Raynaud’s disease is a rare syndrome characterized by a circulatory disorder that results in constriction and spasms of the small arteries in the hands, fingers and toes. The lack of blood flow to the extremities can cause color changes from white, blue to red; numbness; tingling; ulcers; a burning-sensation; and sometimes damage to tissues. In milder cases, Raynaud’s can be best described as hypersensitivity of the extremities due to poor circulation, lack of oxygen, or cold temperatures. In most cases, Raynaud’s causes the fingernails to get brittle, thin and ridged. In time ulcers can form, damaging tissues and resulting in chronic infection around the fingernails. In extreme cases, gangrene may result.
Causes of Raynaud’s may be autoimmune in nature, but may be exacerbated by stress (adrenals), strong emotions, and anxiety. Related autoimmune phenomena such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and/or fibromyalgia are similar conditions and many symptoms may overlap. Other causes may be from exposure to cold temperatures, chemical and toxin exposure, poor diet, lack of exercise, surgery, injury, smoking cigarettes, and certain prescription drug side effects (Beta-blockers, Calcium-channel blockers, and ergot preparations).
In some cases Raynaud’s is triggered by food sensitivities. A diet with a higher percentage of organic, raw foods, avoiding fatty foods, refined carbohydrates, fried foods and aspartame is suggested. Caffeine should be avoided since it can stimulate constriction of the blood vessels.
In general, any foods that can increase an inflammatory response should be minimized. These “inflammatory” foods include dairy products, corn, animal fat, eggs, poultry, refined sugar, certain citrus fruits, and nightshade vegetables (potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, radishes, and peppers). Beneficial foods include flavonoid-rich fruits (blackberries, blueberries, strawberries), sulfur-containing foods (garlic, onions, cabbage), and liver-cleansing foods (beets, carrots, greens, lemons, and watercress).
Food allergies are always a potential problem in any auto-immune related disease. It is best to utilize the Elimination Diet (cut out foods one at a time for a period and note the results) to evaluate food sensitivities or allergies.
- VITAMIN E – a fat-soluble vitamin with strong antioxidant activity that improves circulation, thins the blood, and dissolves clots in the legs, lungs, and heart. The preferred type of vitamin E is the natural form (d-alpha-tocopherol form). Dosage: 200-800 IU daily.
- MAGNESIUM, CALCIUM CITRATE and ZINC – these essential minerals help to protect the arteries from stress caused by the disease and sudden blood pressure changes. Magnesium relaxes smooth muscles and helps to ease the pain associated with Raynaud’s. Zinc is useful in promoting healing. Dosage: Calcium; 1,000-1,500 mg daily; Magnesium 400-750 mg daily; Zinc 50 mg daily.
- NIACIN with INOSITOL – Niacin is a B-complex vitamin that enhances blood flow extremities and has been shown to be effective treatment for Raynaud’s Disease. The combination of niacin with inositol hexaniacinate (HexaNiacin) may be a superior compound. A review of the literature reveals numerous positive studies with inositol in Raynaud’s. The mechanism appears to be a more transient vasodilation. Dosage: 1-4 grams daily.
- B-COMPLEX – The B-complex vitamins are necessary for metabolism and they also help to rejuvenate nerve cells and promote energy. Dosage: 50-100 mg daily.
- COENZYME Q10 – this potent antioxidant helps to improve tissue oxygenation and energy of the cell. Dosage: 100-200 mg daily.
- ESSENTIAL FATTY ACIDS (found in Flaxseed, fish and primrose oils) – these omega 3 and 6 essential fats are effective anti-inflammatory agents and may be helpful in relaxing smooth muscles. The oil made from evening primrose oil (mostly gamma linolenic acid) seems exceptionally effective in relieving the symptoms of Raynaud’s disease. Dosage: of 2-5 grams daily.
- GINKGO BILOBA – this Chinese herb acts as a capillary enhancer, supporting the circulatory system especially in small capillaries of the hands, feet, and fingers. Ginkgo has been extensively researched with most of the focus on the herb’s ability to promote blood flow. Ginkgo, along with other herbs such as CAYENNE , PAU D’ ARCO and BUTCHER’S BROOM when used separately or in combination help to improve circulation and strengthen blood vessels. Dosage: Ginkgo 60-180 mg daily, other herbs as directed on package.
- GARLIC (Allium sativum) – garlic works to improve circulation. Studies have shown that garlic in combination with ginkgo biloba is effective in treating Raynaud’s disease. Dosage: It is best to add garlic to your diet, but if you prefer capsules, take 400-800 mg daily.
- GLUCOSAMINE SULFATE and CHONDROITIN – are nutrients that help to build cartilage and reduce the further deterioration of existing cartilage which can help decrease inflammation, lessen pain, and improve joint integrity. Glucosamine can also help a patient reduce the need for prescription anti-inflammatory drugs. Dosage: Glucosamine1,000-1,500 mg daily; Chondroitin 400-750 mg daily.
- VITAMIN C with BIOFLAVONOIDS – this important antioxidant vitamins helps to decrease inflammation, promote cartilage repair, and strengthen joints. Vitamin C can also boost the immune system and reduce the levels of free radicals that encourage arthritis-like inflammation by destroying body tissue. Bioflavonoids such as QUERCETIN help an patient decrease their exposure to allergens, that may proliferate an inflammatory response. Dosage: Vitamin C 1,000-4,000 mg daily; Quercetin 500-2,000 mg daily.
- L-ARGININE – an amino acid protein that aids in dilating blood vessels under cold conditions. Dosage: As directed on package.
- METHYLSULFONYLMETHANE (MSM) – a sulfur-based supplement that is very effective in decreasing pain and inflammation. It is often used in combination with COX-2 inhibiting herbs such as boswellia and tumeric. Dosage: 1,000-3,000 mg daily.
- GINGER – Chinese herbalists often recommend this “hot” herb to treat conditions involving cold, including cold fingers caused by Raynaud’s. Dosage: As directed on package.
- TOPICAL PAIN REMEDIES including Arnica, Capsacian, and MSM may prove beneficial in relieving pain. Dosage: As directed on package.
- PYCNOGENOL – a potent antioxidant that has unique anti-inflammatory activity while improving circulation. Dosage: 50-200 mg daily for 7-14 days, then maintain 50 mg daily.
- BROMELAIN and other ORAL ENZYMES aid in decreasing inflammation. Dosage: 1-2 tablets 5-15 minutes before meals.
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