Almost 25% of adults deal with varicose veins (also known as spider veins)—the raised, swollen, and often purplish-blue twisted veins that most frequently appear on legs. This condition occurs when blood pools in your veins instead of traveling toward your heart. Other than the veins being an eyesore, their symptoms can prove to be uncomfortable, too, including aching, burning, throbbing, muscle cramps, swelling, and itching. Women are more prone to this ailment than men, especially when they are pregnant. However, we're happy to report some good news: There are some essential oils for varicose veins to help reduce pain and inflammation.
What Are Varicose Veins?
Varicose veins are swollen, twisted veins that you can see just under the skin. They usually occur in the legs, but also can form in other parts of the body.
While scientific evidence regarding the use of essential oils to treat varicose veins is scant, everyone from massage therapists to naturopathic experts swear by them. We rounded up the essential oils that are best for diminishing the appearance of and addressing pain and inflammation associated with varicose veins to help you get some relief.
Cypress oil comes from the evergreen tree of the same name that grows tiny cones. Josh Axe, DNM, DC, CNS, recommends rubbing five drops of this oil on the affected area two times a day for a few weeks. "One of the best [oils] for specifically treating vein problems is cypress oil, which has the ability to increase circulation and support the circulatory system," he explains. Basically, cypress oil contracts your blood vessels, which encourages your blood to start flowing properly.
Other than its naturally calming scent and its apparent ability to reduce pain, lavender oil can also be used to treat the discomfort of varicose veins. When used in aromatherapy, lavender oil can mitigate pain and inflammation caused by the condition. If your varicose veins have also caused skin ulcers (sores that form due to poor blood circulation; a common side effect of varicose veins), a study actually showed that lavender oil helps to calm them.
The ancient Greeks revered the rosemary plant for its various health benefits, but nowadays, rosemary is mostly used to help with memory loss. In the case of varicose veins, the herb works as a stimulant; it increases blood flow to other parts of the body. And, as we already mentioned, when your blood is circulating properly, it doesn't pool in your veins.
Helichrysum oil comes from the steam distillation of blooms from the plant of the same name, and it reportedly has serious healing properties. It's less well known than other essential oils, probably because of its price—a small bottle will cost you around $30. With that said, it's revered as one of the most effective at shrinking the appearance of varicose veins; it is believed to help with circulation and lessening inflammation. Furthermore, helichrysum oil works to eradicate blood clots and helps with blood stickiness (stickiness can be responsible for poor circulation, so it's all related).
Frankincense is a favorite among essential oil enthusiasts for its calming scent (great in aiding a good night's sleep), and it can also be an invigorating aroma come morning. Frankincense is also touted for its anti-inflammatory properties.
Apparently, the Egyptians used geranium oil to give themselves glowing complexions. These days, it's still used to treat acne and stimulate hair growth. It's been known to improve blood circulation, which is important when treating the appearance of varicose veins. It sounds like a win-win.
How to Use Essential Oils for Varicose Veins
Now that you know all about essential oils for varicose veins, choose your favorite and use it in a hot or cold compress, as a massage oil, or even in the bath. To make a cold or hot compress for your varicose veins, soak a cloth in a blend of a few drops of essential oil and water. Apply the compress to the affected area for 15 minutes while keeping your legs elevated.
And as a general note of caution when using some essential oils topically, it's important to dilute essential oil using a carrier oil or water, such as in the cold compress recipe above. Since essential oils aren't regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, purchase oils from a reputable source or ask an expert for guidance.