Raynauds disease is a primary vasopastic disease of small arteries and arterioles where there is an exaggerated vasomotor response to cold or emotions. There are many theories as to the main causes of Raynauds, some being that it is an autoimmune disease or related to heavy metal toxicity. What we do know is that it is related to poor circulation.
Stress is certainly an underlying mechanism stimulating epinephrine release. An attack can also be triggered by cold. A few other factors that can cause a flare is the birth control pill, female hormones and cigarette smoking (it causes vasoconstriction). There is also usually antinuclear antibodies present, suggesting an autoimmune disease. This condition very often occurs with scleroderma, an autoimmune disease affecting all connective tissues.
A few other triggers could be certain genetic SNPs that affect the production of epinephrine (such as COMT, NOS3, etc), cortisol imbalances, chronic inflammation, poor cardiovascular function, imbalanced thyroid, hypoxia and anemia, and much more.
Signs and Symptoms
Individuals with this condition have intermittent vasopastic attacks of varying severity and frequency that affect the fingers bilaterally and less commonly, the toes. Colour changes occur in sequence: first white then blue and then red as blood flow returns. Initially, there is usually numbing and cold sensations and as the blood returns, there is usually throbbing and paraesthesia.
Some factors that are not fully understood yet trigger vasoconstriction in the extremeties, causing the skin to whiten, then go blue due to hypoxia, and then red because of a reflex hyperemia. The issue lies in the sympathetic nervous system. Epinephrine is released and it has an alpha-adrenergic or vasoconstrictive effect on the vessels of the hand. The hypoxia that results causes a local release of vasoactive substances such as histamine, which causes reflex vasodilation, increasing blood flow as well as swelling in the area.
This irregular blood flow is not always confined to the periphery. Chronic vasoconstriction with its resultant decrease in oxygen and nutrients can effect any organ of the body, and cause malnutrition and abnormal aerobic ATP formation in these organs. It can affect normal tissue regeneration and cause issues such as pulmonary fibrosis.
- Avoid coffee, tea and other stimulant’s
- Avoid alcohol, sodas, juices or artificial sweeteners
- Decrease refined and simple carbs
- Avoid your food sensitivities and allergies
- Consume adequate protein
- Drink plenty of pure filtered water
- Increase fiber intake (flax, chia, psyllium, veggies)
- Eat and alkaline diet and consume dark leafy green veggies
- Eat foods/spices that can help improve circulation such as ginger spice and cinnamon and garlic
- Eat plenty of liver cleansing foods such as beets, carrots, artichokes, lemons, parsnips, dandelion greens, chlorophyll, and burdock to improve circulation
- B complex (MTHFR-friendly): important for nerve function and vitamin B3 can cause vasodilation
- Essential fatty acids: important for nerve function
- Evening primrose oil and vitamin E: Studies show these can help with this condition
- Calcium and magnesium: to relax smooth muscle of blood vessels to alleviate vasoconstriction
- CoQ10 (or ubiquinol): to improve aerobic respiration and ATP production
- Liposomal glutathione: facilitate proper functioning of genetic pathways
- Gingko biloba and cayenne: improve blood flow
- Ashwaganda and rhodiola: help reduce stress and anxiety to reduce epinephrine release
- Aloe vera
Antioxidants are important but if the individual does have autoimmune disease, be mindful about which ones you’re giving. It’s worth remembering that there are different types of antioxidants. Those that have a sulfer:hydrogen configuration (the ones that aren’t GSH, NAC, or alpha lipoic acid) or are supports for GSH like vitamin C, E, or selenium, tend to support Th1 response. Those that are polyphenols like green tea, acai, acacia, mangosteen, etc. tend to tip toward Th2. So, the choice of antioxidant needs to keep this consideration in mind.
- Get plenty of good quality sleep (follow circadian rhythm)
- Maintain consistent and frequent exercise to encourage flood flow
- Reduce stress and practice deep breathing to prevent hypoxia
- Treat dysbiosis
- Improve liver and kidney function
- Detoxify an drain cardiovascular system (heart, arteries, veins) to improve circulation
- Wear warming socks, but use cool (not ice) socks
- Alternate hot and cold treatments (but use cool not ice water)
- Do a heavy metal detox if necessary
- Wear gloves or mittens when hands are exposed to the cold
- Avoid any type of smoke (cigarettes, marijuana, shisha, etc)