By Joe Fleming
Managing Raynaud’s Phenomenon and preventing attacks always seems to be about what you put on the outside of your body, right? Gloves, scarves, socks, hats . . . the list goes on.
As the weather cools off and the crisp Autumn winds roll in, however, colder temperatures might suggest thinking about what you could put inside your body to support warmth and blood circulation.
Warming foods, or foods which induce chemical reactions in the body to create a warming sensation, may help boost circulation which could potentially aid some Raynaud’s symptoms. These include:
The rhizome (root) of the “Zingiber officinale,” or the flowering ginger plant, has been used for thousands of years as a natural remedy for everything from joint inflammation to indigestion. Early mentions of ginger being used as a tonic or aid date back to Greek literature from 200 B.C. and to this day it remains one of the most highly cultivated spices in the world.
When it comes to Raynaud’s, it’s the bioactive compounds, gingerol and shogaol, that bear the greatest anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties to support improved blood flow. Ginger’s thermogenic properties stem from its unique ability to dilate blood vessels and enhance the circulation of blood – as the diameters of blood vessels widen and more blood can flow through, the body temperature naturally raises, even if by only a little. For people with Raynaud’s who experience blood vessel constriction with sudden temperature changes, ginger consumption might be worth considering.
Ginger root can be prepared as tea, grated fresh and mixed into a potent shot with lemon juice and cayenne. Or it can be dried and crushed into a powder for use as a food additive. Additional preparations include pickled, crystallized, candied, preserved, and more.
As shared in the Raynaud’s Association’s May 2017 blog post, some interesting research on the effects of Vitamin C from citrus fruits like oranges has been shown to aid cold sufferers (note it was not specifically Raynaud’s sufferers in the experiment shared).
Orange trees are one of the most highly cultivated fruit trees in the world. Oranges originally come from China and were even mentioned in Chinese literature as far back as 314 B.C. Most people in the U.S. may attribute Florida as the great purveyor of oranges, and luckily, they can be found in most grocery stores year round.
The critical component in oranges which plays a role in increasing blood flow is derived from its own antioxidants. A group of natural plant compounds called polyphenols can be found in oranges, and those polyphenols are comprised of various bioflavonoids, including one called hesperidin. In addition to its antiinflammatory and antioxidant properties, hesperidin can act as a vasodilator with the ability to stimulate blood vessel expansion. Opening up the blood vessels can potentially support increased blood flow, which is good news for people with Raynaud’s who may suffer pain, tingling, numbness, and throbbing when blood vessels go into spasm with drastic temperature changes.
The highest concentration of beneficial flavonoids will be found in the peel of the oran