Do your legs feel tired, cramped or painful? These could be symptoms of varicose veins – and they can hinder your quality of life. What can you about them? You’re not alone. Nearly 50% of the female population suffers. Whether you’ve got the less noticeable, spidery veins or those that are quite prominent and often painful, there are ways to reduce their appearance and negative effects.
Surgery remains one of the most common treatments for varicose veins. Recently, laser has become quite a popular (and less invasive) option. With this method, however, there is no guarantee that the condition won’t recur. If the problem is related to poor circulation, it’s quite likely that you will see them reappear. Genetics, your activity levels and your diet are all factors in whether or not and to what degree you’ll suffer from them. Never fear. Relief is at hand. In this article, we’ll explain how you can soothe the pain of this malady and mitigate its effects on your health.
1. Make dietary changes
- It might surprise you to know just how far a healthy diet will go in addressing some of the pain and heaviness that you’re feeling in your legs. To that end, there are some simple tweaks you can make to your diet. One of the easiest is to eliminate salt from your meals. Try to avoid tinned foods, salty foods, pickled foods, processed meats and red meat. They all contribute to fluid retention – and this will exacerbate the pain.
- In the fight against varicose arteries, fibre is an invaluable ally. Several studies have illustrated that a lack of fibre increases pressure at the abdominal level and causes what’s called a venous insufficiency. This situation promotes the appearance of prominent veins or haemorrhoids.
- Common advice is to include loads of fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains in your diet. These foods boost the efficiency of your intestines. Favour fruit with a high flavonoid content. The best sources are oranges, lemons, apples, cherries, cranberries and blueberries.
- Aim to drink at least two litres of water each day.
2. Benefit from the medicine in plants
- Venotonic medicinal plants help the veins drain. As such, they’re extremely effective in relieving the pain and heaviness caused by varicose veins. They are an entirely safe and natural resource to help prevent capillaries from dilating, which will, in turn, help to improve your resistance to developing the condition.
- This class of medicinal plant also acts as an anti-inflammatory to reduce swelling and increase antioxidant effects.
- Plants classified as venotonic include witch hazel leaves, red vine leaves and gingko biloba. You’ll certainly find extracts and tinctures in health food shops – and, increasingly, in supermarkets. The secret to success when using medicinal plants is to be consistent. Ensure that you take the suggested daily dose without fail. To complement this regime, you can apply these same plants topically. They’re available in cream or gel form and provide instant relief when massaged into the affected leg.
3. Get to know Indian horse chestnuts
- When you’re suffering from painful veins, Indian horse chestnuts are a tried and tested remedy. The reason that they work so well as treatment is because they contain ‘aescin’, which is an anti-inflammatory saponin that favours normal blood flow. Clinical research supports this and has illustrated that aescin reduces swelling and prevents the fluid retention that puts pressure on veins.
- Indian horse chestnuts can reduce pain, weightiness and cramping. They’re great for treating spidery veins on your legs and can even help to clear away ulcers and haemorrhoids.
- Most health food shops stock Indian horse chestnut in several forms, from tinctures to capsules. The recommended dose is 400 mg twice a day, preferably with your first meal and then with your last meal of the day. This will stave off cramping and pain in your veins during the night.
4. A few further tips for alleviating varicose pain
- When you return home after a long day – especially if you’ve been on your feet for hours – try to lie down and relax with your legs up. You can even just lie on the floor with a cushion underneath you and prop your legs against the wall. This will help to reduce swelling and improve circulation.
- Aloe vera is brilliant for relieving pressure on the veins. If you have an aloe plant, you can remove some of the pulp from the inside of a leaf and use it to massage your legs. The gel will instantly cool and relax you.
- When you’re lying down, try to keep your legs slightly above your body – especially when you sleep. Either place something underneath the mattress to elevate it or put a cushion under you to get the most comfortable position.
- Stay moderately active and avoid a sedentary lifestyle. When you can, move around. Little and often is even better than infrequent but prolonged. If your job tends to be centred round a desk and you’re sitting down most of the day, take advantage of any opportunity to get up and walk. Take the stairs instead of the lift. When you get home at night, try to go for a 20 minute walk. Biking is another brilliant way to stimulate circulation and ward off problems.
- Choose loose-fitting clothing when possible. It will enable better blood flow to your legs.
- Alternate hot and cold. It’s very effective to use a hot cloth to apply pressure to the varicose veins. Then switch to a cold cloth and do the same. You’ll find that the change in temperature helps to relax your legs and facilitate the proper circulation.