Q. Dear Terry, “I’ve had varicose veins in both legs for many years. My mother and aunt both had surgery on their varicose veins, but a few years later they returned. I’m looking for other options to try and reduce the occasional discomfort and aching I get in my legs. Do you have any suggestions or ideas?” – Jessi C., Franklin, TN
A. Dear Jessi, Varicose veins are the result of malfunctioning one-way valves in the veins. When these valves allow blood to flow in two directions, instead of only towards the heart, dilation of the veins occurs. Varicose veins can be caused or exacerbated by excessive standing, pregnancy, high blood pressure, and family history. I think supporting the vascular system with natural ingredients is a safe and effective way to reduce the discomfort from varicose veins.
One of my favorite ingredients for supporting the heart, arteries, and veins is grape seed extract. This botanical can work in numerous ways to support circulation: reduces high blood pressure, protects the blood vessel walls from free radical damage, and prevents the dangerous oxidation of LDL cholesterol. Grape seed extract has also been shown to decrease the risk of blood clotting, without adverse effects on blood thinning. There is even research supporting grape seed extract’s effect on venous conditions, like chronic venous insufficiency, which can occur simultaneously with varicose veins. The grape seed extract I prefer is a French grape seed extract with low-molecular weight oligomeric proanthocyanidins (OPCs) that are well absorbed. I would take 300 mg of grape seed extract two times per day.
There are also three vitamins I think are very important for the health of our blood vessels: vitamin A, D, and K. The two main types of vitamin K we obtain through diet or supplements are K1 and K2. Many people are familiar with K1 and its effects on blood clotting, as vitamin K derived its name from the German word “klotting”. However, vitamin K2 is equally important, especially when it comes to the health of our veins and arteries. When taking vitamin K2 for supporting circulation, I would also include vitamin D3 (as cholecalciferol) and vitamin A (as retinyl palmitate). Studies are finding that vitamin D and vitamin K work better when they’re both at optimal levels. Vitamins A and D are also important for the cells that line the inside of our blood vessels. These vitamins all work together to help with healthy circulation. I would take 10,000 IU (3,000 mcg) of vitamin A (as retinyl palmitate), 5,000 IU (125 mcg) of vitamin D3, and 45 mcg of vitamin K2 per day.
For topical support, I think a comfrey cream made with a special cultivar called Symphytum x uplandicum NYMAN (also known as “Trauma Comfrey”) would be an excellent choice. Comfrey has pain relieving and wound healing properties. This specific form of comfrey has been clinically studied and is free of pyrrolizidine alkaloids, so it can be used on all types of wounds or painful areas. I would apply this topical comfrey two or three times per day.
Terry . . . Naturally