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Raynaud’s Disease (Holistic)

About This Condition

Fingertips that feel tender or numb after being exposed to chilly temperatures may point to Raynaud’s disease. According to research or other evidence, the following self-care steps may be helpful.
  • Fight back with fish oil

    Reduce the severity of blood vessel spasm by taking a daily supplement supplying 4 grams of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) for 6 to 12 weeks; after that, ask your healthcare provider to recommend an amount for long-term supplementation

  • Discover inositol hexaniacinate

    With a doctor's supervision, take 3 to 4 grams a day of this form of vitamin B3 to reduce arterial spasm and improve peripheral circulation

  • Say good-bye to smoking

    Kick the habit to avoid the damaging effects of nicotine on blood flow

  • Keep in the heat

    Avoid unnecessary exposure to cold and dress warmly to prevent attacks of Raynaud’s disease

About

About This Condition

Raynaud’s disease is a condition caused by constriction and spasms of small arteries, primarily in the hands after exposure to cold. Frequently, white or bluish discoloration of the hands (and sometimes toes, cheeks, nose, or ears) will occur after exposure to cold or emotional stress.

The cause of Raynaud’s disease is unknown. A condition called Raynaud’s phenomenon causes similar symptoms, but it is the result of connective tissue disease or exposure to certain chemicals. The same natural remedies are used to treat both disorders.

Symptoms

Fingers (generally not the thumb) or other affected parts of the body may feel numb or cold during an episode, and later, after warming, may become bright red with a throbbing painful sensation.

Healthy Lifestyle Tips

Dressing warmly and wearing gloves or mittens often help prevent attacks of Raynaud’s disease. Individuals with Raynaud’s disease should not smoke, because nicotine decreases blood flow to the extremities. Women with Raynaud’s disease should not use birth control pills, as this method of contraception can adversely affect circulation.

Supplements

What Are Star Ratings?

Our proprietary “Star-Rating” system was developed to help you easily understand the amount of scientific support behind each supplement in relation to a specific health condition. While there is no way to predict whether a vitamin, mineral, or herb will successfully treat or prevent associated health conditions, our unique ratings tell you how well these supplements are understood by the medical community, and whether studies have found them to be effective for other people.

For over a decade, our team has combed through thousands of research articles published in reputable journals. To help you make educated decisions, and to better understand controversial or confusing supplements, our medical experts have digested the science into these three easy-to-follow ratings. We hope this provides you with a helpful resource to make informed decisions towards your health and well-being.

3 Stars Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.

2 Stars Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.

1 Star For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support.

Supplement Why
2 Stars
Fish Oil
4 grams of EPA per day
Supplementing with fish oil may reduce the severity of blood-vessel spasm.

In a double-blind trial, supplementation with 12 large capsules of fish oil per day (providing 4 grams of eicosapentaenoic acid [EPA] per day) for 6 or 12 weeks reduced the severity of blood-vessel spasm in 5 of 11 people with Raynaud’s phenomenon.1 Fish oil was effective in people with primary Raynaud’s disease, but not in those whose symptoms were secondary to another disorder.

2 Stars
Vitamin B3
3 to 4 grams daily of inositol hexaniacinate
A variation on the B vitamin niacin, inositol hexaniacinate has been shown to reduce arterial spasm and improve peripheral circulation.
has been used with some success for relieving symptoms of Raynaud’s disease.2 In one study, 30 people with Raynaud’s disease taking 4 grams of inositol hexaniacinate each day for three months showed less spasm of their arteries.3 Another study, involving six people taking 3 grams per day of inositol hexaniacinate, again showed that this supplement improved peripheral circulation.4 People taking this supplement in these amounts should be under the care of a doctor.
1 Star
Evening Primrose Oil
Refer to label instructions
Fatty acids in evening primrose oil (EPO) inhibit the formation of prostaglandins, which promote blood vessel constriction. One study found that supplementing with EPO reduced the number and severity of attacks.

