Chilblains are painful blue or red patches that occur on the extremities after exposure to cold. They can be itchy, painful and in some cases they may become infected and ulcerate. They are caused by poor circulation and affect about 10% of people.
Raynaud’s disease is also caused by problems with circulation. It occurs when there are spasms in the arteries usually supplying the fingers and toes, disrupting circulation and causing skin colour changes, numbness and prickling sensations. Raynaud’s can be triggered by exposure to cold or emotionally stressful situations.
As well as addressing the triggers of these conditions (ie. protect against exposure to cold and reduce emotional stress) the naturopathic approach is to improve circulation, and reduce inflammation which aggravates both these conditions.
Warming cold hands and feet slowly (ie. having a tepid not scalding bath) is better than going straight to the heater and causing more inflammation as the area heats up, so resist the temptation. Warming anti-inflammatory spices such as cayenne, turmeric, black pepper, cinnamon and ginger should be taken daily. A turmeric latte is a delicious way to do this. See the recipe below.
Vitamin E can also promote circulation so be sure to eat plenty of nuts and some seeds. Lack of calcium and magnesium can cause increased sensitivity to the cold and is also linked to emotional sensitivity; eat plenty of tahini, leafy green vegetables and almonds to help correct any imbalance.
Daily exercise and relaxation techniques are useful to combat stress and support healthy circulation. Vitamin B3 is both a circulatory stimulant and inflammation suppressant. It also helps modulate stress. See your naturopathic practitioner about appropriate dosages for you.
Many people start taking good quality fish oil, cod liver oil or flaxseed oil coming into the winter months to support circulation. Acupuncture and herbal circulatory supports such as ginkgo biloba are worth investigating. Geranium, lavender, pine bark and nutmeg essential oils can be used for therapeutic massage. You can make a lovely at home mix, following dilution instructions on the bottle. Organic jojoba or almond oils are great carriers. Be sure to use therapeutic quality oils and not fragrance oils.
With Raynaud’s disease there can be underlying disease causes, such as an autoimmune disease, and it may be a side-effect of medications. If you are experiencing Raynaud’s it is a good idea to have underlying issues ruled out by your physician.
- 500 ml almond milk (other nut milks or coconut milk is also nice, but rice milk is too thin for this recipe)
- 2 tsp turmeric
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp ginger
- pinch nutmeg
- pinch ground black pepper
- pinch cayenne (if you can handle the zing)
- raw honey to sweeten
- extra nutmeg to garnish
- Gently warm 'milk' in a small pot on the stove
- Add spices and mix through for 1 minute
- Pour into 2 mugs and sprinkle some extra nutmeg for garnish
- Add an optional teaspoon of raw honey to sweeten