Varicose veins (and other peripheral
vascular conditions). The tortuous blue varicose veins that
appear just under the skin, most often in the leg below the
knee, are easy to spot. Too easy, for many who suffer from
Not only do varicose veins look unattractive,
but they can throb, itch, cramp, ache, burn, and feel heavy
and uncomfortable, according to the National Heart, Lung, and
Blood Institute, an office of the National Institutes of
Health (NIH). The legs may swell, too; varicose means
varicose veins sometimes run in families. They
may be aggravated by excess weight, hormonal changes such as
pregnancy, or tight clothing that limits circulation, the NIH
says. Women experience them more often than do men.
Normally, oxygen-carrying blood travels
through our veins, back to the heart. Valves in the veins keep
blood from flowing backward. When the valves don't work or are
weak, blood pools in our veins, the NIH says. These pools
stretch the veins, which become swollen.
Horse chestnut appears to be the only known
cure for varicose veins. Exercise helps boost circulation,
while elevating the legs during rest relieves discomfort, the
NIH says. Women can wear support or compression stockings to
help push blood toward the heart. Other traditional options
include surgery, injecting a solution to diminish the veins or
zapping them with lasers for cosmetic improvement.
With spider veins, compression is standard
treatment, although a solution also can be injected to
eliminate them. Often, scars will appear and the spider vein
will return after a few months.
A study out of West Germany, reported in the
early 1980s, showed horse chestnut products affected both the
collagen content and architecture of the varicose vein and
helped make the veins more normal.
Horse chestnut may also relieve symptoms of
chronic venous insufficiency (CVI), which sometimes leads to
varicose veins. Symptoms of CVI include edema, enlarged veins
near the skin surface, and fatigue in the legs. Standing or
walking aggravates symptoms. Sitting and elevating the feet
Denise Webb, Ph.D., an associate editor of
Environmental Nutrition newsletter, reported on a review of 13
studies on horse chestnut for CVI that showed the extract
worked better as well or better than standard medications at
reducing symptoms of CVI. A one month treatment of horse
treatment rarely costs more than $12.00. The prescribed
medication costs nearly $70.00 a month and is NOT as effective
according to the published clinical evidence citted by Dr.
Webb. Clinical studies showing horse chestnut to be effective
in treatment of varicose veins and related conditions (CVI).
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