Raynaud's (ray-NOHZ) syndrome is a condition in which poor circulation in the fingers and toes results in discomfort and numbness. It is visibly noticeable by the blanching of the skin. It occurs more frequently in women than men. No known cure exists, but preventive measures through nutrition, stress management, and common sense can help reduce episodes of the syndrome.
Be Aware of Triggers
The exact cause is unknown, but the symptoms usually arise when there is exposure to low temperatures, such as being in the cold out-of-doors or in an overly air-conditioned environment. It can occur when you hold an uncomfortably cold object, such as an ice cold soda can, even on a hot day. Raynaud's can also be caused by stress, or triggered by some drugs, for example, beta blockers used to treat high blood pressure. Sometimes it is associated with other diseases such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. Usually it does not result in permanent damage, but over time damage to the tissues may occur.
Natural Preventative Methods
Try these suggestions to prevent Raynaud's symptoms:
- Wear warm clothing and cover up. Undershirts and pant liners made of cotton, silk or nylon that are worn right next to your skin work well. They trap your body heat but are not too warm to wear indoors. Warm up your body by putting on your hat and gloves before you head out into the cold. Remember that most of your body heat is lost through the head so wear a warm hat that covers your ears, or earmuffs.
- Stop smoking. Nicotine constricts the arteries.
- Avoid caffeine. It can contribute to the problem.
- Learn stress management techniques. Dr. Andrew Weil suggests using his Relaxing Breath Exercise. (This technique is good to learn as a stress reliever even if you don't suffer from Raynaud's syndrome.)
- Use warming, pungent spices that stimulate circulation of energy and blood, moving energy upwards and outwards to the extremities of the body. For example, use herbs and spices, such as spearmint (not the gum, but the actual sprigs or in tea), rosemary, cinnamon bark, cloves, fresh and dried ginger root, black pepper, cayenne, other hot peppers, basil, and nutmeg. You might like to get some organic ginger tea to have on hand for an easy-to-make option.
- Eat pungent foods that help with circulation to the extremities such as scallions, garlic, onions, and mustard greens.
- Ayurvedic medicine expert, Vasant Lad, suggests making a tea by combining eight ounces of water with 1/2 teaspoon dry ginger, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, and a pinch of ground cloves. Simply boil for five minutes, cool, and stir.
Life Extension Foundation suggests taking 120 mg of ginkgo biloba extract once daily.
Learn to anticipate situations that bring on your Raynaud's episodes. For example, if you are going to be outside watching a parade for hours, potentially standing in the wind on a cold, shady sidewalk, dress warmly and enjoy some hot ginger tea before you set out. To prevent numb fingers while waiting for the tow truck to rescue you and your broken down car, cover up as best you can, stay out of the wind, and try to calm yourself with deep breathing and meditation.
Raynaud's syndrome may not be curable, but you can certainly eliminate some attacks with planning. Try smiling and relaxing when episodes do occur, and hopefully, your frigid finger tips and toes will soon return to normal.
Copyright © 2009, Ruth S. Sheets. All rights reserved.