Varicose veins are the dark-colored, lumpy, or enlarged veins that usually appear on the legs and feet. As the veins in your legs pump blood against the gravity, they need to put in extra work to force the blood back to the heart.
These veins have inbuilt valves that prevent the backflow of the blood. However, over time, the veins tend to lose their elasticity, and the valves fail to resist the backflow.
As a result, the deoxygenated blood gets pooled up in the veins, making them twist and appear bulgy and blue.
While varicose veins are not harmful, they are unsightly and can cause discomfort and embarrassment to the sufferer. (1)
- Causes of Varicose Veins
- Symptoms of Varicose Veins
- Preventing Varicose Veins
- Home Remedies to Treat Varicose Veins
- Method 1: Apple Cider Vinegar
- Method 2: Horse Chestnut
- Method 3: Witch Hazel
- Method 4: Compression Stocking
- Method 5: Essential Oil Body Butter
- Method 6: Garlic Oil
- Method 7: Cayenne Pepper
Causes of Varicose Veins
The causes of varicose veins may include: (2)
- Age: Varicose veins are quite common in individuals above 50 years of age. As you tend to get older, the veins in your legs grow weak and lose their elasticity.
- Pregnancy: As a pregnant woman’s body pumps more blood during pregnancy, it tends to exert extra pressure on the veins.
- Obesity: Being overweight puts more stress on your body and subsequently on the veins.
- Standing or sitting for long hours: If the nature of your job requires long periods of sitting or standing, it can increase your chances of developing varicose veins.
- Heredity: If varicose veins run in your family, you are prone to developing the condition.
- Hormonal changes: Women are at a higher risk of developing varicose veins as hormonal changes during pregnancy, menstruation, or menopause can cause the vein valves to dilate. Taking birth control pills also increases the chances of developing varicose veins.
Symptoms of Varicose Veins
The primary symptom of varicose veins is the appearance of twisted, bulgy, and bluish veins occurring right beneath the skin of your legs (especially around the calf muscles). (2)
Other symptoms include:
- Pain and burning in the legs.
- Feeling heaviness in the legs, especially after long hours of sitting or standing.
- Swelling around the feet and ankles.
- Itching near the varicose veins.
Also, any vein can turn varicose and show up in other parts of the body including the stomach, lower back, and even the face. (2)
Preventing Varicose Veins
- Massage your legs regularly to maintain and improve blood circulation.
- Keep yourself active. Make jogging, walking, swimming, yoga, or exercising a part of your daily routine.
- Keep your weight in check and make relevant dietary and lifestyle changes.
- Avoid sitting or standing for too long. Take regular breaks to give your legs some rest.
- Wear the right pair of shoes and avoid wearing high heels.
- Reduce the intake of salt to avoid water retention in your body.
- Consume fresh fruits and vegetables for the overall well-being of your body. Also, consume high-fiber food.
- Maintain bowel movement by drinking plenty of water. A constipated body puts more pressure on the veins.
- If already suffering from varicose veins, avoid sports activities that exert pressure on your legs.
Home Remedies to Treat Varicose Veins
There are many ways to prevent and treat varicose veins at home using some common household ingredients.
However, if none of the remedies mentioned below help alleviate your condition after 1 or 2 months, consult your doctor as you may need prescription medication or laser surgery to get rid of varicose veins.
Method 1: Apple Cider Vinegar
The organic and unfiltered apple cider vinegar along with the “mother” is the most effective remedy for treating varicose veins.
Apple cider vinegar is anti-inflammatory in nature that reduces the swelling when applied on the veins. It also increases the blood circulation around the veins and thus alleviates pain and discomfort. (3)
Single-Step Treatment: Massage apple cider vinegar on the varicose veins
- Apply apple cider vinegar over the varicose veins and massage the area in small circular motions.
- Continue to massage the area until apple cider vinegar is completely absorbed in the skin.
- Alternatively, you can soak a cheesecloth in vinegar and wrap it around the varicose veins for 30 minutes. Rinse the area with water and pat dry.
- In addition to the topical application, you can also mix 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar in 1 cup of water and consume twice a day to reduce inflammation in varicose veins.
Massage with apple cider vinegar twice a day to treat varicose veins. You should see a visible change after 1 or 2 weeks of application.
However, continue the treatment for 1 month to cure varicose veins completely with apple cider vinegar.
Method 2: Horse Chestnut
Taking horse chestnut extracts orally can effectively get rid of varicose veins. Horse chestnut contains a compound called aescin that has astringent properties. It helps to shrink the blood vessels and works like compression stockings for the veins from within.
Horse chestnut also has blood thinning properties that increase the blood circulation in the varicose veins, reducing the pain and swelling.
However, you should never ingest any part of the plant directly as it also contains a toxic substance called esculin. Use commercially available horse chestnut seed extracts that contain 16 to 20% of aescin.
- Take 1 capsule of horse chestnut seed extract every 12 hours before having a meal.
- Also, drink a full glass of water along with it.
Do consult your doctor before trying this remedy if you suffer from any medical condition. Taking horse chestnut seed extract will show positive results only after 1 month. (4)
Method 3: Witch Hazel
Tannins present in witch hazel acts as astringent to constrict and strengthen the dilated blood vessels, thus reducing the swelling in the varicose veins.
Witch hazel also contains gallic acid and other essential oils that help soothe and reduce the pain associated with the condition. (5)
- Soak a towel in witch hazel and place it over the affected area.
- Let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes, then rinse with lukewarm water.
- Alternatively, you can fill a tub with tepid water and add 10 to 20 drops of distilled witch hazel to it. Soak your legs in it for 15 minutes then rinse and pat dry.
Use this remedy 2 or 3 times every day to treat varicose veins in 1 month.
