Spider veins and varicose veins, if you haven’t yet had the pleasure of meeting them, are purplish blood vessels that appear near the surface of the skin, primary on the leg and face. They commonly present themselves elsewhere around the body as well. Usually they make their debut as we age, and pay tribute to a strong genetic inheritance, associated with hemorrhoids and swelling in the ankles. This condition is also known as venous insufficiency, which occurs when the veins have trouble with circulation and sending blood from the lower part of the body back to the heart.
Spider veins (medical named telangiectasia) are the tiny blood vessels which have dilated or widened and hold more blood. They can appear all over the body.
Varicose veins are the deep veins you see bulging. This happens when blood doesn’t flow from your legs back to your heart properly and the blood ends up pooling blood in the veins, causing them to protrude. These veins will usually appear on the lower leg.
Genetics is not the only cause of these veins. It is well established knowledge that hormonal changes such a pregnancy, taking the oral contraceptive pill and being overweight contribute to these little veins to appear. However, by far the worse offender, is standing for long periods of time, with nurses, teachers and hairdressers being amongst the most effected.
There is no need to panic if you have discovered these little vessels or blue veins on your legs, because they are in fact, not harmful in anyway. The major reason they cause such a ruckus is due to their unsightly presentation. Needless to say, there have been a few cases where veins begin to ache, and if you have concerns consult your health care practitioner.
Once spider and varicose veins are present, there is little you can do to remove them, the most effective procedure being surgery. However, like most things, prevention is the key! If you are starting to notice small vessels becoming more apparent, here are a few tips you can apply to keep them at bay. Keep in mind to consult you health care physician before trying herbal remedies at home.
When applied topically to an effected area the Witch Hazel will work to constrict, tighten and strengthens veins. This is due to the tannins which are an astringent giving a tightening and drying sensation. It’s also known as an anti-inflammatory and may help to repair veins back to their original structure. Always source an organic Witch Hazel, as some that are commercially available are not skin friendly and contain chemical additives. A product containing high amounts of Organic Witch Hazel is for example Balm Balm’s Witch Hazel Toner. Witch Hazel contains high amounts on tannins, and therefore not recommended for long term use.
Grape Seed oil
Applying topically can have the same benefits as Witch Hazel. Grape Seed oil may improve circulation, and venous insufficiency. When using this oil use a stroking motion towards to the direction of the heart, and try to avoid the face. Again, go for an organic product: Because of the high amounts of pesticides found in non- organic grape seed oil, it can have negative reactions on the skin.
Foods that aid in circulation include ginger, chili, garlic and cinnamon. Adding these foods into your daily diet will improve blood circulating around your body, and help to get stagnant blood form the legs back to the heart. Blue berries have the ability to repair and strengthen small broken blood vessels, and are high in antioxidants which prevents free radical damage.
Basically you want to be doing what you can to keep blood flowing in and around your body. Other beneficial tactics are to avoid standing or sitting for long periods of time, daily movement for at least 40 minutes and, keep from crossing your legs when in a rested position. At the end of the day, lie with you legs at a 90 degree angle up the wall, and enjoy the relaxed feeling for at least 15 minutes.
Alana Bonnemann (BHSc. Naturopathy) is a qualified nutritionist, herbalist and health editor for Amazingy Magazine. Alana has a special interest in improving skin health, through using food as medicine. Her presence as a health advocate has encouraged many to make positive changes to feeling confident in their own skin.
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