Raynaud’s phenomenon: cold hands, warm heart?

Raynaud’s, also called Cold Hands Complaint, affects about one in six people in the UK, particularly women.

It is an uncomfortable or even painful condition which prevents blood from reaching the extremities. The fingers, toes and sometimes the ears and nose too, can experience varying degrees of numbness and/or tingling. At first the skin on your extremities turns white, then blue, and then when the blood returns, the skin becomes red with some sensation of burning.

The lack of blood is caused by spasmodic contractions of the arteries, which can be triggered by temperature changes, exposure to the cold or even just by touching cold objects. Emotional stress can also trigger an episode.

Needless to say the colder winter months are typically worse for sufferers of Raynaud’s phenomenon.

See also: Tackling Dupuytren’s Contracture

There is a definite lack of consistent, methodological studies regarding nutritional intervention for Raynaud’s. However, there are a few, commonsense lifestyle changes to consider, and other interventions that have been shown to generally improve your circulation.

Both smoking and caffeine have a negative impact on blood vessel health; quitting smoking is one of the healthiest decisions you’ll make in general and a very effective way of improving your circulation.

Cutting back on the tea, coffee and colas, and replacing them with herbal, decaf or kombucha tea, can also increase circulatory health.

Reducing inflammation in blood vessel walls can also help to improve the health and function of the veins and capillaries. Chemical compounds found in plant foods such as fruits, herbs, spices and vegetables, have been found to have beneficial anti-inflammatory effects.

Look for deeply and brightly coloured pigments in these foods, such as turmeric, blackberries, beetroot and kale. Try to include all six colour groups every day to get a broad variety of these healthful compounds: red, orange, yellow, green, blue/purple and white/tan.

B vitamins are good for many areas of health and are sometimes known as the anti-stress vitamins. They are found abundantly in wholefoods and are lacking in refined and processed foods.

Vitamin B3, or niacin, is particularly known to have some arterial dilating activity, which can be helpful to circulation.

Omega 3 Fatty Acids, found in oily fish, grass-fed organic meats, raw walnuts and eggs from flax-fed chickens, can assist blood flow by reducing its ‘stickiness’.

The minerals calcium and magnesium, which must be taken in unison to ensure proper balance in the body, are calming to the nervous system, aiding in the reduction of stress. If stress is an issue, learning relaxation techniques may also be helpful.

Foods rich in vitamin C (kiwis, blueberries, cherries and most fruit and veg) are good for your circulation, as are foods rich in rutin (buckwheat, citrus peel and rosehips), which helps to strengthen small blood vessels.

Please check with your doctor before undergoing interventions that may affect any medical condition.

For further information and advice, Robyn can be contacted at Flourish Health, 48 Wimpole Street, London, W1G 8SF on 020 7 224 2247 or online at http://www.flourish-health.co.uk

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