There’s a surprising amount of misinformation on the internet about home remedies promising to fix your varicose veins for good. Some people claim they have experienced improvement or have been cured altogether by the “treatments” made from ingredients found in their pantry. But when scrutinised, it’s clear these could not and do not do what they promise.
We list some common claims below (and we’re not kidding, these are truly what you can find when you go looking), but before we get into that, we need to understand what’s happening on the interior of varicose veins.
All along the interior of our veins there are tiny one-way valves which help move deoxygenated blood from our extremities toward our heart and lungs to be oxygenated again. Varicose veins happen when these one-way valves fail and blood ‘leaks’ backwards. When the blood pools in one place, a bluish, bulging vein appears on the skin surface.
Anyone can get varicose veins. They can affect both men and women of all ages, but varicose veins occur more frequently in people who have a strong family history and may worsen with occupations that require prolonged standing. Commonly, varicose veins can affect people between 34 and 64 years of age.
Here are some common home remedies we found within seconds of googling.
Essential Oils (various kinds) massaged into the skin
The Claim – “Used on their own or with other treatments, essential oils are an effective treatment for getting rid of varicose veins.”
Will it work? – No.
Green or Ripe Tomatoes applied as a poultice or compress
The Claim – “Some people are plagued by unsightly varicose veins… But, did you know that you can cure your varicose veins with the help of tomatoes?”
Will it cure varicose veins? – No.
Apple Cider Vinegar taken orally or topically
The Claim – “In the case of varicose veins apple cider vinegar helps as it: eliminates edema (swelling), boosts blood vessels, it tones the skin on the feet, it promotes blood circulation and enhances functioning of circulatory system.”
Can it really do that for varicose veins? – No.
Cabbage Leaf applied as a compress on the area of the diseased vein
The Claim – “Put a fresh cabbage leaf on the varicose veins and let it stay for an hour. Do this 3 times a day until the varicose veins disappear completely.” “…effective treatments that can help you get rid of varicose veins naturally.”
Will cabbage leaves get rid of varicose veins naturally? – No.
Garlic oil applied as a topical compress 3 times a day
The Claim – “Garlic works very well on inflammation and is very effective to remove toxins from the body which in turn helps in blood circulation. Sometimes, the varicose vein pain is unbearable and garlic is definitely a solution for how to get rid of varicose veins and its symptoms.”
Will garlic get rid of varicose veins and its symptoms? – No.
Why Won’t They Work?
There are pitfalls aplenty when you start to read the pseudoscience from remedies claiming to “cure what ails you”.
Some of the websites where we found these remedies stated that varicose veins are only a cosmetic concern, are just “unsightly”, and don’t have any negative effect or health risks. That’s a red flag. When varicose veins are left untreated, they can lead to serious complications and are more than just “unsightly”. Read more about severe and chronic venous disease here.
Garlic, tomatoes, apple cider vinegar or anything else from the pantry cupboard applied as a compress or poultice to the surface of the skin, or even consumed orally, are not suitable or effective treatments for varicose veins. The one-way valves on the interior of veins, once damaged, do not/cannot recover. The state-of-the-art treatments which are available today do not even repair what is broken. They seal up the diseased vein using a special medical adhesive or thermal/laser technology placed inside the vein. Once the problem vein is blocked, blood reroutes through neighbouring veins, and symptoms of swelling and pain resolve.
Viewed generously, home remedies may relieve swelling and pain to a negligible degree, just as applying ice may reduce some of the swelling and pain but does not treat or resolve the underlying cause. To a discerning eye, these kinds of nonsense-treatments can delay people from seeking the medical attention they need. Severe and chronic venous disease which goes untreated can lead to serious complications. It’s important that people suffering varicose vein symptoms speak with a phlebologist about their vein condition, receive a proper diagnosis, and treatment plan.
- Ingredients from the above home remedies belong in a salad, not in your varicose vein treatment plan.
- Varicose veins do not right themselves without medical intervention. Home remedies are not effective, and they delay people suffering from varicose veins from seeking the help they need.
- Treatments for varicose veins include: endovenous laser ablation (EVLA), ultrasound guided sclerotherapy, VenaSeal (medical adhesive), and radiofrequency ablation.