Varicose veins are swollen or enlarged veins that occur when our valves become weak or damaged, causing blood to accumulate in them. Though varicose veins can occur in any part of our body, they are most common in the legs and thighs of aging or obese women, as well as in adults who stand up for long periods of time.
Varicose veins tend to be surface veins rather than deep veins, so they are seldom a health risk. However, they’re still a cosmetic concern, and many people who suffer from them understandably want them gone. Fortunately, we don’t have to resort to overpriced laser treatments to remove our varicose veins, since the natural world is filled with remedies that can treat them cheaply, gently, and effectively.
The horse chestnut is a deciduous tree native to the forests of southeastern Europe. It bears brown seeds that make one of the best known natural remedies for varicose veins, since the main active ingredient in horse chestnut seeds is aescin, a chemical compound that has vasoconstrictor, vasoprotective, and anti-inflammatory properties. For example, a study published in the journal Angiology in 2004 showed that topical treatment with aescin could prevent ulceration and improve skin healing processes.
To treat varicose veins using horse chestnut, apply 300 milligrams of horse chestnut seed extract (which contains at least 50 milligrams of aescin) to the affected area twice daily. Horse chestnut seeds should never been consumed orally, such as in tea form, since they are rich in a glucoside called esculin that is toxic to humans.
Clinical research continues to show that the seeds of grapes possess numerous anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits, which might help explain why grape seed extracts are proven to treat circulatory conditions. A study published in Minerva Cardioangiologica, for instance, demonstrated that the proanthocyanidins extracted from grapes could significantly improve the symptoms of chronic venous insufficiency, a condition that often leads to varicose veins.
Grape seed is commonly found in capsule, tablet and liquid extract form in health food stores. Ideally, you’ll want a supplement comprised of at least 95 percent oligomeric proanthocyanidin complexes (OPCs), which are the flavonoids responsible for grape seeds’ vasoprotective benefits. Aim to take 150 milligrams of grape seed extract daily to help strengthen and repair damaged blood vessels and capillaries. Grape seed oil can also be applied topically to varicose veins to promote healing.
Like grape seed, the bark of the majestic, towering pine tree is also packed with OPCs, making it a suitable remedy for varicose veins and other conditions that necessitate improved circulation and tissue repair. For example, research published in Phytotherapy Research in March 2014 showed that Pycnogenol, a patented French maritime pine bark extract, could treat chronic venous insufficiency and related venous disorders. The researchers ascribed this result to the bark’s “strong antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and vasodilator activities, antithrombotic effects and collagen stabilizing properties.”
Pine bark extracts can used both orally and topically to treat varicose veins. If you prefer supplements, take 50 to 100 milligrams of them three times daily. If you opt for a pine bark essential oil, massage it over the affected areas twice daily. Ensure that your product contains at least 95 percent OPCs for maximum benefits.