Varicose Veins are a disorder in which the veins become distended, bulging, lengthened and convoluted and occurs most commonly in the legs. Symptoms experienced along with the appearance of darkened and outstanding veins are heaviness in the legs, aching, throbbing, reduced circulation, appearance of spider veins, ankle swelling, restless legs and venous insufficiency. The underlying cause of varicose veins is a lack of tone (collagen and elastin) in the tissues supporting the vein and subsequent failure in the valves further up (usually) the leg. This decrease in circulation and flaccidity of the valves to return blood flow to the heart means that blood pools in the extremities (gravity only worsening the situation) and contributes to the development of varicose veins.
Varicose veins are quite a debilitating condition in regards to the damage caused to the immediate area due to reduced circulation and a loss in the elasticity of the vein walls. Prevention in this case is the best cure and once a varicose vein appears the chances of it disappearing are very unlikely.
WHAT CAUSES VARICOSE VEINS?
- Abnormal blood clotting conditions which contribute to pooling of blood in the circulation, some conditions are embolism, thrombosis, deep vein thrombosis and high cholesterol levels
- Injury or trauma to the area which results in damage to the walls, inflammation, excessive deposits of fibrin (clotting factor) and reduced circulation
- Standing on hard surfaces for a long period of time in shoes with little or no support
- Haemorrhoids due to stagnation of blood circulation and a build up of toxins
- Edema (especially in the ankles and calves), this occurs from the weakening of the walls of veins and capillaries resulting in increased permeability of blood vessels and allowing the leakage of fluids into surrounding tissue).
DIET TIPS FOR VARICOSE VEINS
- Increase foods which contain Oligomeric Procyanidins (OPC’s) such as blueberries, grapes, bilberry’s, cranberries, pine bark, dark chocolate and red wine
- Reduce foods which attract fluids such as salt and sugar
- Increase foods to improve circulation such as anti-oxidant rich foods – blueberries, green tea, grapes, berries, pineapples, chillis, dark chocolate, garlic, turmeric, fish, ginger and olive oil
- Ensure that you are drinking sufficient amounts of water (at least 2 litres/ day) as dehydration can cause the tissues to hold onto excessive amounts of fluids
- Avoid alcohol
LIFESTYLE FACTORS FOR VARICOSE VEINS
- Don’t stand for long periods of time (especially on hard floors) and wear comfortable cushioning shoes
- Wear supportive compression stockings if you do need to stand for long periods of time
- Exercise helps the return of blood circulation to the heart and a healthy lifestyle which includes an exercise regime of at least 4 times of aerobic exercise a week is a great way to ensure cardiovascular health
- At the end of the day, support the back flow of blood by laying with your legs raised above the level of the heart for at least 20 minutes a day. You can do this by lying on the ground and resting your legs comfortably on the couch or a chair
- Avoid smoking as cigarettes dramatically decrease blood circulation and contribute to Vitamin C and Bioflavinoid deficiencies
NATURAL REMEDIES FOR VARICOSE VEINS
- Bilberry, Gotu Kola and Horse Chestnut may help reduce symptoms of venous insufficiency (including edema, pain, tiredness, heaviness, tension, cramps and numbness)
- Butcher’s Broom may prevent and alleviate venous insufficiency byinhibiting the excessive activity of the enzyme Elastase which isimplicated in Venous Insufficiency
- Gotu Kola, Gingko and Bacopa, Grape Seed are all herbs which support circulation to the peripheries, strengthen the capillaries, decrease venous congestion, have a diuretic and increase venous circulation
- Silica and Calcium Fluoride tissue salts may help to reinforce theintegrity of the walls of the veins and minimise further damage to thearea
- Magnesium Phosphate may help to alleviate the throbbing and heaviness of the lower legs
- Fish oil helps to improve circulation and reduce blood stagnation
- Nutrients beneficial for artery integrity are Zinc, Vitamin C and bioflavinoids as these strengthen the walls of the capillaries and viens to decrease the pooling of blood in the lower extremities
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