Raynaud's Disease

What Is Raynaud's Disease

Raynaud's Disease occurs when blood vessels in the fingers and toes (occasionally the ears and nose) temporarily overreact to low cold temperatures or stress.  As a result, fingers and toes can can feel numb or extremely cold.  Primary Raynaud's occurs without any underlying condition and they symptoms are mild, whereas Secondary Raynaud's (Raynaud's Phenomenon) is typically caused by another illness.  The condition tends to be one that attacks the body's connective tissues, which could by rheumatoid arthritis or lupus.  Women are much more likely to experience Raynaud's Disease than men are, and it commonly affects people who live in colder climates. 

Signs Of Raynaud's Disease

The most common symptom of Raynaud's disease is having the fingers and toes feel cold, but that cold or numb sensation can be accompanied by a whitish discoloration.  This is because blood vessels, which carry blood to the extremities become blocked.  Other common symptoms include:

  • Numb or prickly pain (once you apply warmth or relieve stress)
  • Color changes in skin (in response to cold or stress)
  • Decreased circulation in the extremities
  • Cold or numb nose or ears
What Causes Raynaud's Disease

Doctors don't entirely understand what causes Raynaud's attacks.  When the body is cold, though, it conserves heat to regulate internal core temperature.  Unfortunately, one way it does that is by restricting or slowing down blood flow to the farthest points of the body, e.g. the hands and feet.  The arteries in the fingers and toes enter what is known as a vasospasm when exposed to cold or stress.  This limits blood supply temporarily, and it can limit blood supply to those smaller arteries over time if this keeps happening.  Other possible causes can include: 

  • Connective tissue diseases
  • Repetitive action or vibration
  • Smoking (this constricts blood vessels)
  • Arterial diseases
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Injuries in the hands and feet
  • Certain medications (including beta blockers, migraine medications, ADHD medications, or chemotherapy)

Dherbs Approach...adjusting your diet is always key!

Natural Remedies
  • Avoiding cold temperatures is one of the best ways to keep Raynaud's attacks at bay.  Research has shown that proper body insulation is a very important lifestyle modification for people with Raynaud's Disease.  This means that you may have to wear extra layers and always cover your hands and feet when going outside, especially if it is cold.  Wear warm shoes and gloves and consider getting hand or foot warmers to place in your gloves or shoes.  
  • It can be beneficial to try acupuncture to help reduce pain or inflammation that can occur in the extremities in people with Raynaud's.  One study that consisted of 33 patients with Raynaud's Disease found that acupuncture helped to reduce joint stiffness and decrease the severity and frequency of Raynaud's attacks.  The study also found that the patients experienced improved blood flow.
  • In addition to cold temperatures, stress is believed to be one of the primary causes of Raynaud's attacks.  Both emotional and physical stress can trigger vasoconstriction, inducing Raynaud's attacks.  If you frequently experience high stress in your daily life, it is beneficial to engage in stress-relieving practices.  Great ways to reduce stress include taking walks outside, meditation, yoga, talking to a therapist, acupuncture, or cognitive behavioral therapy. 
  • It is thought that ginkgo biloba is a useful herbal remedy for preventing Raynaud's attacks.  The available on this herb's ability to do this is limited, but it does show that ginkgo biloba extract may help reduce the number of attacks, but more research needs to be done to determine the effectiveness. 
  • Biofeedback training teaches people how to consciously influence the body's vital functions (e.g. blood pressure, breathing, or heart rate) via relaxation techniques and information feedback that is delivered by specialized equipment.  It is believed that biofeedback training works to control body temperature and lessen the severity of Raynaud's attacks.  A similar training program is known as the Wim Hof method, which consists of cold exposure and breathing techniques. 
  • People who take vasoconstrictive medications can experience reduced blood flow and develop an increased risk of Raynaud's Disease.  Talk to your doctor about some alternatives to these medications, which include oral contraceptives, allergy medications, ADHD medications, migraine medications, diet pills, and beta blockers.  
Things you should eat
  • Green Leafy Vegetables (kale, spinach, chard, arugula, & collards)
  • Avocado
  • Chia Seeds
  • Berries (strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, & raspberries)
  • Turmeric
  • Ginger
  • Garlic
  • Rose Hip
  • Stinging Nettle
  • Pineapple
  • Fermented Vegetables
  • Broccoli
  • Bok Choy
  • Beets
  • Celery
  • Flaxseeds
  • Coconut Oil
  • Walnuts
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