Article by Angela Haldane
Q. My girlfriend has a miserable time in the Wellington winter, with cold hands, feet and nose, despite being warmly dressed. Even at night under a warm duvet, her hands and feet can be like ice blocks. She is a fit 29-year-old who eats well and is a healthy weight for her height. Apparently her mum has the same issues. Can you identify the problem and suggest a solution?
A. This might be a case of Raynaud’s syndrome, which is characterised by sudden spasms in, and constriction of, blood vessels in the hands and feet. It results in greatly reduced blood circulation.
Raynaud’s disease affects 5-30 percent of the population of Western nations. It is five times more prevalent in women than in men, and 18 to 30-year-olds are the most commonly affected.
Practical measures to overcome this would be to exercise daily to promote peripheral circulation. To your partner’s teapot or hot drinks add some chopped ginger root, which has a warming circulatory effect. Eat curries made with chilli for dinner; these can also stimulate circulation.
Or try this bushman’s remedy: mix a pinch of chilli powder with talcum powder and wear it in your socks. This was used to offset chilblains and frostbite.
Case reports supplied by doctors indicate that daily doses of 400 IU of the Tocopherol acetate form of vitamin E may eliminate the symptoms of Raynaud’s disease within eight weeks. Vitamin E is known for promoting collateral circulation.
Studies also show that people with Raynaud’s syndrome have low levels of magnesium, which would contribute to blood vessel constriction.