Alternative Therapies for Varicose Veins

By Jill Buterbaugh, RN, MSN, CRNP, FNP-BC

Many people today choose to use homeopathic remedies rather than prescription medications or surgical procedures.  When a vein has already become diseased, there is no way to reverse the damage already done. The only effective treatments would be those treatments that permanently destroy the vein.  There are some supplements that can improve the integrity of the vein walls and may prevent progression of the disease.  Others have vasoconstrictive properties that may reduce the size and appearance of the veins or anti-inflammatory properties that reduce the symptoms of the disease.

Some of the herbal supplements that are known for treatment of varicose veins are listed below with some information specific to vein disease.  It is not all inclusive of everything known, most of the supplements have other uses.  I am not an herbalist and these are not recommendations for treatment, simply a sharing of general information.  I recommend you do further research on supplements before using any of them and discuss their use with your primary care provider.  Please note that none of these are recommended if you are pregnant, breast feeding or for children.

  • Beth Root is reported to have an astringent activity and constricts blood vessels. It can induce labor so should never be used during pregnancy.  It can cause changes in blood pressure, pulse and on electrocardiograms and interacts with some heart medications.
  • Bilberry is reported to have anti-inflammatory, astringent and anticoagulation properties. It interacts with anticoagulants, anti-platelets, aspirin, insulin, iron and NSAIDS (ibuprofen products).  In varicose veins, it reduces the inflammation associated with the disease improving discomfort and may prevent blood clots from forming.
  • Butcher’s broom is reported to decrease the elasticity of veins preventing them from becoming over distended and improving vein wall health. It interacts with some blood pressure and depression medications. It should not be used in men with prostate disease.
  • Gotu kola is reported to increase fertility as well as treat hypertension, cancer, liver disease, and varicose veins. Topically it is used to increase would healing.  In varicose vein disease, it decreases inflammation. It can interfere with some diabetes and cholesterol medications.
  • Horse Chestnut is reported to treat fever, phlebitis, hemorrhoids, prostate enlargement, edema, inflammation, varicose veins and diarrhea. In varicose vein disease, it decreases inflammation and improves the vein wall health.  It is not recommended for long term use because of liver and kidney damage.  It interacts with anticoagulants, diabetes medications, aspirin and iron.

 

Some of the herbal supplements that are known for treatment of varicose veins are listed below with some information specific to vein disease.  It is not all inclusive of everything known, most of the supplements have other uses.  I am not an herbalist and these are not recommendations for treatment, simply a sharing of general information.  I recommend you do further research on supplements before using any of them and discuss their use with your primary care provider.  Please note that none of these are recommended if you are pregnant, breast feeding or for children.

  • Marigold is reported to treat skin disorders, skin ulcers, varicose veins, bruises, and digestion. It is not known how it works but is believed to reduce inflammation. There are no known interactions.
  • Oak bark is reported to have anti-inflammatory and astringent properties and is used to treat skin disorders, varicose veins, hemorrhoids, burns and diarrhea. If used orally in large amounts, it can cause liver and kidney damage. It interacts with iron.
  • Witch Hazel is a well-known and popular treatment for itching, inflammation and to promote healing. With varicose veins, it is used to reduce inflammation.  It interacts with iron and should not be taken orally.
  • Diosmin is reported to manage venous inflammation and improve vein wall health. It probably is the most researched herbal supplement used in the treatment of varicose veins and has actually been made into a drug form that underwent FDA testing and approval.  It is the only herbal supplement that has been proven safe and is used during pregnancy, most often to control painful hemorrhoids.  It has no known interactions with any medications.  Research studies have not found any liver, kidney or heart complications.  It has no effect on blood sugar levels in diabetics.
  • Arnica is used topically to reduce inflammation in bruises, sprains, wounds, varicose veins and skin conditions. It should only be used short term. It is not recommended to be taken orally unless prescribed by a medical provider or qualified herbalist for specific situations and never chronically because of liver and kidney damage. It interacts with hypertension medications if taken orally.

 

The internet has become the “go to” consultant for many people in deciding what to do about their medical conditions.  While there is a vast amount of information available on the internet, there is no librarian.  Anyone can post anything on the internet without having to validate that what they put out there is true.  When looking for valid information, it is important to use sites that are regulated or well known.  Frequently, owners of websites will “review” themselves under factious names or only post favorable comments from consumers.

Keep in mind when looking for alternative therapies that herbal remedies or preparations are not considered medications and do not have to undergo any type of testing or studies to prove their safety.  They also do not have to undergo quality control checks.  What this means is that if you buy a bottle of capsules of an herbal supplement, not all the capsules may contain the same amount of ingredient and many have added ingredients or fillers in them.

When researching alternative therapies such as herbal supplements, it is important to see what research is out there regarding the product and verify the company’s reputation.  See if the company is FDA approved before you purchase.  There are side effects to herbal supplements so it is important to know what they are before using them and it is recommended that you consult a qualified herbalist before using them.  They may interact with prescription medication you use so it is also essential that you tell your primary care provider if you are using any supplements, even vitamins.

 

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