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Perfect legs

If you’ve ever spent all day on your feet, you’ll know how sore your legs can get. Putting your feet up for a rest usually alleviates the pain, but for some working people sitting down just isn’t an option!
 
What are varicose veins?

 
Varicose veins, also called varicosities, appear most often in the legs. They usually appear as lumpy, winding vessels just below the surface of the skin and result from a chronic increase in blood pressure, which causes veins to dilate. When the vein walls are pushed apart, the valves no longer seal properly, making it difficult for the muscles to push blood upwards. Instead of fl owing from one valve to the next, the blood starts pooling in the vein, increasing venous pressure and congestion, and causing the vein to bulge and twist. Because superficial veins have less muscular support than deep veins, they’re more likely to become varicose.
 
How do varicosities occur?

 
Any condition that puts excessive pressure on the legs or abdomen can lead to varicosities. Hormonal fluctuations during pregnancy and menopause are most likely responsible for the high proportion of varicosities among women. Dietary deficiencies and decreased skin elasticity due to ageing are also factors. Prolonged standing or sitting, constipation, constrictive clothing, lack of exercise, obesity and repeated heavy lifting can interfere with normal circulation and increase the likelihood of varicose veins developing or worsening. In chronic cases, varicosities may be accompanied by aching pain or itching. If the stretched skin breaks, open sores (called varicose ulcers) may form.
 
Herbal solutions
 
Horse Chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum) is used extensively by health practitioners in Germany to treat varicose veins, with studies showing the herb to be as effective as surgical support stockings in providing relief. A study of over 5,000 patients with varicose veins concluded that pain, tiredness, itchiness and swelling in the legs all improved markedly or disappeared completely after using the herb. Taken when symptoms are first detected, Horse Chestnut can also prevent subsequent conditions, such as skin changes, inflammatory lesions and the increased risk of thrombosis. The herb works by stabilising the vein walls, and improving vein tone and blood flow back to the heart. It also stops swelling by preventing the breakdown of vascular walls that causes fluid to seep through the capillary walls and into the cells.
 
Butcher’s Broom (Ruscus aculeatus) works in conjunction with Horse Chestnut to treat venous conditions, improving circulation and relieving constipation and fluid retention. Rich in flavonoids like rutin, Butcher’s Broom is thought to tighten veins and strengthen the capillary walls, improving and maintaining peripheral circulation.
 
Herbs & Health common sense recommendations..
 
At their mildest, varicose veins are unsightly. At their worst, they’re dangerous.
  • Exercise regularly. Keep leg muscles toned, blood flowing and weight under control.
  • Eat foods low in fat, sugar and salt, and drink at least two litres of water daily.
  • If you’re on your feet constantly for work, stretch and exercise your legs as often as possible to increase circulation and reduce pressure build-up.
  • Don’t smoke as this may contribute to elevated blood pressure, which can aggravate varicosities.
  • If pregnant, sleep on your left side rather than on your back to minimise the uterus putting pressure on veins in your pelvic area.
  • Cross your feet at the ankles rather than the knees for better circulation.
  • Take occasional breaks with your feet up. Resting with your feet five to ten centimetres above your heart lets gravity work in your favour, helping pooled blood drain from your legs.
  • Avoid wearing high heels.
  • Take a supplement containing Horse Chestnut and Butcher’s Broom, as well as vitamins C, E and bioflavonoids.

Breaking the headache cycle

Many Australians are caught in a vicious cycle where over-reliance on pain relief medication is causing rebound headaches.

Nearly all of us will suffer from a headache during our lifetime, and those less fortunate will experience migraines. In fact, after back pain, headaches and common colds are the two main causes of sick leave for working Australians.

What happens during a migraine?

Migraines are thought to be triggered by a sudden narrowing (or vasoconstriction) of the blood vessels. The body attempts to correct this by widening the blood vessels, which causes intense pain. Most migraine sufferers experience certain symptoms before an attack, such as dizziness, visual disturbance, over-sensitivity to light, limb weakness, strange tastes in the mouth and detection of strange odours.

Causes of headaches and migraines

Poor diet – eating foods low in nutrients and eating irregularly can be triggers.

Certain foods – alcohol, chocolate, citrus fruits and dairy products, especially cheese.

Stress – noisy and polluted environments, a hectic lifestyle, accumulated fatigue and excessive worrying.

Constipation – mild constipation can often give rise to dullness or heaviness in the head. When constipation is more chronic, headaches become more persistent.

Hormones – menstruation and hormonal fluctuations have been connected to headaches, which may be why women tend to suffer from headaches more than men.

Natural treatments

Certain herbs and nutrients can help to treat and manage migraines and related ailments. Here are some that are regularly prescribed by natural health practitioners:

Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium), a herb with a long-held tradition for use in the prevention and relief of migraine headaches, helps to reduce the dilation of blood vessels and dampens pain. Take daily as a tea or as a nutritional supplement for a few months to help manage migraines. It’s recommended that you have an occasional break from use, gradually declining the dosage for about a month before the break. Feverfew is not recommended for pregnant or lactating women and should not be given to children under the age of two.

Willow bark (Salix alba) is known to relieve headache symptoms and can also help with chronic pain, back and neck pain, muscle aches, arthritis and menstrual cramps. Willow bark contains salicylic acid, the active component in aspirin. Natural therapists believe willow bark is a better option than aspirin because it’s milder and less likely to trigger side effects such as stomach irritation or bleeding. Avoid taking willow bark if you are sensitive to aspirin or have tinnitus, and avoid its use in children under the age of 16 with a cold, the flu or chicken pox.

Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is a vitamin like substance produced in our bodies that is important for energy production in cells. Studies show migraines may be caused, at least in part, by an impairment of energy production. So migraines could presumably be improved by CoQ10 supplementation. In one study, 31 migraine sufferers were given 150 mg of CoQ10 per day for three months. The results showed sufferers experienced headaches less frequently and for a shorter period of time. The longer CoQ10 was taken, the more positive the effect.

Useful tips

Reduce the severity and frequency of your headaches and migraines by:

  • Eating a well-balanced diet that includes wholegrain foods, fruits and vegetables
  • Limiting protein, refined sugar, processed foods and fat intake
  • Increasing your water intake to at least two litres daily
  • Ensuring you have good back and neck alignment. See a chiropractor for more advice
  • Finding ways to effectively manage your stress

TIP:

Some people experience the shakes and jitters when taking 150 mg of CoQ10 in one dose take a 75 mg natural sourced capsule instead.

Article thanks to Herbs and Health Magazine Australia