majority of experts believe that defective/damaged valves within the veins are the primary cause.

The primary function of the valves is keep blood in the veins moving toward the heart by preventing backward flow of blood. Experts are still unsure why these valves can sometimes stop working, but genetic inheritance is one theory gaining a lot of support.

Abnormalities in the wall of the vein can be a problem that people are born with. This can result in leaky valves caused by weakness. When a person with with valves that function poorly stands up, a reversal of blood flow occurs and the blood flows down the superficial veins rather than flowing up, toward the heart. Eventually, a build up of pressure will occur as a result of the muscles that surround the deep veins contracting and emptying the deeper veins which cause even more blood to flow in the wrong direction. This increased pressure in the superficial veins is how varicosities are formed.

Many factors can make the situation worse including:

- Pregnancy

- Prolonged Standing

- Obesity

- Straining

- Prior Surgery or Trauma to the Leg

- Age

For most people, there are no symptoms involved with varicose veins. They are mainly a cosmetic problem.

For those who do experience symptoms, they include:

- Veins which protrude or bulge from under the skin and may feel hard.

- Aching in the Legs

- Severe pain upon standing

- Leg Cramps at Night

In many cases, varicose veins develop a blood clot along with inflammation of a segment of vein known as superficial thrombophlebitis. These clots are usually harmless.

Deep vein thrombophlebitis, which is a blood clot in a deep vein, is something different however. This case of thrombophlebitis is more serious because of the clot's potential to travel toward the heart and lodge in the lung. This condition requires immediate medical attention.

There is no sure-fire to way to prevent varicose veins, especially if they are hereditary. There are however, some safe, natural steps you can take to avoid developing them.

Maintain a Healthy Weight

Exercise that works the legs is beneficial, especially walking in water.

Avoid Wearing Socks with tight elastic around the calves

Avoid Standing for Long Periods of Time

Rest & Elevate the Legs Whenever Possible

Supplementing with the following may also be beneficial:

Coenzyme Q10 (100 mg daily) - Improves tissue oxygenation & increases circulation.

Coenzyme A (take as directed on label) - Works with coenzyme Q10 to support the immune system.

Dimethylgycine (50 mg 3 times daily) - Improves oxygen utilization in the tissues.

Essential Fatty Acids (take as directed on label) - Reduces pain & aids in keeping blood vessels soft.

Glutathione (take as directed on label) - Protects the heart, veins & arteries from oxidant damage.

Horse Chestnut - Significantly reduces swelling and heaviness in the legs.

Bilberry Leaf - Effective in treating varicose veins.

Grape Seed Extract - Improves collagen and controls capillary leakage.

Quercetin (500 to 600 mg three times daily with meals) - A powerful bioflavonoid that strengthens the walls of veins to prevent and heal varicosities.

Aside from the heart, two of the most important parts of our circulatory system are the arteries and the veins.  The arteries and veins function like channels for the blood. The heart pumps the oxygenated blood, and artery carries this blood towards the cells, tissues and organs.  Cells, tissues and organs utilize the nutrients and other elements carried by the blood, particularly the oxygen, to perform their functions. The unoxygenated blood will then be carried by another vehicle, called veins, towards the heart and lungs to be oxygenated, and the cycle continues.

To propel blood towards the heart, veins have valves that close and open to keep blood flowing towards the heart.  Additionally, since many veins are working against the force of gravity, they need valves to push the blood up and prevent it from pooling at the distal area of the extremities.  If the valves fail to function, blood pools and varicose veins occur.  Thus, it is best to follow some effective remedies mentioned below to prevent varicose veins from developing or worsening.

1.      Get rid of excess weight

Obesity causes varicose veins because the increasing weight of the body puts pressure on the legs.  This is also true for pregnant women.  Anybody who has a protruding abdomen, such as being obese or being pregnant, has a higher risk of getting dilated, long and tortuous veins because of the additional strain in the vein’s valves placed on the lower limbs.

Additionally, obesity and pregnancy intensifies the work of the heart in pumping more blood to the different parts of the body, especially to the lower limb, thereby adding more tension to the veins of lower limbs to propel blood back to heart. Naturally, to prevent getting varicose veins, one should first get rid of excess weight. For pregnant women, this happens after the ninth month only, after they are able to give birth.  But for obese individuals, losing weight will slow down the process of getting varicose veins.  80% of those affected by this condition is due to heredity, when they have fewer valves or the walls of the veins are weak to support the pressure. If one has less weight, the risk of developing varicose veins is decreased.

