Essential Oils: Extremely Potent Plant Extracts
Essential oils can simply be described as highly concentrated plant matter in liquid form. They are extracted through steam distillation or cold compression of plant material such as the flowers, leaves, roots, resin or fruit rind. Steam distillation is a process that uses a carefully controlled current of steam to force the pockets of oil in the plant material to open, releasing aromatic molecules that form the essential oil. Through this method, the very essence of the plant including its powerful medicinal properties and deep aromas are preserved in a very potent form.
Varicose Veins: What they are and What Causes them
Also called spider veins, varicose veins are swollen, twisted, inflamed and enlarged protruding veins that are filled with accumulated blood. Varicose veins can appear anywhere on the body but the term refers to the condition affecting the legs in particular, as this is where varicose veins commonly show up.
Some of the known causes of varicose veins include:
- Sitting or standing in the same position for a prolonged period of time
- Heavy weight lifting
- Laborious physical exertion
- Sedentary lifestyle, that is, lack of exercise
- Over consumption of alcohol
- High spicy food intake
- Poor diet
- Extremely cold temperatures
- Inadequate water intake
Other speculated causes of varicose veins include frequent wearing of high heels and constricting clothing.
The Science Behind Varicose Veins
Why varicose veins usually appear on the legs is because blood in this lower part of the body has a very low pressure and takes a lot of effort climbing up the body & going against gravity so that it can return to the heart. To troubleshoot this problem, the veins in the legs are designed to contain numerous one-way valves that allow blood to flow only towards the heart and prevent the back flow of blood.
When the veins are put in a lot of pressure, for example when you stand for a long time without sitting; when heavy weights are lifted frequently or during pregnancy where the swollen belly puts a lot of strain on the lower limbs, the blood flow decreases making the blood pool in the veins and causing them to balloon. This bulging vein is what is known as a varicose vein.
Sometimes varicose veins appear purple because of lack of oxygen and nutrient supply to the accumulated blood as well as no room for waste products to flow out due to poor circulation.
How Essential Oils Help Varicose Veins
Essential oils have a number of healing qualities and medicinal properties which help reduce varicose veins and give relief. Below are some of the ways essential oils can help varicose veins:
- Promoting proper blood circulation
- Strengthening capillary walls in the blood vessels
- Reducing swelling
- Soothing inflammation
- Alleviating pain
- Improving lymphatic drainage
Essential Oils and Varicose Veins: 7 Most Effective Oils to Use and Application Tips
1. Cypress Essential Oil
Obtained from the needles and twigs of the young branches of the cypress tree, Cupressus sempervirens, cypress essential oil (where to get it) has a fresh scent with woody and spicy notes, making it a favored ingredient in men’s perfume. It is excellent in improving blood circulation and promoting lymphatic drainage, making it a good essential oil for not only varicose veins but also respiratory conditions, heavy menstruation, fluid retention and cellulite.
Cypress essential oil is a powerful vasoconstrictor, which means it is an agent that causes narrowing of blood vessels, thereby strengthening the walls of the veins and improving the appearance of varicose veins. It also has a cooling and refreshing effect that gives a soothing relief to irritable and throbbing varicose veins.
Blend about 3-5 drops of cypress essential oil in 1 tsp of pure plant oil like coconut oil. Gently apply it to the sides of the varicose veins and smear it lightly over the veins for instant relief.
2. Helichrysum Essential Oil
This valuable essential oil is prized for its potent healing properties that solve a wide range of ailments including respiratory issues, wounds & cuts, scars, digestive problems, rheumatism & arthritis pain and discomfort as well as circulatory problems, which makes it one of the best essential oils for varicose veins. Helichrysum essential oil (where to get it) helps break up coagulated and clotted blood in the varicose veins, which improves blood flow towards the heart. It’s also good for managing the pain associated with varicose veins.
Since it has a strong smell that doesn’t sit well with some people, consider blending it with a better smelling oil such as lemon which has a sweet fruity scent.
3. Lemongrass Essential Oil
Though it sounds like a citrus oil, lemongrass essential oil (where to get it) isn’t derived from citrus rinds but an aromatic perennial grass that is grows wild in India. It has a valuable effect as a pain reliever for aching varicose veins due to its analgesic properties.
One effective way to use lemongrass oil for varicose veins is to dilute about 10 drops in fractionated coconut oil and store it in a 10 ml roll-on bottle. Roll it lightly on your varicose veins everyday to see results.
4. Lemon Essential Oil
An uplifting essential oil with a fruity aroma that instantly brightens dull moods, lemon essential oil (where to get it) is a great essential oil to have on hand. It has a wide variety of therapeutic benefits and healing uses including boosting immune system, controlling oily skin, fighting infections as well as reducing varicose veins.
Lemon essential oil has anti-inflammatory properties that are useful in reducing varicose vein swelling and it also has a strengthening and tightening effect on bulging veins.
Please keep in mind that lemon essential oil is photo-toxic so do not wear it on skin that will be exposed to sunlight. To be on the safe side, restrict its usage to night time alone.
5. Fennel Essential Oil
Fennel essential oil is derived from the sweet fennel seeds, that are popularly used as a flavoring ingredient in South East Asian cuisine. In this region, fennel seeds are also chewed on after a meal to suppress appetite and naturally freshen breath.
