Ginkgo biloba. Photo: Thinkstock
Used for thousands of years in traditional Chinese medicine, ginkgo biloba improves circulation to the brain, heart and extremities. It can be recommended for varicose veins, haemorrhoids and poor circulation to the hands and feet. Ginkgo is also helpful for treating dizziness and tinnitus (ringing in the ears). Use an extract standardised to contain a guaranteed percentage of the active ingredients, flavone glycosides and terpene lactone. The usual dose is two to four 60 mg tablets daily.
Warning: don’t take ginkgo if you are also taking a blood-thinning prescribed medication such as warfarin (Coumadin).
Butcher’s broom is approved by Germany’s Commission E for treating haemorrhoids. It is also used in the treatment of varicose veins. Look for capsules, ointments or suppositories standardised to contain a guaranteed percentage of ruscogenins.
This herb increases the strength of veins, which makes it a good choice for varicose veins and haemorrhoids. A typical dose is 300 mg twice a day of an extract standardised to contain a guaranteed percentage of aescin.
This Indian herb has proved helpful against varicose veins, probably because it boosts blood circulation. It also appears to strengthen cells in the walls of blood vessels. The usual dose is 200 mg of standardised extract three times a day.
Before you start taking any herb, be sure you understand what it’s for, how much to take and whether it’s safe for you to use. Check with your doctor to make sure it won’t interact with any medications you take. Here are a few more tips:
• Unless you’re an expert herbalist, don’t pick herbs in the wild. You could easily mistake a useless or even dangerous herb for one that’s helpful. Moreover, fresh herbs are much less potent than dried ones.
• You may have to take some herbs for days, if not weeks, to feel their effects. Never exceed the maximum recommended dose in the hope of getting faster results.
• Stop using the herb if you experience an upset stomach, diarrhoea, headache, skin rash, hives or other unpleasant symptom within two hours of taking it.
• If you’ve taken a herb for the recommended time and you haven’t noticed any improvement, stop taking it and consult your doctor.
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