Varicose veins, OPCs and Summertime

Masquelier’s OPCs may provide comfort for people with varisoce veins during periods of warm weather.
  • The gist of this article

While most people welcome and enjoy the warm days of summertime, people suffering from varicose veins tend to have a different opinion. Warmth will increase blood flow and make the veins widen as the body seeks to maintain a constant temperature by bringing blood to the surface of the skin where it can release its excess of heat. While this is a perfectly normal and healthy reaction, it will be unpleasant if you suffer from varicose veins. The veins, which are already visibly swollen and distended, will bulge even more. The varicoses may become more unsightly and sometimes even painful. Even if you don’t have visible varicoses, the ankles and feet may swell during hot weather.

The therapeutic history of OPCs actually began when, at the beginning of his scientific career during the late 1940s, Jack Masquelier recommended the first OPCs that he had isolated in his University laboratory to the wife of his tutor Francis Tayeau. She was pregnant and suffered from swollen veins and edema in the legs. Having taken Masquelier’s OPCs, she felt immediate relief and the edema in her legs receded within 48 hours. During the decades that followed, especially in France, OPCs were primarily researched and marketed as vasoprotective remedies. Vascular problems such as varicose veins manifest themselves mainly as the result of poor circulation in the legs. This complex of symptoms is classified in terms of veinous insufficiency.

Of all the venous problems, varicose veins are by far the most common ones. They afflict men and women. In addition to their deformations of structure, most people complain about functional problems such as pain, swelling, itching, restlessness, and cramps that, in many cases, may also cause insomnia. As demonstrated in various clinical studies, all these functional problems are favorably influenced by OPCs. Although OPCs cannot make seriously deformed varicose veins disappear, they can decrease the extent to which they occur, often reducing the accompanying swelling. In the case of surgical removal of varicose veins, OPCs are a very useful means to support recovery.

The circulatory system has the task of channeling blood and lymph through the entire organism, allowing the transportation, delivery, and pick-up of all the substances we need and need to get rid of. It is a matter of pumping and keeping everything flowing while controlling volume and allowing particles to leave and enter the system. The entire structure and all the functions of this system are aligned and completely focused on one goal: transportation. The arteries and their small terminal branches, the arterioles, transport the blood to the cells to provide them with everything they require for life. A healthy arterial system flexibly responds to the differences in volume so that blood pressure does not fluctuate too much.

The veins contain valves that regulate the flow of blood in the direction of the heart and to the places of cleansing, such as the liver and the kidneys. They also fulfill the functions of storage and temperature regulation. Owing to their structure, veins are able to perform only a very limited degree of contraction and expansion, but their tone contributes significantly to regulating the mass of blood. Varicose veins are mostly caused because the valves have deteriorated and are no longer functioning properly. They don’t fully “close” any more to stop blood from flowing backwards and the veins distend under the increased volume of blood. Varicosis is commonly attributed to factors such as pregnancy, obesity, aging and prolonged standing or immobility. Normally, varicose veins arise in the legs or feet just below the surface layer of the skin,

Due to its beneficial effect on many aspects of the circulatory system, the history of OPCs is marked by studies performed in the field of vascular protection. Unsurprisingly, several of these clinical studies studies included patients suffering from varicosis.

* In 1980, 78 patients with serious venous problems in the legs tested the effect of OPCs by taking 3 x 50 mg per day. The researchers who observed the subjects described the results as favorable. In 22 patients, the efects were qualified as “very good”, in 32 patients as “good”, in 21 subjects as “average” and in 3 as “no result”. ([i])

* In 1981, the effectiveness of OPCs with regard to functional venous problems in the legs was tested in patients who didn’t have deformed veins but who suffered nevertheless from functional symptoms. The OPCs were tested by comparing them to an inert placebo and subsequently to herbal remedy (Diosmine / bioflavonoids). In both cases, it appeared that the recommended daily dosage of 150 mg OPCs diminished the functional problems that can arise during impaired venous backflow: heavy legs, cramps, and swelling. The researchers pointed out the importance of recognizing these functional problems and treating them even before the varicose veins become visible. ([ii])

* In 1981, OPCs were once again tested on 50 patients with functional venous disorders (chronic venous insufficiency). Also in this test, OPCs were compared to Diosmine. All functional symptoms appeared to have improved after 30 days following the intake of the recommended daily dosage of 150 mg OPCs. Both remedies appeared to be effective, but the researchers noted a significant advantage with OPCs in terms of speed and the duration of its effectiveness. ([iii])

* Venous insufficiency was again tested (in 1985) on 92 patients who took 300 mg of OPCs per day. This test also concerned functional disorders such as heavy legs, itching, nighttime cramps, and (subjective) edema. After four weeks, the treatment turned out to be successful for 75 percent of the patients. ([iv])

In a previous article, I discussed the relevancy of OPCs during the summertime, when we are over-exposed to sunshine. Solar radiation produces free radicals when it “hits” the skin. While a normal dosis of sunshine is absolutely vital for the production of vitamin D in your skin, excessive exposure to the sun ‒ long hours on the holiday beach ‒ results in inflammation, collagen destruction, and acceleration of the skin’s aging process. Undeniably, antioxidant protection of the skin by way of creams, lotions and by eating plenty of foods and food supplements high in antioxidants (OPCs) will help inhibit its premature aging due to overexposure to sunlight. In addition to this, those of us who suffer from varicosis may very well benefit from taking OPCs because they are perfectly suited to mitigate the effect of a hot summer’s day on their varicose veins.

[i] Essai thérapeutique d’un angioprotecteur périférique, l’Endotelon. C. Beylot et P. Bioulac. Gaz. Med. de France - 87, no 22 du 13-6-1980.
[ii] Abord Thérapeutique des troubles fonctionnels des membres inférieurs par un microangioprotecteur /  l’Endotelon. L. Sarrat. Bordeaux Méd 1981; 11: 685-8.
[iii] Étude en double aveugle de l’Endotelon dans l’insuffisance veineuse chronique. P. Delacroix. La Revue de Médicine no 27-28-31 aout - 7 sept. 1981.
[iv] Étude de l’Endotelon dans les manifestations fonctionelles de l’insuffisance veineuse périférique. Résultats d’une étude en double aveugle portant sur 92 patients. J.F. Thébaut, P. Thébaut et F. Vin. Gazette Médicale 1985, 92, no 12.