December 1, 2013
By Christine Cheng (R.Ph), Fred Cheng (R.Ph)
Good circulation is essential for good health. Yet, millions of people around the world suffer from poor circulation without even knowing it. The “circulatory system” is made up of the pipes or VESSELS that carry blood throughout our body and the PUMP (ie. the heart) which creates the tidal flow of blood through these vessels. The purpose is to be able to get the necessary fuel and nutrients to various parts of the body, and take away any waste materials. There is always much focus on HEART health, but many of us neglect VESSEL health. Why is that important? Without free-flowing, healthy blood vessels, our blood will not reach parts of our body, meaning that those parts may suffer from lack of essential nutrients as well as lack of toxin removal. In the worst cases, the body parts not getting this attention actually can die away. Symptoms of poor circulation include swelling of the legs, cold hands and feet, varicose veins, and numbness, aching, and tiredness in feet. Get a proper diagnosis from your doctor. But read on to see how easy it is to maintain healthy vessels and circulation.
Many factors could minimize the flow of blood through vessels. These include a hardening of the vessels and/or a blockage of the vessels. This happens typically near and around the heart, as well as the limbs, and could be due to genetics, but frequently there is a lifestyle aspect. Those people who do not exercise or lead otherwise sedentary lifestyles (eg. due to injury or disease) are at highest risk of vessel damage, along with those who have a poor diet consisting of high fats and sugars. Be as active as you can be. Short walks in the day, or even exercises while sitting, such as rolling your ankles, elbows, fingers, toes, etc., could aid in circulation. Graduated compression socks and stockings, circulation-stimulating machines, and supplements can really keep things moving, literally.
A true graduated compression stocking/sock is made of specialized fibres that offer more compression (or pressure) around the ankle and gradually less as you move up the leg. This helps maintain bloodflow back to your heart. If you are on your feet a lot, sitting a lot, or taking a trip on an airplane, then you need these stockings. They are meant to be worn every day. They help blood flow back to your heart rather than just remain stationary, eg., stuck in your ankles and calves. (If you are bed-ridden, then a completely different type of compression stocking called the T.E.D. STOCKING is what you need.) There are many fitments and styles for women and men. Be aware, though, that they are not all made equally; specialized brands such as BAUERFEIND are much better made, albeit at a higher cost. It is best to have them sized specifically for you by a CERTIFIED STOCKING FITTER, of which there are 5 at CLOVERDALE PHARMASAVE. A good quality pair will hold its compression for 6 months, and they need to be refitted every time you order new ones since the circumference of your legs will change with continued therapy. If it is difficult for you to put them on yourself, there are various aids to make things easier. Also, a lower compression sock may offer similar benefits while being much easier to put on. Check with a doctor or pharmacist who understands compression stockings to see what is best for you.
The latest generation of CIRCULATION BOOSTER (“REVITIVE IX”) by REVITIVE incorporates a new IsoRocker and WidePulse waveforms. The IsoRocker at the bottom of the device is intended to allow your ankles to mimic a rocking of the joint. The WidePulse waveforms allow a more realistic, comfortable stimulation. The BOOSTER sends mild electrical pulses through your lower legs and/or arms to cause muscle contractions which help pump blood back to the heart, reducing swelling, and soothing the muscles and nerves (numbness). Using it 20-30 minutes a day could really make a difference.
Part 1 of this article in the March issue of Today’s Senior discussed many supplements that benefit circulation. These include HERBALS such as VEINSMART by Lorna Vanderhaeghe, WOBENZYM N, OMEGA-FATTY ACIDS, and OXYGENICS by Metagenics, as well as HOMEOPATHICS such as AESCULUS COMPOSITUM, VENOFLUID and VARICOSE VEIN CREAM or OINTMENT. Refer to that article for details.
Moral of the story? Not that you have been bad boys and girls, but do not hang up your stockings this year. We are talking compression stockings. Be sure to wear them as much as possible to maintain good circulation. If you have been extra good, maybe Santa will bring you a Circulation Booster for Christmas, and maybe some supplements as well. If your legs are already swollen or if you have a bloodclot, check with your DOCTOR before seeing a CERTIFIED STOCKING FITTER.
Christine and Fred Cheng are a passionate, charismatic sister-brother pharmacist team at their unique family-owned and operated Pharmasave in Cloverdale, BC. Their pharmacy celebrated its 30-Year Birthday this year. They specialize in natural remedies and compounding for both human and veterinarian use. They would love to hear from you! 604-576-2888; www.cloverdalepharmasave.com. Of course, before you begin any activity program or try any OTC supplementation, check with your physician and pharmacist.