Varicose veins

General characteristics

General characteristics

A varicose vein is a vein that has become distended and bulges with pooled blood. Veins carry deoxygenated blood and do not have muscle in their walls like arteries and capillaries. Instead they rely on the movement of nearby muscles to help propel the blood on towards the heart/lungs and have one way valves to stop the blood from flowing backwards. The sticky substance called fibrin, which is involved in blood clotting, can accumulate in the congested areas and make the blood even stickier and harder to get moving.

The most common site for varicose veins to occur is in the surface veins of the legs but they can also occur in the testicles (termed varicocele), vulva (usually during pregnancy) and the rectum (piles or haemorrhoids).


Varicose veins can arise when the walls of the veins are weakened and the valves are faulty or damaged. This allows blood to flow backwards and pool in certain areas, putting further stress on the vein walls and valves. This can be caused by infection or trauma to the veins/valves themselves, venous insufficiency, conditions such as high blood pressure and poor circulation, obesity, periods of inactivity, standing for long periods, pregnancy, constipation and straining to defecate, ageing, being female,


Symptoms include bulging blueish veins, burning and tingling in the surrounding skin, pain and achy or heavy feeling in the area, shiny or discoloured skin around the vein, thickening of the skin and ulcer formation if the blood flow is severely impaired and blood clot formation. If left untreated varicose veins can lead to thrombosis in the deeper veins.


Healing objectives are to improve the nutritional state of the body, keep the circulation flowing freely, improve and repair the veins wherever possible and provide relief from symptoms until healing has occurred.

Diet and lifestyle

Diet and lifestyle

Avoid starchy foods, carbohydrates (especially processed and refined ones), processed fats and oils and foods containing them and sugars as these all rob the body of nutrients and encourage slow and sluggish circulation.


Base the diet around fresh vegetables, fruits, a few whole grains (especially buckwheat), nuts and seeds. All the brightly coloured fruit and veg, especially dark berry fruits like blackcurrants, contain substances (bioflavonoids) which feed and strengthen the blood vessel walls.


Eat plenty of garlic, onions, cayenne, ginger and warming herbs and spices that help to thin the blood, dissolve fibrin and get the blood moving more freely.


Increase the amount of plant calcium in the diet to help feed and strengthen the blood vessels. Foods such as fresh carrot juice, tahini, dark leafy vegetables,

Useful herbs

Useful herbs

Have a daily tonic tea consisting of nettle, raspberry leaf, oatstraw, mullein leaf and yarrow in equal parts. This tea will provide calcium and many other useful nutrients, it is astringent and is capable of clearing congestive states when taken over time.Make a teapot full using a heaped tablespoon of the mix and drink throughout the day.

Buckwheat tea contains substances which strengthen the walls of all blood vessels but particularly the veins, drink a few cups daily or eat as a grain.

Horse chestnut seed (conkers), either a as tincture, tea or externally as a cream or poultice has helped many people with their varicose veins.

Astringent herbs such as yarrow, raspberry leaf, lady's mantle, oak bark, black walnut husk and/or leaves, geraniums such as cranesbill or herb robert can help to tighten the veins and encourage the pooled blood to move forwards. Use several of the herbs in equal parts to make a strong tea. Soak a cloth in the liquid and apply it to the affected area, re-soaking in the herbs every couple of hours.

Prickly ash bark will increase blood flow to the skin around the ulcer and help to dry and heal it.

Sage leaf is both astringent and improves blood flow.

Sip at least one cup of dandelion root tea daily.

Cayenne can have remarkable effects on varicose veins. Start by taking a quarter teaspoon of powder in water daily and increase slowly up to a teaspoon daily. The tincture can also be used in drops.

Ginkgo can also benefit the veins generally.

Comfrey leaf compresses can also help.

Figwort, externally and/or externally may also help to shrink the veins back.

Natural healing

Natural healing

Wearing compression tights and supports can help to relieve the pressure and ease some of the symptoms during healing.


Try to keep your leg muscles active, even you sit down all day. Wiggling your feet, raising your legs up and down, anything that gets the leg muscles working will help to move blood.


Place a book or something under the legs of the bottom end of your bed to raise it slightly. This will help the blood to drain during the night.


Alternating hot and cold compresses can help to move the blood along as it dilates then constricts the blood vessels, like a pump. This kind of mimics the action of the skeletal muscles in the leg.

Child watering plants




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