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About Varicose Veins
Over the last few months I've been getting frequent calls from people asking me about varicose veins, and if Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture can treat it. Here I'd like to share my thoughts about this.
First, the majority of these patients called because their varicose veins are severe and their MDs are generally wanting to do surgery. Maybe there is some apprehension about this so that's why they're searching for more conservative yet potentially equally effective therapies.
Regarding varicose veins, people should know that for severe ones, surgery is obviously the fastest choice. In terms of aesthetic improvement, I don't think anyone can argue about the speed. However does this really mean it is over with? Yes and no.
Unfortunately people pay attention to varicose veins but forget to ask why it occurs. From the Chinese Medicine perspective, varicose veins are a reflection of not only local blood stagnation in the legs, but more importantly widespread systemic blood flow compromise. From the modern perspective, this could be a result of many factors. But the common important ones are diet, long term standing positions, weight and age.
It is important to know what is actually considered varicose veins, to some extent after a certain age, the majority of people will show venous collaterals around the ankle and the area of the leg slight above. These are thin dilations and should not bother most people, because nobody really pays attention to them anyway(other than me of course as a Dr.TCM). Varicose veins become a problem when they become engorged and pop out of the leg, usually reaching up to the knee area, looking like purplish blue colored and tortuous pipes. Patients may often complain pain and soreness or spasms of the legs. To modern medicine the fastest way is surgery. But to Chinese Medicine we see this problem as a reflection of overall blood flow impairment, which can manifest as various types of ailments; varicose veins and lower leg symptoms being only one of them. The more worrisome complications and coexisting conditions include blood pressure problems, blood lipid abnormalities, chronic inflammation, autoimmune disease and diabetes. Varicose veins if left untreated and allowed to get worse may possibly lead to phlebitis, which is inflammation of the leg veins, causing scorching discomfort, pain and even gradual tissue damage as a result of lack of oxygen to the surrounding structures.
Can Chinese Medicine treat all these? Yes it can, as well as all the other things that usually come with this condition, as we treat patients from a holistic perspective. However, treatment takes time with consideration to how severe and chronic the case is, and a combination of both Chinese Herbal Medicine and Acupuncture is usually required. Surgery can make the veins disappear; for aesthetic purposes this would suffice. But for total body wellness and prevention of future problems arising from blood flow compromises, surgery in my opinion is inadequate.