Have you ever seen someone who looks like they have ropes in their legs? No, not on the legs, but ropes actually snaking around under the skin. Or it might be thick spider webs bulging under the skin. If you answer yes, then you have seen varicose veins before.
Oh! Maybe these are actually on yourself, and that’s why you have searched out this article? Not to worry, Medhya Herbals has Ayurvedic remedies for varicose veins.
What are varicose veins?
WHO (the World Health Organization) defines varicose veins as saccular dilation of the veins, which is often tortuous.
Okay, let’s say that in English. A varicose vein is an enlarged, swollen, twisted vein. This may also show appearance of dark blue or purple coloration. It affects veins of hands and feet, due to a problem with valves in the veins. Mostly, the legs are more prone to having varicose veins.
Circulation in the legs and the role of valves
Veins are blood vessels that return blood to the heart after they have gone through circulation. The veins of the extremities (hands and feet) find it more difficult to return blood to the heart, because of the distance from the heart.
Now, consider the veins of the legs. We can agree, if we all stand upright, that the legs are the farthest part of the body from the heart. When blood has been supplied by the arteries to the legs, the veins have to return them back.
But now, there is a slight problem because the blood has to travel straight up. That’s a lot of work to do. And against gravity too. If the blood was to travel as a single column of fluid up the veins to the heart, it would collapse under its own weight.
This is where the valves come in. The valves serve as platforms with shutters (cusps) that break up the blood column into smaller units. They can be found all along the veins of the leg.
Muscular contractions of the leg muscles also assist the blood in moving up. When you move, the muscles squish the blood upwards the vein, so to say. The valves allow the blood up, then the cusps close up against that blood to prevent it from going back down. This is done at successive valves going up the vein.
In the incidence of varicose veins, these valves malfunction. Consequently, the blood can’t flow up as smoothly, and there is a back up of blood, causing the observed symptoms of varicose veins.
Varicose Veins in Ayurveda
Siraja Granthi is the Ayurvedic term for varicose veins. It is documented to happen more to people who stand for long periods of time. It left untreated, it spreads to surrounding veins.
Sira means blue, yellow or lack, warm to touch and quick to bleed. Granthi on the other hand refers to accumulation or collection. These two terms, when considered, matches the modern description of varicose veins.
Siraja Granthi can be caused by tridoshic vitiation. This can be due to indigestion, improper food timing, bad food combinations, bad diet, etc.
If we’ll be more specific however, then we can pin it down on the Vata dosha. This dosha is responsible for movement, including circulation, the movement of blood and nutrients round the body. Vata causes dryness, blockage, and accumulation if it is imbalanced. The dryness for example, means that veins are less elastic.
We also see this complication in an imbalance in the Vyana Vata, which creates increased pressure affecting valves and elasticity of veins.
Further complication that could arise is in the Ranjaka pitta. This compounds the varicosity by causing ulcers in the veins. Ranjaka pitta governs purity of blood, and if blood is impure, then this Ranjaka pitta is imbalanced.
Other risk factors for the varicosity
The major causes of varicosity have been explained prior. However, some people are more prone to developing varicose veins, and these are:
- Pregnant women or women who have had multiple pregnancies;
- Obese people, due to excessive weight, because of the strain of bowel movement;
- People suffering from constipation;
- People who work jobs requiring that a person stand for long periods of time.
In short, anything that puts pressure on the lower abdomen or the leg directly increases the risk of developing varicose veins.
Symptoms of varicose veins
What do you observe in a case of varicose veins?
- Aching, throbbing legs and swollen ankles.
- Twisted, bulging veins
- Telangiectasia- spider web veins.
- Heaviness that is most pronounced after exercise or at night.
- Bluish/dark-purplish discoloration.
- Leg muscle cramps, especially at night.
- Irregular whitish patches that resemble scars at the ankles.
These are all among symptoms observed in a person suffering from varicose veins.
Further complications that might arise due to varicose veins
People with this condition are more likely to develop these conditions listed:
- Thrombophlebitis- clots in leg vein that cause inflammation of vein;
- Chronic venous insufficiency.
- Deep Venous Thrombosis(DVT).
- Lymphatic disorders, etc.
Finding a solution to varicose veins
Usually, there’s no treatment needed, as a good number of cases appear without any symptoms except the bulging veins. Some might not even show up with the bulge either, as the varicosity might be in deeper veins of the leg.
However, if it causes pain, significantly disturbs circulation of blood, or reduces quality of life in any other way, or even goes to the extent of posing a threat to life, then it needs to be addressed. Some might even want to treat it purely for cosmetic purposes. They would like to hop around in shorts and not have to be conscious of the ropes bulging from the skin of their legs.
Here are modern treatment options for varicose veins
- Surgery can be done to remove vein if it is too large.
- Laser treatments can be used to close off smaller veins. Endovenous laser treatment works similarly, but here, a device is placed into the vein(at the top) to deliver the laser bursts that will close off the vein.
- Ligation and striping of the vein might also work. You need to watch out for symptoms of bleeding, vein, and risk of DVT here though.
- Compression stockings.
Ayurvedic Remedies for Varicose Veins
Ayurvedic remedies for varicose veins focus on strengthening the circulatory system and also to flush the toxins out of the body. A series of diet and lifestyle changes along with physical treatment and herbal solutions is offered to cure the issue from the roots.
- Abhyanga: This is an Ayurvedic massage therapy. Use jojoba and sesame oils to massage for good results. Also, swedana uses steam to stimulate the upwards flow of blood in the legs.
- Another option is to wear veshtana. Wound this tightly around the affected leg. It helps relieve heaviness, numbness and pain.
- Use Pankacharma therapy to alleviate toxins and assist flow of blood. Vasti herbal enema can also help with detoxification. It flushes toxins out through anus, urethra, and the vaginal canal.
- Ashwaghanda: This Ayurvedic herb helps relieve inflammation. No only that, it also decreases cortisol levels and to also increase muscle mass. The increased muscle mass helps to push blood upwards better.
- Guggulu is also useful for its pain relieving effects.
- Yoga therapy that focuses on improving blood circulation should also be undertaken.
Dealing with varicose veins with a healthy lifestyle and diet
- Exercise regularly to promote circulation in your body. Regular physical activity strengthens valves, the muscles, and the veins to prevent the disorder from happening in the first place.
- Do not pour water on your lower body right after you workout. This creates temperature shock and aggravates varicose veins.
- If you over weight, then you need to shed some extra pounds to relieve the stress on your circulatory system.
- Sleep with feet raised on a pillow. This helps blood flow more freely with less work against gravity.
- Avoid sitting with legs crossed. For one, you might be compressing the blood vessels in the thighs and further making flow of blood more difficult.
- Avoid sitting and standing for prolonged periods. Even if you work a job that requires sitting or standing at a place for long intervals of time, to take time to move around every thirty minutes.
- Eat a vata dosha pacifying diet to promote circulation in your body.
- Always take warm and cooked food. Avoid cold food and cold beverages.
- Take less of fats, include more ghee and olive oil in your diet. This is the unctuous food.
- Take in herbal teas and foods that promote circulation in your body.
Varicose veins might not necessarily require treatment, but make sure you confirm with your healthcare provider what your options are. They’ll help you better understand your situation. Medhya herbals is always open to you.