Witch hazel is a popular home remedy for managing varicose veins. Though it’s generally safe, there’s not much research to support the use of witch hazel on varicose veins.

Witch hazel has been used medicinally for centuries to help with various conditions. It remains a popular option for managing varicose veins when taken orally or applied topically.

It’s thought that witch hazel may improve circulation and strengthen venous connective tissue, both of which could be beneficial for varicose veins. However, there isn’t much research to back up these claims.

Here’s a close look at what the research says about witch hazel for varicose veins, whether it’s worth trying and other home remedies to consider.

The idea that witch hazel can help varicose veins stems from witch hazel being an astringent, which are substances that cause body tissues to shrink. It’s thought that witch hazel may shrink blood vessels, making varicose veins less visible. But the evidence behind witch hazel’s potential effects on varicose veins is very limited.

In a 2020 study of 32 people, the author concluded that witch hazel taken orally twice daily for 2 months seemed to relieve some symptoms of varicose veins.

However, the Doppler ultrasound, which is used to estimate blood flow in the veins, did not reveal any actual improvements. The author suggests this may be due to the relatively short duration of the study.

Keep in mind that this was a very small experimental study with no control group. While the findings might encourage future research, they shouldn’t be taken as proof that witch hazel is an effective remedy for varicose veins.

While it’s unclear if witch hazel actually helps with varicose veins, it’s generally safe for most people to try.

However, some people — particularly those with skin conditions like psoriasis or eczema — may want to be especially careful about witch hazel’s potentially drying properties if using it topically.

Even if you don’t have sensitive skin, consider doing a patch test first by applying a pea-sized amount to an area of your skin and waiting 24 hours to see how your skin responds.

To reduce your risk of irritation, consider looking for a product that doesn’t contain any alcohol, which can make witch hazel extra drying.

Oral witch hazel supplements may cause an upset stomach or nausea in some people. Be sure to stick with the manufacturer’s dosage guidelines to reduce your risk of side effects or complications.

According to a 2016 review, certain herbal remedies may also improve vein health, including:

  • Rutosides: The bioflavonoid rutin is found in many plants like apples, citrus fruits, buckwheat, St. John’s wort, and Ginkgo Biloba. It has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antidiabetic qualities. It may help strengthen blood vessels, preventing them from turning into varicose veins. It’s sometimes taken as a dietary supplement to help treat spider and varicose veins.
  • Centella asiatica: Known as Gotu kola, this native Asian plant has been shown to strengthen weakened vein valves that can lead to venous insufficiency or varicose veins. It can be applied topically or taken orally in pill form.
  • Grape seed extract: Grape seed extract is made from the seeds of wine grapes and is often used as a dietary supplement for venous insufficiency. It could benefit vein health due to its high quantities of vitamin E, flavonoids and other beneficial compounds.

As with witch hazel, further research is needed before concluding that any of these herbal treatments can treat varicose veins.

Other things you can do at home to manage varicose veins include:

  • getting regular exercise to improve blood flow
  • elevating your legs when sitting or lying down to prevent blood from pooling
  • wearing compression socks to manage swelling and ease discomfort
  • eating a balanced diet with plenty of fiber to support blood circulation
  • maintaining a moderate void to reduce pressure on your veins
  • avoiding smoking to improve circulation

While home treatments won’t cause existing varicose veins to disappear, they can ease discomfort and reduce your risk of developing additional varicose veins.

Learn about professional varicose vein removal.

Witch hazel is a popular home remedy for varicose veins, but limited evidence supports its potential benefits. But it’s generally safe for most people if you want to try it. Just be sure to go with a quality product and do a patch test if you have sensitive skin.