Who else is familiar with this?
I’m not a doctor, neither am I a nutritionist so I urge you to take this post as one that is written by a layman. I did, however, suffer from Raynaud’s phenomenon for 14 years and now no longer suffer from it.
Phenomenon – there is no known cause or cure.
Before I delve into this more, let me tell you a story.
(if you want to skip the story, scroll down to REMEDIES)
I was 18 years old and walking along Brighton beach front with my friends on a freezing January day during 2000. Looking down, I saw the index finger on my left hand had gone white from the top section up. We all laughed and named it the ‘Buddha Finger‘ after one of our favourite garage tracks. (Imagine a spotty teenage me bopping along to that track in the local nightclub – total lol!)
Within months, when I got cold, each finger followed suit and changed to a yellowish white, except now it wasn’t just at the top, but from the base of each finger all the way up.
Within 1 year, it started happening in my feet as well. There were times where I was unable to drive because of the excruciating pain in my hands. During the winter, the time it took me to walk from my front door to my car, my hands were so restricted of blood it would leave me sitting in the car for 15 minutes waiting for the heaters to warm my hands up to grip the steering wheel.
There was even a time where my fingertip went black-ish purple because it was starved of oxygen for so long.
This condition is painful when there is no blood in the fingers and toes, but it is even worse when the blood supply comes back. I’d go as far as agonising. It would feel as though my fingertips were going to explode and sometimes reduced me to tears.
My mum trotted me to the doctors and they readily supplied me with a number of medicines to help reduce the symptoms. One of them was an anti-depressant that was said to have side effects of reducing the symptoms of Raynaud’s. Let’s bear in mind I am 18 years old, had perfect mental and physical health (apart from the Raynaud’s) and I was given anti-depressants!? Madness.
They didn’t work and so they prescribed me something else; a blood thinner
Taking medication didn’t sit well with me and I soon made the decision to treat the condition naturally. As a result, I ended up with a pair of battery operated heated gloves. They were like the orthopaedic shoes of the glove world. The wires travelled up my arms and across my back and I’d have this bulky pack strapped to my waistband. Far from cool. But more than being uncool, they didn’t work!
That’s where I began to research the condition.
It seemed the symptoms didn’t necessarily occur when my hands and feet got cold but when my body temperature dropped. I worked in Greece for a number of years in my early 20’s and even getting out of the pool on a hot 30-degree day would leave my hands with ‘Buddha finger’ if the wind blew slightly. I began thinking it was nothing to do with my hands and circulation but another system in my body.
Many people think that Raynaud’s is a circulatory disorder but I have read it is connected to the nervous system which trips out when the body temperature drops. The body thinks it’s colder than it is and goes into protect mode cutting off the circulation to the extremities, even though it doesn’t need to. It seemed my body had lost its ability to regulate.
Through research, I discovered it was the smooth muscle in my arteries that were contracting when I got ‘cold’ or when my body temperature dropped.
I read that cinnamon was good for stimulating the smooth muscle.
I added a ⅛ teaspoon of cinnamon to my morning porridge every day and hoped it would make a difference
I also began adding a small amount of ground ginger to my porridge (not much though as it tastes really strong) as well as drinking fresh ginger tea.
If you do not like cinnamon or ginger, capsule forms are available however I think fresh is always the best option.
You may also like my post about the Anti Inflammatory Shot which has these ingredients in.
After about 6 months I noticed a significant improvement in my symptoms.
Cue experiment number 1: I decided to cut both the cinnamon and ginger out. Within just a few weeks, my symptoms returned. There must be something in that right?
After introducing them both into my diet again, I was able to take part in summer obstacle races without the debilitating pain from the Raynaud’s. Now, all I had to do was find a solution for the winter races which were the ones I enjoyed the most.
3. Ice Baths (You’ll have to trust me on this)
After reading The 4 Hour Body by Tim Ferris, I started doing weekly ice baths to 1) reduce my body fat and make me a faster runner 2) to improve my immune system and 3) to help improve recovery and prevent injury.
Once a week, I’d fill the bath with cold water and add 2 bags of ice. It was torture! I did this for about 1 year and hadn’t realised it had a positive effect on my hands and feet.
Over time, it seemed that my body was getting used to the extreme cold, leading to a significant reduction in symptoms.
Watch a video here – cringe!
There are many people who seem to suffer from Raynaud’s in this modern world. I really believe our central heated, air-conditioned world we live in has caused this. Our bodies are forgetting how to cope with the cold. (Recommended reading here).
Exercise increases circulation throughout the body, bringing warm, nutrient-rich blood to the extremities. I can only see this would have a positive effect on Raynaud’s.
I am now 34 years old and no longer suffer from Raynaud’s at all. My hands and feet are often cold but they never constrict and lose colour. I believe it is a result of cinnamon, ginger, ice baths and exercise.
I also believe because I stopped worrying about it, it allowed my body to heal itself. You know how it is? “We become what we think about most of the time….” Quote by Earl Nightingale.
(Read about me curing another disease I had in this post).
- If you take part in winter runs, obstacle courses, water sports or winter sports and suffer from Raynaud’s, I recommend neoprene gloves and socks. If you have a slightly larger budget, invest in an NRS HydroSkin top. I got mine sent from the USA but this is one of the BEST things I have ever purchased and worth every penny.
It comes in 0.5, 1.0 and 1.5mm thickness, has a ThermalPlush™ lining (posh I know) and a titanium laminate layer which reflects body heat back into the skin. I cannot recommend this enough! I have the 0.5mm and 1.5mm and have the leggings too.
I ran 4 laps of Winter Nuts, one of the coldest UK obstacle races, and had to strip off at the finish line because I was too hot!
The neoprene solution won’t get rid of the cause of Raynaud’s but it will make you more comfortable during your events.
As I mentioned above, I am not a doctor, nor qualified to give advice. I am however outlining what I did to heal myself of Raynaud’s. I would always recommend seeing your doctor and following the necessary tests they suggest to determine if it is Secondary Raynaud’s and linked to another health condition.
I read that one guy got rid of his symptoms by seeing a chiropractor. It was caused by a trapped nerve under his scapula.
The thing that scares me about ‘the doctor approach’ is taking medicine which has a side effect of reducing the symptoms of Raynaud’s. Surely taking medicine would then put the body out of balance?
The key is to be patient with the methods I’ve suggested above and
I call it
I hope you enjoyed this post and found it helpful.
Thank you so much for reading.
Do you suffer from Raynaud’s?
What lead you to this post?
Have you found a way to make it better?
Have you tried some of these suggestions?
I’d love to hear from you!