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 What Doctors Don't Tell You: Varicose veins 
What Doctors Don't Tell You © (Volume 14, Issue 7)
Varicose veins are enlarged blood vessels lying close to the skin’s surface. Any vein may become varicose or twisted, but those in your legs and feet are most likely to be affected because of the pressure you place on your veins in your lower body when you stand and walk. Increased pressure and hormonal changes during pregnancy can also trigger the problem.

For many people, varicose veins and spider veins - a common, mild and medically insignificant variation of varicose veins - are simply a cosmetic concern. For others, varicose veins can cause aching pain and discomfort, and can sometimes lead to more serious problems. In a minority of cases, the cause may be raised venous pressure (venous hypertension), which can be confirmed by a non-invasive Doppler examination.

Orthodox treatment prescribes hydroxyethylrutosides, derived from the flavonoid rutin, or the wearing of compression stockings, which should not be used if the in-flow pressure ratio of the ankle or foot to that of the arm is less than 0.8. [An article in the British Medical Journal provides reliable information on the symptoms and orthodox treatment of varicose veins (BMJ, 2000; 320: 1391-4).]

The doctor should not ignore the possibility of a nutritional deficiency as a cause of the condition, and alternative medicine offers plenty of treatment options.

* Naturopathic medicine has traditionally used hydrotherapy. In one placebo-controlled, randomised clinical trial, foot volume as well as ankle and calf circumferences were reduced with applications of cold water (12-18° C) followed by warm water (35-38° C) for 10 minutes daily for 24 consecutive days (Eur J Phys Med Rehabil, 1993; 3: 123-4). In another trial, 20 minutes in a thermal bath produced a marked improvement in venous function (Phys Med Rehabil Kurortmed, 1993; 3: 153-7). Bilberries (Vaccinium myrtillus) added to the daily diet of pregnant women can prevent and treat varicose veins (Minerva Ginecol, 1981; 33: 221-30).

* Nutritional medicine prescribes bromelain, an enzyme that comes from the stem of the pineapple plant (Ananas comosus), as adjunctive treatment for thrombophlebitis (Angiology, 1969; 20: 22-6) and varicose veins (Praxis, 1972; 61: 950-1). In patients with poor nutritional status, supplementing with vitamins C (Am J Clin Nutr, 1981; 34: 871-6) and E (J Vitaminol, 1972; 18: 125-30) has helped to improve vascular and capillary fragility. Three groups of flavonoids have a long history in the successful treatment of varicose veins and ulcerative dermatitis. These are rutin (Am J Ophthalmol, 1948; 31: 671-8), hesperidin (Del State Med J, 1959; January: 19-22) and the anthocyanosides, which are found in bilberries (Minerva Med, 1977; 68: 3565-81).

* Botanical medicine offers three successful remedies for the treatment of varicose veins. The pennywort (Hydrocotyle asiatica or Centella asiatica) had a significantly beneficial effect in reducing swelling and other symptoms of heaviness in the lower legs, compared with placebo, in a placebo-controlled, randomised trial involving 94 patients who were given 120 mg/day of a titrated extract of pennywort for two months (Angiology, 1987; 38: 46-50). These results are corroborated by another double-blind trial in which a daily dose of 60 mg of a titrated extract of pennywort for 30 days was found to significantly improve itching, swelling and night cramps, compared with a placebo (Clin Ther, 1981; 99: 507-13).

Red-vine-leaf extract (Vitis vinifera) taken for 12 weeks reduced lower leg volume and calf circumference, compared with a placebo, in a double-blind study of 260 patients who had chronic venous insufficiency (Arzneim Forsch, 2000; 50: 109-17).

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What Doctors Don't Tell You What Doctors Don’t Tell You is one of the few publications in the world that can justifiably claim to solve people's health problems - and even save lives. Our monthly newsletter gives you the facts you won't......more
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