Today I want to talk about a health issue that is common (but not exclusive) to mamas: varicose veins.
I treat varicose veins naturally, and it works!
My first symptoms of varicose veins appeared 4 1/2 months into my second pregnancy (about eight-and-a-half years ago). When I mentioned my symptoms to my doctor and she confirmed that I was dealing with varicose veins, her off-handed remark was, “There’s not much you can do about it. They’ll keep getting worse, especially if you keep having babies.”
(Thankfully, all doctors are not so unsupportive!)
While this prediction has been partly true, I’m thankful that there are effective and natural solutions! I do still “deal” with varicose veins (although they are mostly problematic during pregnancy), but I don’t just “deal” with them. I treat them!
At the end of this post I’ll share the natural protocol I’ve used over the years to treat my varicose veins, but first-
What are varicose veins, and what cases them?
Veins have valves that act as one-way flaps to prevent blood from flowing backwards as it moves up your legs. If the valves become damaged or weak, blood can leak back into the veins and collect there. (This problem is called venous insufficiency.) When backed-up blood makes the veins bigger, they can become abnormally swollen or dilated (varicose).
Varicose veins are often hereditary. They are frequently caused (or made worse) by pregnancy, obesity, prolonged standing, and chronic strain.
Varicose veins tend to worsen with subsequent pregnancies and age.
Varicose veins can be more prominent or first appear during menstruation or pregnancy, and they may be more bothersome during these times. (This has certainly been my experience!)
What are the symptoms?
I probably don’t have to tell you about the symptoms (since you’re reading this, you likely already have first-hand experience), but here is a list of common symptoms of varicose veins:
- burning sensation (can be mild or quite painful)
- visibly swollen, bulging veins at the surface of skin
- pain or cramps in legs (or affected areas) after prolonged standing
What can you do about varicose veins?
Despite my doctor’s just-deal-with-it approach back in 2006, over the years I’ve discovered many effective means of strengthening and healing varicose veins.
Here are a few things that work for me.
Exercising in general is beneficial for varicose veins, but walking in particular seems the most beneficial way to improve circulation and relieve discomfort.
Another simple trick I discovered during pregnancy was to take time out for a few minutes to lie on my back and put my feet up.
Lying on the floor with your feet propped on a stool or low chair for at least 5 minutes is best. This gets the circulation going again, provides a short reprieve during a busy day, and also helps with backaches.
I’ve noticed a marked improvement in the health of my veins after an adjustment by a chiropractor. In fact, if walking or other exercising does not seem to be helping, usually a trip to the chiropractor will do the trick.
I found support pantyhose to be a rather cumbersome but absolutely necessary life saver.
I’m not a big pantyhose fan (in fact, I pretty much hate pantyhose) but I wore these babies daily during my last four pregnancies, simply for the fact that they kept my legs from killing me!
I have tried several brands of maternity support hose and found most of them to be uncomfortable, ill-made, and very unsupportive (not to mention expensive). The only brand I whole-heartedly recommend is Gabrialla.
If you’re not pregnant but in need of support hose, check out JCPenney department store. My mom has used JCPenney’s support hose for years.
Herbs and Supplements
For topical treatment, I love Mountain Meadow Herb’s Vascular Ease lotion. I’ve used this product for several years with great success; it’s super soothing, cooling to hot, painful veins, and it smells nice!
Other helpful herbs and supplements I’ve used over the years, both during, between and after pregnancies:
- Berry Herbal Brew from Bulk Herb Store
- Butcher’s Broom– extremely effective for varicose veins (you can get it in capsules or buy the herb in bulk)
- Taking at least 400 I.U. of Vitamin E daily helps improve circulation and strengthen vein capillaries
- Rutin helps relieve the swelling and poor circulation of varicose veins
- White Oak Bark– great for relieving the pain associated with varicose veins, although it does not seem to actually cure the varicosities themselves
- Cayenne is also beneficial in improving vein circulation
Other Helpful Tips
- Rest frequently in short intervals during the day. I know it’s impossible to “stay off your feet” when you’re busy taking care of your family, but taking a quick break (5-15 minutes) every few hours does help.
- Keep your weight within the healthy range for your height and build. Excess weight over works your body! If you’re pregnant, strive to keep your weight gain at a healthy rate through proper nutrition and exercise (if possible).
- Sitting with your feet propped up improves circulation. Sitting with your legs crossed or beneath you slows circulation.
- If you do opt to take herbal supplements be sure to take them daily. Hit and miss isn’t nearly as effective. Keep in mind that it may take a few weeks of taking your herbs faithfully before you begin to see a lot of improvement.
- As always, drink a lot of water and eat a diet high in fiber, protein and nutrients. Your over all health will directly support or weaken your efforts at treating varicose veins. (Constipation can make varicose veins worse!)
Follow my Healthy Mama board on Pinterest for more helpful articles, tips, and info!
Do you deal with varicose veins? What have you found that is helpful?
Kristy Howard is a pastor’s wife, second-generation homeschooling mom of five, and a passionate believer in friendship, coffee, and quiet time! Kristy writes about motherhood, ministry and life at KristysCottage.com.