Varicose veins -- Causes & Treatments

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Finding a good herbalist

Much of what's written in this article is entirely suitable for a person to work through themselves but, especially if things are quite bad, or you just know that you need further help, then there may be a great deal of benefit to you to go to whatever lengths necessary to find a good herbalist to guide you on to a safe and strong treatment program. There's a short write-up to suggest how you might go about finding such a person here


Varicose veins obviously affect a lot of people and in many cases can eventually become painful or unsightly enough to need to take action.

Surgical stripping of the veins is one option but it does nothing to treat the cause of the distended veins and many people go on to have worse pain after surgery because the deeper veins that remain now have to work even harder.

Support stockings are another short-term option but they don't suit everyone and some people find them impossible to get used to. In any case, if we are going to find a more lasting solution, the question must be asked 'what is being done to treat the cause?'

The two main contributors to varicose veins are pelvic pressure and/or sticky blood. What those terms mean and what you can do about them are discussed below. Lastly the great remedies Horsechestnut & Hawthorn are described for how they can help varicose veins.

Pelvic pressure: causes & treatments

Pelvic pressure is what happens when 'something' in your pelvis or your lower abdomen puts pressure on the large blood vessels that supply blood to-and-from the legs thereby causing blood to pool and eventually give rise to the classic swelling of a varicose vein.

There are four main causes of pelvic pressure:

Excess weight

Carrying too much weight is a major cause of varicose veins. It is noticeable that people who are especially badly affected in this way tend towards the apple shape, i.e. having quite slim legs but holding most of their weight around their middle.

If this is the case, then the advice written up how to cure the metabolic syndrome will likely be exactly what is needed to lose the excess weight and so remedy the varicose veins; read more here



Many women get varicose veins in the latter part of pregnancy due to the increasing pelvic pressure. Some women get their veins back to normal but for others this is just when the problem starts.

Pregnancy has an end in sight, in the meanwhile your body is asking you to put your feet up as much as you can! If the varicose veins do not sort themselves out once the pressure is off your pelvis, then one of the other factors causing pelvic pressure or sticky blood will be what needs attention.


Structural misalignment

Misalignment of the low back and/or pelvis and/or poor posture are major causes of varicose veins. How you might know if this was the core issue is that, along with the varicose veins, there will be other symptoms such as low back pain, pain running down the legs (sciatica), painful periods or just pain in general in the pelvic area.

You may need some professional help with this, at least in the beginning, but who to go to is always a tricky prospect. There are both good and bad chiropractors, osteopaths, sports doctors etc. just as there are good and bad therapists in every field, including herbalists!

Much of the advice about qualifications, association, experience etc. written up in the section on finding a good herbalist mentioned at the top is equally relevant to this area of health-care, and the link to that information is again found here


Abdominal bloating

Bloating in the abdomen is another major cause of varicose veins. Not just about being overweight, this is when the belly has a taut, distended quality that is frankly quite uncomfortable!

The two most common causes for abdominal bloating are food intolerance - written up in detail here, or a chronic low grade infection in the gut - written up here


Sticky blood: causes and treatments

In analysing a drop of blood through a powerful microscope it can be seen that many people who have problematic varicose veins also have much stickier blood than average.

Thick or 'sticky' blood can be caused by several factors; the most obvious one being dehydration, but it can also be caused by a lack of movement or by another common but unseen problem; liver congestion.

An example of non-sticky blood


Most people need to drink at least 6 cups of water a day but this is variable according to our constitutions and a good rule of thumb is how often a person needs to go the toilet; more than once an hour is too much, less than once in two hours is too little. Urine should be light in colour and virtually free from odour if you have been drinking enough.

Drinking plenty of water helps us to not overeat, keeps our skin looking better, helps our brain function better and helps prevent sticky blood! One of the best ways to establish a good hydration habit is the visual-cue of putting a glass-jug of water somewhere such as the kitchen bench or office desk and then aiming to empty it by the mid-afternoon. Some people find it helpful to add some lemon slices, mint or other green herb leaves for both beauty and flavour.


Lack of movement

There is no doubt that varicose veins are far more prevalent in people and cultures where there is plenty of sitting and standing but not much walking.

Movement and exercise comes naturally to some people but not at all to others. This is often because the expectation of what exercise should be is not something they personally enjoy or want to do.

The truth is that different kinds of exercise suit different kinds of people. If this is an area you need to go into in more depth, then the article on constitutions, linked near the bottom of this page, goes into what kinds of exercise tend to best suit each of the four different constitutions.


