Are There Natural Options for Varicose Veins?

Published on November 10, 2015 by Dr. Colin O'Brien

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.

Have you tried any of these natural health ingredients for varicose veins or CVI? Let us know in the comments below how they worked out for you!

Image by © 2015 Kaspars Grinvalds via Dollarphotoclub

References:

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.

Monograph. Diosmin. Altern Med Rev. 2004 Sep;9(3):308-11.

Nicolaides AN. From symptoms to leg edema: efficacy of Daflon 500 mg. Angiology. 2003;54 Suppl 1:S33-44.

Smith PC. Daflon 500 mg and venous leg ulcer: new results from a meta-analysis. Angiology. 2005; 56 Suppl 1:S33-9.

  • Carol

    Varicose veins article-- I believe you mean grapefruit seed extract GSE, not grape seed....

    I don't have varicose vein issues, or at least not visible??? Can I have them and not have known?
    A few years ago I started getting dark spots on my ankles- a Dr. friend told me it was poor circulation, but had no answers on what I could do. The left leg is where it started first and the right leg followed slower. The leg is more advanced but is now purple in color, swells as the day progresses.
    Do you feel GSE, diosmin and hesperidin would work for me?
    What ratio should they be in or if individual what amounts and with or without food?
    Are there other foods besides citrus that I should be consuming?
    Thank you so much!

    • Lacy Armstrong

      Hello Carol,

      Thank you for your post. I do, in fact, mean <em>Grape</em> and not Grapefruit seed extract. These are actually different compounds and Grape Seed Extract is the compound that contains proanthocyanidins, the active ingredient thought to be responsible for the beneficial effects on veins and the cardiovascular system.
      Varicose veins are visible so if you do not see them, then you currently do not have them. However, this doesn't mean you cant be proactive in preventing them. From what you are describing, it does sound like impaired blood flow could be responsible for the symptoms you are describing. I would recommend speaking with an integrative healthcare practitioner (such as a Naturopathic Doctor) to adequately and properly assess your legs and the likely causes for the discolourations. If it is determined to be poor blood flow, then certainly compression stockings, exercise and a combination of the above ingredients could help via supplementation or foods. Citrus foods are the main dietary sources so these should be increased but other dietary changes to improve your cardiovascular function should be made too. This mostly means increase fruits and vegetables and decreased processed foods and saturated fats.

      All the best,
      Dr Colin O'Brien