As published in the May 2009 issue of Vitality Magazine
Often thought of as an unsightly and embarrassing matter, varicose veins are one of many circulatory problems that can contribute to ill health. While they are most common in the legs and feet, varicose veins can appear on different parts of the body, even in the esophagus. What many people don’t realize is that hemorrhoids are also varicose veins, caused by a faulty vascular system.
People who are prone to varicose veins are also prone to other circulatory problems. When working with a patient, homeopaths pay close attention to common threads or compatibility between the physical, mental and emotional aspects of each person. Homeopathy recognizes that the mental and physical aspects of an individual are so closely inter-connected that physical ailments cannot be healed without taking into consideration the emotions and the person as a whole. Hence, the prescribed remedy is a substance that corresponds with all physical symptoms and emotional states combined. In fact, understanding the nature and action of the substance (or remedy) is key to understanding its action on the human organism.
The fascinating parallels between the characteristics of a homeopathic remedy and its manifestations through physical and emotional ailments are the basis for homeopathic prescribing. The closer the match between patient and prescribed remedy, the quicker the restoration of health.
Varicose veins are veins that have become stretched and pooled with blood, and are swollen and raised above the surface of the skin. They are found most often on the backs of the calves or on the inside of the leg, anywhere from the groin to the ankle. While men can be afflicted with this, varicose veins are more common in women and they tend to be hereditary.
Here is how they come about: The flow of blood starts with the pumping action of your heart. With each beat, the heart pumps blood and circulates it through the arteries. The arteries carry the blood from your heart out to your body, and the veins (which are larger than arteries) carry the blood from your body back to the heart.
The blood leaving through the arteries is full of oxygen, making the blood bright red. The blood returning through the veins is darker in colour, even bluish, because the body parts have used up the oxygen in the blood, hence the reason varicose veins appear blue or purplish.
Veins often show up in the legs, ankles and feet because those body parts are furthest from the heart. Gravity pulls blood down into your legs and feet when you’re standing up or sitting down. As a result, the veins work harder to get that blood back up to the heart, and this causes these veins to wear out faster than others.
Veins have valves that close after the blood passes through, to keep blood moving in one direction. When these valves become weak due to age, hormonal factors (such as puberty, pregnancy, menopause or use of the birth control pill), obesity, and long periods of standing or sitting, blood pools in the veins of the legs which causes them to twist and bulge. These enlarged vessels are varicose veins.
Spider veins are similar to varicose veins, but are smaller, often red or blue in colour, and are closer to the surface of the skin than varicose veins. Their short jagged lines can resemble a spider web, hence its name. Spider veins can be found on both the legs and face, covering small to large areas of skin.
Similarly, hemorrhoids are also dilated veins, which are caused mostly by the high pressure of blood in them. While hemorrhoids can also be caused by a systemic disorder (such as cirrhosis, which produces varicose veins in the esophagus as well as hemorrhoids), there is not a big difference between hemorrhoids and varicose veins in the legs. Both are produced by an increased pressure in the venous system in that area.
Symptoms of varicose veins may include a dull pain, itch or heavy sensation in the legs. This feeling is usually worse after prolonged standing and is better when the legs are elevated. In advanced states, varicose veins may cause ankle and leg swelling, as well as become ulcerated.
People who are prone to varicose veins are also prone to developing hemorrhoids and other circulatory problems. Themes that run through a person’s physical and emotional states are important in homeopathic diagnosing. For example, people who need the remedy Natrum muriaticum have the theme of retention or holding on that runs through many aspects of their personality and physical symptoms. This remedy is derived from a dilution of sodium chloride or common salt. The physical side effect of too much salt is fluid retention; the emotional component is that Natrum muriaticum people retain their emotions. People needing this remedy manifest the retention theme in many different ways, including congestive headaches, constipation, fluid retention and the inability to let go of past hurts.
When choosing a remedy, a homeopath verifies two things: a thread between a patient’s physical, mental and emotional states; and the parallels between the physical characteristics of the remedy and its manifestations in the human organism.
After 15 years of suffering with varicose veins, Joanna’s legs had become ulcerated (covered in purplish lesions and crusts) when she first consulted me. Her legs felt tired and often numb after sitting for even short periods of time. She would momentarily lose power in her left leg during daily walks. She also reported difficulty sleeping for more than two hours at a time. Joanna volunteered at the homeless shelter, was a vegetarian and was passionate about the environment. She was an intensely sensitive and empathetic person who was compelled to instill positive change on behalf of humanity.
After analyzing her symptoms and personality traits, I prescribed the remedy Causticum. The remedy is derived from a diluted tincture of potassium hydrate. Potassium is an essential mineral necessary to stimulate nerve impulses for muscle contractions and to regulate distribution of fluids within cell walls. Potassium deficiency can result in various nervous disorders such as anxiety, restlessness and over-stimulation.
