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Varicose Veins and Spider Veins

[Basic Anatomy Related to Varicose Veins | What Causes Varicose Veins and Spider Veins?]
[What are the Common Medical Treatments for Varicose Veins? | Natural Treatments for Healthy Legs]

[More Natural Treatments for Healthy Legs | Additional Tips for Healthy, Great Legs]

Varicose & Spider Veins!

Varicose veins and spider veins affect many women's lives, not only physically, but also emotionally. Although men are also affected, spider and varicose veins are far more common among women affecting nearly 50 percent of adults.

Basic Anatomy Related to Varicose Veins

In order to understand what varicose and spider veins are, you need to understand some simple anatomy, and how the body works.  Blood pulses through the arteries, powered by the beating of the heart, to provide nutrients and oxygen to the body tissues.  It returns to the heart by means of the veins.  The veins are also vessels in graduated sizes, but unlike the arteries, they have tiny valves on their inner walls to prevent the blood from flowing backward.  In the legs, the blood must flow through the veins upwards against the force of gravity. 

If the valves do not work properly, circulation is impaired and blood accumulates in the veins, stretching them.  The result is varicose veins – abnormally enlarged, bulging, often bluish and lumpy-looking.  These prominent varicose veins are often accompanied by dull, nagging aches and pains.  Swelling or edema (that causes the ankle, feet or legs to be fatter or thicker), leg sores, itching, leg cramps, and a feeling of heaviness in the legs are characteristic of varicose veins.  If you have a continuous varicose vein condition involving increased pressure in the vein system of the leg, your circulation may be impaired to the point that the tissues suffer.  The resulting tissue damage is called a chronic venous statis ulcer where the skin becomes reddened and inflamed. 

Spider veins are unsightly, and sometimes uncomfortable, enlargement of smaller veins (sometimes called broken capillaries) which are the smallest and closest to the skin surface, and appear in tangly clusters of red, blue or purple veins.  Primarily, spider veins occur on the legs but can also be seen on the face and elsewhere on the body. 

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What Causes Varicose and Spider Veins?
Lack of circulation contributes to the formation of varicose veins, and so they are more common in people who sit or stand in one position for prolonged periods of time, people who habitually sit with their legs crossed, and those who lack proper regular exercise. Excess weight, heavy lifting, and pregnancy put increased pressure on the legs, increasing the likelihood of developing varicose veins. Constipation, phlebitis, heart failure, and liver malfunction can also play a role in the formation of varicose veins.

What are the Common Medical Treatments for Varicose Veins?
In the past, leg wraps and surgery were the only medical treatments for varicose veins. A graduated pressure stocking can improve the circulation to minimize varicose veins as long as the stocking is worn.  A graduated pressure stocking is one which puts a lot of pressure on the skin at the level of the ankle and less and less pressure higher up the stocking.  Traditional varicose vein–stripping is done in the operating room and is costly and uncomfortable.  Spider veins don’t pose a health hazard so treatment is considered cosmetic, and insurance generally won’t pick up the tab.  For spider veins and small varicose veins, the most common treatment is sclerotherapy.  Using a needle, a special solution is injected into the varicose veins, causing them to close up or collapse.  You may need to wear bandages or compression stockings for a time after the varicose vein reduction procedure.  You might experience swelling, bruising, itching, redness, or soreness.  And it’s not a one-shot deal; you need to go back for 3-5 varicose vein treatment sessions.  Sclerotherapy costs between $250 and $400 per session.  Laser varicose vein treatment is more expensive and hurts more. Surgical treatment of varicose veins may be covered by insurance, but varies from one carrier to another. 

However, none of these varicose vein treatments treats the underlying cause of the varicose veins.  They only treat the varicose vein symptoms, so your varicose and spider veins may return. 

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Natural Treatments for Healthy Legs

But now current scientific research shows that the popular natural European remedy Horse Chestnut Seed Extract (HCSE) and other nutritional supplements are clinically proven safe and effective. Horse Chestnut is used both externally as a cream and as an ingestible capsule to treat chronic venous insufficiency (varicose vein problems) and venous edema (swollen legs and feet). Horse chestnut works by decreasing capillary permeability, increasing venous tone, and stabilizing the capillary endothelium. Horse chestnut boosts vein integrity, inhibits vein swelling, relieves inflammation, and strengthens and tones blood vessels, enabling them to function properly.1, 2

In one study, 5,000 patients were treated for chronic venous insufficiency (varicose veins). All symptoms of varicose veins—tiredness, tension, leg swelling, itching and edema—either disappeared completely, or improved markedly.3 Another study measured the extent to which Horse Chestnut limited the capillary filtration coefficient. It effectively prevented fluid from leaking out of veins and capillaries, and thus reduced leg swelling associated with varicose veins.4

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More Natural Nutrients for Healthy Legs

In addition to HorseChestnut, other natural nutrients are extremely beneficial for beautiful, healthy legs. Bioflavonoids (Rutin, Quercetin) promote healing and prevent bruising; help maintain the strength of blood vessels; and prevent capillary walls from becoming permeable and hence more resistant to leakage.

