Do Herbal Remedies for Spider Veins Work?
The tricky thing about spider veins is that they don’t discriminate; these small, discolored veins visible through the skin in the legs happen with startling frequency, and up to 60 percent of adults develop them.  While some cases are relatively symptom-free, others lead to itchiness and discomfort, and of course, they’re not very attractive. The result of vein disorders in which blood is unable to properly get back to the heart, there are a range of medical treatment options to take care of the condition.
That said, many at-home therapies are also offered up as alternatives to the doctor’s visit. Among these, herbal products are touted as effective means of managing spider veins, but the big question is: do they work? Here’s a quick breakdown of some popular approaches as well as the established evidence behind them:
Witch hazel is an astringent lotion derived from a shrub of the same name native to Japan and the US. Herbalists have long touted the benefits of applying this to blemishes on the skin as well as both spider and varicose veins. According to Holistic Health Herbalist, “witch hazel will tighten and tone the walls of the veins allowing temporary relief.”  Typically, topical applications on affected areas of 15 to 20 minutes a day are recommended, and any results are expected after several weeks of application.
But is this really effective? While you’ll no doubt find anecdotal reports of its efficacy, there’s scant evidence in the scientific literature of this actually providing any real effect.  Clinical studies simply haven’t found much of an effect for application of witch hazel. Does this mean you shouldn’t try it? Since some people report success with this means and since it’s harmless, it might make sense to give it a shot.
Similar in appearance to the Ohio and California buckeye, horse chestnut is a plant whose seeds, bark, flower, and leaves are used to make topical medication. Seed extracts of this can be applied to varicose or spider veins and are believed to promote healthier circulation because it contains a substance that thins blood. Typically, formulas featuring 16 to 20 percent of the chemical aescin (the active ingredient) will be indicated to take on the itchiness, swelling, pain, and discolored veins.
Unlike some other herbal remedies, there is some evidence for the use of horse chestnut for the management of varicose and spider veins symptoms. A formative study from 1998, found extracts of horse chestnut to be more effective in taking chronic venous insufficiency—a chronic circulation problem that leads to varicose and spider veins—than placebo. 
However, a more expansive review published in 2012 noted that this may help, emphasizing that while there is evidence, it’s not as robust and more work is needed.  The authors noted: “We are uncertain of the effect of HCSE [horse chestnut extract]…because the quality of the evidence is very low.”  Horse chestnut may be worth trying, though it’s not accepted as a standard treatment.
Apple Cider Vinegar
In certain circles, apple cider vinegar is held to be a kind of super-substance, with claims that it helps with everything from split ends in hair and indigestion to vein circulation problems. For spider veins, herbalists suggest a half hour compress of apple cider vinegar twice daily on affected areas to help reduce symptoms and problems.  In addition, some advise drinking a teaspoon or two of it a day to supplement effects. The claim is that it’ll start working after about a month of regular application.
Unfortunately, there’s little actual evidence of efficacy with this approach. One study did find modest effects when apple cider vinegar was used alongside other treatments ; however, it has not been replicated and had a limited sample size. There are no adverse side-effects—so there’s no harm in trying it alongside other methods—but application alone is probably not going to solve the issue.
Figuring Out What Works
While efficacy of herbal treatments for spider veins is uncertain, what are well-established are medical interventions for this problem. Doctors typically employ two minimally-invasive methods: sclerotherapy and radiofrequency ablation. These directly target the problem areas and are highly effective in taking the issue on. In the end, though, the best management of conditions like this occurs on multiple fronts, and it starts with being proactive. If you’re suffering with spider veins, don’t be afraid to seek help!
Offering comprehensive and highly-effective treatments for venous conditions like varicose and spider veins, the team at Hamilton Vein & Vascular sets an exceptional standard for care. At these Texas-based outpatient clinics, these experts employ an unparalleled patient-centric approach. Learn more about what they do by calling their Houston office at (281) 565-0033, the Austin location at (512) 710-1114, or San Antonio at (210) 405-4707 today!
- “The 7 Top Uses Of Witch Hazel – Holistic Health Herbalist”. 2014. Holistic Health Herbalist. Accessed November 17 2018. https://www.holistichealthherbalist.com/7-top-uses-witch-hazel/.
- “Witch Hazel | Frankel Cardiovascular Center | Michigan Medicine”. 2018. Org. Accessed November 17 2018. https://www.umcvc.org/health-library/hn-2186007.
- “Horse Chestnut: Uses, Side Effects, Interactions, Dosage, And Warning”. 2018. Com. https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-1055/horse-chestnut.
- Pittler, Max H., and Edzard Ernst. 1998. “Horse-Chestnut Seed Extract For Chronic Venous Insufficiency”. Archives Of Dermatology134 (11). American Medical Association (AMA). doi:10.1001/archderm.134.11.1356.
- Underland, Vigdis, Ingvil Sæterdal, and Elin Strømme Nilsen. 2012. “Cochrane Summary Of Findings: Horse Chestnut Seed Extract For Chronic Venous Insufficiency”. Global Advances In Health And Medicine1 (1): 122-123. SAGE Publications. doi:10.7453/gahmj.2012.1.1.018.
- “Apple Cider Vinegar For Varicose Veins: Yes Or No? – Varicoseveins.Org”. 2015. Org. Accessed November 17 2018. https://varicoseveins.org/blog/2015/08/apple-cider-vinegar-for-varicose-veins-yes-or-no/.
- Atik, Derya, Cem Atik, and Celalettin Karatepe. 2016. “The Effect Of External Apple Vinegar Application On Varicosity Symptoms, Pain, And Social Appearance Anxiety: A Randomized Controlled Trial”. Evidence-Based Complementary And Alternative Medicine2016: 1-8. Hindawi Limited. doi:10.1155/2016/6473678.