Show a Leg Again
Women's legs get noticed! Whether we like it or not, women more than men are judged on how shapely and well groomed their legs are. Derogatory or admiring remarks are seldom made about men's legs.
Women are often constantly on their legs, always on the go from morning till night, not only in their jobs - whether the work involves standing up or sitting down - but also in an effort to keep the family and household running smoothly. Because of this, essential breaks are too short, and legs soon become tired and heavy. Being overweight is another factor, as is the bad habit of wearing high heeled shoes and continually crossing your legs.
So it is hardly surprising that women are more prone to vein problems than men. In addition, they have a predisposition towards weaker connective tissue, because hormonal influences play a part and pregnancy (or pregnancies) can exacerbate the condition.
However, let's not forget the men. Too much stress, too much inactivity, smoking, being overweight and too little in the way of sports can result in painful or varicose veins.
Problems with veins are not in the first instance a cosmetic problem. The transition from healthy to unhealthy legs is imperceptible and in many cases not visible. If you have several of the following risk factors, or are already experiencing the first symptoms, self help is called for to avoid the possibility of weakening in the veins. When changes in the leg veins become visible, the blood vessels are already damaged.
Advanced vein problems are painful and can considerably limit your quality of life and activity. Indeed, acute and chronic vein problems pose a health risk that should not be underestimated, and they can even necessitate a change of occupation.
So prevention is better than cure.
What can you do?
As an alternative to conventional treatments which are frequently invasive and painful. Herbal treatments such as Horse Chestnut (Aesculus) tablets have the distinction of being positively pleasant in comparison, whilst doing much to prevent the situation worsening, as well as alleviating immediate symptoms.
Chestnuts are good for the legs?
It may sound bizarre but since the 18th Century, the Horse Chestnut (Aesculus) has been used for venous conditions. The Horse Chestnut seed, that shiny brown conker so beloved of children is anti-inflammatory, astringent (tones blood vessels) and anti-oedema (excess of fluid in the tissues).
The herb has many constituents which work together to give its clinical action in peripheral venous disorders. These include saponins, flavonoids, tannins and coumarins. Flavonoids have an anti-inflammatory action and tannins have astringent properties, helping to tone the blood vessel walls.
The saponin complex, Aescin, works on the venous wall in a variety of ways. It has an astringent action that tones the vein wall, making it less permeable and therefore reducing oedema. (Oedema is a condition whereby fluid collects inappropriately in tissues. Those with venous problems commonly experience it as feet spilling out of shoes, ankles swelling and the areas around veins bulging.) It makes the capillaries less permeable, reducing the diameter of the pores in their walls, which strengthens the blood flow. The veins become more elastic, which helps them to return to their normal shape and size after extra pressure has been put on them, for example, after standing for hours in the heat. In these conditions, blood tends to collect in the lower legs and this puts pressure on the veins, forcing them to contain a greater volume of blood. Increased elasticity gives greater resilience.
Additionally, Aescin inhibits the action of enzymes that break down a major constituent of the vein wall. This means that the wall is protected from destruction, which is of great benefit to those whose veins are vulnerable for any of the reasons outlined above. It is also anti-inflammatory, benefiting all the venous ailments.
Alfred Vogel used the extract of Horse Chestnut seed (Aesculus) to make a remedy that deals swiftly and effectively with most of the symptoms associated with weak or pressurised veins. Aesculus has been shown in medical trials to improve significantly inflammation of the veins, heaviness in the legs, oedema, tension and cramps.
So, what should you take it for?
- Swollen ankles
- Cramp in the calf muscle
- Pains in the legs
- Legs like lead
- Varicose veins
All those who dread the hot weather because their legs feel weighted with concrete, making walking into a drag, should take a course of Horse Chestnut extract to tone up their veins before the symptoms arise. It can be taken preventatively or to relieve present symptoms, and has been shown in clinical trials to give significant results.
Taken alongside the externally-applied Horse Chestnut gel, results will be even better as the gel works instantly to tighten the veins and improve symptoms such as tiredness in the legs and increased ankle circumference. An Aesculus gel was investigated in a non-controlled multi-centre study, in 71 patients suffering from chronic venous insufficiency with consequent oedema. Reduction in ankle circumference and total symptom score were assessed over a 6 week period. Ankle circumference was reduced statistically by a significant 0.7cm and the sum of the symptom score fell by 60%. The gel was considered to be good or moderately effective in over 85% of the cases, by the patients and their GPs.
Both the gel and the tincture/tablets have excellent tolerability, giving no adverse reactions in trials. The gel should be applied to the legs with upward strokes, to assist the flow of blood back towards the heart.
Be careful if you:
- Stand or sit for long periods at work
- Constantly sit cross-legged
- Do not do enough sport
- Wear high-heeled shoes
- Seldom walk or climb stairs
- Drink too much alcohol
- Are overweight
- Sometimes have tired, heavy or tingly legs
- Notice first signs of blue spider veins
- If there is a history of varicose veins in the family
Take Action if you:
- Are frequently aware of a feeling of tightness or heaviness in your legs
- Occasionally have swollen knuckles or ankles
- Have a tendency towards haemorrhoids
- Now and again have a build-up of veins or have established varicose veins.
- Consult the Doctor if you:
- Experience leg pain during pregnancy
- You experience leg pain when lifting
- Have badly swollen tissues (oedema) at the knuckles or ankles.
- Are conscious of a warm area of the leg which is sensitive to pressure
- Have bleeding haemorrhoids
10 tips for improved circulation in the legs and to strengthen the muscle to vein pump
1. 'Vein-friendly' types of sport are: walking, running, cycling and swimming. But going for walks, rope-climbing, climbing stairs and keep-fit all help to keep the legs fit.
2. If you must sit a lot, a footstool under the desk will take the weight off the thighs and the back of the knees, and the circulation will improve. Get used to doing the 'toe to heel seesaw' several times a day: stand on your toes and after a few seconds slowly lower the heels and repeat.
3. Treading water can help improve circulation, so look out that swimming costume.
4. Raise the legs as often as possible and do not cross the legs when sitting down.
5. Do not wear tight shoes and in the daytime, do not wear high-heeled shoes if possible. Also, clothing should not be restrictive: try to avoid tight trousers, belts and garters.
6. Watch your weight! Every extra kilo puts additional pressure on the circulation.
7. Nicotine is the Number One toxin as far as the vascular system is concerned. Women smokers using hormonal contraception have a higher risk of having thrombosis.
8. The diet should be rich in fibre, vitamins and minerals. For cold meals use a good quality oil with unsaturated fatty acids and for hot meals use olive oil. Add bitter vegetables and salads such as artichokes, chicory and endives to your diet - your liver and circulatory system will thank you for it. And do not forget to drink a lot of water - when possible 1.5 to 2 litres per day.
9. Avoid great heat and taking too hot baths. Visits to the sauna are possible if you keep the legs constantly raised while you are in the sweat room and make sure to take the subsequent cold showers.
10. Before going to bed, rinse the feet, calves and the back of the legs with cold water. This strengthens the veins and promotes sleep. During the night, the blood flow will be relieved if the legs are raised higher than the heart.