Varicose veins are swollen, enlarged veins that tend to appear in the legs and feet. They are usually dark blue or purple and have a bulging, twisted appearance. Sometimes, the veins are visible but do not cause discomfort, but in other cases, the veins can cause cramps, swollen feet, aching legs, or dry and itchy skin.1
Varicose veins tend to be aggravated by warm weather and can also get worse if you have to stand up for long periods of time. They are not a serious condition, and they usually do not need treatment, but you should still consult your doctor if you have irritated skin or if the veins are causing discomfort that keeps you awake at night.
What Causes Varicose Veins?
Varicose veins can run in families, and women are far more likely to develop the condition. It is thought that up to 50 percent of all women will experience them at some point in their lives. Pregnancy, menopause, and the use of birth control can all influence the emergence of varicose veins. The good news is that women who develop varicose veins during pregnancy will usually find that they go away a few months after giving birth.
Older people are more likely to develop chronic varicose veins than younger people, and those who are obese are more likely to experience the condition.2 The good news is that there are treatments available to reduce the appearance of varicose veins.
Reducing the Appearance of Varicose Veins
Varicose veins can be managed. Usually, your doctor will recommend compression stockings (if you do not have circulation issues) and also suggest that you exercise regularly to improve your circulation. If those treatments do not work, then they may suggest other treatments such as endothermal ablation to close the problematic vein, laser treatments, or the injection of a special foam that will seal the veins.
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These treatments are not suitable for everyone, however. The foam treatment, known as sclerotherapy, is not recommended for those who have deep vein thrombosis, for example.3 Another option is ligation and stripping which involves the surgical removal of the affected veins. Surgery carries the risk of infection, however, and some people may wish to avoid it.
If you do not want to go the pharmaceutical route, then you may want to consider alternative treatments, such as essential oils.
Essential Oils for Managing Varicose Veins
Research into the idea of using essential oils to manage varicose veins is limited at this time, but there is some good evidence to suggest that certain herbs and their derived essential oils can help maintain healthy circulation and therefore reduce the appearance of veins. Some of these top oils are outlined below.
Lavender Essential Oil
Studies show that lavender can help reduce anxiety, and as a result, maintain healthy blood pressure and good circulation.4
Cypress Essential Oil
Cypress oil is thought to have several physiological effects, including reducing heart rate variability and maintaining healthy blood pressure.5
Clary Sage Essential Oil
Massage with clary sage oil has been found to help reduce blood pressure and pulse rate, as well as improve sleep quality. Since some people with varicose veins find that they have difficulty sleeping, the combined effects of clary sage can be beneficial.6
Rosemary Essential Oil
A blend of essential oils including thyme, rosemary, and lavender is a popular treatment for helping reduce the appearance of varicose veins because the anti-inflammatory effects can help reduce the discomfort caused by a flare-up of the condition.7
Lemongrass Essential Oil
This essential oil is another one that has been found to have anti-inflammatory effects, which may be helpful in reducing the symptoms or appearance of varicose veins.8
How To Apply Essential Oils to Manage Varicose Veins
If you decide to try essential oils as a remedy for varicose veins then you should make sure that you use them safely and properly. While you can get the relaxing effect from using essential oils in a diffuser, not all of the remedies are purely aroma-based. If you want to bring down swelling, then you will need to use the essential oils topically in a wide variety of ways.
You can make a compress by soaking a rag in a liter of water with five or six drops of your chosen essential oil in it. The compress can either be warm or cold depending on your preferences. Take the rag and wring it out so that it is still moist but not dripping wet. Elevate the leg and apply the compress to it for a few minutes. Repeat as necessary.
If you decide to use a massage oil instead, then you will need to dilute it using a carrier oil. You should not apply essential oils directly to your skin in their undiluted form. Coconut, jojoba, and almond oil are all good options to use to dilute your chosen essential oil. Choose one depending on the consistency that you would like and add six to 10 drops of your chosen essential oils to three tablespoons of the carrier oil. Massage the resulting mixture onto your skin to enjoy the anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, and relaxing benefits.
Essential oils can offer relief from the pain and cramping that is sometimes associated with varicose veins, and they may also help to soothe dry skin. They are not a guaranteed cure for the condition though, and while the circulation boost they can provide may bring down some of the appearance of the veins, it will not completely remove them.
If your varicose veins are causing you a lot of distress or you have severe swelling of your feet and ankles, then you should see a doctor to rule out any underlying medical conditions and to find out if some of the other, more conventional treatments might be a better choice for you.
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