Raynaud’s: Natural Solutions

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: 

  1. Wear warm gloves when in cold temps.  Duh.
  2. Exercise regularly.  Exercise forces blood to pump and keeps your arteries responsive.
  3.  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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. . 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!
  7.  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.


Natural Tricks to Jet Lag or Resetting Your Circadian Rhythms

I have been traveling more than ever the past couple months and it seems that everywhere I go changes time zones.  I happen to be fairly lucky in the department of falling asleep and adjusting quickly; however, there are natural tricks that you can use to your advantage if you suffer from time changes.  Try to stay away from habit-forming pharmaceuticals that artificially alter your sleep-wake patterns because they end up doing you more harm than good long term.

  1. Eat on schedule.  Have breakfast when you want your body to start waking up and quit eating a couple hours before you want to fall asleep.  Even if this means eating at weird times as you a traveling back.  Much of your sleep/wake cycle is regulated by hormones and chemicals that your gut bacteria play a part in creating.  The bacteria living in your gut can’t see light though, so they use signals from you to tell what time it is.  When you eat, it signals to them that it is waking hours and they follow suit.
  2. Wear glasses that block blue light.  Many people are familiar with the glasses like Felix Gray that block blue light from computer screens, but most probably don’t use this to their advantage for jet lag.  Just like eating signals to your gut bacteria that it’s time to be awake, blue light exposure tells them and your body that it is daylight.  This is why people wear glasses to block computer light at night.  If they don’t, they can have trouble sleeping because that light is a signal to your internal clock to produce cortisol.  Cortisol is a hormone in the body that spikes when you wake up and gradually decreases throughout the day until it hits rock bottom at night.  When it is low, you get sleepy.  (If you’re a person that suffers from mid-day fatigue, then you may see this dip in cortisol happen in the middle of the day on labs, which explains why you’re ready for a nap!)  If you wear blue blocking lenses when you want to start falling asleep and keep them off when you want to be wide awake, it will help adjust those cortisol patterns.
  3. Take melatonin.  Just like blue light stimulates cortisol to make you feel awake, lack of blue light dampens cortisol and allows melatonin to rise.  When the sun goes down and your cortisol plummets, that’s melatonin’s signal to increase.  You should have high melatonin around the time you want to go to bed.  You can artificially mimic this by taking melatonin supplements before you want to go to bed.  This will make people drowsy.  Melatonin is a hormone, so you would not want to rely on this for long-term sleep aid, but it is helpful in resetting jet lag.  If you take too much, you could end up having vivid dreams or waking up with a “hang over.”  So, start with small doses and work your way up as needed.
  4. Go outside.  Following the suns schedule is a powerful tool to get in synch with the normal rhythms of the Earth.  If you get up to watch the sunrise and go out to watch the sunset, you’d be amazed how quickly you fall into place.  This happens mostly because of the light exposure having an impact on your cortisol and melatonin ratios.
  5. Exercise intensely when you want me to waking up. When you exercise, it raises cortisol levels just like light does, so if you time your exercise for when you want to be awake first thing, then your body will tend towards a cortisol spike during that time.  This will wake your body up, and help you fall asleep at night when the time is right.
  6. Have caffeine in the morning.  Once again, we want cortisol to be spiking when you would be waking up.  Caffeine stimulates cortisol production, so having a cup of coffee when you WANT your body to be waking up will help put that circadian rhythm back on track.  That also means avoiding it when you would want your body to be getting sleepy.

These practical tips are easy to do if you think about them ahead of time and plan.  I can’t emphasize enough how important light exposure is in trying to reset your internal clock, so if you can do things that make your body think it’s light when you want to be awake and dark when you want to sleep, the better off you’ll be.  Shift work and time zone changes is one of the hardest thing you can do your body and actually contributes to earlier death and heart attacks.  So, while this is somewhat necessary at times for work or travel, you should try to avoid it as much as possible.  Your immune system actually functions on this same rhythm, so having your body produce cortisol at the wrong times will actually dampen your immune system during those times, too.  This is one reason many people get sick when traveling.  Not only are you often stuck on a plane with recycled air from tons of individuals, but you are throwing off your body’s normal rhythm to fight infections and create immune cells.  This is something to really consider especially if you have disorders of the immune system, like autoimmunity.  Your immune system reacts to your cues, so try to make them as easily translatable as you can to what normal cycles are.

I hope this helps!

Herbal Series: Echinacea for Cold and Flu

This photo of a purple coneflower was taken over a year ago before I even realized it was Echinacea!  Often times, we have medicinal plants growing all around us, and we are completely unaware.  Therefore, I wanted to highlight some of the herbs you may see around or that may pop up in your supplements.  I’ll let you know what they are, what they’re good for, and anything you should consider when taking them!

What is Echinacea?

