Most of us will not be relishing the near-arctic temperatures we have had of late. Colder climes are often of particular concern to those who tend to suffer with abnormally cold hands and feet. From a traditional perspective, treatment options for those prone to a sluggish circulation are pretty limited: the stock advice given to apparently cold-blooded individuals is to invest in some thick socks and a decent pair of gloves. However, while conventional medicine has little to offer in the way of cold comfort, alternative approaches may give real relief from frozen fingers and toes. Experience shows that natural remedies can be very effective in bringing a touch of winter warmth to the extremities.
One of the most common causes of poor circulation is a condition known as Raynaud’s (pronounced ray-nodes) disease. Here, constriction in the blood vessels can stifle the circulation, which in turn can lead to coldness, numbness and discomfort in the fingers and toes. Typically, when first exposed to the cold, the affected digits turn white, then blue, and then finally red once they warm up again. As they warm, it is not uncommon for the fingers and toes to become excruciatingly painful for some minutes.
From a dietary perspective, sufferers of Raynaud’s disease would do well to avoid caffeine in their diets, as this substance is known to promote constriction of blood vessels. A useful alternative to caffeinated drinks is ginger tea. Ginger contains substances that ‘thin’ the blood and relax the blood vessels too. These combined effects mean that ginger may help provide relief from the symptoms of Raynaud’s disease. To make ginger tea, simmer about a one inch cube of grated or finely chopped root ginger in two pints of water for about 10 minutes. Many find drinking the resulting brew throughout the day will have a significant warming effect in their hands and feet.
Another natural approach to Raynaud’s disease is to take a supplement of the mineral magnesium. Magnesium may help to reduce spasm in the vessels of the fingers and toes and, in practice, can often reduce the frequency and severity of Raynaud’s attacks. 300 ” 500 mg of magnesium should be taken every day. Yet another natural substance renowned for its circulation-enhancing effects is the herb Ginkgo biloba. In my experience, many Raynaud’s disease sufferers find that taking Ginkgo biloba gives them tremendous relief from their symptoms throughout the winter. The normal recommended dose of Ginkgo biloba is 120 – 240 mg of standardised extract per day.
Vitamin B3 (in the form of niacin) is well known to enhance the circulation, but can also induce flushing in the skin that some people find quite unpleasant. An alternative to niacin is the nutrient inositol hexaniacinate. Actually a molecule of inositol (loosely classified as a B vitamin) complexed with six molecules of niacin, this compound appears to help enhance the circulation without the side-effects common with niacin. 500 mg of inositol hexaniacinate, taken 2 ” 4 times a day may help control the symptoms of a poor circulation, though it might take two months or so before improvement is seen. Experience shows that those suffering at the hands of the inclement weather may well be helped by one or more of these hot tips.