VeryWell Health recently published an article titled “Natural Remedies for Raynaud’s Phenomenon.” You would expect from the title that they were publishing a list of supplements and natural treatment options for Raynaud’s, but just the opposite. The article states upfront that “there is a lack of scientific support for the use of remedies in the treatment of Raynaud’s.”
We were happy to see the statement, as it’s consistent with our experience with research on the subject. While some Raynaud’s sufferers may have had a positive experience trying certain vitamins, holistic treatments or other measures, to date there’s no clinical evidence that any of these options will improve Raynaud’s symptoms.
One reason behind the lack of scientific evidence is that there’s just not enough data available. The studies are scarce, sample sizes are small, and the methodologies across these efforts are not consistent in their design to allow the medical community to combine data from different research studies.
The article covers the following treatment options:
Biofeedback – This is a mind-body technique using electronic instruments to help individuals gain awareness and control over their body and mind, including blood flow and skin temperature. Biofeedback in studies with Raynaud’s sufferers has not to date proven effective. One reason may be due to how test subjects are randomly assigned to study groups. Mind-body techniques like biofeedback require a significant amount of commitment and practice. Someone randomly assigned to a group testing this technique may not come into the study with the right mindset – they might not even believe it will work from the start. By definition, scientific research can’t allow people to self-select for test treatments, but without the proper patient orientation for a mind-body technique, results can be biased in the other direction.
Nutritional Supplements – The article suggests that Vitamin B3 (niacin) is said to dilate blood vessels and promote circulation. Evidence to date, however, hasn’t proven the vitamin effective, plus there are several potential side effects that should be carefully considered. We expected to see the article include magnesium, which is also reported to dilate blood vessels. A noted alternative medical specialist who was a featured speaker at one of our past eventssuggested it could work like a “natural calcium channel blocker,” the drugs clinically proven to relieve symptoms in Raynaud’s patients in clinical studies. But, while promising, magnesium still has not been sanctioned by the medical community as a viable treatment for Raynaud’s.
Ginkgo Biloba – Historical results for the treatment of Raynaud’s with Ginkgo Biloba show some promise – but to date, the improvements have been found insignificant in clinical trials. The article shares the results of one study where the herb was tested against nifedipine, a calcium channel blocker proven to help Raynaud’s sufferers. Nifedipine significantly outperformed Ginkgo Biloba in reducing the number of Raynaud’s attacks.
In sum, lifestyle changes and protective measures (exercise, avoid caffeine and smoking, manage stress and layer up on clothing) are the first line of defense for Raynaud’s sufferers. If you do choose to try natural remedies, be sure to discuss them first with your doctor, as supplements can interact with other medications and herbal remedies.
Editor’s Note: We advocate the need for better quality, more consistent study methodologies on nutritional supplements and dietary options that could help Raynaud’s patients better control their attack frequency and severity.
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