Up to 30% of people can be affected by varicose veins which is where the veins have become large, swollen and twisted. The most common place for them to appear is on the calves and behind the knees and are due to damaged or weakened valves. There is often a familial pattern and though varicose veins don’t always cause severe pain, people dislike their appearance and some seek surgery to rectify the problem. Many people just simply put up with the cramps and heavy leg sensation.
The colour of the veins is usually blue to dark purple and this colour is very significant according to traditional Chinese medicine diagnosis.
Purple and bluish veins indicate that the body system is being affected by a traditional diagnostic concept known as “Blood Stasis”.
There is saying in Chinese medical texts dating back hundreds of years that says “Blood stasis is the cause of all problems and blood stasis complicates all conditions”.
The term blood stasis includes symptoms like varicose veins, spider veins and thick dry skin such as on the heel as well as fixed stabbing pains that could be anywhere in the body. Ancient Chinese physicians understood the concept of blood flow and the relationship of blood vessels to the heart hundreds of years before the US medical physician William Harvey wrote about blood circulation.
Many people believe that acupuncture is limited to treat nerve and pain syndromes. It then comes as a surprise to people to learn that acupuncture can help with blood circulation problems such as chest pain from heart disease, varicose veins, Raynaud’s disease and diabetes related peripheral neuropathy.
Ancient Chinese physicians even understood the connection between the lungs and heart and their relationship with oxygen exchange. A special acupuncture point on the wrist, known as tai yuan, Lung 9, was allocated the special role of being the meeting acupuncture point of all blood vessels. It can be used to treat all problems with blood vessels including varicose veins and heart pain.
Other acupuncture points on the leg such as the one called “sea of blood”, Spleen 10, is used to increase circulation of blood when it is suspected of being “stuck” as in blood stasis. Dr Ni, a licenced acupuncture physician from the States, recommends electro-acupuncture alongside the varicosed vein to enhance vein valve restoration.
Mr Alan Jansson, who runs a busy acupuncture practice on Queensland’s Gold Coast, says “More and more people are seeking alternatives like acupuncture to treat varicose veins instead of surgery. This is because too many operations have been unsuccessful and left people dissatisfied and the word gets around“. Alan said “Getting surgery on veins is like shutting the gate after the horse has bolted”
Chinese herbs also can treat varicose veins and there are in fact whole chapters in Chinese herb text books devoted to herbs that exclusively deal with blood stasis and circulation problems. Chinese herbs that deal with blood circulation have specific body areas that they target. For example, the Chinese herb dan shen, addresses heart and chest pain associated with blood stasis. Another Chinese herb, wang bu liu xing, can treat insufficient lactation when the cause is blood stasis in the breast.
Chinese herb combinations need to be formulated and suited to the individual diagnosis of the patient. This takes into account some diagnostic considerations such as familial disposition, constitution, age and other concurrent health problems. Unfortunately, there is not just one simple herb that everyone across the board can just take and expect their varicose vein problem resolved. The Sun Ten range of Chinese herbs are commonly used in Australia and New Zealand of which there are hundreds.