For many, varicose veins means having an uncomfortable and, sometimes, painful condition. Added to this discomfort, sufferers often feel extremely self-conscious about their condition too. Varicose veins are twisted, enlarged veins near the surface of the skin which generally develop in the legs and ankles. They affect up to 30 per cent of women and 20 per cent of men in the UK, and are caused by faulty valves in the veins. Normally, these valves ensure that blood flows efficiently against gravity up toward your heart.
However, if they are not functioning properly blood pools develop, resulting in a build up of pressure and a weakening of the venous walls. This condition is known as chronic venous insufficiency (CVI), and is often associated with the development of varicose veins.
Varicose veins can run in families, although pregnancy is a common cause, as is being overweight. Studies have shown that vein disorders are found seven times more frequently in sixty year olds than in twenty year olds so age is another risk factor. Prolonged sitting or standing, and lack of exercise also increase your chances of developing them. If you think you might be susceptible to varicose veins or have begun to notice them developing, then increasing your intake of antioxidants can help ease the symptoms and prevent them from getting worse. This is because antioxidant compounds in plants called flavonoids appear to promote venous strength and integrity.
One flavonoid-rich product in particular, which is based on the incredible therapeutic properties of red vine leaf extract, has been demonstrating beneficial effects for sufferers of vein disorders in study after study. Marketed as Antistax it comes in both capsule form and as a gel for topical application, and while it is still relatively new in the UK, it is an extremely popular treatment in Germany, Austria and Switzerland where it has been available for some years now.
Red vine leaf has a long history of use, particularly as a treatment for vein disorders
The use of red vine leaf for healing dates back to ancient times. Galen, a doctor in 2nd Century AD, employed it as a medicine and in medieval literature medical indications for the herb are also found. In many European countries, the leaves of the vine have long been used in folk medicine. Infusions and poultices were prepared from vine leaves for the relief of skin disorders, bleeding, rheumatic complaints, but above all vein problems of the lower limbs.
Although today the leaves of the red grape vine grow in many areas of the world, Antistax contains a unique red vine leaf extract called AS195, which is standardised to guarantee a consistent level of active botanical compounds. The flavonoid compounds in red vine leaf extract are mainly quercetin and isoquercetin. These antioxidants help protect, seal and stabilise the walls of blood vessels. This action is responsible for red vein leafs ability to improve blood circulation, reduce oedema and relieve pain and swelling. The flavonoids it contains also have potent anti-inflammatory properties.
Red vine leaf extract gets to work quickly to reduce swelling, pain and leg heaviness
Over the last few years a number of studies have been conducted to assess the effects of red vine leaf extract on chronic venous insufficiency, the results of which have been extremely promising. In one study, 39 patients suffering from chronic venous insufficiency were given 180mg of red vine leaf extract twice a day for six weeks. Just two weeks into the treatment programme the participants experienced a significant improvement in symptoms. These beneficial effects then increased over the remaining weeks, with patients reporting noticeable reductions in swelling, pain and leg heaviness.
In another six-week study, 65 patients with chronic venous insufficiency (ranging between 25 and 82 years of age) took 180mg of red vine leaf extract twice a day. At the end of the trial, all symptoms including tired, heavy legs; sensation of tension in the legs; tingling sensations in the legs; and leg pain were significantly improved. The researchers concluded that AS 195 film-coated tablets [the strain of red vine leaf used in Anstistax] can be considered effective and safe in patients with chronic venous insufficiency. A third study, conducted over 12 weeks and involving 260 patients, showed that there were significant improvements in symptoms of leg heaviness and swelling, tension sensation, tingling and pain, compared with those who had taken a placebo.
Antistax: What to take for best results
To reap the full benefits of Antistax take two capsules daily after breakfast. Its internal use can be complemented with Antistax Cooling Leg Gel (also based on red vine leaf), which is applied topically to relieve and refresh tired, heavy legs. The gel is ideal when used in the evening after a long, strenuous day or can be massaged in during the day when required. Antistax is safe for long-term use.
1. Maria Davies. Varicose Veins: Beating the Blues, Optimum Nutrition winter 06.
2. Monsieur R and Van Snick G. Efficacy of the red vine leaf extract AS 195 in Chronic Venous Insufficiency. Schweiz Rundsch Med Prax. 2006;95(6):187-90.
3. Schaefer E, Peil H and Ambrosetti L. Oedema protective properties of the red vine leaf extract AS 195 (Folia vitis viniferae) in the treatment of chronic venous insufficiency. A 6-week observational clinical trial. Arzneimittelforschung. 2003;53(4):243-6.
4. Kiesewetter H, Koscielny J, Kalus U, Vix JM, Peil H, Petrini O, van Toor BS, de Mey C. Efficacy of orally administered extract of red vine leaf AS 195 (folia vitis viniferae) in chronic venous insufficiency (stages I-II). A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. 2000;50(2):109-17.