Ask The Doctor: Vericose Veins

Alan M. Dattner, MD

Varicose veins are caused by pressure from the blood in the veins, which is normally limited by valves every few inches in the vessels. With prolonged pressure from standing upright, hormonal changes, and weakening of the blood vessels, the valves break down, causing veins to grow larger and new vessels to form.

You can do a number of simple things to relieve the pressure on your veins and promote recovery. Raise your legs on a desk or chair throughout your workday to take pressure off the veins and help the valves recover. Gravity encourages accumulated fluid to flow back to the heart. When prolonged standing can’t be avoided, wear comfortable shoes with good arch support. Also try a support stocking that will compress the outer veins and help the blood return from the legs in the deep veins. And keep yourself moving so your blood also moves.

Adding bioflavonoids to your diet will both prevent and improve varicose veins. Purplish-blue fruits, such as blueberries and plums, are especially high in these natural antioxidants. Or supplement with grapeseed extract, citrus bioflavonoids, or vitamin C to help strengthen blood vessels and capillaries. Several studies say horse chestnut extract prevents and treats varicose veins. It contains the bioflavonoid aescin, which tones floppy vessels.

If you experience any pain or tenderness in the veins, see your doctor to rule out the possibility of vein thrombosis (blood clot), which could break loose and block blood flow to vital organs like the lungs, heart, or brain.

Make Veins Vanish
Take horse chestnut extract standardized to contain 50 to 90 mg of aescin, two to three times a day. Avoid if you are pregnant or suffering from kidney or liver disease.

Eat a diet rich in vitamin C and bioflavonoids (found in the white pith of citrus), or supplement with them (500 to 1,000 mg, three times daily) to strengthen blood vessels.

Elevate your legs above your heart regularly throughout the day, or wear compression stockings.

Hormonal imbalances that occur during pregnancy or menopause may cause varicose veins. So avoid exposure to pesticides, which may contain pseudo-estrogens.

Alan M. Dattner, MD, is an immunologist, board-certified dermatologist, and a pioneer in the field of holistic dermatology.