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The Afternoon Show
The Afternoon ShowRTÉ One, Weekdays, 4.00pm

Monday, 27 April 2009

Today we're looking at the circulatory system and in particular, vein related ailments. Jan will be speaking about two ailments, varicose veins and hemorrhoids.

Statistics show that over half of us will suffer from either varicose veins or hemorrhoids in our lifetime. They can also be a source of embarrassment for many people so we're hoping to help ease their ailment.

Jan De Vries, World Renowned Naturopath

Varicose Veins

What causes varicose veins?
Those bulging blue rivers and tiny red tributaries that course up and down your legs (and sometimes your arms) are blood vessels that have become swollen and twisted. (The word "varicose" is derived from the Greek for "grapelike.") Normally these veins, which are near the skin's surface, carry blood from your feet and hands back to your heart. Whenever you move your limbs, muscle contractions squeeze the veins and propel the blood upward toward your heart; one-way valves in the veins prevent it from flowing back down. But if you've inherited a tendency to develop varicose veins, your vein walls and valves may start to weaken as you age, a trend that allows blood to pool in the veins and causes them to balloon out against the skin. The problem is compounded if you sit or stand still for long periods, wear tight clothing, or carry a lot of excess weight, all of which can hamper circulation. In some people, these veins are merely unsightly. Others may suffer itching, cramping, or fatigue. Symptoms may worsen just before your period or while you're on birth-control pills or hormone-replacement therapy, since hormonal changes cause blood-vessel walls to relax.

Who gets them?
Over half of all women and more than a quarter of all men will develop varicose veins as they age, particularly if their parents did. Almost all women get some during pregnancy, when increased blood volume and the weight of the growing foetus put pressure on leg veins and a surge in the hormone progesterone makes vessel walls more elastic. Fortunately, swollen veins usually go back to normal once the baby is born.


Jans Advice
Do not make the mistake of writing off varicose veins as aesthetic flaw because their unsightliness is just one aspect of this condition; it can be an extremely bothersome and painful ailment.

Moreover, if these veins bulge significantly, even a minor injury could result in excessive and dangerous bleeding. In the early stages, a sufferer may be aware of frequent dull ache in the legs, or restlessness in bed, or the circulation not functioning efficiently.

Other indications would be cramp during the night, irregular pigmentation of the skin, ulceration, a tender feeling or an oedema. Sometimes, these symptoms occur before or during menstruation. It is also a problem that tends to affect pregnant women and the elderly.

Dietary advice:
Avoid pork (including sausages, bacon, ham and gammon), rhubarb, spices, alcohol and chocolates. Reduce the daily intake of coffee and tea, eat plenty of raw and cooked vegetables and, if possible, a salad every day. Include plenty of fibre, fruits, honey, cottage cheese, brown rice and yoghurt.


What are hemorrhoids?
Haemorrhoids, also known as piles, are enlarged and swollen blood vessels in or around the lower rectum and back passage (anus). When the pressure inside these blood vessels is increased, they swell and form small lumps. Increased pressure is often caused by straining when trying to pass a stool. Haemorrhoids often begin with an itchy feeling around the anus, but can become painful and lead to bleeding. The condition is not very serious and can be successfully treated.

Who gets them?
Anyone at any age can be affected by haemorrhoids. They are very common, with about 50% of people experiencing them at some time in their life. However, they are usually more common in elderly people and during pregnancy.

Types of haemorrhoids
Haemorrhoids vary in size and can occur internally (inside) or externally (outside) the anus. Internal haemorrhoids develop in the back passage, 2-4cm above the rim (opening) of the anus. External haemorrhoids (perianal haematoma) are less common, and develop on the outside edge of the anus.


Jans Advice
Haemorrhoids occur when there is a weakness in the venous circulation. The blood pushes itself upwards through the veins and where the circulation is disturbed, the resulting pressure causes the weaker areas of the veins and arteries to bulge, causing varicose veins and haemorrhoids. Those who stand or sit for long periods of time are susceptible to such problems.

When the blood from the legs return to the heart and lungs to gather more oxygen, the weight contracts the muscles and weaker areas in the arteries and veins come under undue pressure. As we get older, the veins also lose their elasticity. This is why overweight people and pregnant women are prone to varicose veins and haemorrhoids.

Dietary advice
Avoid pork (including sausages, bacon, ham and gammon), rhubarb, spices, alcohol and chocolates. Reduce the daily intake of coffee and tea, eat plenty of raw and cooked vegetables and, if possible, a salad every day. Include plenty of fibre, fruits, honey, cottage cheese, brown rice and yoghurt.


. Aesculus Hipp, €10.50
. Urticalcin, €5.90
. St John's Wort Oil, €9.50
. Chamomile Ointment, €7.50

Cold Dip Bath
There can be tremendous help from the Cold Dip Bath, which is an old Indian Method.

. Before going to bed put your feet in ice cold water for a few moments
. Take out of the bath
. Put your feet on a towel
. Put your feet back in again
. Do this 3 times.

This is of great help for Varicose Veins, and Hemorrhoid problems. This is in old method with very little cost. However one needs to get used to the very cold water.

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