Raynaud's Syndrome --- Causes
and Top 10 Natural Remedies
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April 3, 2013, last updated June 3, 2015
By Alison Turner, Featured Columnist







Raynaud’s syndrome is a serious condition that goes far
beyond a dislike for the cold. Most of us know what it's like
to be cold when we don't want to be, and throughout the
years we've learned to bring extra winter gear, to stay
indoors under certain temperatures, or to vacation in
warmer climes.  

However, for some people the cold isn't just an
inconvenience, but a trigger for symptoms of Raynaud's
syndrome, a condition that the National Heart, Lung, and
Blood Institute estimates affects 5% of the United States
population.  For these people, even subtle changes in
temperature can cause fingers or toes to turn white or blue
-- even something like removing food from the freezer could
trigger a Raynaud's episode.  
Raynaud's can also be
triggered by vibrations such as electric toothbrushes, car
rides, jackhammers.


If the case of Raynaud's is serious enough, patients can
even develop skin sores or gangrene (the death of body
tissues) from repeated attacks.   What causes Raynaud's
syndrome? Do any natural remedies exist to alleviate the
symptoms of Raynaud's?

Origins of Raynaud's Syndrome-- Where Did it Get Its
Name?

In the 1850's a doctor in France by the name of Maurice
Raynaud was faced with a patient whose conditions
befuddled him.  This patient, an otherwise healthy 27 year
old woman, came for help because her fingers had "suddenly
become pale and cold."  

Over the next few weeks, the tips of her fingers shriveled
and turned black, "causing her great pain and discomfort."
Dr. Raynaud, unable to affix the woman's symptoms to any
condition known in the 1850s, knew only that there was a
blockage of the woman's blood supply to her fingers, and
that "the spontaneous gangrene of her fingertips was in
some way connected."

Dr. Raynaud was given credit for his initial testing, and the
progress with the condition would surely make him proud.  
Now experts know that the symptoms from Raynaud's arise
with the narrowing of
capillaries and arteries, the blood
vessels that carry blood from the heart
throughout your
body.  

When these arteries narrow, blood flow is reduced to your
fingers and toes
---your body's outer reaches ---, which is
where symptoms are most commonly seen.  This lack of
blood can make your skin turn white or blue for a short time,
and cause tingling, burning, or numbness in the area when
the blood flow returns.  

The medical field now divides Raynaud's into two categories:
Raynaud's disease or primary Raynaud's, and Raynaud's
phenomenon or secondary Raynaud's.  The difference
between a disease and a phenomenon?  In this case, the
labels seem counterintuitive: "Raynaud's disease," which is
more common, is used when the cause is unknown;
"Raynaud's phenomenon", on the other hand, means that
there is another disease, condition, or factor, at the root of
what's happening.  Raynaud's phenomenon, though more
rare than the disease, tends to manifest in more severe
symptoms. For the remainderof this article, the terms
"primary" and "secondary" will be used to avoid confusion.

Who Is At Risk for Raynaud's?































The risk factors for primary and secondary Raynaud's differ.  
While the cause for the first is unknown, women under the
age of 30 are more likely to get primary Raynaud's than men
or older people.  It may also occur in members of the same
family.  

Secondary Raynaud's, on the other hand, usually develops
after the age of 30, and in people with diseases, injuries, or
conditions (such as exposure to certain chemicals) that
damage the arteries or nerves in the hands and feet.  Both
types of Raynaud can be triggered more frequently by living
in the cold.   

Check out the list below for other associations between both
kinds of Raynaud's, as researched by specialists from around
the world, as well as for natural ways to treat Raynaud
symptoms.

1.
Vitamin D Can Relieve Raynaud's Symptoms

We’ve all been told to take our vitamins, but sometimes it
feels like we do so more out of habit than for any health
benefit.  For any vitamin skeptics out there, it may be time to
start opening your mind to the idea that vitamins can make a
difference.  Researchers in Lebanon, for example, find that
vitamin D can mitigate the painful symptoms of secondary
Raynaud’s.  

In 2012, J. Helou and other specialists with the Dermatology
Department at Hotel-Dieu de France Hospital in Beirut,
Lebanon,  investigated how vitamin D supplementation
affects people with secondary Raynaud’s phenomenon.  Out
of 53 patients with secondary Raynaud’s, 42 were deficient
in vitamin D.  Patients were randomly assigned oral
supplementation of vitamin D3 for eight weeks, or placebo.  
At the end of the study, patients taking supplements showed
higher vitamin D levels in their blood, and reported less pain
from Raynaud symptoms.  The researchers suggest that
“one can ask whether vitamin D has a vasodilator effect in
patients with RP [Raynaud’s phenomenon] who are deficient
in vitamin D.”

If you have been skeptical of vitamins, but currently suffer
from Raynaud’s, you may want to give vitamin D3 a try,
either in a multivitamin or as a supplement of its own.

2.
People with Raynaud’s Should Drink More Red Wine.

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institutes recommend
that patients with Raynaud’s “limit” their use of alcohol,
which could “trigger Raynaud’s attacks.   However,
researchers in various institutions in Massachusetts and
Connecticut have evidence suggesting that it may not be so
simple --- some alcohol, namely, red wine, may actually be
good for people with Raynaud’s.

In 2007, Lisa Suter with Yale University School of Medicine in
New Haven, along with a team of researchers,  analyzed the
alcohol consumption in 1840 women and 1602 men with
Raynaud’s.  They found that while “heavy alcohol
consumption in women was associated with increased risk of
Raynaud’s,” moderate amounts of alcohol actually “reduced
risk” in men.  

Curiously, in both genders, “red wine consumption was
associated with a reduced risk of Raynaud’s.”  

The team concluded that their data suggests that “middle-
aged women and men may have distinct physiologic
mechanisms underlying their Raynaud’s, and thus sex-
specific therapeutic approaches may be appropriate.”  
Whatever your gender, if you have Raynaud’s try
exchanging your favorite alcoholic beverage for red wine.

3.
Does Stress Increase Your Risk for Raynaud's?

Whether we’ve had a new job for two weeks or have
worked the same desk for thirty years, we know that work
can be stressful.  Experts in France find that certain stress
factors at work can get bad enough to seriously affect our
health – they could even increase our risk for secondary
Raynaud’s.

In 2012, a large team of scientists in France including Yves
Roquelaure with the Laboratory of Ergonomics and
Epidemiology in Occupational Health in Cedex  assessed how
types of stress in the workplace affected risk factors for
secondary Raynaud’s in 87 cases of Raynaud’s.  

Results showed that secondary Raynaud’s was associated
with several “work-related factors,” including “a high
repetitiveness of a task,” “a high psychological demand at
work,” and “low support from supervisors,” particularly in
women.

If you suffer from any of the above stressors at work, try
seeking help for techniques to manage them before they
seriously affect your health. (Read more about
foods that
help manage stress.)

4.
Myofascial Release: Massage Away Pain From Raynaud’s.


Continue reading  page 1        page 2




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