You're So Vein
Veins, like so many parts of our bodies, are pretty much unappreciated until they stop working properly.
Are you aware of your veins?
Do you know where they are, what they do?
And did you only become aware of them when they started giving you grief?
Most people only become aware of their presence when they start to hurt or look bad. If you aren’t yet aware of them, read on to find out how to avoid them grabbing your attention in a painful manner. If you are only too aware of them, we can show you how to minimise the discomfort they cause you.
All in vein
Our veins carry deoxygenated blood back to the heart, from the organs and tissues all around the body. At any time they contain more than 50% of the body’s blood. The veins that have the hardest job are those in the lower extremities, which are working against gravity and only have the pumping action of the calf muscle to help them propel blood back up our legs (unless you enlist the assistance of gravity and spend a portion of each day hanging upside down—not a great feature of most people’s lives).
If you sit at your desk all day, or stand behind a counter, those calf muscles won’t be working and the blood will stay down round your ankles…
Veins are thinner than arteries and contain less muscle. They need to be able to expand to allow more blood through, offering as little resistance as possible so that the deoxygenated blood can get uphill to the heart. This ability to distend, without the elasticity to bounce back into shape, is all very well when things are going right but if blood is pooling down below your knees, the veins become distended and don’t regain their tone, ending up swollen and contorted. That’s your basic varicose vein—a distorted, distended and artistically displeasing sight; not to mention a painful drag on your legs.
The word ‘varicose’ comes from the Latin for ‘dilated’
Once this damaging dilation has taken place, the weakened walls of varicose veins can become too porous, causing puffiness and swelling. Local damage to the skin resulting from poor nutrient supply and stagnating wastes and fluids can cause varicose eczema. It’s not what you’d call a rosy outlook. And it will only get worse if you don’t deal with it. Varicose veins are always progressive.
Haemorrhoids, by the way, are caused by the veins around the anus becoming varicose. Lovely.
You’re more likely to suffer all this leggy angst if you:
- Have a sedentary job
- Rarely move off the couch in your leisure time
- Suffer regularly from constipation
- Have parents with varicose problems
- Have borne children (pregnancy is tough on your veins—all that extra weight to carry around)
- Are overweight (similar to pregnancy in terms of the extra weight)
Conventional treatment involves either support stockings (uncomfortable, especially in summer, and hardly a fashion statement), or cutting out the veins that have become varicose. The surgical option leads to increased pressure on the veins that are left, which become varicose in their turn. This is clearly not a long term solution—there’s a limit to how many veins can come out! Thankfully Nature is way ahead with a solution.
Horse Chestnut (Aesculus) has a long tradition of helping with the symptoms of varicose veins, and I’m so glad that it’s available because it is believed to help to improve the structure of the veins, strengthening and toning them, to prevent further deterioration and reduce the damage already done.
Overall, the effect is one of improving the cosmetic appearance of the vein, which is clearly cheering if you want to show a leg or just liberate yourself from trousers and thick tights. More helpful still, the painful symptoms disappear:
- Tired, heavy legs
- Aching, painful legs
- Leg cramps
- Swollen ankles
All of these can be helped by a daily dose of Horse Chestnut.