This fantastic article was written by Angela Warburton, a Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner, speaker, writer, and teacher. We encourage you to check out her website here, and follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!
Varicose veins, those knobby little (or not so little) bluish veins that pop out, ache, and can make one second guess wearing those short shorts of summer. Most commonly these are seen on the legs, but they can show up anywhere on the body and often have a revival during pregnancy and can manifest as hemorrhoids or in the vulva area.
Women are more prone to varicose veins than men and heredity can certainly have a part in who has them and who doesn’t but if you’ve already got them, what’s most important is that there is help!
Varicose veins are related to the circulation in the body and they can be extremely painful for people causing aching, throbbing, heaviness in their limbs and, in worst-case scenarios, significant health risk through blockage in the veins.
Veins are essential for returning de-oxygenated blood to the heart and small leaflet valves throughout help ensure the blood doesn’t flow in the wrong direction (essential when you’re working against gravity as happens in areas like the legs). When veins weaken, the blood pools in certain areas causing distention and swelling in the veins, which makes them visible under the skin.
What Does Chinese Medicine Have to Say About This?
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) we look at the body as a whole, not simply as an individual symptom or condition. We always seek to find the root of what’s going on and rebalance the body from the core of the imbalance – which then ends up helping the symptoms or condition, in addition to helping the individual feel better overall.
The beauty of looking at the body this way, is the that there are many things that can be done to help with whatever symptoms are presenting, but also help prevent things from coming back. Kind of like looking at the body as an ecosystem (what we eat, think, how we live, genetic etc) instead of like a machine with every part isolated on its own.
2 Main Causes of Varicose Veins
Varicose veins have two patterns associated with it – a prolapse or weakened/deficient side (the natural tone and ability to ‘hold’ the blood in place is lost) and a blood stasis or circulation side (blood is pooling in the veins and not moving causing the veins to protrude). In order to help improve and heal the patterns with varicose veins, we need to look at both of these.
Lack of circulation
Stasis means stuck. Things aren’t moving as they should and, in this case, blood is pooling in areas when it should be flowing or moving. We need to move things for this pattern to improve. Signs of stasis can show up in other areas of the body – fixed stabbing pain or headaches, a slightly purplish colour to the tongue or nails, chronic shoulder tension, irritability, strong period pain particularly before your cycle starts or clots in your cycle are all signs there is a stagnation in the body. Also, if you’re experiencing a lot of spider veins along with your varicose veins, it is a sign there is more stasis to your pattern.