Reynaud’s phenomenon is caused by the spasm of the arterioles (the small arteries supplying the fingers and toes) that usually affects the fingers, but can also affect the toes or the nose.
It can cause pallor or cyanosis (the purple colouring) of the skin and if long standing the skin may also become smooth, shiny and tight. At present no specific cause
has been isolated.
However, it is made worse by smoking – it constricts the arteries.
It usually affects young women and is often triggered by exposure to cold or emotional upset.
Treatment always involves keeping the extremities warm, especially wearing comfortable nonrestricting shoes and woollen gloves in winter.
Supplementing with magnesium can help prevent arteriole and muscular spasm.
Herbs that help improve circulation are always advised, i.e. Garlic, Ginkgo Biloba, Cayenne, Yarrow, Flaxseed oils, fish oils and Vitamin E.
Niacin or vitamin B3 can also be used (combined with vitamin B complex) to dilate the small arteries. Be sure to use this very carefully and preferably under supervision, starting with only 25mg daily as it can cause severe flushing or arise in blood pressure if used inappropriately or in too large amounts.
See page on ‘Niacin- use of ‘.
If stress appears to be a precipitating factor then herbs such as Passion flower, Skullcap, Kava Kava, Lemon Balm or Motherwort may be appropriate. Evening primrose oil will also help greatly in this regard.
Supplementing with L-Arginine is known to help the arteries relax, but I have as yet not had anyone try this treatment, however it may well work!!