Raynaud’s. What the heck is that?! Well, you either clicked to read this article because you have the diagnosis, or you related to the picture, which essentially tells you what Raynaud’s is, visually. In a nutshell, it’s the lack of blood flowing to the finger tip(s), most commonly. There can be other areas involved, too, like toes or the tip of your nose; however, most people who experience the garden-variety version have it happen to a finger tip or two. When something happens to cause the vessels to the finger tips to constrict, they spasm and don’t open back up as quickly as they should. That is why you will see white tips when the rest of the finger is red. The cold is the most common reason for this to happen, but it could also be due to stress. When the finger tips lose blood flow, they become numb, and the person can’t feel things with those fingers that they would normally. Typically, it returns to normal in a short time, but it can be rather annoying.
What’s a person to do about this?!
The key to dealing with Raynaud’s is addressing the cause: lack of blood flow. Sometimes, this can be a side effect of a more serious condition, such as an autoimmune disease (especially scleroderma), medication use impacting blood flow, or certain thyroid conditions. However, most of the time the key is addressing the spasm of the arterioles.
Here are some easy tips to address to problem:
- Wear warm gloves when in cold temps. Duh.
- Exercise regularly. Exercise forces blood to pump and keeps your arteries responsive.
- Stop smoking. It’s well-known that nicotine damages vessels, which is why smokers don’t heal from injury or surgery as well as non-smokers. It’s all about blood flow to tissue when we are talking about healing.
- Address medication use. Finding and correcting the need for certain medications that impact blood flow, like beta-blockers and even OTC meds for sinusitis! The reason they stick chemicals in meds for sinusitis is to reduce the blow flow in order to decrease pressure. Makes sense, right? But the pressure is not the cause of sinus issues. Many times, the best option is to address the reason someone is experiencing allergies, stop the release of histamine, or correct the underlying issues impacting recurrent infections. That could mean taking a different approach to the nutrients you take for these issues. I digress.
- Consider supplements that increase blood flow and oxygen while you are addressing lifestyle factors. Nutrients such as niacin have been used for a very long time to increase blood flow, and if you have ever used it, you know there’s something called “niacin flush.” You could also consider nutrients that increase nitric oxide, like l-arginine. Often times, people with Raynaud’s have low nitric oxide levels.
- . Get massages and adjustments regularly. Adjustments will make sure your nervous system is functioning in tip-top shape, and massages will enhance blood flow to all the areas of your body. I personally think a monthly adjustment and massage is what works best for me!
- Use saunas. Heat increases blood flow! It’s not rocket science. Use saunas regularly throughout the winter to enhance blood flow to tissues. In the winter, I will use a sauna a couple times a week, but I would do it more frequently if my schedule permits!
While many people experience this issue, traditional medicine approaches aren’t that successful. Try these simple lifestyle changes to address Raynaud’s or heck, just move to the sunny states! You have to admit, it’s not a bad idea.