While very common as we age, varicose veins can make us feel uncomfortable in certain outfits and even lead to serious health problems. If you’re starting to see blue/purple veins on your legs that appear twisted or bulging, varicose veins are likely to blame. Sometimes they are painful, while other times, they’re just there to bug us with their appearance.
As we get older, our veins lose elasticity like other parts of our body [source]. Pregnancy can also increase the risk of developing varicose veins due to the increased amount of blood in the body, the pressure from the growing uterus, and the increase in progesterone that affects the vessel walls [source]. And as they become stretched out and weakened, blood that’s supposed to return to the heart starts flowing backward and pooling.
Sometimes, this can be associated with a condition called chronic venous insufficiency, which can be painful and disfiguring [source]. It causes swelling, cramping and fatigue, and skin changes in the area along with varicose veins [source].
More and more, evidence has shown this condition to be associated with oxidative stress [source], so antioxidants should be considered helpful in the treatment.
12 Natural Varicose Vein Remedies—That Work!
So fear not! There are plenty of natural remedies out there for treating varicose veins. Compression stockings, massage, and elevating the legs are usually the first choices for many [source], but there are other tips and tricks that you can do—many with ingredients already in your kitchen!
With a little help, you’ll feel more comfortable and look great just in time for sundress and sandal weather!
1. Apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is a miracle worker in many beauty recipes and home remedies. It’s known to improve blood circulation and flow and has been shown to help decrease varicose vein swelling when applied topically [source].
The subjects in a study elevated their legs 45 degrees, then moistened a cloth with natural apple cider vinegar and applied it directly on the affected area by wrapping. This should be done for 30 minutes once in the morning and once before bed for 1 month to get the best results.
2. Cayenne pepper
Full of vitamin C and bioflavonoids, cayenne pepper improves the function of the blood vessel walls [source]. It can also ease the pain associated with swollen veins due to its antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties [source].
All you need to do is stir a teaspoon of cayenne pepper powder into a glass of hot water and drink it. Add honey or another sweetener if it's hard to get down. It always helps to just consume more peppers with your food—all types of peppers will work. And, as a bonus, cayenne pepper is a great metabolism booster!
3. Gotu Kola
This medicinal plant with the scientific name Centella asiatica has a long history of use in Southeast Asian countries such as India and Sri Lanka. It can be used for medicinal purposes to improve heaviness and swelling in the lower extremities.
It has been shown to strengthen weakened veins by improving collagen synthesis in the walls [source] and exerts an anti-inflammatory action on the surrounding connective tissue (also used in the treatment of cellulite) [source]. Gotu kola can be taken as a supplement, where it is also used to promote memory and longevity [source].
Parsley contains rutin, a very powerful organic compound that directly affects capillary tone and improves the effects of oxidative stress on blood vessels [source]. In addition, its high levels of vitamin C help to increase collagen and repair damaged blood vessels [source].
I’m certainly not suggesting sitting down and eating a parsley bunch, but try incorporating it in more of your meals or smoothies for extra flavor and benefits for your veins.
5. Grapeseed oil
The seeds of grapes are small but packed full of flavonoids, linoleic acid, and vitamin E [source]. The antioxidant potency of grape seeds can help prevent free radical damage to the blood vessels, reduce leg swelling [source], improve vascular tone [source], and boost collagen to improve the elasticity of cell walls.
6. Horse chestnut extract
Interesting name, right? Whether you’ve heard of it or not, horse chestnut extract has a longstanding reputation for treating varicose veins.
It has been shown to prevent leakage of the blood out of veins as well as treat the leg pain, swelling, and even itching that accompanies chronic venous insufficiency [source]. Eating horse chestnuts in the raw form is poisonous, so look for horse chestnut extract in the form of capsules or liquid extracts.
What wouldn’t be therapeutic about a relaxing bath or a soak in a thermal mineral water spa, also known as balneotherapy [source]? Bathing in warm water dilates the blood vessels and improves blood flow throughout the body.
There are many therapeutic options within this category, such as mineral water, exercising in water, the use of whirlpool water massage. A study using underwater ultrasound demonstrated that when a part of the body is immersed, hydrostatic compression (the pressure of water) provides pressure on the limbs that helps flow, kind of like compression stockings [source].
8. Wear compression stockings
There has been a lot of research on the effects of wearing compression stockings to help improve pain and swelling [source]. But it seems the most benefit can be seen with the use of a special type called progressive compression stockings.
They work by exerting a graduated pressure from the bottom up, helping to coax blood flow back upward toward the heart [source].
9. Move your body
Keeping your body moving is essential for proper blood circulation. And when your blood is pumping and flowing in the right way, varicose veins can be reduced and prevented. It doesn't mean you suddenly have to be a gym rat, though. Even a quick daily walk and some gentle yoga can be helpful.
10. Watch your weight
When you gain weight, you’re only putting more pressure on your veins (along with other health problems). Consider a whole-food, plant-based diet to reduce your weight and up the number of healthy fruits and vegetables you consume daily (who really gets those 5 to 7 servings a day anyway unless they’re vegetarian?). Make sure it is also low in sodium to reduce water retention and swelling in the legs.
11. Switch up your shoes
Many of us love our high heels, but the reality is, they can be very damaging to our legs. Lower-heeled shoes work calf muscles more, which is better for blood flow in the veins.
I know I certainly can’t part with some high heels, but think about how much you’re wearing them. There are many alternatives to pulling off the same cute outfits!
12. Elevate your legs
It’s important to avoid sitting or standing for too long—especially if you suffer from varicose veins. It’s a good idea to elevate your legs above the level of your heart a few times a day to help the blood flow [source]. Besides, who couldn't use a few circulation breaks during the day?
This article was medically reviewed by Dr. Gina Jansheski, a licensed, board-certified physician who has been practicing for more than 20 years. Learn more about Hello Glow's medical reviewers here. As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.324