Did you know that almost 25% of adults deal with varicose veins, the raised, swollen, and often purplish-blue twisted veins that most frequently appear on legs? In case you didn't know, 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. "The main symptoms are heaviness, aching, tightness, fatigue, tiredness, swelling and often itching, burning, numbness, cramping, and restless legs," Jeffrey G. Carr, MD, medical director of the Vein Center of East Texas, told Women's Health. And women are more prone to this ailment than men, especially when they are pregnant. Why are varicose veins most prevalent on one area of your body? Because your legs are one of the furthest spots from your heart, gravity makes it a challenge for the blood to flow up toward your chest. Makes sense, right?
However, we're happy to report some good news: You may find treating them the all-natural way with the right essential oils to help reduce pain and inflammation. According to Allure, "essential oils are highly concentrated, volatile plant extracts obtained through different extraction methods, including steam distillation, which is the purification of a liquid via heating." They're used in a number of ways, including for aromatherapy purposes (lavender and spearmint, for example), topically for a variety of treatments, and for cleaning (cinnamon, pine, lemon).
And 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. Read on below to learn which essential oils are best for diminishing the appearance of and addressing pain and inflammation associated with varicose veins (also known as spider veins.)
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 on his site. 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 somewhere around $35 (it's definitely not inexpensive). 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. Now, 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.
According to a Healthline article, some massage therapy schools will also use lemon, rose, peppermint, and other essential oils to stimulate blood circulation and help alleviate inflammation associated with varicose veins. Additionally, a Medical News Today article highlights a number of essential oils with small scientific studies suggesting its effectiveness when treating varicose veins. They include grapevine, horse chestnut, and sea pine essential oil
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, for example, Healthline recommends "soaking a cloth in a blend of five drops of essential oils and 1 liter of water." Then, apply the compress to the affected area for 15 minutes, and "keep your legs elevated during application."
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. Allure writes, "oils like cinnamon, clove, lemongrass, cassia, black pepper, and wintergreen can be irritating... always use proper dilution and do a skin patch test first." Since essential oils aren't regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, Allure goes on to recommend purchasing oils from a reputable source or asking an expert for a reference and guidance.