Natural treatments for swollen, uncomfortable varicose veins
Ask anyone whose legs are lined with varicose veins and he’ll tell you that the problem is more than merely cosmetic (even though the legs can become quite unsightly)–it can also be quite painful. People with this condition often complain of a dull ache in their legs that gets worse when they stand for a long period of time. The swelling may get so severe that you can only wear sandals. This condition (technically called chronic venous insufficiency, or CVI) can cause ulcers to develop on your ankles and can lead to cellulitis, a deep inflammation and infection of the skin. What it boils down to is that the legs are literally drowning in their own juice. And as you can imagine, it doesn’t feel too good.
But all too often, even the people who suffer from CVI have no idea just how serious this condition is. Chronic venous insufficiency is a nebulous term indicating that your vein circulation is failing. As a result, your blood backs up in the tissues and veins themselves–which is what causes the leg swelling and the hated varicosities.
Here’s what to do: The key to alleviating the pain, swelling, and unsightliness of this vein disease is focusing on improving your circulation. Little things, such as taking a walk every day or not sitting with your legs crossed, can go a long way to keeping your blood flowing the way it should. But there are other things you can do to help.
I came across a fairly impressive study showing that something called Pycnogenol (made from pine bark extract) significantly improves CVI. In the study, 40 participants were divided into two groups. One was given 100 milligrams of Pycnogenol three times a day for two months, and the other group was given a placebo. Now here’s the exciting part: At the end of the study, 60 percent of the patients taking Pycnogenol showed complete disappearance of swelling. If you want to go this route, I’d take the same dose used in the study: 100 mg three times a day.
Another great alternative treatment is horse chestnut extract. A study done in 1996 involving more than 5,000 patients with CVI found that house chestnut extract improved symptoms of swelling and leg heaviness significantly. You should take 600 mg every day.
And finally, a great way to boost the circulation in your legs is to wear support stockings (also called compression stockings) during the day. Because they apply constant pressure to your legs, they help your veins and leg muscles move the blood through your body more efficiently.