Raynaud’s Syndrome

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Finding a good herbalist

Much of what's written in this article is entirely suitable for a person to work through themselves but, especially if things are quite bad, or you just know that you need further help, then there may be a great deal of benefit to you to go to whatever lengths necessary to find a good herbalist to guide you on to a safe and strong treatment program. There's a short write-up to suggest how you might go about finding such a person here

Raynaud's syndrome

Many people who have Raynaud's syndrome simply assume they suffer from especially bad circulation and don't realise that it can be a sign of something else in their general health that needs attention.

Raynaud's most commonly affects the hands or the feet but sometimes affects the nose or ears. It has the classic feature of a marked loss of colour in the extremities when exposed to cold, which can turn white, or even blue. When warmth is restored and the blood returns there may be some redness and discomfort from rebound swelling.


Stay warm

Before getting into potential causes and treatments for the Raynaud's syndrome, something incredibly obvious nevertheless must be said; don't get cold!

Once the Raynaud's reaction starts there may be no stopping it. We can work on preventing it happening or at least reducing it happening by treating one or more of the causes as described below but you still have to keep warm!

Possum fur mixed with Merino wool; one of the best of all materials to protect against the cold


What causes Raynaud's syndrome?

Hormonal imbalance

Research into the statistical incidence of Raynaud's makes it clear that, whilst anyone may be affected by it, this is a problem that is particularly likely to affect young women in their teenage years or early 20s and, consequently, it is widely thought that the circulatory deficiency of Raynaud's can be bought about by hormonal changes.

Considering the imbalance of circulatory excess, i..e hot flushes, that affect many women in the menopausal transition it is reasonable to predict that an imbalance of circulatory deficiency could likewise be a result of rapidly changing hormonal levels at the other end of the scale.

It's a valid idea however, there is no simple blood test to determine whether this is the case, female hormones are in constant fluctuation so, even if a blood test shows a high or low level of a hormone then that same test could give a quite different result if done a week or even a day later!

If Raynaud's syndrome starts up for a young woman, and especially if there are other signs of hormonal imbalance, then the most helpful approach may be to work with the kinds of herbal medicines that gently influence the endocrine system. A detailed example of this approach can be found in the article on PMS found here

Herbs can be very effective at helping with hormonal imbalances but there is no single herb that will be right for everyone and patience, along with either an experienced practitioner and/or a systematic and thoughtful approach will be required. A further discussion on the need for an open mind and an appreciation of complexity in this area is found here

Vitex agnus-castus (one of the key herbs for treating hormonal imbalances)


Thyroid health

Also in the arena of hormones and how they can cause or contribute to Raynaud's is the potential issue of an under-active thyroid gland.

A moderately under-active thyroid is frequently missed by conventional blood tests that are looking for a more advanced state of disease before triggering any action however, even a mild reduction in thyroid function can lead to significantly reduced temperature regulation.

A laboratory blood test on the levels of thyroid hormones is a good place to start but, if a person has Raynaud's syndrome, they might also consider doing a basal temperature test first thing in the morning before getting out of bed for a few days to get a clearer picture. This testing process is described in practical detail along with a number of steps that will reliably improve thyroid health here


The migraine profile

It is recognised that people who are more prone to getting migraines also have a higher statistical occurrence of Raynaud's. In fact, there are several common links to the two conditions in the way that the nervous system causes blood vessels to firstly constrict and then swell, possibly painfully.

Many of the same medicines, for example Feverfew, that can help with migraine may also help with Raynaud's. If you suffer from migraines as well as Raynaud's, read more here

Tanacetum parthenium (Feverfew)


Food allergy & intolerance

Food allergies or intolerances affect many people, often without them realising it, and one of the common symptoms can include a marked disturbance to blood circulation.

It is certain that only some people who suffer from Raynaud's will have food allergies or intolerances but it must be considered as a strong possibility if there is any earlier history of eczema or asthma. Also note that if you frequently suffer from a bloated, uncomfortable belly or have a lot of allergic 'shiners', i.e. dark rings under your eyes, that you should also consider this area as being a possible issue

Food allergy and intolerance is an important subject that needs a careful approach. If you need to explore this subject further then start here


'Secondary' Raynaud's

There is a formidable list of things that can cause 'secondary' Raynaud's including a number of drugs and other health conditions. Two questions you must ask are:

a) Did the Raynaud's start within a few weeks or months after I began a new medication?
b) Did I have another health problem that began around or before the Raynaud's?

If you answer yes to either of those questions then you must consider the possibility that the Raynaud's syndrome is happening as a secondary response to something else and that you will need to focus on that first and foremost.

Crataegus monogyna (Hawthorn leaf & berry)


Constitutional health note

If you have Raynaud's then you should take some time to understand how the constitution of a person affects their health, it is almost certain that you will be a cooler constitution to begin with and in some cases the whole of the problem may simply be that you have gone too far to the cold!

Getting too cold is not good for you and there are some great 'warming' tonics for a constitution that has gone too far to the cold. The herb Cayenne, detailed info including practical guidance on how to use it here, heads the list but also the potent herbs Prickly Ash, more here, and Bayberry, more here, can deeply warm a person from within,

I am personally also highly likely to use Hawthorn if a person had gone too far to the cold. Hawthorn is a true tonic to the heart and it has been revered since ancient times as a herb that can both strengthen the heart muscle and increase blood flow through it, more on it here

Constitutional health is an old and fascinating way of understanding our differences, there is a brief introduction to the subject here and a more detailed section on working out which constitution you are here.

Please understand that I cannot personally advise you without seeing you in my clinic.
This living 'book' is my labour of love so, wherever you are, I wish you peace & good health!



© 2011 R.J.Whelan Ltd