Hemorrhoids and varicose veins: a review of treatment options.Altern Med Rev 2001; 6(2):126-40AM
Hemorrhoids and varicose veins are common conditions seen by general practitioners. Both conditions have several treatment modalities for the physician to choose from. Varicose veins are treated with mechanical compression stockings. There are several over-the-counter topical agents available for hemorrhoids. Conservative therapies for both conditions include diet, lifestyle changes, and hydrotherapy which require a high degree of patient compliance to be effective. When conservative hemorrhoid therapy is ineffective, many physicians may choose other non-surgical modalities: injection sclerotherapy, cryotherapy, manual dilation of the anus, infrared photocoagulation, bipolar diathermy, direct current electrocoagulation, or rubber band ligation. Injection sclerotherapy is the non-surgical treatment for primary varicose veins. Non-surgical modalities require physicians to be specially trained, own specialized equipment, and assume associated risks. If a non-surgical approach fails, the patient is often referred to a surgeon. The costly and uncomfortable nature of treatment options often lead a patient to postpone evaluation until aggressive intervention is necessary. Oral dietary supplementation is an attractive addition to the traditional treatment of hemorrhoids and varicose veins. The loss of vascular integrity is associated with the pathogenesis of both hemorrhoids and varicose veins. Several botanical extracts have been shown to improve microcirculation, capillary flow, and vascular tone, and to strengthen the connective tissue of the perivascular amorphous substrate. Oral supplementation with Aesculus hippocastanum, Ruscus aculeatus, Centella asiatica, Hamamelis virginiana, and bioflavonoids may prevent time-consuming, painful, and expensive complications of varicose veins and hemorrhoids.