Ever noticed those twisted and enlarged veins that form a spider web on your lower legs? No matter how fascinating they may appear, they are early warning signs of some serious trouble if they are left untreated. Though they appear to be a simple entanglement of veins, these dysfunctional veins do pose some risk factors and timely prevention and treatment is the best thing you can do to overcome future difficulties.
How do Varicose Veins Develop?
The circulatory system in our body comprises veins and arteries. Arteries serve as the fuel network in the body carrying oxygen-rich and nutrient-dense blood to different parts of the body. This oxygen-rich blood is used by the body cells to carry out various functions and in the process, they create certain by-products and toxins. It is here that the veins come into action. They help to carry the toxin-loaded and oxygen-poor blood back to the heart for further processing.
While the work of the arteries is easy- moving blood down the body, the veins work a little harder to carry blood up to the heart against gravity. Carrying the blood from the legs to the heart is not easy and requires extra effort from the veins. The tiny valves in the veins open and collapse with perfect timing to avoid the blood from flowing back in between heartbeats.
Like all other body parts, the walls of the veins become weak and less elastic. The valves in the veins stop functioning properly and this causes bad or toxic blood to flow back and accumulate in the veins. The accumulated blood causes pressure on the inside of the veins and the walls of the vein bloat or twists to become varicose veins. While most varicose veins that are visible are seen near the skin, some of them also develop within body tissues and go unnoticed without medical intervention.
Symptoms and Risk Factors of Developing Varicose Veins
Medical science considers varicose veins a poor health condition as it leads to the accumulation of bad blood in the veins. Most varicose veins appear as a medium to large entanglement of bulging veins which may carry a purple or reddish hue. The bulging and bloating of the veins may prevent the supply of fresh blood to the tissues in the region leading to painful leg sores.
Common symptoms of varicose veins besides their physical appearance includes burning or throbbing pain in the lower legs accompanied by painful cramps and itching near the veins. Prolonged standing and sitting may worsen the situation causing heaviness and numbness in the legs.
While varicose veins can affect anyone, some of the most common risk factors associated with this health condition are listed below.
- Posture: Movement and action facilitate the smooth circulation of blood flow through the veins. However, a sedentary lifestyle or long periods of sitting and standing can trigger the accumulation of toxic blood in the veins leading to varicose veins.
- Age: Increase in age and wear and tear of body tissues and veins contributes to the risk of varicose veins.
- Gender: Women as compared to men are most likely to develop varicose veins as their body undergoes numerous hormonal changes during pregnancy, menstruation, and menopause.
- Weight: An excess weight in the upper body causes undue pressure on the lower legs building up the risk of varicose veins and blood accumulation.
- Pregnancy: With an increased volume of blood and hormones during pregnancy, a woman’s body is most prone to varicose veins as the increased volume of blood exerts pressure on the inner walls of the vein.
Family history: If your parents or grandparents complained of varicose veins then there is a high chance that you inherit this health condition from them.
Treatment of Varicose Veins using Ayurveda
While varicose veins cannot be prevented completely, small changes in your lifestyle can help to reduce the risk of developing this condition. Some common practices that should be adopted are:
- Exercise regularly and focus on moving your legs at regular intervals.
- Watch your diet and manage a healthy weight.
- Avoid wearing skin-hugging clothes like tight stockings, pajamas, or socks. Similarly, avoid wearing heels for too long.
- Elevate your legs to allow the blood to drain from your lower legs.
- Avoid a sedentary lifestyle and try to change positions at regular intervals.
Besides these advisory practices, Ayurveda plays a key role in the treatment of varicose veins through its natural healing practices. In Ayurveda, varicose veins are often referred to as ‘SirajaGranthi’ where ‘Siraj’ refers to veins and ‘Granthi’ signifies a clot-like inflammation. This traditional medicinal practice believes that varicose veins are caused by an imbalance of Vata (wind and space), rakht (blood), and pitta (heat). Accordingly, Ayurveda aims at balancing these three and restoring the natural harmony of the body.
Some of the most common Ayurvedic herbs recommended for the treatment of varicose veins are :
- Brahmi which is a rich source of zinc and aids in the concentration of Vitamin E in the blood. Zinc helps in curing itchiness most commonly caused by varicose veins and prevents the formation of clots and cysts.
- Garlic helps in reducing the swelling and inflammation of varicose veins while offering an additional dosage of protein.
- Ginger helps to break and evenly distribute proteins in the body and prevents the accumulation of blood in the veins. Its anti-inflammatory properties reduce the chances of blood clots.
Besides the above herbs, adopting a healthy diet rich in citrus fruits and keeping the body well-hydrated are some of the secrets that Ayurveda recommends for combating varicose veins.
While varicose veins are mostly attributed to age and degenerating body tissues, proper diet, lifestyle and exercise can keep this condition at bay. Practicing yoga asanas, exercises or simply keeping the body active and moving is the best way you can say goodbye to these annoying tangles of veins that grip your legs and lead a pain-free life.