News & Perspectives

Acupuncture May Relieve Varicose Veins

What the Study Showed
How It Was Done
Why It's Important

What the Study Showed
According to a 1999 case report published in the American Journal of Acupuncture, the ancient, traditional Chinese therapy known as acupuncture may have a role to play in treating varicose veins. Although findings are still very preliminary, a 10-week treatment of symptomatic varicose veins in a middle-aged white male proved to be effective as well as safe.

How It Was Done
A 52 year old white family counselor in Alaska with a long history of varicose veins in the lower legs and ankles underwent 10 sessions of acupuncture. The sessions were spread out over a period of two and a half months.

The patient's varicose veins had caused feelings of heaviness in his lower legs, ankles, and feet--all common symptoms of this condition. Deep, aching leg pain was only relieved by elevating the legs.

According to the author, the goal of the acupuncture treatment was (in the parlance of traditional Chinese medicine) to nourish the spleen, move the blood, calm the heart and liver and initiate other important shifts in the body.

The practitioner used standard-sized, painless acupuncture needles. They were inserted into various "acupoints" as well as around the affected veins. The treatment was successful, leading to a resolution of symptoms for 11 months of follow-up.

Why It's Important
Traditional western medicine provides a number of treatments for varicose veins, ranging from surgery for the most severe cases to specially designed stockings to help prevent the worsening of milder cases.

This case report is unusual in that traditional Chinese medicine does not typically diagnose or treat varicose veins with acupuncture. In fact, according to the study author, this represents the first time that acupuncture has been described in the treatment of varicose veins, a chronic and irritating condition.

Given that millions of people worldwide suffer from varicose veins, new avenues of non-invasive treatment such as this are welcome indeed. More research, with larger numbers of people, is clearly needed.

Source: Bodenheim R. Case Report: Successful Treatment of Varicose Veins with Acupuncture.
Am J Acupunct 1999;27:23-25.

Date Published: 06/26/2001
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