Standing up or sitting down for long spells can cause the veins in your legs to bulge and become more visible. According to research or other evidence, the following self-care steps may be helpful.
Try a beneficial flavonoid
Take 1,000 mg a day of hydroxyethylrutoside to reduce the size of varicose veins associated with pregnancy
Compress and elevate
Relieve the symptoms of varicose veins by wearing compression stockings and elevating your legs frequently
Get a checkup
Visit your doctor to find out if your varicose veins may be the result of a more serious venous condition
About This Condition
Varicose veins are twisted, enlarged veins close to the surface. They can occur almost anywhere but most
commonly occur in the esophagus and the legs.
Veins, which return blood to the heart, contain valves that keep blood from flowing backward as a result
of gravity. When these valves become weak, blood pools in the veins of the legs and causes them to bulge.
These enlarged vessels are called varicose veins. Standing and sitting for long periods of time, lack of
exercise, obesity, and
pregnancy all tend to promote the formation of varicose veins. Sometimes varicose veins are painful, but
elevating the affected leg usually brings significant relief.
Symptoms of varicose veins may include a dull pain, itch, or heavy sensation in the legs. The sensation is worse after prolonged standing and better when the legs are elevated. Varicose veins typically appear on the legs as dilated, tortuous veins close to the surface of the skin, and may look blue. Advanced varicose veins may cause ankle and leg swelling or skin ulcers.
Healthy Lifestyle Tips
Keeping the legs elevated relieves pain. People with varicose veins should avoid sitting or standing for prolonged periods of time and should walk regularly.
Our proprietary “Star-Rating” system was developed to help you easily understand the amount of scientific support behind each supplement in relation to a specific health condition. While there is no way to predict whether a vitamin, mineral, or herb will successfully treat or prevent associated health conditions, our unique ratings tell you how well these supplements are understood by some in the medical community, and whether studies have found them to be effective for other people.
For over a decade, our team has combed through thousands of research articles published in reputable journals. To help you make educated decisions, and to better understand controversial or confusing supplements, our medical experts have digested the science into these three easy-to-follow ratings. We hope this provides you with a helpful resource to make informed decisions towards your health and well-being.
3 StarsReliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.
2 StarsContradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.
1 StarFor an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support.
A controlled clinical trial found that oral supplementation with hydroxyethylrutosides (HR), a type of flavonoid that is derived from rutin, improved varicose veins in a group of pregnant women.3 Further research is needed to confirm the benefits observed in this preliminary trial. A typical amount of HR is 1000 mg per day.
Horse chestnut seed extract can be taken orally or used as an external application for disorders of venous circulation, including varicose veins.6 Preliminary studies in humans have shown that 300 mg three times per day of a standardized extract of horse chestnut seed reduced the formation of enzymes thought to cause varicose veins.7 Topical gel or creams containing 2% aescin can be applied topically three or four time per day to the affected limb(s).
Refer to label instructions
A small, preliminary trial found that supplementation with 150 mg of proanthocyanidins per day improved the function of leg veins after a single application in people with widespread varicose veins.8 Double-blind trials are needed to determine whether extended use of proanthocyanidins can substantially improve this condition.
Refer to label instructions
Although witch hazel is known primarily for treating hemorrhoids, it may also be useful for varicose veins.9 Topical use of witch hazel to treat venous conditions is approved by the German Commission E, authorities on herbal medicine.10 Application of a witch hazel ointment three or more times per day for two or more weeks is necessary before results can be expected.
Find Drug Interaction Information
1. Capelli R, Nicora M, Di Perri T. Use of extract of Ruscus aculeatus in venous disease in the lower limbs. Drugs Exp Clin Res 1988;14:277–83.
2. Brinkhaus B, Linder M, Schuppan D, Hahn EG. Chemical, pharmacological and clinical profile of the East Asian medical plant Centella asiatica. Phytomed 2000;7:427–48.
3. Sohn C, Jahnichen C, Bastert G. [Effectiveness of beta-hydroxyethylrutoside in patients with varicose veins in pregnancy]. Zentralbl Gynakol 1995;117:190–7 [in German].
4. Capelli R, Nicora M, Di Perri T. Use of extract of Ruscus aculeatus in venous disease in the lower limbs. Drugs Exp Clin Res 1988;14:277–83.
5. Brinkhaus B, Linder M, Schuppan D, Hahn EG. Chemical, pharmacological and clinical profile of the East Asian medical plant Centella asiatica. Phytomed 2000;7:427–48.
6. Blumenthal M, Busse WR, Goldberg A, et al. (eds). The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Austin, TX: American Botanical Council and Boston: Integrative Medicine Communications, 1998, 149.
7. Kreysel HW, Nissen HP, Enghofer E. A possible role of lysosomal enzymes in the pathogenesis of varicosis and the reduction in their serum activity by Venostasin. Vasa 1983;12:377–82.
8. Royer RJ, Schmidt CL. [Evaluation of venotropic drugs by venous gas plethysmography. A study of procyanidolic oligomers]. Sem Hop 1981;57:2009–13 [in French].
9. European Scientific Cooperative on Phytotherapy. Hamamelidis folium (Hamamelis leaf). ESCOP Monographs on the Medicinal Uses of Plant Drugs. Exeter, UK: ESCOP, 1997.
10. Blumenthal M, Busse WR, Goldberg A, et al. (eds). The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Austin, TX: American Botanical Council and Boston: Integrative Medicine Communications, 1998, 231.
The information presented in Aisle7 is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires June 2014.
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