Varicose veins mostly affect older or pregnant women due to the combination of hormonal imbalances and increased inflammation that causes the veins to lose their natural elasticity. But they also affect both men and women of all ages, and are most visible among people with light skin.
Fortunately, there are several ways to manage varicose veins, ranging from conservative (lifestyle changes, medications, and medical stockings) to minimally invasive (such as endoluminal ablation) to invasive (ligation and stripping) to hybrid (combination or techniques).
Varicose veins are the result of an underlying venous insufficiency disorder that can be managed through at-home care. Most doctors and vein specialists recommend that patients try lifestyle adjustments and natural remedies before seeking invasive solutions. The most common options include:
- Regular exercise – The National Heart, Blood and Lung Institute claims that prolonged standing or sitting with poor posture increases the risk of blood pooling disorders such as varicose veins. Exercise helps to improve blood flow and reduce inflammation.
- Maintaining a healthy weight – Excess body weight increases the burden of veins to push blood up your legs against gravity, which results in inflammation or reflux in the larger superficial veins, including the saphenous veins in your legs.
- Anti-inflammatory diet – Consuming foods that improve blood flow and reverse inflammation can help to relieve the symptoms of varicose veins. Suggested foods include those with high levels of fiber (flax seeds, fresh fruit and vegetables), antioxidants (mainly vitamins C and E sources like cayenne pepper and parsley), magnesium (bananas, sweet potatoes, and green veggies), fish and seafood, and apple cider vinegar.
- Essential oils – Rubbing a few drops of cypress essential oil on the affected area twice a day can help reduce inflammation, manage hormonal imbalances, and improve blood flow. Diluted tea tree, olive oil, lavender oil, and peppermint also work well with varicose veins.
These natural remedies can not only reduce the risk of blood pooling in the veins, but also offer other benefits such as improved cardiovascular health, clearer skin, better digestion, and more energy. In addition, they pose little to no risk and are cost effective compared to office-based treatments.