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Home > Healthy Living > Health Library > Raynaud's Disease (Holistic)
Reduce the severity of blood vessel spasm by taking a daily supplement supplying 4 grams of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) for 6 to 12 weeks; after that, ask your healthcare provider to recommend an amount for long-term supplementation
With a doctor's supervision, take 3 to 4 grams a day of this form of vitamin B3 to reduce arterial spasm and improve peripheral circulation
Kick the habit to avoid the damaging effects of nicotine on blood flow
Avoid unnecessary exposure to cold and dress warmly to prevent attacks of Raynaud's disease
Raynaud's disease is a condition caused by constriction and spasms of small arteries, primarily in
the hands after exposure to cold. Frequently, white or bluish discoloration of the hands (and sometimes toes,
cheeks, nose, or ears) will occur after exposure to cold or emotional stress.
The cause of Raynaud's disease is unknown. A condition called Raynaud's phenomenon causes
similar symptoms, but it is the result of connective tissue disease or exposure to certain chemicals. The
same natural remedies are used to treat both disorders.
Fingers (generally not the thumb) or other affected parts of the body may feel numb or cold during an episode, and later, after warming, may become bright red with a throbbing painful sensation.
Dressing warmly and wearing gloves or mittens often help prevent attacks of Raynaud's disease. Individuals with Raynaud's disease should not smoke, because nicotine decreases blood flow to the extremities. Women with Raynaud's disease should not use birth control pills, as this method of contraception can adversely affect circulation.
Our proprietary "Star-Rating" system was developed to help you easily understand the amount of scientific support behind each supplement in relation to a specific health condition. While there is no way to predict whether a vitamin, mineral, or herb will successfully treat or prevent associated health conditions, our unique ratings tell you how well these supplements are understood by some in the medical community, and whether studies have found them to be effective for other people.
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In a double-blind trial, supplementation with 12 large capsules of fish oil per day (providing 4 grams of eicosapentaenoic acid [EPA] per day) for 6 or 12 weeks reduced the severity of blood-vessel spasm in 5 of 11 people with Raynaud's phenomenon. Fish oil was effective in people with primary Raynaud's disease, but not in those whose symptoms were secondary to another disorder.
Fatty acids in evening primrose oil (EPO) inhibit the formation of biochemical messengers (prostaglandins) that promote blood vessel constriction. A double-blind trial of 21 people with Raynaud's disease found that, compared with placebo, supplementation with EPO reduced the number and severity of attacks despite the fact that blood flow did not appear to increase. Researchers have used 3,000–6,000 mg of EPO per day.
Ginkgo biloba has been reported to improve the circulation in small blood vessels. For that reason, some doctors recommend ginkgo for people with Raynaud's disease. One preliminary trial found that 160 mg of standardized ginkgo extract per day reduced pain in people with Raynaud's disease. Larger clinical trials are needed to confirm ginkgo's effectiveness for this condition. Ginkgo is often used as a standardized extract (containing 24% ginkgo flavone glycosides and 6% terpene lactones). Doctors who recommend use of ginkgo often suggest that people take 120–160 mg per day.
In one study, 12 people with Raynaud's disease were given L-carnitine (1 gram three times a day) for 20 days. After receiving L-carnitine, these people showed less blood-vessel spasm in their fingers in response to cold exposure.
Abnormalities of magnesium metabolism have been reported in people with Raynaud's disease. Symptoms similar to those seen with Raynaud's disease occur in people with magnesium deficiency, probably because a deficiency of this mineral results in spasm of blood vessels. Some doctors recommend that people with Raynaud's disease supplement with 200–600 mg of magnesium per day, although no clinical trials support this treatment.
Last Review: 06-03-2015
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