Many of the patients we meet in our vein treatment center in Hawaii, like on Maui and Kauai ask us about “natural” or “holistic” ways of treating their varicose veins. These patients want to hear that there is an herbal supplement they can buy at their health food store that will eliminate their varicose veins, but this is what we have to tell them.
First, neither conventional nor alternative medicine can magically cure the cause of varicose veins
In most cases, varicose veins are caused by a condition called chronic venous insufficiency (CVI), which damages the tiny, one-way valves that control blood flow through your veins. Once these valves have been compromised enough by CVI to become “leaky” and allow blood to flow “backwards” into the veins and pool there, they cannot be “fixed,” either with drugs or surgery. The only way to eliminate large varicose veins caused by CVI is to remove the veins completely using techniques such as sclerotherapy or radiofrequency ablation.
However, there are ways in which natural or conservative treatment can help
If 1) you are at high risk for varicose veins because of your age and heredity but don’t have them yet, or 2) you already have varicose veins but they are small and are not yet causing you extensive pain or discomfort, there are some things you can accomplish with conservative and alternative treatments to minimize their side effects. Please bear in mind, however, that the conservative treatments we discuss below will NOT reverse the existing damage caused by CVI, although they can help to relieve unpleasant side effects and prevent new varicose veins.
The purpose of any conservative varicose vein treatment is to improve circulation and blood flow. The most effective tool we can recommend to accomplish this is the use of compression stockings – worn daily, they can reduce the size of visible swollen varicose veins and even help to prevent the development of new ones. Other conservative treatment techniques our vein treatment center in Hawaii recommends include:
Get more exercise. Walking – at least 10 minutes per day – is the safest for most people, although swimming, biking, yoga, and stretching are also good.
Maintain a healthy body weight and drink lots of water every day.
Try to avoid standing or sitting for long periods of time. If you have to sit at work or during travel, get up and walk around at least once every hour.
Avoid tight clothing and wear good shoes (avoid high heels).
Avoid sitting with your legs crossed and elevate your feet when resting, especially if you are pregnant.
Some natural treatments can relieve the discomfort of varicose veins
Massage, either from a trained massage therapist or self-massage using apple cider vinegar, butcher’s broom, or witch hazel can help to reduce swelling and the pain that often accompanies varicose veins. Some nutritionists and sports medicine experts feel that taking supplements like omega-3 oils (1,000 mg daily) or coenzyme Q10 (100 mg daily) can help to improve the elasticity of your blood vessels. Other nutritionists claim that ginkgo biloba, vitamin K, bilberry, and horse chestnut have benefits for varicose veins, but there is little to no clinical evidence to support these claims. There is definitely insufficient evidence to support the claims that buckwheat and high doses of vitamin C are beneficial.
The bottom line – these treatments can help reduce symptoms, but don’t actually eliminate the underlying vein disease
If you have been told that you are at high risk for varicose veins, all of the natural and conservative treatments we’ve mentioned above might help to reduce that risk. If you have small varicose veins that have not escalated to the point that your legs feel tired and weak all the time and cause you constant pain, these treatments may also help to reduce unpleasant symptoms…for a while. But the truth is that once the tiny valves in your veins have been damaged by CVI, they aren’t really going to get much better…they’re going to get worse. But by all means, if you are not ready to investigate more permanent minimally-invasive ways to eliminate your varicose veins forever, talk to our vein specialist at our vein treatment center in Hawaii about these options.
If you want to hear more about more permanent and more effective treatment options, give some of the best vein doctors in Hawaii a call and we’ll explain your options to you.