The abnormal swelling of veins in the legs is a symptom of a generally poor circulatory system, with a loss of elasticity in the walls of the veins and particularly in their valves. When they are functioning normally, these valves prevent blood from flowing back (away from the heart), but if their efficiency decreases some blood may stagnate in the vein, which then becomes swollen and twisted, causing aching and abnormal fatigue of the legs. The tendency for the valves to fail in this way is sometimes inherited, but the main causes are prolonged standing, poor nutrition and obesity - often a combination of two or more of these factors. Pregnancy may also cause the onset of varicose veins due to the increased weight, and pressure in the pelvic area.

Aromatherapy treatment needs to be aimed chiefly at improving the general tone of the veins, and should be combined with dietary and other advice. One of the most important oils for strengthening the veins is Cypress, which should be used as a bath oil, and applied, very gently, over the area of the affected veins. Massage can be used above the affected area of the vein (i.e. on that part of the leg which is nearer the heart) but must NEVER be used below the varicosity, as this will only increase the pressure in the vein. Cypress oil can either be blended in a carrier oil at 3% or made up in a cream. A cream is probably the most convenient way in which to use the oil on a daily baasis.

Oil of garlic, in the form of capsules or perles, is one of the greatest ways of strengthening the circulatory systems, and you can recommend 3 capsules a day, as well as fresh garlic in the diet. Vitamin E and Vitamin C should be taken as supplements initially, but in the long term it is necessary to make sure that they are supplied in sufficient amounts in foods. See our Daily Intake Chart for more information

Resting with the legs higher than the head for at least 10 minutes every day is very helpful, and will also decrease the immediate discomfort. The inverted postures of yoga are an excellent way of doing this, or alternatively, you could use a slant-board, or lying on the floor with the legs and feet supported by a chair.

Gentle exercise is helpful - again yoga would be the choice, with swimming second. Walking, and gentle stretching exercises are suitable, but jogging, skipping, aerobics and other exercises which involve repeated impact can do more harm than good. However, such exercise would be so uncomfortable for anybody with varicose veins that they would be unlikely to try it for more than a very short time.

It may take many months to produce any improvement in the varicose veins, and as in any situation where prolonged treatment is needed, it is important to vary the essential oils used from time to time. You can use Lavender, Juniper or Rosemary as alternatives to Cypress, but whichever oils are chosen, perseverence with daily application will be needed.

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