Varicose vein treatment methods and procedures have improved rapidly over the last few decades. The best vein doctors, such as those at Metro Vein Centers, have to keep up with improvements and new procedures as an important part of their professional work. One of the primary ways they do this is by reading “scientific papers” in “scientific journals.” This is also called the “medical literature” and it describes in detail the findings of new research and also summarizes work that is being done in the field (review papers). Usually, these papers are “peer reviewed,” which means that fellow scientists in the same field critique and approve of the research before the work is actually formally published. In fact, some manuscripts are actually turned down by journals or changes are required before publication. The peer review process strengthens the value of varicose vein treatment papers.
If you are not a scientist or a doctor, reading through these varicose vein treatment papers may seem a bit dry and technical. They are not written like health articles in the popular press. Instead, they are written in a formal scholarly tone for an audience of peers. They are expected to be factual with no personal bias, opinion, or literary embellishment. They are supposed to be “objective” with no hint of personality or subjective values. However, this was not always the case, and in fact, has only been true for less than one hundred years!
If you read the old medical literature, you’ll find a very different tone and style of reporting scientific observations and results from experiments. Scientists and doctors were allowed to be “human” and describe what they were seeing in “human” terms, i.e. in more subjective terms. In fact, some of the papers in scientific publications as late as the early 1900s were written in an almost “poetic” way. The same is true if you go further back in the medical literature.
One of the best examples of this is when looking through the Ebers Papyrus, an ancient Egyptian medical text, written about 1550 B.C.E. In discussing varicose vein treatment, ancient Egyptian doctors referred to what we call varicose veins today as “serpentine windings.” How’s that for a poetic description of what they were observing!? We’d never see such a blatant poetic term for a medical condition in a scientific paper today. This descriptor almost makes varicose veins sound beautiful!
Of course, serpentine means having a winding, twisting, and sinuous pattern like that of a moving snake (a serpent). The word originated between 1350 and 1400 and also meant to have the evil characteristics of a serpent, so perhaps these ancient doctors had a double meaning in mind when they described varicose veins as serpentine windings, especially since “serpentine” is being used as an adjective to describe the noun “windings” which means something with a sinuous shape. At any rate, the use of the term “serpentine windings” to describe varicose veins was pure poetry back then and still is.
There seems to be several internet accounts of the word “varicose” being a Greek word for “grape.” However, if you delve into the etymology (word origin) or the word “varicose,” and it’s current usage in the Greek language, this does not seem to hold true. The word “varicose” is derived from the word “varix” and the suffix “-ose.” Varix is a word with its origins around 1350 to 1400. It meant swollen or abnormally enlarged. While this descriptor could be used to describe a grape that is about to burst from its delicious sweet nectar, it does not appear that “varix” or any derivative, including “varicose,” was ever used as a noun meaning grape in the Greek language. “Ose” means full of or given to so varicose means given to a state of being swollen.
Interestingly too, the word “grape” comes from the word “graper” which refers to a “hook” or “vine” that can grasp or hook the substrate. So, instead of the origin of the word grape being related to the swollen nature of the fruit, a very plump berry, it is related more to the vine-like nature of the entire grape plant and its clinging nature of how it grows along a substrate. Later on, the word “grape-like” referred more to what we see in a cluster of grape, rather than a single grape. Of course, a cluster of varicose veins can indeed sometimes be describe as appearing “grape-like” but many, if not most, varicose veins just look more like swollen veins, sometimes sinuous swollen veins as they become worse.
It is true that the famous Greek physician, Hippocrates of the Island of Cos, often dubbed the “father of modern medicine,” used the word “varicose” to describe varicose veins but this would have been the obvious adjective to use when looking at a swollen vein in his day. Other famous Greek doctors who followed Hippocrates, like Galen, also used the term varicose to describe swollen, twisted veins. Thus, this is likely how we ended up with the commonly used terms today of “varicose veins” and “varicose vein treatment.” However, for some people at least, it may seem more satisfying to use the more poetic term, “serpentine windings,” when referring to their own varicose veins. So, when you go in for your first examination at Metro Vein Centers, you may be tempted to say, “Hey Doc, can you check out my serpentine windings? They’re giving me as much trouble as a limbless evil reptile would be expended to do!”