Many women today are searching for safe and effective alternatives to Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT), largely due to the increased health risks associated with their usage. Inevitably, somewhere along this search they come to discover “phytoestrogens”. The short story with phytoestrogens is that they can be very helpful for menopausal concerns and they should be considered extremely safe. The full story requires a bit more explanation because there is a great deal of misinformation that exists surrounding their efficacy and safety. Let’s take a closer look. What are phytoestrogens? The term “phytoestrogen” can literally be translated into “plant estrogen”. In
Varicose veins are enlarged, contorted and very visible veins that are almost always found in the legs. Although they are often thought of as merely a cosmetic disturbance, they may actually be one of the first symptoms of chronic venous insufficiency (CVI). Both CVI and varicose veins result from a weakening of the walls and valves of veins, leading to poor blood flow from the feet up to the heart. This is problematic because poor blood flow may lead to swelling and resultant pain and discomfort. This can lead to work absence and reduced overall quality of life. Eventually skin ulcerations may appear and you will also be at higher risk for something called a deep vein thrombosis, which can lead to blood clots.
So, whatever the incentive for improving varicose veins may be (cosmetic or health promoting), the big question is “Are there natural options?”. Medical treatments include surgical removal, intravascular methods, laser therapy and more, but these come with a high cost and potential side effects. Depending on the severity, varicose veins can also be treated with lifestyle changes including diet, by wearing compression garments and avoiding prolonged periods of sitting.
No matter the severity, those with varicose veins should educate themselves on the natural compounds known as grape seed extract, diosmin and hesperidin. They are an excellent adjunctive therapy to diet and lifestyle measures.
Diosmin & Hesperidin: This mixture of flavonoids found in citrus fruits can improve venous tone, microcirculation and oxygen delivery. The combination of 90% diosmin and 10% hesperidin at a dose of 1000mg/day is well studied and proven to be very effective in decreasing symptoms of CVI and varicosities. Improved ulcer healing times and overall quality of life have been noted, too.
Note: This exact 10:1 combination is sold as a drug under the name “Daflon 500” in other countries. Luckily here in Canada, they can be sold in natural health products.
Grape seed extract: This antioxidant compound has been traditionally used for the treatment of varicose veins and CVI, and has also been shown to help maintain a healthy blood pressure and reduce swelling in the legs. One study utilizing 100mg of grape seed extract per day found improvements in CVI symptoms in only 10 days! This included benefits in overall pain, swelling, itchiness and heaviness.
The regular intake of a combination of these three ingredients (grape seed extract, diosmin & hesperidin) is a great natural therapy to consider for both varicose veins and related symptoms of CVI. These natural compounds may prevent the need for more invasive medical treatments like surgery or intravascular methods to correct the malfunctioned veins.
Bergan JJ et al. Therapeutic approach to chronic venous insufficiency and its complications: place of Daflon 500 mg. Angiology. 2001; 52 Suppl 1:S43-7.
Costantini A et al. Clinical and capillaroscopic evaluation of chronic uncomplicated venous insufficiency with procyanidins extracted from vitis vinifera. Minerva Cardioangiol. 1999; 47(1-2):39-46.
Jantet G. Chronic venous insufficiency: worldwide results of the RELIEF study. Reflux assEssment and quaLity of lIfe improvement with micronized Flavonoids. Angiology. 2002; 53(3):245-56.
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Smith PC. Daflon 500 mg and venous leg ulcer: new results from a meta-analysis. Angiology. 2005; 56 Suppl 1:S33-9.