Alternative Medicine Help for Raynauds

by in Autoimmune Diseases, Kitchen Sink, Raynauds Disease/Phenomena June 11, 2008

nicolesundene.jpgQ. What natural treatments can I use for Raynauds?

A. The latest complementary and alternative medicine research shows great promise for those with Raynaud’s disease and phenomena. Raynaud’s phenomena is typically associated with autoimmune diseases and will benefit from an anti-inflammatory diet as well as an allergy elimination diet.

In addition to diet, herbs, and nutritional therapies; be sure to investigate the root cause of the disease. Sit down with a naturopath and have them go through your complete health history.

What is Raynauds?

Raynauds phenomena is a vasospastic disorder of the hands that manifest as intermittent episodes of extreme pallor, followed by cyanosis, and extreme vasodilation and redness of the hands. Basically the hands turn white, blue, and then red because the blood vessels first constrict and the tissues lose oxygen, followed by vasodilation of the vessels resulting in intense redness, swelling, throbbing, and paresthesias. Episodes may be triggered by emotional upset and typically resolve with warming.

Diet for Raynauds

  • Anti-inflammatory diet
  • Allergy Elimination diet.
  • Trial three week elimination of gluten (wheat, barley, oats, and rye) or testing for Celiac disease via small bowel biopsy (gold standard) or blood testing via celiac panel (about 98% accurate and should include tissue transglutaminase and anti-gliadin antibodies). Note if improvement in symptom frequency, duration, and severity improve. Challenge with pure forms of wheat for three days straight, and note if symptoms worsen. Several published reports have seen correlations with Celiac disease, a form of extreme gluten intolerance.

Lifestyle Considerations for Raynauds

  • Try acupuncture! Acupuncture was shown to be effective for those with Raynauds.
  • Quit smoking! Smoking has been shown to exacerbate symptoms by creating inflammatory oxidative stress to the system, as well as affecting nitric oxide levels which dilate our blood vessels.
  • Stress management. Stress constricts our blood vessels, and exacerbates nearly all health conditions. Try a stress management technique such as “Five Minutes to Zen”.

Herbs for Raynuads

  • Ginkgo biloba 120mg standardized extract. Ginkgo biloba is fabulous for the ciruclatory system, and is also helpful for vision, memory, and cognition.

Vitamins for Raynauds

  • Inositol hexanicotinate at 2 grams twice daily was shown to be beneficial in a randomized placebo controlled study.
  • Vitamin E at 800 IU resulted in improvement from an individual case report. The antioxidant properties of Vitamin E work to reduce oxidative stress to tissues.

Supplements for Raynauds

  • Fish oil at 5-6 grams per day was shown to be effective for Raynauds. Keep in mind that one capsule is typically 1000mg. I would use a EPA (eicosopentaenoic acid) concentrate when using fish oil to treat disease, as that is the anti-inflammatory component. Carlson’s and Arctic Omega are both great brands that I trust and are widely available.
  • Evening primrose oil at 500mg daily was shown to be somewhat effective. I would opt for fish oil unless you are vegetarian as fish oil is a more potent anti-inflammatory agent.

Amino Acids for Raynauds

  • L-carnitine at 1 gram three times daily has been successfully used as a therapy for Ranynauds.

Whatever you do, never give up! Supplements are great for managing symptoms, and the diet and lifestyle aspects will address the long term quality of your health and prevent disease progression. Be sure to check with your physician before starting any new therapies as natural medicines, just like prescription drugs also come with their own drug interactions and contraindications.

Research on Raynauds

  1. PMID: 9077368; Treatment of primary Raynaud’s syndrome with traditional Chinese acupuncture. J Intern Med. 1997 Feb;241(2):119-24
  2. PMID: 3044673; A double blind randomised placebo controlled trial of hexopal in primary Raynaud’s disease. Clin Rheumatol. 1988 Mar;7(1):46-9
  3. PMID: 2536517; Fish-oil dietary supplementation in patients with Raynaud’s phenomenon: a double-blind, controlled, prospective study. Am J Med. 1989 Feb;86(2):158-64
  4. PMID: 4082084; Evening primrose oil (Efamol) in the treatment of Raynaud’s phenomenon: a double blind study. Thromb Haemost. 1985 Aug 30;54(2):490-4
  5. PMID: 12710841; The use of Ginkgo biloba in Raynaud’s disease: a double-blind placebo-controlled trial. Vasc Med. 2002;7(4):265-7
  6. PMID: 12749075; Successful carnitine therapy for Raynaud’s phenomenon in velo-cardio-facial syndrome. Am J Med Genet A. 2003 Jun 1;119(2):247-8

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen table!

~ Dr. Nicole Sundene

Naturopathic Physician

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