In this photo taken Friday, Aug. 3, 2018, Philippe Hujoel, a dentist and University of Washington professor, holds a toothbrush and toothpaste in an office at the school in Seattle. Dental health experts worry that more people are using toothpaste that skips the most important ingredient - the fluoride - and leaves them at a greater risk of cavities. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Toothpaste and onions? Supposed varicose cure is all in vain

AAP FactCheck January 21, 2021

The Statement

A Facebook user in Fiji has posted a claimed cure for varicose veins.

“How to Get Rid of Varicose Vein,” the January 9 post states, listing the ingredients to be used as: “Colgate toothpaste (1 spoon), onions, Vaseline (1 spoon), honey (1 spoon) and cinnamon powder (1 spoon).”

“Mix all the ingredients together and apply on the affected vein,” the post continues. “Massage the veins and allow to stay on the skin for 1 hour before you wash off. Repeat after 3 days.”

At the time of publication, the post has been shared more than 200 times and more than 15,000 views.

A Facebook post
 A post lists ingredients such as toothpaste, onions and Vaseline as cure for varicose veins. 

The Analysis

The post’s makeshift remedy for treating varicose veins has no scientific basis, medical experts told AAP FactCheck. Anyone wanting to treat the condition is advised to speak to a doctor.

The claimed treatment has been shared by multiple Facebook pages, including in Ghana, Nigeria and Zambia.

Varicose veins are enlarged and swollen veins most commonly found in people’s legs and feet. They occur when surface veins have trouble sending blood up to the heart from the feet and legs, leading to enlarged purple clusters visible under the skin.

For many people, varicose veins are only a cosmetic issue, but for some they can cause pain or discomfort and occasionally lead to more serious health problems.

University of Otago professor Andre van Rij, a vascular surgeon who heads the university’s Vascular Research Group, told AAP FactCheck via email the post’s mixture of ingredients are not recognised as a treatment.

He said the ingredients may cause a skin irritation for some people, especially if applied frequently.

Dr Giri Mahadevan, an Auckland-based vascular surgeon based who specialises in the treatment of varicose veins, told AAP FactCheck: “There are no creams/lotions that have been scientifically proven to work from proper trials that have been published in reputable journals.”

When asked whether the purported remedy could be dangerous, Dr Mahadevan said via email: “I ┬ácan’t see how it would be harmful as it is only applied to the skin and not taken. It could be harmful if you apply to an ulcer from varicose veins.”

Treatments recommended for varicose veins range from lifestyle changes and compression therapy to medication and surgery, according to the US National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

Prof van Rij said treatment depends on the “type, extent, and severity of the varicose veins and the effects on the skin”.

“Best to consult a physician with expertise in care of venous disease.”

Dr Mahadevan agreed, telling AAP FactCheck: “They should see their general practitioner/family doctor first. After assessment and discussion they may be referred (to) a specialist.”

The same purported treatment for varicose veins has been debunked in Africa.

A dentist holds a toothbrush and toothpaste
The post’s ingredients, which include toothpaste, aren’t a treatment for varicose veins, experts say.

The Verdict

The purported varicose veins remedy in the Facebook post has no scientific or clinical basis as a treatment, experts told AAP FactCheck. They recommended that people see a doctor for assessment if they have concerns about varicose veins.

False – Content that has no basis in fact.

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