These twisted, enlarged blood vessels most commonly appear on the legs and feet. When valves malfunction, blood pools when valves malfunction, and veins lose the elasticity needed to propel blood back to the heart.
Flavonoids from dark-colored berries, like blueberries or blackberries, can help maintain vein elasticity, preventing varicose veins. Avoid tight clothing, leg crossing, and long periods of sitting; exercise regularly; and put your feet up.
Compression stockings, designed to help propel blood back to the heart, are a traditional over-the-counter treatment. But you can also take horse chestnut seed extract orally to improve vein elasticity and tone, or apply astringent witch hazel topically to improve the condition, says Patricia Gaines, a naturopathic physician in Tempe, Arizona, and the chair of botanical medicine at the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine. Most varicose veins are only a cosmetic worry, but if they give you considerable pain or discomfort, see a doctor. Some can form blood clots, sores, or ulcers and may require more rigorous treatment or surgical removal.
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