The themes of paralysis and over-stimulation run through the psyche of the person who needs Causticum. These people perceive many injustices in the world and have the need to influence positive change. They can be rigid in their views and become obsessed with their cause. One person, for whom I prescribed this remedy, told me he had gone on a hunger strike to influence governmental policy change.
People who need this treatment can be activists with extremely over-stimulated minds and difficulties letting go of things. After a period of over-stimulation of their nervous system due to perceived injustices in the world, paralysis gradually sets in — often starting with numbness, weakness, then paralysis of single muscles. Bell’s palsy (partial facial paralysis) is a great example.
Six weeks following the prescription, Joanna reported feeling calmer and was sleeping for longer periods of time. The ulcers on her legs were 50 per cent better. Her legs felt stronger and the numbness had disappeared. Within six months from her initial consultation, Joanna was sleeping through the night and the varicose veins had almost disappeared.
The varicose veins triggered by Mindy’s first two pregnancies cleared up within three months of giving birth. The third pregnancy however, left her with large unsightly varicose veins that permanently settled on her thighs and calves. Her legs felt tired and achy. Mindy was a stay-at-home mom who was content spending time with her children. She was timid, sensitive and compassionate and had a sweet, child-like nature. She reported a history of heavy and difficult menstrual periods, indigestion and bloating after meals, and insomnia.
The remedy Pulsatilla worked wonders for Mindy. This remedy is derived from the plant Pulsatilla Nigracans, commonly known as the “wind flower.” This delicate purple flower has a fine stem that is vulnerable to environmental forces of the wind. Just as the flower constantly sways with the wind, the same is true for the person needing this remedy. The theme of the Pulsatilla remedy is changeable. They have a mild and yielding nature and easily change their mind. Even the physical symptoms can change from day to day. Inconsistency of each bowel movement is one great example and wandering pains is another. Pulsatilla is irresolute, therefore has a difficult time making up her mind. They also often change their mind and are prone to mood fluctuations. On the physical plane, menstrual difficulties, complications in pregnancy, circulation problems and digestive disorders are prevalent.
Eight weeks after the initial consultation, Mindy reported feeling stronger emotionally. The varicose veins had diminished along with the tired achy feeling in her legs. Within four months, Mindy’s legs were back to her pre-pregnancy state. She was sleeping through the night and digesting with ease.
Bleeding during bowel movements, itching, and burning rectal pain and occasional bleeding were symptoms James experienced when he first sought homeopathic treatment. He often experienced stomach cramps after meals, suffered with constipation most of his life, and could not sleep past 4 a.m. James was a Type A personality, easily irritated, quick to anger, and very competitive.
The remedy Nux vomica was a perfect match for James. This remedy is derived from the seeds of a poisonous nut Strychnos Nux vomica — commonly referred to as poison strychnine. Strychnine poisoning creates severe spasms and cramps. A poisoning overdose affects the bowels and travels to the blood and spinal cord, the eyes bulge, the muscles contract and the whole body goes into convulsions. Death comes as the convulsions become more violent, and the respiratory muscle spasms cause the respiratory system to shut down.
The person needing this remedy carries the inner threat of possible annihilation in their psyche. Nux vomica types are always on guard and only relax when safely at home with loved ones. The inability for Nux vomicas to relax and let down their guard against possible attack is portrayed in the types of physical strain and tension they suffer. They are fanatically intense and are driven to succeed — they need to secure their position in the world so they can ward off any possible annihilation or poisoning. Nux vomicas are extremely confident and never doubt they will win. They make sure they never relax enough to allow any thoughts or fears of failure to influence them. To complete your visual image of the Nux Vomica personality, think of the famous TV personalities Judge Judy and chef Gordon Ramsay. Although I cannot be certain of their constitutional types or what remedy they need, both resemble the typical perfectionistic, over-achieving, easily irritated overzealous Nux vomica types.
During his first follow-up visit, James was pleased to be sleeping until 6 a.m. He reported feeling calmer and was not as easily irritated by his co-workers. The stomach cramps were mostly gone. The daily discomfort of the hemorrhoids had diminished to approximately once-a-week. At his last visit, six months following his initial visit, James said he felt “amazing.” The only thing remaining was the occasional stomach cramps whenever he mixed too many foods or ate too much.
Varicose veins as well as other ailments do not exist in isolation. As such they cannot be treated as separate entities needing different remedies. If you are taking a remedy for your headaches, a fungus remedy for your feet and a skin remedy for your eczema, you are merely palliating the symptoms. Similarly, if you have your varicose veins removed surgically, chances are your body will continue doing what it knows best — creating new ones. Cure cannot take place unless the organism is treated as a whole and the connection between mind, body and spirit is considered.
There is an interesting and strong correlation between people and the homeopathic substance they need in order to heal. A classical homeopath is trained to find this correlation. With proper treatment it is possible to eliminate unsightly and bothersome varicose veins. As a side-effect, you will notice improvement in other areas of your health and experience a general sense of well being.
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