Varicose veins are bulging veins near the surface of the skin. Varicose veins are typically caused by venous insufficiency also called venous reflux. Veins are designed to pump blood back to the heart, and the veins in the legs have valves that help in this process. In patients with venous insufficiency, those valves aren’t working properly and cause a buildup of blood in the veins. This increased venous pressure leads to the development of varicose veins.
Some patients with varicose veins have no symptoms. For other patients, they may experience a number of symptoms including aching, throbbing, itching, heaviness and fatigue in the legs. Leg swelling is also a common symptom. Venous insufficiency is largely a benign condition (meaning it is not dangerous), but it can be quite frustrating as it starts to change the appearance of your legs and, in some cases, affect your ability to stand for long periods of time.
What problems do Varicose veins cause ?
The pressure in the veins especially when standing can lead to pain, swelling, and may sometimes lead to skin changes (brown staining, eczema, ulceration). Varicose veins sometimes develop a clot (thrombosis) causing the vein to become red, hard and tender, known as “phlebitis”. If injured varicose veins are prone to cause bruising or may occasionally bleed.
Varicose veins are attributed to weakened valves and veins in the affected area. Inside the veins are small one-way valves that allow blood to flow through, yet close to prevent backflow. Sometimes, these valves weaken due to overstretching or loss of elasticity, causing blood to leak and flow backwards. This can lead to blood accumulation in the veins, causing them to be swollen and enlarged.
The exact cause as for this malfunction in the veins is yet to be fully elucidated. Some people tend to develop varicose veins for no apparent or distinct reason. However, there seems to be certain risk factors that increase one’s likelihood of developing varicose veins. These risk factors include the following:
Gender: women are more likely to be affected than men, the reason for which is purported to be linked to female hormones.
Genetics: the risk of developing varicose veins seems to be hereditary
Age: aging can cause veins to lose elasticity
Weight: being overweight can cause extra pressure on the veins, prompting the valves to work harder, thereby making them prone to leaking
Occupation: people with occupations that require them to stand for a long period are at a higher risk of developing this condition
Pregnancy: pregnancy prompts the body to increase blood production to support the developing baby; this increased blood flow and hormonal changes make pregnant women prone to varicose veins (symptoms significantly improve after childbirth)
In some cases, development of varicose veins can be attributed to other medical conditions such as tumor in the pelvis, a previous blood clot or stroke, or abnormal behavior of blood vessels.
Ayurvedic view and Remedies for Varicose veins :-
In Ayurveda literature varicose vein has no separate elaborate identity as a disease but considered as SiraVikriti (venous disorder) and named as Sirakautilya or Kutilsira. It can be correlated to Siragranthi (Granthi means protruded nodule like structure and Sira means Vein) and is due to aggravated Vata dosha. According to Ayurveda, a sudden change from warmth to cold and vitiation of Vata and Pitta dosha and Raktadhatu (blood tissue) may cause ramification of veins. Description of Siragranthi in Ayurveda -“If a person undertakes excessive exercise, his network of veins get affected due to aggravation of Vata dosha, which in turn compresses, squeezes and dries up and produces granthi (protruded nodule like structure), which is raised and circular”. The swollen, bulging and twisted bluish veins which become visible just beneath the skin surface and filled up with abnormal gathering of blood are known as varicose vein which may be superficial (just below the skin surface, filled with capillaries) or deep (located deep beneath the muscle).
Ayurvedic Herbs and Herbal formulations used for Varicose Veins are :-
Ayurvedic herbs help to maintain healthy lifestyle, reduce the pressure effects, relive pain and inflammation, and maintain normal tone of venous walls and their functions. These all preparations are vata balancing, antiinflammatory, diuretic, blood purifier, wound healing which ultimately helps in reducing discomfort of varicose veins.
Varicose veins are a problematic disorder of today’s life which doesn’t have a permanent treatment. But Ayurveda provides promising results by not only reducing discomfort of venous insufficiency but also assisting in healing of varicosity, ulcers, helps in collagen formation which in return increases tonicity of veins. Ayurveda herbs also improve circulation of blood which is the basic cause of disease. Therefore Ayurveda is a treatment regime which can give promising results for varicose veins if one follows all the regimens strictly which are required for the disease.