With the weather getting colder as we move into winter and the Eastern part of the county experiencing much lower temperatures than usual, it is important to stay warm from the inside out. Otherwise the body sends messages asking for our attention by way of symptoms of discomfort. One way is through Raynaud’s Disease.
I have patients with Raynaud’s. I’ve experienced it in one of my fingers several times. First, fingers get cold, then way beyond cold. They become prickly and can turn white or even blue. It is scary and uncomfortable. When it happened to me, I later realized I let my hands get too cold either from not wearing gloves soon enough or wearing gloves that are too tight.
Cause of Raynaud’s
Raynaud’s occurs most commonly with women. Oh boy, another privilege of gender. It seems to happen when blood flow from small arteries (arterioles) is constricted. It can happen to the toes and nose, however they are not as common as fingers. As the blood flow diminishes, fingers become painful and turn white or blue. If you have this experience, do talk to your doctor as it can be a symptom of scleroderma which is rare and serious.
Alleviate Raynaud’s Symptoms
- When it is cold, or even cool, put gloves on BEFORE going outside. Once you get cold it might be too late to reverse the Raynaud’s process.
- Rub your ears. There are acupuncture points on the ear for every part of the body include the fingers and toes. Rubbing your ears improves blood circulation throughout your body. Massage the outside, back of ears, and front until they feel warm. The warmth indicates improved blood flow. Use your pinky finger, q-tip or pencil with an eraser to massage just inside the ear (not into the canal). There are points there for all of the major organs.
- Acupuncture improves blood flow in the entire body very effectively. It is also very specific and can improve flow into the fingers, and even specific fingers depending upon your Reynaud’s experience. Here is how it works: the tiny, safe and gentle needles used in acupuncture cause tiny traumas. The body automatically sends blood and cologen to those tiny trauma thus the symptoms of Raynaud’s, arthritis and many other issues are relieved.
- Below you will read about oils that you can rub into your hands and fingers. There are acupuncture points near each fingernail, near some knuckles, on the palms and on both sides of the wrists. As you put on hand lotion or the rubs below, be sure you gently massage the areas I just listed. Your touch will activate those points to support improved blood flowe. The points near the fingernails activate the entire meridian, or channel of energy that can flow through your entire arm, into the shoulders, neck and some go into the face and chest areas. You are really accomplishing a lot when you massage your hands.
Author of The Green Pharmacy, James A. Duke, PhD writes that natural remedies for Reynaud’s has good science behind them, unlike the approach used by mainstream medicine. There are multiple options so use them one by one to see which is the best fit for your body.
- Make a vegetarian minestrone soup liberally spiced with cayenne, garlic, ginger, mustard (all warm the body internally), oils of borage, currant and evening primrose. Make a lot of the soup and eat it until you are satisfied. Strain some of the broth then rub the broth on your cold fingers.
- Oil of evening primrose. It contains gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) which in some studies was found to relieve Raynaud’s symptoms. When oil of evening primrose was massaged into the fingers of study participants about half improved. Of course, the massage itself helped as well as the use of the oil.
- Garlic was the focus of one twelve week study to treat a condition that narrows the arteries in the leg, called claudication. Claudication causes difficulty walking. The participants took 800 milligrams of garlic daily. The study showed the participants who took the garlic walked better, which suggests the blood flow to the legs improved. Both garlic and ginko improve circulation and can be used in combination. You can either add more garlic to your diet or take the capsules. I’ve never had problems with a garlic odor when I take garlic, which I do daily.
- Ginko has been studied dozens of times regarding blood circulation. It improves blood flow to the brain. It is widely prescribed in Europe for recovery from stroke and mental deterioration. It also helps circulation in the legs, claudication, mentioned above. It improves the ability to walk, so it can help the hands as well. Ginko is recommend commonly in Europe for Raynaud’s. The medicinal part of the plant is the leaves, but the tea is not effective. Get the pills or capsules made from standardized extract. Try 60-240 milligrams a day but not higher to avoid diarrhea, irritability and restlessness.
- Borage also improves circulation because it also contains GLA, mentioned above. Massage borage oil into your fingers.
- Ginger is considered a “hot” herb in Chinese medicine. It treats cold fingers caused by Raynaud’s, lowers blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Overall it balances blood flow.
- Mustard has long been used to treat Raynaud’s. Mustard plasters are not just old-fashioned medicine. You can make a mustard plaster by mixing 4 ounces of fresh ground mustard seed with warm water to make a thick paste. Apply to your fingers when they are acting up. Mustard is called a rubefacient and others include cloves, garlic, ginger, horseradish, stinging nettle, peppermint oil, rosemary oil and rue. All of these can be applied to the fingers.
- Red pepper is also a rubefacient. Mix it with vegetable oil and rub on your fingers. Don’t touch your eyes! You can add evening primrose, borage, or currant oil.
- Indian snakeroot contains reserpine a chemical that open or dilates blood vessels. It is used to treat Raynaud’s.
There are many natural options. Use them to see which one(s) are helpful to you. Each person is different so what might help me might not be a help to you.
Thank you for reading my blog. I hope it is interesting and helpful. If you have specific topics you’d like me to address, or questions that need answered, let me know.