Fatty acids in evening primrose oil (EPO) inhibit the formation of biochemical messengers (prostaglandins) that promote blood vessel constriction. A double-blind trial of 21 people with Raynaud’s disease found that, compared with placebo, supplementation with EPO reduced the number and severity of attacks despite the fact that blood flow did not appear to increase.5 Researchers have used 3,000–6,000 mg of EPO per day.

1 Star
Ginkgo
Refer to label instructions
The herb Ginkgo has been reported to improve the circulation in small blood vessels and reduce pain in people with Raynaud’s disease.

Ginkgo biloba has been reported to improve the circulation in small blood vessels.6 For that reason, some doctors recommend ginkgo for people with Raynaud’s disease. One preliminary trial found that 160 mg of standardized ginkgo extract per day reduced pain in people with Raynaud’s disease.7 Larger clinical trials are needed to confirm ginkgo’s effectiveness for this condition. Ginkgo is often used as a standardized extract (containing 24% ginkgo flavone glycosides and 6% terpene lactones). Doctors who recommend use of ginkgo often suggest that people take 120–160 mg per day.

1 Star
L-Carnitine
Refer to label instructions
In one study, people with Raynaud’s disease who were given L-carnitine showed less blood-vessel spasm in their fingers in response to cold exposure.

In one study, 12 people with Raynaud’s disease were given L-carnitine (1 gram three times a day) for 20 days.8 After receiving L-carnitine, these people showed less blood-vessel spasm in their fingers in response to cold exposure.

1 Star
Magnesium
Refer to label instructions
Abnormalities of magnesium metabolism have been reported in people with Raynaud’s disease. Magnesium deficiency results in blood-vessel spasm, which may be helped with supplementation.

Abnormalities of magnesium metabolism have been reported in people with Raynaud’s disease.9 Symptoms similar to those seen with Raynaud’s disease occur in people with magnesium deficiency,10 probably because a deficiency of this mineral results in spasm of blood vessels.11 Some doctors recommend that people with Raynaud’s disease supplement with 200–600 mg of magnesium per day, although no clinical trials support this treatment.

References

1. Digiacomo RA, Kremer JM, Shah DM. Fish-oil dietary supplementation in patients with Raynaud’s phenomenon: a double-blind, controlled, prospective study. Am J Med 1989;86:158–64.

2. Aylward M. Hexopal in Raynaud’s disease. J Int Med Res 1979;7:484–91.

3. Holti G. An experimentally controlled evaluation of the effect of inositol nicotinate upon the digital blood flow in patients with Raynaud’s phenomenon. J Int Med Res 1979;7:473–83.

4. Ring EF, Bacon PA. Quantitative thermographic assessment of inositol nicotinate therapy in Raynaud’s phenomenon. J Int Med Res 1977;5:217–22.

5. Belch JJF, Shaw B, O’Dowd A, et al. Evening primrose oil (Efamol) in the treatment of Raynaud’s phenomenon: A double-blind study. Throm Haemost 1985;54(2):490–4.

6. Kleijnen J, Knipschild P. Ginkgo biloba. Lancet 1992;340:1136–9 [review].

7. Clement JL, Livecchi G, Jimenez C, et al. Modifications vasomotrices des extrémités lors l’exposition à des conditions thermiques défavorables. Méthodologie et résultant de l’étude de l’extrait de Ginkgo biloba. Acutal Angiol 1982;7:3–8.

8. Gasser P, Martina B, Dubler B. Reaction of capillary blood cell velocity in nailfold capillaries to L-carnitine in patients with vasospastic disease. Drugs Exptl Clin Res 1997;23:39–43.

9. Leppert J, Aberg H, Levin K, et al. The concentration of magnesium in erythrocytes in female patients with primary Raynaud’s phenomenon; fluctuation with the time of year. Angiology 1994;45:283–8.

10. Smith WO, Hammarsten JF, Eliel LP. The clinical expression of magnesium deficiency. JAMA 1960;174:77–8.

11. Turlapaty P, Altura BM. Magnesium deficiency produces spasms of coronary arteries; relationship to etiology of sudden death ischemic heart disease. Science 1980;208:198–200.

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