What makes fennel (where to get it) an excellent essential oil for treating varicose veins is its diuretic and stimulant properties that reduce fluid retention and support healthy blood circulation in veins. Find a varicose vein vanishing roll-on recipe starring fennel essential oil further below.
Note: Please do not use fennel essential oil during pregnancy.
6. Sweet Basil Essential Oil
In Chinese medicine, sweet basil is revered for its healing qualities that help treat digestive disorders and improve blood circulation. Its cousin, holy basil is also prized in Ayurvedic medicine as a respiratory healer, allergy reliever and mental clarifier.
For varicose veins, use sweet basil essential oil (where to get it) to ease pain, discomfort and aches as it has strong analgesic (pain relieving) properties. Sweet basil essential oil also gives a pleasant tingly sensation when applied to skin and this is said to have a stimulating effect which boosts blood circulation in blocked varicose veins. Note: Completely avoid this oil in pregnancy.
7. Grapefruit Essential Oil
Another mood-boosting citrus oil, grapefruit is best known for its powerful diuretic properties that help clear off cellulite, another skin-marring condition that leads to formation of dips and dimples on mainly the thighs. These same properties help drain off excess fluid retention and encourage lymph drainage which removes wastes that accumulate in varicose veins.
Grapefruit essential oil (where to get it) is also a stimulant that promotes blood movement thereby reducing the discomforts of varicose veins.
Other essential oils for varicose veins:
- Clary sage essential oil
- Juniper berry essential oil
- Peppermint essential oil
- Cedarwood essential oil
- Rosemary essential oil
- Sweet orange essential oil
- Ginger essential oil
- Frankincense essential oil
How to Use Essential Oils for Varicose Veins
» Have a Soothing Warm Bath:
What you need
- 10 drops lemongrass essential oil
- 10 drops geranium essential oil
- 10 drops grapefruit essential oil
- ½ cup of carrier oil of choice
- 4 oz amber glass dropper bottle (where to get it)
Mix all ingredients in the amber glass bottle. Draw up a hot/warm bath and when the tub is full, add about 10 drops of this blend. Swirl the water with your hand then immediately enter and soak for 20 minutes.
» Circulation-Stimulating Compresses:
What you need
- 5 drops of essential oil for each compress
- 1 quart of cold water
- 1 quart of hot water
- 2 large bowls
- Soft microfiber washcloth (where to get it)
- To make these compresses, fill two large bowls with 1 quart of hot water in one and a quart of cold water in the other.
- Add 5 drops of one or more essential oils for varicose veins to each bowl.
- Now get a soft washcloth and swirl it in the hot water to mix the essential oils, wring it out and press it gently but firmly on the affected area. Keep it on until it gets cold then do it again.
- Once you’re done with the hot compress, follow it up with the cool compress.
- After which, elevate your legs by placing them over a hard pillow for 15 minutes. You can then apply the gentle massage cream (recipe below) if you wish.
» Gentle Massage Cream:
This massage cream has a soft consistency and just melts immediately into the skin when applied so it’s gentle to use for varicose veins without hurting them. Avoid using creams with a hard consistency because these require you to rub them in more so that they can sink in yet we only need a gentle massage and not a deep rub, which can be harsh and painful on varicose veins.
What you need
- ½ cup of pure coconut oil (where to get it)
- ¼ cup of organic shea butter (where to get it)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 10 drops of cypress essential oil
- 10 drops of lemongrass essential oil
- 5 drops of lemon essential oil
- 5 drops of helichrysum essential oil
- Hand mixer (where to get it)
- 6 oz container (where to get it)
- In a double boiler, melt the pure coconut oil and organic shea butter to liquid form over a medium low heat.
- Place the bowl containing the melted ingredients in the refrigerator until it has set (about 15 minutes).
- Add the rest of the ingredients and start whipping them with a hand mixer for at least 6 minutes so that you can achieve a soft fluffy consistency.
- Store the cream in a clean container in a cool dry place, preferably refrigerator, for a nice cold cream to soothe hot and heavy varicose veins.
- Apply gently on varicose veins 2 times a day, towards the direction of the heart.
» Varicose Vein Vanishing Roll-On Recipe:
What you need
- 5 drops fennel essential oil
- 3 drops helichrysum essential oil
- 5 drops lemongrass essential oil
- 7 drops lemon essential oil
- Fractionated coconut oil (where to get it)
- 10ml roll-on bottle (where to get it)
Place all ingredients in a roll-on bottle and shake well to mix. Gently roll on and around the varicose veins nightly.
Before using essential oils for varicose veins during pregnancy, please read Is it Safe to Use Essential Oils While Pregnant? and What Essential Oils are Good for Pregnancy? to select safe essential oils.
- Essential oils are potent substances that should be used with mindful caution: refrain from using them ‘neat’ or without dilution on your skin, only a few select essential oils such as lavender, frankincense and tea tree can be safely applied directly without dilution but even then, just a few drops must be used and only over a small area of skin.
- As a rule of thumb, dilute about 2 drops of essential oil in 1 tsp of pure plant oil or base ingredient such as lotion. Read more on how to dilute essential oils here.
- Do not ingest essential oils except under the supervision of a trained aroma therapist.
- Keep essential oils away from children and pets.
- Always wash your hands after using essential oils and do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth before doing so, since essential oils can irritate mucous membranes.