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Are Alternative Home Treatments for Varicose and Spider Veins Ever Effective?

June 27, 2019 • • Blog

To counteract the discomfort and unsightly appearance of varicose veins and spider veins, many people turn to dubious at-home remedies. While these methods may or may not provide temporary relief from pain and swelling, they are never a permanent cure for venous insufficiency.

Such treatments attempt to alleviate the outward signs of varicose veins — swelling, throbbing, and a feeling of heaviness in the legs. However, they don’t fix the underlying cause of varicose veins, which is a defective valve in the leg that cannot pump blood from the extremities to the heart. When the valves don’t work properly, blood collects in the deep veins. When stretched to the maximum limit, the vein bulges from under the skin, forming the twisted purple ropes that characterize varicose veins.

Although similar, spider veins are much smaller in size than varicose veins and show up as a tangle of blue veins on the skin’s surface. They are typically caused when pressure from pooling blood increases in the larger reticular veins.

People who decide to try herbal remedies and other at-home therapies must understand these treatments have their limitations. Though not necessarily harmful, herbal potions, dietary changes, and exercise may relieve symptoms or prevent conditions from worsening, but cannot substitute for a permanent cure. For that, surgical intervention is the only proven treatment.

A Look At Some At-Home Remedies

From herbal potions to flavonoids, many at-home treatments have been touted as natural cures for varicose veins and spider veins. Here’s a review of several of those therapies:

Topical Ointments. Studies have suggested ointments made of horse chestnut and sea pine extracts reduce the pain, swelling, and itchiness associated with varicose veins. Chamomile 5, a topical lotion comprised of horse chestnut seeds and aloe vera, has similarly been promoted for its anti-inflammatory properties and ability to reduce the appearance of varicose veins. Massaging these oils into the skin may feel good momentarily, but they cannot medically address the root cause of varicose veins — a malfunction in leg valve. 

Herbal Remedies. Applying a cloth soaked in witch hazel to the affected leg or submerging the leg in a tub of lukewarm water has been suggested as a way to strengthen the blood vessels. Similarly, proponents say the herb butcher’s broom contains the inflammation-reducing compound ruscogenin, which may tighten the veins and improve blood flow. However, there is no scientific evidence for these remedies. Furthermore, butcher’s broom should not be taken by people who have high blood pressure — be careful of alternative treatments that do more harm than good. 

Diet. Flavonoid-packed foods like citrus fruits, garlic, and vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, and onions are said to improve circulation and therefore alleviate pressure in the blood vessels. While eating a healthy diet is always a good thing, diet alone cannot cure varicose veins. On the other hand, maintaining a healthy weight can prevent varicose veins from occurring in the first place.

Exercise. Being overweight is a risk factor for varicose veins. Like a healthy diet, regularly exercising prevents varicose veins. People who already suffer from varicose veins may obtain relief from workouts like a brisk walk or a swim. While working out might keep varicose veins from worsening, it should not be considered a cure.

Compression Stockings. People who suffer from varicose veins are often told to wear compression stockings — specialty garments made of strong elastic that constrict the veins so blood flows upward from the limbs to the heart. Compression stockings are great for lessening the symptoms of varicose veins and preventing the condition from worsening. However, wearing them cannot repair a damaged vein valve.

Varicose Vein Therapy

To permanently heal varicose and spider veins, many minimally invasive surgical procedures are available today. Each option is quick and painless and enables patients to resume their normal activities within hours. If you’re ready to fix your varicose veins, the specialists at Bellamah Vein Center will discuss your options. Contact us today for an appointment.

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