There is a stigma going around that there is “nothing” you can do for varicose veins. If your mom had them, then they’re engraved in your DNA and you’re essentially “stuck”. But I’m not buying it. I mean– our bodies can CREATE and grow babies, but they can’t repair vein valves—really? In order to understand what contributes to varicose veins we must look “upstream” so to speak to understand what is happening with your liver, digestion and hormones.
What are varicose veins?
According to Wikipedia: “Varicose veins are veins that have become enlarged and tortuous. The term commonly refers to the veins on the leg, although varicose veins can occur elsewhere. Veins have leaflet valves to prevent blood from flowing backwards (retrograde flow or reflux). Leg muscles pump the veins to return blood to the heart (the calf muscle pump mechanism), against the effects of gravity. When veins become varicose, the leaflets of the valves no longer meet properly, and the valves do not work (valvular incompetence). This allows blood to flow backwards and they enlarge even more. Varicose veins are most common in the superficial veins of the legs, which are subject to high pressure when standing. Besides being a cosmetic problem, varicose veins can be painful, especially when standing.”
Major risk factors:
6 things you can do to support your veins:
1) Address liver congestion (this is the MOST important).
In nutritional therapy, varicose veins are a sign of liver congestion, since impaired detoxification and liver stress put extra stress on the venous system. According to naturopathic doctor Dicken Weatherby, “If the liver, which acts as a blood filter becomes congested, the blood that flows into the liver from the digestive tract becomes backed up.”
2) Balance your hormones and get excess estrogen out of your body
Increased estrogen (often due to liver malnutrition, thus the failure to detoxify it) increases blood viscosity, and this can contribute vascular stagnation. This is one reason why vein pain can increase at certain points in the female cycle (ovulation and/or premenstrually), since these are the times that hormonal imbalance is magnified.
3) Food allergies and sensitivities can increase vein pain (and blood viscosity).
Anything that is adding extra stress to the body is going to impact veins. If you are sensitive to certain foods (gluten, dairy, and soy are the most common) they are going to work against your body, and your veins. Read more on food sensitivity testing here.
4) Get Nutritionally Wealthy!
According to Dr. Ray Peat, PhD, “ …varicose veins are merely low-pressure analogs of arterial aneurysms, and they obviously develop under specific conditions, such as pregnancy and malnutrition. Spider veins are another anatomical variation that commonly appears under the influence of estrogen.” Because malnutrition is a primary cause of varicose veins, make sure you give your body the nutrition it NEEDS to support your vascular system.
5) WORK IT (and not in high heels)
Varicose veins are especially common in the legs and calf, which can worsen with inactivity. Did you know that your movement in your heel and calf helps to pump the de-oxygenated blood up your legs back to your heart? This is drastically decreased when you wear high heeled shoes. If you work at a desk all day here are some of my favorite options to get you moving everyday (affiliate links): the treadmill desk and the treadmill laptop shelf.
6) Compression stockings
One of the first thing a vascular specialist might do is give you a Rx for a custom sized compression stocking to wear during the day to help provide support, and to force blood to circulate through the deeper veins instead of the surface veins that are commonly problematic. Wearing these can help slow the progression of varicose veins, according to Western medicine. However, they are not particularly cheap, usually costing around $100-$130 per pair.
So while I’ve yet to see varicose veins vanish, I have seen vein pain disappear with nutrition! Why not make sure that you are supporting your veins with nutrition, and set the stage for what your body needs for your veins to work properly?
So tell me– what do you think?
Peat, Raymond. Bleeding, clotting, cancer. 2006. Retrieved September 24, 2013, from http://raypeat.com/articles/aging/bleeding-clotting-cancer.shtml
Weatherby, Dicken. Signs and Symptoms Analysis from a Functional Perspective. Nutritional Therapy Association, 2004. Print.
Wikipedia. Varicose Veins. 2013. Retrieved September 24, 2013, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Varicose_veins