If you're wondering how to treat varicose veins, you're not alone. More than 50 percent of women over 50 have varicose and spider veins, the often painful blue lines that appear on legs and feet that tend to worsen as we get older.
Fortunately, there’s plenty you can do to reduce your varicose and spider veins. Don't hide your legs this summer; instead, try these natural cures for varicose veins right at home.
How to Treat Varicose Veins
1. Pop pine bark extract. Pycogenol (pine bark extract) contains high levels of plant compounds that thwart capillary leakage and control inflammation, which reduces varicose veins and the aching, tightness, tiredness, swelling, and discoloration that often accompanies them, according to a New York University study. With your doctor’s OK, take a daily 50 mg dose of a product like Nature’s Way Pycnogenol ($14.66, Amazon).
2. Take a one-minute walk. Mayo Clinic researchers say even super-short strolls reduce pressure on the legs and increase circulation, which helps keep blood from pooling and breaking small veins in the lower leg and ankles. Bonus: Walk more and you’ll also reduce your risk of painful peripheral artery disease (PAD), which occurs when fatty deposits clog arteries in your legs.
3. Fill your salt shaker with garlic powder. "Excess sodium can make swelling in your legs worse, and swelling can cause tiny breaks in the walls of the capillaries, creating spider veins," explains Valencia Thomas, MD, a dermatologist at the University of Texas Health Science Center. The fix: Flavor your food with garlic powder, which is research-proven to reduce inflammation that contributes to leg swelling and pain.
4. Massage your muscles. Rubbing your legs in upward strokes with your hands or a dry brush improves blood flow for up to 72 hours, a University of Illinois study shows. And the better your circulation, the less likely you are to have spider and varicose veins.
5. Try a $10 fix. If you suffer from achy, veiny legs, standing for long periods can worsen vein problems and increase symptoms. The fix: Inexpensive knee-length compression stockings, according to Dr. Thomas. The stockings' elastic fibers gently push blood up from the ankles and redistribute it more evenly up the leg, preventing veins from swelling, aching, and breaking. One option: Nurse Mates Compression Stockings ($10.50, Amazon).