When exposed to cold, the blood vessels in the fingers, hands, toes, and feet constrict to prevent heat loss. The blood vessels quickly dilate once they are in a warmer temperature. In Raynaud’s disease, however, the blood vessels stay constricted for up to an hour, cutting off blood to the area and causing abnormally cold hands and/or feet.
One in 20 Americans have Raynaud’s disease, with women being five times more likely than men to be affected. The condition usually appears during one’s 20s or early 30s. Medical professionals do not consider Raynaud’s to be a disease but merely a nuisance for the sufferer. Due to the reduced flow of nutrient-rich blood, Raynaud’s does weaken the skin in affected areas, leaving it prone to cuts, chafes, and bruises, and slowing the healing process. In some individuals, Raynaud’s is associated with an underlying condition, such as systemic lupus or rheumatoid arthritis.
Signs and Symptoms
- Hands, fingers, feet and/or toes turn white upon exposure to cold, accompanied by stinging and pain
- Skin may turn blue or red before it recovers
Some methods to get rid of Raynaud’s Syndrome
Conventional Medical Treatment
To diagnose your condition, your physician may place your hands and/or feet into a basin of cold water and observe the response. Treatment usually consists of insulating the affected extremities against cold temperatures using socks and/or gloves. In severe cases, calcium channel antagonists (or blockers) may be used to dilate blood vessels and encourage circulation to the extremities.
Complementary and Alternative Treatments
Nutrition and Supplementation
Eat a balanced diet composed of 50 percent raw foods. Avoid fatty and fried foods when possible. Caffeine and nicotine constricts the blood vessels and should be avoided, if not eliminated.
Nutritionists recommend the following daily supplements:
- coenzyme – improves tissue oxygenation
- vitamin E (start with 200 IU and slowly increase to 1000 IU) – improves circulation; acts as an anticoagulant
- calcium (1500 mg at bedtime) – protects arteries from stress caused by sudden blood pressure changes
- magnesium (750 mg) – works with calcium
- lecithin (1200 mg 3 times daily, with meals) lowers blood lipid levels
- chlorophyll (as directed on label) – enhances blood flow
- dimethylglycine (1 tablet 3 times daily) – improves tissue oxygenation
- vitamin B complex (100 mg) – necessary for metabolism of fat and cholesterol
- flaxseed oil (1000 mg) – helps prevent hardening of the arteries
Ginger tea may help improve circulation. To prepare, steep 1 teaspoon grated ginger root in 1 cup boiling water for 10 minutes; strain. Drink as needed.
Raynaud’s syndrome may respond to homeopathic treatment. However, the, selection of a remedy-more than one is available-depends on your symptoms and the stage of the condition. Don’t try treating this disorder yourself. See a homeopathic professional.
Traditional Chinese Medicine
Acupuncture can be extremely effective in improving circulation, which may lessen constriction of the blood vessels affected by Raynaud’s Disease. The practitioner may focus on these points: Small Intestine, Heart, Lung, Pericardium and the points that lie between the fingers them~ selves. In most cases, a hot water bottle also is very helpful.
Acupressure A practitioner may be able to alleviate cold or numbness by manipulating the fingers themselves, as well as circulation-enhancing points along various upper body meridians.
Chinese Herbal Therapy Ginger, angelica pubescens (yellow), and salvia may be used in formulas to remedy this condition. Cinnamon is often prescribed as a Chinese herb for Raynaud’s disease; it works by increasing circulation to invigorate numb extremities. This requires long-term treatment and a herb-trained acupuncturist to do it right.