Rutin to Boost Blow Blood Flow?

My elderly father has been diagnosed with vascular insufficiency in both legs. Due to other health conditions and his age, he is not a candidate for surgery. Can you tell me whether he would benefit from rutin? And, if so, what dosage would you recommend?

– March 23, 2010

Vascular insufficiency means that not enough blood is getting to certain body parts, in this case the legs, because of a blockage that has obstructed or narrowed blood vessel walls.

Rutin is a bioflavonoid found in buckwheat bran as well as in citrus fruits, black tea and apple peel. It is known to help reduce cholesterol, lower blood pressure and maintain the strength and flexibility of capillaries, the smallest and most delicate of the body’s blood vessels.

I asked Tieraona Low Dog, M.D., an internationally recognized expert in the fields of integrative medicine, dietary supplements and women’s health, and an authority on botanical medicine, about the usefulness of isolated rutin for the treatment of vascular insufficiency. She told me that while rutin is important for the structural integrity and strength of capillaries, you might consider two other supplements that have more compelling evidence in the treatment of vascular insufficiency: horse chestnut extract (Aesculus hippocastanum) and Pycnogenol, a potent, proprietary antioxidant made from the bark of pine trees. Among its components are proanthocyanidins, red pigments (also found in blueberries and grapes) that aid in strengthening capillaries, arteries and veins. Dr. Low Dog said both of these supplements are safe and effective when used appropriately.

She said that that horse chestnut extract has been studied in multiple clinical trials and found to be very effective for vascular insufficiency. She recommends looking for extracts standardized to contain at least 20% triterpene glyosides (calculated as escin) from a reputable company. Dr. Low Dog commented that she often recommends Nature’s Way horse chestnut or Venastat (take as directed on package).

Pycnogenol has also been shown to help reduce capillary leakage and lower leg swelling, Dr. Low Dog said. The dose used in the clinical trials was 100 mg 2-3 times per day. If you want to try rutin, the typical dose is 500 mg per day.

Andrew Weil, M.D.

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