Learning & Resource Center Articles
Is Acupuncture Good for Varicose Veins?
By: Vanessa Vogel Batt, L.Ac., MSTOM
Have you noticed enlarged, bulging veins on your legs or feet? Chances are you have varicose veins. While they may be more of a cosmetic issue for some, meaning they have not caused nagging symptoms; for others, varicose veins can be the sign of a circulatory and vein/valve problem. In these instances, patients tend to present with a host of unpleasant symptoms like burning, weakness, heaviness, swelling, cramping and pain. More importantly, they may increase an individual's risk for blood clots or ulcerations on the lower legs and feet.
Veins are the blood vessels responsible for bringing deoxygenated blood back to the heart, where it can then replenish its supply. This is why the veins in your body appear blue. Arteries, on the other hand, are responsible for distributing oxygen-rich blood to organs and different parts of the body. Veins in the feet and legs must work against the flow of gravity in an effort to push the blood flow upwards toward the heart. To assist in this process, there are tiny valves in all veins which shut to prevent the blood from going backwards and pooling. For different reasons, however, sometimes this process does not go as planned and blood back flows and settles in the veins, causing them to bulge, twist, dilate and take on a gnarled appearance.
According to acupuncture and Oriental medicine, varicose veins are labeled as a condition of blood stasis. Blood stasis occurs wherever there is a stagnation or build-up of blood anywhere in the body. If there is pain associated with blood stasis, it is described as a fixed, stabbing pain. Your acupuncture and Oriental medicine practitioner may even see areas of dark purple on your tongue or distended sublingual veins, confirming the diagnosis. Sublingual veins are located on the bottom-side of your tongue. Tongue diagnosis, the practice of visually inspecting a patient's tongue, is a routine part of an acupuncture and Oriental medicine visit.
To demonstrate how serious acupuncture and Oriental medicine regards a condition of blood stasis, there is an adage: Blood stasis is the cause of all problems and blood stasis complicates all conditions. Through the lens of acupuncture and Oriental medicine, treating varicose veins, whether there are symptoms associated with it or not, is more than a cosmetic procedure--it is helping to prevent further complications within the body.
Applying acupuncture needles will help invigorate the blood and break up blood stasis. As these veins are close to the skin, you may be able to witness this process over a few sessions, as you notice the dark purple or blue color slowly lighten up when new blood is given a chance to flow back in.
Your acupuncturist will create an individualized treatment plan and may offer some lifestyle advice based on your risk factors. For instance, walking and sitting for too long may contribute to varicose veins, so it is not recommended to do either of these for extended periods of time. High heels are also implicated in causing this condition, as is obesity since excess weight puts extra pressure on the lower limbs and feet.
Recommendations may also be based on diet. Practitioners of acupuncture and Oriental medicine agree that eating a high-fiber and vitamin C-enriched diet may decrease your risk for developing varicose veins. This is because fiber can relieve constipation and thus prevent the veins in your legs from becoming stretched and damaged by the straining caused by the muscular activity required to move hardened stool. Vitamin C works by strengthening the vessel walls and rebuilding connective tissue.
Find an Acupuncturist near you to learn how acupuncture and Oriental medicine can help ease your symptoms!
About the Author: Vanessa Vogel Batt, L.Ac., MSTOM, studied at the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, and practiced acupuncture and Oriental medicine in New York for several years. Vanessa enjoys traveling the world, and has published articles on acupuncture and Oriental medicine and related health topics for websites and publications in both the U.S. and abroad.