Bulging, gnarly varicose veins are a common problem in the United States, affecting up to 15% of men and 25% of women. Uncontrolled varicose veins can become painfully swollen, sometimes requiring procedures to either shrink or remove veins. For those desiring a more natural form of varicose vein treatment, there are many herbal teas that can help strengthen blood vessels, reduce inflammation, and promote good blood circulation, all of which can help decrease the appearance and pain of varicose veins.
Veins and the Circulatory System
Veins are responsible for returning blood from the tissues back to the heart. While they may appear similar to arteries, veins are much less muscular. The pumping action of the heart alone isn't enough to push blood through all parts of the circulatory system, especially veins. Instead, veins rely on one-way valves to prevent back flow of blood as well as the contraction of muscles surrounding them in order to keep blood moving towards the heart.
How Varicose Veins Form
The veins of the legs, or rather the valves in those veins, have an especially difficult job since gravity works so much against them. The valves of leg veins can be weakened as we age from normal wear and tear and also from excessive water retention. Weakened valves become leaky, allowing blood to flow backwards and pool in the lower legs. This excess blood volume causes veins to be stretched out, resulting in the commonly swollen varicose veins.
Herbal Teas for Varicose Veins
The following herbal teas, when consumed 3 to 4 times daily, can aid in the reduction of varicose veins by strengthening blood vessels, removing protein build-up, encouraging peripheral blood flow, or decreasing water retention.
- Bilberry: Closely related to blueberries and huckleberries, tea made from the bilberry can support the formation of healthy connective tissue which is needed to keep veins toned. Toned veins better resist becoming varicose.
- Witch Hazel and White Oak Bark: These two teas work to prevent the painful inflammation of varicose veins.
- Butcher's Broom: Tea made from this evergreen shrub has been traditionally used as a varicose vein treatment in Europe and Asia due to its ability to improve vein tone and circulation. The leaves of Butcher's Broom contain steroidal saponins, which cause vasoconstriction and reduce inflammation.
- Calendula: Also used in ointments to treat burns and rashes, Calendula (or Marigold) tea has anti-inflammatory properties helpful for reducing the appearance of varicose veins.
- Ginkgo Biloba, Ginger, and Prickly Ash: Teas made from any of these herbs can improve circulation, which can help improve blood flow in the legs and take pressure off varicose veins.
- Cayenne Pepper: While you may not want to have cayenne pepper in your tea, it can be a great addition to hot chocolate. The active ingredient in cayenne pepper (called capsaicin) is another way to stimulate peripheral stimulation.
- Dandelion: Tea from this potentially irksome weed is a mild diuretic, causing the release of water and soothing the inflammation caused by water retention.
- Hawthorn: This herb is thought to improve circulation by toning the heart muscle, capillaries, and veins.
If you cringe at the idea of having your varicose vein poked, prodded, and removed, consider trying some of these natural herbal teas.