Varicose Veins

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Latest Edit: General 2014-11-20 (EDT)

Varicose veins are elongated, dilated, tortuous superficial veins whose valves are congenitally absent or scant or have become incompetent. Varicose veins typically occur in the legs. Varicose veins are a common problem affecting between 10% - 20% of the population, with increasing incidence with age, most common above 50 years. Varicose veins are 4 times higher in women than men.[1]

Varicose Veins
Varicose veins.jpg

Varicose Veins
Causes Dietary Factors, Smoking, Posture, Infections, Prescription Medications
See Also Cardiovascular Conditions, Obesity, Constipation, Hypertension
Books Books on Cardiovascular Conditions
Articles Articles on Cardiovascular Conditions

Naturopathic Assessment

A thorough skin examination will be performed to determine the extent of varicosities.[2] The naturopathic assessment would include identifying any underlying conditions such as arterial insufficiency, neurological problems and musculoskeletal disorders that were associated with the varicose veins.[2].

Causal Factors

In order to stimulate the innate ability of the body to heal the causes of disease must be identified and addressed. With Varicose Veins, the causes are variable and include lifestyle and environmental factors. A detailed assessment is required to determine which factors are contributing to varicose veins.

Varicose veins legs.jpg


  • Low levels of physical activity increase the occurence and risk of varicose veins.[4]
  • Extreme physical activity, especially involving weight lifting, can contribute to the formation or worsening of varicose veins.
  • Occupations that involve prolonged standing or sitting increase the chances of varicose veins developing due to the pull of gravity and the lack of musclar activity in the thighs.[1][5]


  • Higher levels of stress are associated with varicose veins.[6]


  • Accidents and Injuries
  • Lower limb injury predisposes one to varicose veins.[2]
  • Clothing that is too constrictive or tight.[7]

Medical Interventions

  • Prescription Medications
  • Oral contraceptive use may lead to thrombosis in those with varicose veins.[8]
  • Hormone replacement therapy is associated with increased risk of varicose veins.[2]
  • Medical Treatments
  • Varicose veins may develop post surgeryl.[2]



  • There can be a genetic component to vein wall weakness.[5]

Diagnostic Testing

  • CEAP classification.[9]
  • Doppler ultrasound.[2]

Related Symptoms and Conditions

Varicose hands.jpg

Other conditions that are commonly associated with varicose veins include:[2]


  • Varicose veins occur because there is a degree of reversal of blood flow in the veins of the legs because of valve incompetency. This reversal causes dilation of the veins and loss of tissue tone.
  • The abnormal swelling of veins in the legs is a symptom of a generally poor circulatory system with a loss of elasticity in the walls of the veins and particulary in their valves. When they are functioning normally, these valves prevent blood from flowing back away from the heart, but if their efficiency decreases some blood may stagnate in the vein, which then becomes swollen and twisted, causing aching and abnormal fatigue of the legs.
  • Hormonal changes may play a role as well as blood volume changes.[5]

Common signs and symptoms include:[2]

  • Dilated veins primarily located on the posterior calf, anterior thigh and ankle.
  • Aching, cramping, tired legs or feeling of heaviness.
  • Edema in severe cases.
  • Itching and eczema like rash, bleeding and eccymosis may occur.

Naturopathic Treatment

The goal of naturopathic treatment is to support and work in tandem with the healing power of the body and to address the causal factors of disease with individual treatment strategies. Varicose veins are considered a chronic disease. The aim of treatment is to strengthen venous and capillary walls, decrease vascular damage and reduce oxidative stress. Referral for surgical consideration is reasonable for the patient with symptoms that persist after conservative efforts have failed.[2]

It is always advisable to work with a naturopathic doctor before engaging in any treatment plan.

Home Care

Home Care strategies include:[2]

  • Use of graduated compression stockings.
  • Periodic elevation of the legs throughout the day can alleviate the discomfort associated with varicose veins and can assist circulation.


Lifestyle recommendations include:

  • Get regular exercise.[11]
  • Exercise that focuses on improving circulation such as walking, swimming, rebounding. Tai Chi, Qi Gong and other gentle aerobic exercises are the most beneficial.

Naturopathic Therapies

The prescribing of naturopathic therapies requires the guidance of a naturopathic doctor as it depends on a number of factors including the causal factors, a person's age, prescription medications, other conditions and symptoms and overall health. It is always advisable to work with a naturopathic doctor prior to taking any natural therapies.

Naturopathic Therapies for Varicose Veins include:

  • Differentials to consider include; mild blood stagnation, qi and blood stagnation, blood stagnation and qi deficiency.[18].
  • If edema is part of the case include differentials such as; wind cold, spleen deficiency with congested fluids, pregnancy, menopause, heart and kidney yang deficiency, kidney yang deficiency, spleen deficiency, heart yang deficiency.[18]


Reviewed by Iva Lloyd, BScH, RPE, ND [1]

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  8. Clifford, R (1978) Oral contraceptives, venous thrombosis, and varicose veins. Royal College of General Practitioners' Oral Contraception Study. J R Coll Gen Pract.;28(192):393-9. PMID:702453
  9. Mironiuc A, Palcău L, Rogojan L, Micula S, Gherman C (2011)Is there a correlation between the CEAP score and the histopathological findings in varicose disease?Rom J Morphol Embryol.;52(1):117-21. PMID:21424042
  10. Tisi P (2007)Varicose Veins. BMJ Clin Evid (online)[cited April 2012]:pg1-12. PMID:19450366
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