Acupuncture Continuing Education

Acupuncture Varicose Vein Relief Results

acupuncture gb41 zulinqi

Acupuncture is effective for relieving varicose veins in the lower extremities. In a recent clinical trial, researchers at the Beijing Gulou Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine found that an integrated protocol including acupuncture in addition to pharmaceutical treatment had better patient outcomes than pharmaceutical treatment alone. [1]

A VCSS score was employed to measure the efficacy of the treatment in this study. Items in this scoring system included level of pain, varicose veins, fatigue of the lower extremities, swelling, and edema. After completion of the trial, the figures for the above items showed a more marked drop in the integrated treatment group, indicating the addition of acupuncture was effective. The sum of all five figures in this group decreased from 10.39 ±2.55 to 0.66 ±1.33, while the figures for the pharmaceutical only monotherapy treatment group decreased from 10.57 ±2.10 to 6.56 ±2.67.

A total of 90 varicose vein patients were admitted into the study. The patients were randomized into a pharmaceutical treatment group and a pharmaceutical plus acupuncture group, with 45 cases in each group. Three patients left the study, and 87 remained. For the pharmaceutical treatment group, age range was 36 to 68 years, with a mean age of 55 years. Course of condition ranged from 2 to 33 years, and mean course of condition was 10 years.

For the acupuncture group, age range was 32 to 73 years, with a mean age of 58 years. Course of condition ranged from 0.5 to 30 years, and mean course of condition was 5 years. Patients usually had a history of prolonged standing time and elevated abdominal pressure, or a family history of varicose veins. The veins in the patients’ lower limbs presented a dark purplish color. Patients also complained about heaviness and tiredness in the legs after a day of work, and swelling of the ankles, feet, and lower legs in the late afternoon. Ulcer and bleeding might occur. Doppler ultrasonography showed venous hemodynamic reflux.

Based on the CEAP classification system, condition severity was divided into six categories, with C1 indicating presence of reticular veins, and C6 indicating active lower extremity ulcers. Both groups underwent two weeks of treatment. Patients avoided excessive walking and standing and attempted to stay warm. When resting, affected limbs were slightly elevated. Spicy and sweet food, as well as alcohol, were prohibited.

For the pharmaceutical treatment group, Aescuven, a plant-based medicine that boosts necessary tension or tone in debilitated vein walls, was prescribed. The medicine was taken after meals at various doses. For C1 patients, one pill was taken daily. C2 and C3 patients took one pill twice daily, and C4 to C6 patients took two pills twice daily. The acupuncture group was given both Aescuven and needling treatment. Filiform needles (0.3 mm × 40 mm) were used in the procedure. Patients laid in a supine position while needles were inserted on the following points:

  • KD3 (Taixi)
  • GB41 (Zulinqi)
  • SP9 (Yinlingquan)
  • GB34 (Yanglingquan)
  • ST36 (Zusanli)
  • ST40 (Fenglong)
  • GB39 (Juegu)

For Taixi, Zusanli, Yanglingquan, a thrusting and twisting reinforcing manipulation was used. Needles were removed after deqi. For the rest of the points, a mild reinforcing-attenuating manipulation was applied. Needles were removed after a numbing sensation was obtained. The results show that the addition of acupuncture in treating lower extremity varicose veins is successful.


[1] Li Zheng, Li Liang, Wang Zhao, Zhang Shaojie, Treating Varicose Vein of the Lower Extremities with Acupuncture, Chinese Community Doctors, 2020, Volume 36, Issue 12.


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