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Varicose Veins

Dilated, bulging, bluish veins on the surface of the skin, usually appearing on the legs, are known as varicose veins. Accompanying symptoms may include swollen feet, leg muscle aches or sores, cramping, itching and a feeling of heaviness in the legs. In normal conditions, the valves in all veins prevent blood from backing up and flowing in the wrong direction. But in varicose veins, these valves no longer function properly. Blood becomes lodged in the veins and, because of increased pressure, the veins expand. If you sit or stand for long periods in one position, are overweight or don't exercise regularly, you are at risk for developing defective venous valves. Sometimes heredity accounts for weakness of connective tissue, which makes veins susceptible to strain. Varicose veins are not usually a serious problem. But if ignored and deeper veins are affected, skin ulcers,, bleeding under the skin and dangerous blood clots can result.

Plant extracts for the veins
For varicose veins, look for salves and creams with a horse-chestnut seed extract. This extract helps inhibit inflammation, reduce swelling and stimulate the muscles of the veinh wall to contract so blood can flow properly. Blueberries, high in the blue and purple pigments known to strengthen blood vessels, may also be helpful.

What you can do?
To prevent varicose veins, elevate your legs as often as possible, and avoid long periods of sitting or standing. A healthy diet and regular exercise can also help. If you have varicose veins, refrain from prolonged baths and saunas because warmth expands the blood vessels. Cold water applications and massages can ease circulatory congestion.

Preventing varicose veins
Regular exercise, especially walking, cycling and swimming, helps prevent varicose veins from developing and from worsening if they do develop. A healthy diet is also extremely important, sluggish digestion and poor liver and gallbladder function exert pressure in the lower body, straining and congesting veins.

Help from compression therapy
In compression therapy, pressure is applied to the legs so that veins are pressed together. This helps the venous valves close properly and allows blood to flow more freely through the veins back to the heart. A compression bandage is also extremely helpful: have your doctor show you the correct way to apply one. Or, try compression stockings, they are easier to use and available by prescription in graduated amounts of pressure.

Foods for health
Try to eat plenty of garlic, onions, ginger, and pineapple. These foods, which are fibrinolytics, break down fibrin, the tough, dense, inelastic tissue that replaces the healthy tissue of veins and causes them to lose their elasticity.

Diet and exercise

A healthy diet
Eating fatty, low fiber foods can lead to constipation and excess weight gain, thus encouraging the formation of varicose veins. Vegetables, fruits and whole grain products should be taken daily. Every few months, try a 1-day juice or raw fruits and vegetable diet. This purifies the digestive system, encourages digestion and helps encourage weight loss.

Simple exercises
These quick and easy exercises can improve the blood flow in your legs. Try to do them everyday. Sit on the floor or in a chair, with your legs straight out in front of you. Rotate both feet from the ankles, first to the right then to the left. Repeat for 30 sec. stand up. Rock back and forth from your heels to toes several times. Walk backward several steps on your heels. Repeat a few times. In addition to these routines, remind yourself to wiggle your toes and gently rotate your ankles every so often whenever you are sitting down.

Home remedies

A cold water walk in the bath
Immersing your feet in cold water spurs veins to contract; walking in the water is even more helpful. Fill the tub with cold water (about 64 deg F) up to the height of your calves. Walk back and forth in the tub picking up your knees and lifting your feet entirely out of the water with every step. When you get out, don't dry your feet. Pot on cotton socks, and keep moving around until your feet become warm.

A massage with essential oils
To encourage blood flow from the legs to the upper body, massage varicose veins with essential oils. Mix 2 drops each of rosemary, juniper and Cyprus oils with 2 tbsp. of sweet almond oil. Once a day, spread the mixture over varicose veins, massaging upward.