Echinacea is a wildflower native exclusively to North America, and Indians used it therapeutically more than any other herb. In 1895, an Ohio drug firm manufactured the first preparations of Echinacea in the US, and by 1994, German physicians had prescribed Echinacea over 2.5 million times.  To this day, it remains popular in Europe, and is used most to shorten the duration of the common cold and flu.

What is it good for?

Echinacea is one of the most studied herbs in herbal medicine and it has shown many effects on the immune system.  It increases antibody responses to viruses and it signals to WBCs to fight infection.  This is a great tool to take when you feel as though you may be coming down with something, but it’s not that great for prevention.  So, look for Echinacea to use short-term during cold season.


Autoimmunity: Echinacea boosts the immune system and unfortunately, in today’s world, there are many people that suffer from autoimmune conditions.  These people have an over-activated immune system and should be careful using herbal remedies that boost immune activity, such as Echinacea.  These patients would do better using beta-glucans instead.

Medications: Echinacea can have an effect on liver enzymes and increase blood levels of certain medications including statins, allergy medications, and birth control.  Like I have mentioned before, herbs can work just as well as medications and therefore can react with medications or affect their ability to work properly.  The more you can rely on herbs PRIOR to using medications, the less interactions you have to worry about.

*This is not intended to diagnose or treat any conditions.  Please consult with a knowledgeable physician to decide it is right for you.


Patient Journey: Hormone Imbalance

  1. What health issues were you struggling with when you began to work with Dr. Angela?

I had/have been really working through a few different issues. Mainly, trying to have a menstrual cycle without the use of drugs along with my mental well-being. I have struggled a great deal with self-image, self-worth, depression and anxiety for many years and am exhausted from the strain of these mental issues.

  1. What treatment methods had you tried prior to Dr. Angela’s program?

My main treatment for these issues was medicine – a pill for my period, a pill for my depression & anxiety, and yet another pill for my distracted and “busy” brain.

I had also been to see a few different therapists who were helpful at the time but never seemed to permanently resolve my issues.

  1. What health benefits did you gain from working with Dr. Angela?
  • Natural weight loss
  • More energy
  • Better sleep
  • Confidence in my state of mind
  • How to improve my self-worth

4. What was your biggest struggle during the transition to a healthier lifestyle?

The biggest struggle was learning/knowing what to eat and planning ahead in order to prepare meals.

I also struggled with not letting the very anxiety I was trying to get rid of, hold me back from getting better. It was scary to learn the truth about the meds and I wasn’t sure if I really wanted to give them up. I had no idea how to act or who I was supposed to be without my meds.

5. What did you find most beneficial to you in the program?

My favorite and most helpful parts of the program were the face to face meetings and the homework given.

Dr. A. gave me so much perspective and really helped me work on my frame of mind. The transition to a healthier lifestyle was less confusing and less frustrating knowing that she was there to help us!

6. Did your food options taste good?

The food took some getting used too but once my mind and taste buds got used to the change, the natural foods tasted delicious. I love eating fruits and veggies along with other clean food options and find myself seeking out those foods more – even at gatherings where other dishes are in abundance.

7. Did you have an ah-ha moment that helped you commit to the change? If so, what was it?

This has been such a huge transition in my life and because of that there was not been just one single “ah-ha” moment, there were several. A few of those being…

  • watching my husband become himself again with his improved mental and physical health
  • On a random day discovering that I feel strong and healthy mentally and knowing that it isn’t just a phase but who I really am ;)
  • Stepping on the scale after several months only to discover, without even paying attention, I had lost weight!
  • Really feeling and understanding what sleeping well does for me

8. If you were going to give a piece of advice to someone on the fence of following a program like Dr. Angela’s, what would you say to them in order to help them decide?

Please give the program a chance and just try it!!!

Be honest with yourself about who you are (or who you think you are) and where you REALLY want to go. Love Ok, at least try to “like” yourself enough to sit and just listen to what Dr. A. has to say – you just might be amazed what you can learn about yourself…

Dr. Angela’s perspective:

There were a lot of moving parts to this case including anxiety, hormone imbalance, low self-esteem, and many medications.   This case happened to have issues with low progesterone.  It took some tweaking with her supplementation to balance that, restore her period, and maintain normal cycles.  Along with her hormone balance came symptoms of weight gain, hair distribution issues, skin issues, mood disturbance, and blood pressure concerns. It was definitely more than supplementing to get hormones in balance; it was lifestyle work AND HEAD WORK.  What you tell yourself on a daily basis creates your reality.  It was such a pleasure to watch this entire family transform before my eyes.  I often did these appointments on Friday nights, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.  It capped my week off with a full feeling because of their ability to be honest, vulnerable, and willing to examine all the aspects of life we brought to light.  Although many medication paths will lead women to believe there are quick pill fixes, or that it’s just your biology, I am here to tell you otherwise.  Your hormones decide so much about how you feel and look, and they should not be relegated to a mere band-aid solution.