Varicose veins are enlarged, swollen, and twisted veins that typically appear blue or dark purple in colour. They most commonly occur in the legs and feet, although they can develop in other parts of the body as well.
Varicose veins are caused by weakened or damaged valves within the veins that hinder the normal flow of blood. As a result, blood pools and accumulates in the affected veins, causing them to stretch, bulge, and become visible under the skin.
Risk factors for varicose veins include age, gender (women are more prone), family history, obesity, pregnancy, prolonged sitting or standing, lack of physical activity, and previous blood clot or vein damage.
Varicose veins develop when the normal flow of blood through the veins is disrupted or impaired. Several factors can contribute to the development of varicose veins:
Weak valves: Veins contain a one-way valve structure that helps regulate blood flow and prevent blood from backflowing. When valves become weakened or damaged, they may fail to function properly, causing blood to pool in the veins and leading to enlargement in the formation of varicose veins[i].
Genetics: There is a genetic component to varicose veins, meaning that if your parents or close relatives have them, you may have a higher risk of developing them as well[iv].
Gender: Women are more likely to develop varicose veins than men. Hormonal changes during pregnancy, menstruation, and menopause can contribute to the development of varicose veins[v].
Pregnancy: The increased blood volume during pregnancy, coupled with hormonal changes and the pressure exerted by the growing uterus, can put extra strain on the veins. This can result in the development of varicose veins during pregnancy, although they often improve or disappear after childbirth[vi].
Obesity: Excess weight can put additional pressure on the veins, impairing their ability to efficiently transport blood back to the heart[vii].
Prolonged standing or sitting: Jobs or activities that involve prolonged periods of standing or sitting can hinder healthy blood circulation[viii].
Nutritional therapy can play a crucial role in managing varicose veins by promoting overall vascular health. A well-balanced diet rich in nutrients, antioxidants, flavonoids, and fibre, can support healthy blood circulation, strengthen blood vessel walls, and reduce inflammation, which are key factors in preventing and managing varicose veins[ix]. Read more below.
Horse chestnut extract is a herbal remedy that is traditionally used to alleviate symptoms of varicose veins[x]. Viridian Horse Chestnut Balm – Organic /A Vogel Venaforce Horse Chestnut /A Vogel Aesculus Horse Chestnut Drops / Viridian Horse Chestnut Seed Extract
Dr. Hauschka Revitalising Leg And Arm Tonic: Revitalising Leg & Arm Tonic invigorates and tones the skin. It soothes and minimises swelling and tired legs arms and legs regain a sense of lightness. Rosemary essential oil energises and warms, whilst borage helps reduce the appearance of varicose veins[xi][xii]. After a long day of sitting or standing, Revitalising Leg & Arm Tonic refreshes and energises limbs for continued activity.
Fibre-rich foods: Include plenty of wholefoods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, and nuts and seeds in your diet. This helps prevent constipation and promotes regular bowel movements, which can relieve pressure on veins in the lower body[xiii]. Fibre can be taken supplementally in products such as: Complete Fibre Complex With FOS (90 caps)
Antioxidant-rich foods: Consume foods high in antioxidants, particularly berries, citrus fruits, leafy greens, and colourful vegetables. Antioxidants help protect cells from damage and support overall vascular health[xiv]. Vitamin C - Include foods rich in vitamin C, such as citrus fruits, strawberries, kiwi, bell peppers, and broccoli. Vitamin C supports collagen production, which helps maintain the strength and integrity of blood vessels[xv]. Try our potent Extra-C 950mg vitamin C.
Omega-3 fatty acids: Incorporate sources of omega-3 fatty acids into your diet, such as fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines), flaxseeds, chia seeds, and walnuts. Omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties that may help reduce inflammation in the blood vessels[xvi][xvii].
Bioflavonoids: Consume foods high in bioflavonoids, such as citrus fruits, berries, onions, garlic, and green tea. Bioflavonoids have been associated with improving blood circulation and strengthening blood vessel walls[xviii].
Hydration: Drink an adequate amount of water throughout the day to stay hydrated. Sufficient hydration can help maintain healthy blood flow and prevent blood from thickening.
Our treatment options for varicose veins
Organic massages: Aromatherapy Massage is a beautifully relaxing, stress relieving massage which releases tension from the muscles and soft tissues of the body. As a clinic we insist on only using organic or wildcrafted oils, selected for their aroma, purity and function. The skin absorbs the massage oils to take on their therapeutic qualities. All massages finish with our bespoke Therapy Herbal Tea blend to match the treatment.
Bowen Technique: Varicose veins, being caused primarily by structural issues in the veins and the malfunctioning of valves that regulate blood flow, may be helped with techniques such as Bowen, as it involves gentle, rolling movements over specific points on the body. It aims to stimulate the body's natural healing processes and promote overall well-being.
Regular physical activity: Engaging in regular exercise and physical activity is important for promoting healthy blood circulation and maintaining strong muscles that support the veins. If possible, aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week[xix].
Avoid prolonged sitting or standing: Prolonged periods of sitting or standing can contribute to poor blood circulation and worsen varicose vein symptoms. If your job requires long periods of sitting or standing, try to take breaks and move around every hour. Also, consider wearing compression stockings to help support the veins[xx].