Butcher's Broom herb has a long history of use in treating venous disorders such as varicose veins and hemorrhoids. It contains ruscogenin compounds which have demonstrated anti-inflammatory and vasoconstrictor effects.5

Gotu Kola herb has demonstrated impressive clinical results in the treatment of venous insufficiency of the lower limbs and varicose veins by enhancing connective tissue structure and improving the blood flow. Several studies have discovered that Gotu Kola exerts a normalizing action on the metabolism of connective tissue.6

Fibrinolytic herbs (Cayenne and Ginger) are herbs that increase fibrin breakdown. People with varicose veins have a decreased ability to break down fibrin. This is extremely important, as fibrin and fat are deposited in the tissue near the varicose veins and the skin then becomes hard and 'lumpy'.7

Bromelain, the proteolytic enzyme from pineapple, helps promote healthy veins. Bromelain also helps cause fibrin breakdown, and may help prevent the development of the hard and lumpy skin found around varicose veins.8

Grape Seed Extract stimulates blood circulation, boosts immunity, neutralizes free radicals, and strengthens connective tissue, including that of the cardiovascular system.

Vitamin C aids circulation by reducing blood clotting tendencies, and strengthens the integrity of blood vessels and improves their elasticity.

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Additional Tips for Healthy, Great Legs
Most cases of varicose veins do not pose a serious problem and can be managed with simple home measures. Here are some simple, yet important things you can do to treat and reduce the risk of varicose veins. In extreme cases, if varicose veins are not treated properly, complications such as bleeding under the skin, deep-vein blood clots, an eczema-like condition near the affected veins, or ulcerated spots near the ankles may occur. If you suffer from any of these symptoms you should seek professional help, or if varicose veins continue to occur, consult a physician.

  • Good nutrition is essential. Eat a diet that is low in fat and refined carbohydrates and includes plenty of fish, whole grains, seeds, nuts, and fresh vegetables and fruits. Make sure that your diet contains plenty of fiber to prevent constipation and keep the bowels clean. Varicose veins are rarely seen in parts of the world where high-fiber unrefined diets are consumed. Also drink ten glasses of purified water per day.
  • Maintain a healthy weight and get regular moderate exercise. Walking, swimming, and bicycling all promote good circulation. Change your daily routine to allow more time for exercise and movement for your legs. A few simple exercises, which can be done even while sitting at a desk, can help prevent varicose veins: flex the ankles up and down 10-15 times each; extend the knee horizontally and bring it back into a right-angle position 10-15 times each. Repeat the exercises as often as possible during the day. Dr. Charles Hufnagel, past chairman of the surgery department at the Georgetown University School of Medicine, Washington D.C., said that such exercises "prevent the pooling of the blood in the veins, and accelerate the return of the blood out of the veins."
  • Avoid long periods of standing or sitting. Take rest periods several times during the day to elevate your legs above heart level. Avoid crossing your legs, doing heavy lifting, and putting any unnecessary pressure on your legs.
  • Wear loose clothing that does not restrict blood flow. Wear supportive elastic stockings that promote the brisk movement of blood through the veins and strengthen the muscle tone of the calf.
  • Take nutritional and herbal supplements daily: HorseChestnut seed extract to enable the veins to function properly; Rutin may help reduce the symptoms of varicose veins as well as reduce blood pressure; vitamin E may help increase elasticity of blood vessels and prevent clots; vitamin C helps strengthens the integrity of blood vessels and improves their elasticity; high potency B-complex vitamins may help revitalize the liver; Zinc may help speed the healing of affected blood vessels; lecithin may help prevent fat accumulation in the blood vessels and improve circulation; and ginger, cayenne, and garlic may help to dissolve fibrin in blood vessels and improve circulation.

Just because your mother had varicose veins doesn't mean that you have to inherit them. Today, there are so many things you can do about varicose and spider veins to help you live a fuller, more active life. Varicose and spider veins can be prevented and even remedied with diet and exercise, along with safe, effective vein creams and herbal formulas. So don't suffer needlessly. Learn all you can. You don't have to miss out anymore.


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