2.      Exercise regularly

If having varicose veins is inherited, it is not totally preventable.  But having an improved circulation, especially at the lower limb will reduce varicose veins or prevent them from forming.  There are some people with varicose veins who are terrified of exercising thinking that the veins will burst if they make any movements, or will worsen the condition.  But proper exercise especially that which involves the muscles of the legs, can actually help in the prevention of the disease.  How is this so? The goal is to push blood towards the upper part of the body, that is, to prevent pooling of blood in the lower parts due to weak vein valves.  If valves are the problem, then the best solution is to create a mechanism that will push blood upwards.  Since the veins are surrounded by muscles that either contract or relax, the muscles will be an effective body structure to make thrusting motions.  Contraction of muscles happen when one does exercises.  According to medicmagic.net, the following are best exercises for varicose vein prevention: calf stretch, pedaling, tiptoe, walking in heels, lift legs and knees bent.  By doing these exercises, circulation will be improved and varicose veins will be prevented. Just remember that there is a need to rest after every exercise by elevating legs 15-30 centimeters above the heart.

3.      Modify your diet

Diet can alleviate the aggravating symptoms of the disease.  When one decreases salt intake and sticks to the recommended daily allowance, there is a resulting decrease in water retention.  Water retention causes greater dilation of the varicosities. By reducing salt intake and condiments consumption, varicose will be prevented.  Besides, there is already enough salt in raw vegetables and most foods; there is no need to add more salt in them anymore.

Alcohol, on the other hand, dilates the peripheral blood vessels.  As the veins dilate, there will be more pooling of blood towards the feet and legs.  Having a well-balanced diet is one of the effective remedies in preventing varicose veins.  A diet rich in vitamin C and protein can help in making the tissues more resilient due to proper formation of collagen.

4.      Use support stockings

A support stocking is not like any other stockings. Support stockings are tighter at the region near the ankle compared to the top.  Using this will allow compression of the lower portion of the legs, creating pressure and squeezing the blood back towards the heart.  It is best to consult a doctor as to the right fit of the support stockings.  Support stockings are used during waking hours when one is standing.  But to apply this, wear the stockings in the morning before getting out of the bed.  As one stands up, the blood rushes down due to gravity.  This makes it hard for the stockings to wear or to compress the bulging veins.  Aside from making your legs look better, support stockings will also lessen the symptoms, such as pain and discomfort.

5.      Rest your legs

Elevating your legs above the level of the heart, by the aid of gravity, will push the blood back to the heart. It also helps in relieving the pain and other symptoms of the disease.  It is recommended to elevate legs for 10 minutes once an hour. However, always remember that sitting for long periods of time is not recommended.  The flexion of the hips and knees for an extended period of time will aggravate the symptoms of varicose veins.

6.      Yoga

There are several yoga positions that are beneficial in preventing varicose veins.  According to indianetzone.com, the following are useful positions:  Sarvangasana, Shirshashana, Viparitkarani, Tadasana, Paschimottanasana, Pawanmuktasana, Janushirasana, Gomukhasana and many others.  These are mostly inverted positions that help in allowing the blood in the lower extremities to flow back to the heart.

7.      Home Remedies

a.       Vegetable juices

Drinking 300ml of raw vegetable juices, such as carrot juice or spinach juice, will help in the treatment of varicose veins.  The nutrients of these vegetables have shown to decrease chances of developing varicosities.

b.      Cider vinegar

Cider vinegar when used in cooking will shrink the food as it absorbs the vinegar.  This is the same principle many people are using when they use vinegar as a remedy for varicose veins.  If apple cider vinegar is applied topically on the enlarged, tortuous veins, the vein will shrink in size.  By applying cider vinegar soaked in cheesecloth two times a day for 30 minutes, a noticeable shrinkage will happen within four to six weeks.

c.       Rosemary oil

Rosemary oil is an extraction from the plant Rosmarinus officinalis or Rosmarinus coronarium.  The distilled flowering tops of this plant can actually help in many diseases and help alleviate symptoms of diseases such as atherosclerosis, palpitations and poor circulation.  It also has pronounced effect on the central nervous system.  For varicose veins, massaging the oil of Rosemary gently on the affected area can help promote better circulation because of the oil’s dilating effects on the blood vessels.

 

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