Method 4: Compression Stocking
Compression stockings are specially designed medical grade stockings that help support the weak veins in your legs and improve circulation by pumping the blood back to the heart.
They come in different grades with different compression strengths. However, compression stockings should be worn only after consultation with a doctor.
The grades include:
- Mild (15-20 mmHg) - for mild varicose veins or achy legs
- Moderate (20-30 mmHg) - for pronounced varicose veins or leg fatigue and heaviness
- Firm (30-40 mmHg) - for severe varicose veins or to prevent post-thrombotic syndrome
These stockings are easily available at drug stores or hospital pharmacies. You can order them online as well.
- Wear compression stockings every day to work, or whenever you know, you will be sitting and/or standing for long periods.
- Put your stockings on in the morning when swelling is minimal as they will be easier to put on.
- Do remove the stocking before sleeping to allow your veins to relax.
Wearing the compression stockings every day won’t treat the varicose veins but will help keep the swelling down. You can use it along with other remedies to alleviate the symptoms and treat the condition within 1 to 2 months. (1)
Method 5: Essential Oil Body Butter
Essential oils have anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties that help reduce the pain and swelling in varicose veins. They also help increase blood circulation and deter the progression of the condition.
The ingredients of this body butter also make it beneficial for erasing stretch marks.
Things you’ll need:
- Shea butter – 2 tablespoons
- Coconut oil – 1 tablespoon
- Jojoba oil (anti-inflammatory) – 1 tablespoon
- Vitamin E oil – ¼ tablespoon
- Rosemary essential oil (anti-inflammatory) – 7 to 8 drops
Step 1. Melt shea butter and coconut oil in a double boiler
- Create a make-shift double boiler by filling ¼ of a large pan with water. Throw in some stones and place a heat resistant glass bowl in the pan.
- Put 2 tablespoons of shea butter and 1 tablespoon of coconut butter in the bowl.
- Heat it on medium-low heat until the butter and oil melt completely.
- Once the ingredients have melted, remove the bowl from the heat.
Step 2. Add the other oils
- Add 1 tablespoon of jojoba oil to the melted oil and butter mix.
- Also, add a ¼ tablespoon of vitamin E oil and 7 to 8 drops of rosemary essential oil.
Step 3. Mix all the ingredients and massage on the affected area
- Mix all the ingredients well and transfer the prepared body butter to a container.
- Refrigerate the oil for 1 to 2 hours till it solidifies.
- You can also whip it up with a hand blender to give cream-like consistency.
- Apply it on the affected areas and massage in small circular motions.
- Starting from the foot, massage the veins in an upward direction to promote blood flow toward the heart. If applying on hands, start from the palms toward the shoulders.
Massaging with the oil mix twice every day will get rid of varicose veins in a period of 2 months.
Method 6: Garlic Oil
The orange juice present in the oil mix helps release the medicinal compounds from the garlic. Oranges are also rich in antioxidants that further help in fighting the condition.
Olive oil acts as a carrier oil, making it easy to massage the oil on the skin.
Things you’ll need:
- Garlic cloves (analgesic and anti-inflammatory) – 6
- Fresh orange juice of 3 oranges (rich in antioxidants)
- Olive oil – 2 tablespoons
Step 1. Chop the garlic cloves
- Take 6 peeled garlic cloves and chop them into smaller pieces.
Step 2. Combine all the ingredients in a jar and use
- Put the chopped garlic cloves in a glass jar.
- Pour in fresh orange juice of 3 oranges and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
- Close the lid of the jar and let the mixture soak for 12 hours to infuse the orange juice with the garlic.
- Shake the jar before using the oil.
- Soak a cotton ball in the mixture and apply it on the affected area.
- Massage the area for 1 to 2 minutes, and then cover the area with a moist towel for 15 to 20 minutes. This will allow the mix to penetrate your skin.
- Remove the towel and massage again for 2 minutes.
Use this mix every night before going to bed to treat varicose veins in 2 months.
Method 7: Cayenne Pepper
Cayenne pepper is another popular remedy to treat varicose veins. It contains capsaicin that is anti-inflammatory and analgesic and helps reduce the inflammation of varicose veins.
Cayenne pepper also increases the blood circulation to relieve sore muscles.
Single-Step Treatment: Mix cayenne pepper in warm water and drink thrice daily
- Add ½ teaspoon of cayenne pepper to 1 cup of warm water.
- Stir well and drink it.
Consume this drink thrice every day to see a noticeable change in 1 month. Reduce the dosage to once every day to get rid of varicose veins completely in 2 months.
- Ignaszewski A, Zentner A. Current therapy for primary varicose veins. BCMJ. https://www.bcmj.org/articles/current-therapy-primary-varicose-veins. Published October 2017.
- Heller JA, Eavns NS. Varicose veins. SAGE Journals. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/1358863X14566224. Published February 26, 2015.
- Atik, Derya, Atik, Cem, Karatepe, Celalettin. The Effect of External Apple Vinegar Application on Varicosity Symptoms, Pain, and Social Appearance Anxiety: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2016/6473678/. Published January 3, 2016.
- Marlena, Studzińska-Sroka, Elżbieta. Horse chestnut – efficacy and safety in chronic venous insufficiency: an overview. Revista Brasileira de Farmacognosia. http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?pid=S0102-695X2015000500533&script=sci_abstract. Published 2015.
- Shenefelt PD. Herbal Treatment for Dermatologic Disorders. Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. 2nd edition. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92761/.
- Mor D, Dande P. Article Information. INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF PHARMACEUTICAL SCIENCES AND RESEARCH. http://ijpsr.com/bft-article/varicose-veins-an-overview-of-current-and-herbal-treatments/?view=fulltext.