[i] Fan CM. Venous pathophysiology. Semin Intervent Radiol. 2005 Sep;22(3):157-61
[ii] Caggiati A, Rosi C, Heyn R, Franceschini M, Acconcia MC. Age-related variations of varicose veins anatomy. J Vasc Surg. 2006 Dec;44(6):1291-5.
[iii] Molnár AÁ, Nádasy GL, Dörnyei G, Patai BB, Delfavero J, Fülöp GÁ, Kirkpatrick AC, Ungvári Z, Merkely B. The aging venous system: from varicosities to vascular cognitive impairment. Geroscience. 2021 Dec;43(6):2761-2784.
[iv] Fukaya E, Flores AM, Lindholm D, Gustafsson S, Zanetti D, Ingelsson E, Leeper NJ. Clinical and Genetic Determinants of Varicose Veins. Circulation. 2018 Dec 18;138(25):2869-2880.
[v] Shrestha B , Karmacharya RM . Influence of Body Mass Index (BMI), Age and Gender on Stages of Varicose Vein in Newly Diagnosed Cases Following Screening Doppler in Outpatient Clinic. Kathmandu Univ Med J (KUMJ). 2020 Jan.-Mar;18(69):28-31. PMID: 33582684.
[vi] National Clinical Guideline Centre (UK). Varicose Veins in the Legs: The Diagnosis and Management of Varicose Veins. London: National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE); 2013 Jul. (NICE Clinical Guidelines, No. 168.) 11, Pregnancy.
[vii] Shrestha B , Karmacharya RM . Influence of Body Mass Index (BMI), Age and Gender on Stages of Varicose Vein in Newly Diagnosed Cases Following Screening Doppler in Outpatient Clinic. Kathmandu Univ Med J (KUMJ). 2020 Jan.-Mar;18(69):28-31. PMID: 33582684.
[viii] Tüchsen F, Krause N, Hannerz H, Burr H, Kristensen TS. Standing at work and varicose veins. Scand J Work Environ Health. 2000 Oct;26(5):414-20. doi: 10.5271/sjweh.562. PMID: 11103840.
[ix] Yuan S, Bruzelius M, Damrauer SM, Larsson SC. Cardiometabolic, Lifestyle, and Nutritional Factors in Relation to Varicose Veins: A Mendelian Randomization Study. J Am Heart Assoc. 2021 Nov 2;10(21):e022286.
[x] Pittler MH, Ernst E. Horse chestnut seed extract for chronic venous insufficiency. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2012 Nov 14;11(11):CD003230. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD003230.pub4
[xi] Nan Mei, Tao Chen, Baitang Ning, Lei Guo,Chapter 22 - Transcriptomic profiling for safety and toxicity evaluation of nutraceuticals,Editor(s): Ramesh C. Gupta, Rajiv Lall, Ajay Srivastava, Nutraceuticals (2nd), Academic Press,2021;299-313.
[xii] von Schoen-Angerer T, Deckers B, Henes J, Helmert E, Vagedes J. Effect of topical rosemary essential oil on Raynaud phenomenon in systemic sclerosis. Complement Ther Med. 2018 Oct;40:191-194. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2017.10.012. Epub 2017 Nov 1. PMID: 30219447.
[xiii] Lee AJ, Evans CJ, Hau CM, Fowkes FG. Fiber intake, constipation, and risk of varicose veins in the general population: Edinburgh Vein Study. J Clin Epidemiol. 2001 Apr;54(4):423-9.
[xiv] Horecka A, Biernacka J, Hordyjewska A, Dąbrowski W, Terlecki P, Zubilewicz T, Musik I, Kurzepa J. Antioxidative mechanism in the course of varicose veins. Phlebology. 2018 Aug;33(7):464-469.
[xv] May JM, Harrison FE. Role of vitamin C in the function of the vascular endothelium. Antioxid Redox Signal. 2013 Dec 10;19(17):2068-83.
[xvi] Daci A, Özen G, Uyar İ, Civelek E, Yildirim FİA, Durman DK, Teskin Ö, Norel X, Uydeş-Doğan BS, Topal G. Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids reduce vascular tone and inflammation in human saphenous vein. Prostaglandins Other Lipid Mediat. 2017 Nov;133:29-34.
[xvii] Goodnight SH Jr. The vascular effects of omega-3 fatty acids. J Invest Dermatol. 1989 Aug;93(2 Suppl):102S-106S.
[xviii] Casili G, Lanza M, Campolo M, Messina S, Scuderi S, Ardizzone A, Filippone A, Paterniti I, Cuzzocrea S, Esposito E. Therapeutic potential of flavonoids in the treatment of chronic venous insufficiency. Vascul Pharmacol. 2021 Apr;137:106825.
[xix] da Silva JL, Lima AG, Diniz NR, Leite JC. Effectiveness of therapeutic exercises for improving the quality of life of patients with chronic venous insufficiency: a systematic review. J Vasc Bras. 2021 Jun 16;20:e20200248.
[xx] da Silva JL, Lima AG, Diniz NR, Leite JC. Effectiveness of therapeutic exercises for improving the quality of life of patients with chronic venous insufficiency: a systematic review. J Vasc Bras. 2021 Jun 16;20:e20200248.
Please note that the information contained within this website does not and should not replace medical advice, and is not intended to treat or diagnose. We always recommend you consult with your doctor. Our Nutritional Therapy team is highly trained and we offer one to one Nutritional Therapy Consultations, which are designed to be complementary to any medical treatment from a functional medicine approach, as well as offering a preventative & optimal health focus.