varicose veins, bioflavanoids, gotu kola, grape seed extract, horse chestnut,

Ask the Doc: Varicose Veins

Ask the Doc: Varicose Veins

2006 Wellness Clubs of

Can you recommend anything for varicose veins? K. S.

Dear K.S.: Unlike arteries, which have thick muscular walls, veins are relatively weak and thin-walled. They contain one-way valves that are designed to prevent backflow of blood. Forward flow is largely dependent upon the movement of skeletal muscles surrounding the veins. Without consistent muscle movement veins can become distended. The valves then become ineffective. This results in further pooling of blood and greater distention. Varicose veins are most commonly found in the lower extremities. Standing or sitting in one spot for prolonged periods can lead to venous distention as the pull of gravity slows blood flow. The pressure of the uterus against the vena cava during pregnancy is also a common cause of venous distention and varicosities.

When it is necessary to stand or sit still for several hours at a time supportive hose should be worn. Elevation of the legs so that the feet are higher than the hips is also beneficial. As an alternative, tapping the toes up and down as if listening to lively music provides the muscular activity necessary to maintain good blood flow. Plant substances called bioflavanoids strengthen capillaries and veins and can help prevent and reverse varicosities. Citrus bioflavanoids are somewhat helpful, but pine bark extract (pycnogenol), grape seed extract, gotu kola, and horse chestnut are the most beneficial. Hemorrhoids, which are varicose veins in the anal area, also respond to bioflavanoid supplementation. -Dr. Peterson

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