Liver congestion

Liver congestion can be the primary underlying cause of the varicose veins for many people. How this happens is through something called ‘portal congestion’. This is where the blood that normally flows freely into the liver, through the ‘portal vein,’ becomes impaired through the liver itself being congested. The result is pressure on the blood vessels further back down the line that can eventually lead to the swelling and distension off varicose veins,

One tell-tale sign of 'portal congestion' is the presence of haemorrhoids, themselves caused by distended veins that are further up the 'river-bed' of blood vessels than those of the legs. Another sign is a yellowing in the eyes and a strong feeling of lethargy after eating. Another sign is a thick white-to-yellow coating on the back half of the tongue,

If someone need to decongest their liver, then they should use the help of Nature. For example, three of the best herbs to help with this are Celandine, Dandelion and Burdock root. Whilst taking such remedies you should follow a cleansing diet, such as the one written up here. You can read more on this important subject in the article 'what is detoxification' found here and the article on liver health found here


Herbs for sticky blood

If a person has sticky blood despite having a healthy liver, drinking enough water, moving enough etc. then there are three herbs that all significantly improve blood stickiness that can be taken as medicines and/or used in the diet. They are Ginkgo biloba, more about it here, Garlic, more here, and Ginger, more here

Ginkgo biloba (Ginkgo)

Horsechestnut & Hawthorn for varicose veins

Lastly, two very special herbs must be highlighted for the treatment of varicose veins. As discussed above, you must treat the cause of the problem to achieve a long-term cure but, that said --
a) You may want to do something to speed your improvement and
b) Even if you treat the cause to thereby prevent further varicose vein development you may still need to use a strategy to repair those veins that have already become damaged and distended.

I have had many good results in my own practice with the use of Horsechestnut & Hawthorn for the treatment of varicose veins and so, for some time now, have felt confident to suggest them as a treatment which will have a high likelihood of helping.

Horsechestnut has ingredients called flavonoids within it that make it effective at strengthening weakened blood vessels. You can read more about this herb including some of the research that has proven how it can help varicose veins here

Horsechestnut is a very strong herb and you must be careful not to overdo it or you can get some symptoms of nausea. In any case, especially high doses are not needed for a good result but rather it needs to be taken consistently and patiently whereby it usually helps considerably.

There are many Horsechestnut products available, if someone is confident of the authenticity of their supply source then any preparation that provides around 600mgs a day of high quality Horsechestnut should be sufficient to see it working. Or, if you can obtain it from a herbalist, you may be able to get it combined in a formula with Hawthorn, as demonstrated below.

Aesculus hippocastanum (Horsechestnut) P


The second stand-out remedy for varicose veins is the herb Hawthorn which is one of the safest and most reliable of all medicines at regulating and strengthening the heart, thus in turn helping to stabilise circulatory imbalances, more about it here.

These two herbs have been seen to be of much help to some people with varicose veins but you cannot expect fast results with them. A minimum of three months' treatment is necessary before you can assess if they are making a significant difference and then, if they are, you must carry on with them for as long as necessary.

We make our own tinctures from raw material and, the right dosage being such a critical part of the success of any herb or drug, it is impossible to equate exactly how much we give to another product but, by way of example, a typical treatment program with these herbs might look something like

Hawthorn (berry & leaf combined) 360 mls
Horsechestnut tincture 120mls
Licorice extract 60mls

The Licorice is there for taste and to make it easier to digest the Horsechestnut in particular, someone with an aversion to Licorice could use Peppermint or Fennel extracts instead.

This formula would make 540mls, which will just fit into a 500ml bottle. A typical adult dose would be 10mls once a day. This amount of medicine would take 2 months to complete, whereupon I would recommend at least one repeat to give it all a proper try. In other words, I would do a 3-4 month treatment of these herbs to see how much difference they could make.

Crataegus monogyna (Hawthorn)


Constitutional Health Note

Finally, you might benefit from learning about your constitution to know what kind of foods, herbs, exercises etc. will work especially well for your health in general.

Constitutional health is an old and fascinating way of understanding our differences. There's a brief introduction here and a more detailed section on working out which constitution you are here

Please understand that I cannot personally advise you without seeing you in my clinic.
This living 'book' is my labour of love so, wherever you are, I wish you peace & good health



© 2011 R.J.Whelan Ltd