February 18, 2024

Raynaud’s Awareness Month

February is Raynaud’s Awareness Month. Raynaud’s (pronounced Ray-nodes) disease is a painful circulatory problem that affects around 10 million people in the UK. Like many conditions that are linked to autoimmunity and inflammation, it affects more women than men, often appearing before age 30.

Raynaud’s Awareness Month aims to raise the visibility of this condition and help people access support and resources to manage symptoms.

The classic signs of a Raynaud’s attack are:

    • An extreme reaction to cold and changes in temperature that cause small blood vessels in the extremities (fingers, toes, ears, nose, lips, and even nipples), to constrict.
    • The affected areas turn blue, purple, or white, and feel cold and numb.
    • Pain or tingling which can get worse as the circulation returns.

Once an attack subsides and blood flow returns, the affected areas regain normal color and sensation.

Emotional stress is another common trigger for these attacks, while caffeine, alcohol, and certain medications can make symptoms worse.

What causes Raynaud’s?

There are two forms of Raynaud’s:

Primary Raynaud’s (often called Raynaud’s disease) is the less serious form, affecting the majority of sufferers.  Most people with this condition have no other problems associated with the disease and can manage their symptoms themselves.

Scientists are yet to uncover the cause of Primary Raynaud’s. Normally, when the body feels cold, it diverts blood from the extremities toward the heart and vital organs. With Raynaud’s, this response is heightened, making the blood vessels in the extremities contract faster and tighter than normal. The symptoms can also be triggered by emotional stress, which suggests a link with the “fight or flight” sympathetic nervous system response.

Secondary Raynaud’s (also known as Raynaud’s Syndrome or Phenomenon) is caused by another condition. This is usually scleroderma, rheumatoid arthritis, or lupus – inflammatory conditions that affect connective tissue in the body. Other causes of Secondary Raynaud’s include smoking, repetitive vibration injury, and arterial diseases.

This secondary form requires regular careful monitoring by a healthcare professional in case there are complications such as skin ulcers or gangrene.


Is there a genetic link?

This question remained a mystery until a recent study (Hartmann et al, 2023) identified two genetic variants associated with Raynaud’s disease.

These are:

– The alpha-2A-adrenergic receptor for adrenaline (ADRA2A)

– The IRX1 gene.

Both of these genes influence blood vessel contraction, particularly in small blood vessels.

How these genetic variants become activated is the next part of the mystery to unravel but we already know that diet and lifestyle play a big role in genetic expression.


How to manage Raynaud’s Disease

There is no known cure for Raynaud’s and mainstream medical treatment options are limited. Most sufferers learn to cope with their attacks and avoid situations that may make their symptoms worse.

Practical tips include:

  • Wearing layers of warm clothing.
  • Drinking hot or warm drinks instead of cold.
  • Getting regular exercise.
  • Regular relaxation. This is vital for downregulating the “fight or flight” response and promoting inner calm. Deep relaxation places the body into the “rest, digest, heal, and repair” state which can help deal with the impact of any emotional triggers.


Can an anti-inflammatory diet help Raynaud’s?

An anti-inflammatory diet and lifestyle like the Eat Burn Sleep (EBS) approach is a great option for managing symptoms – especially Secondary Raynaud’s caused by inflammatory conditions. Research consistently highlights the benefits of foods and nutrients in managing inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and autoimmune issues.

The Bupa Global-approved EBS program is safe, natural, and evidence-based. Health professionals all over the world use it with their patients every day.

The EBS lifestyle is a holistic approach to care, covering diet, lifestyle, mindset, movement, relaxation, and sleep support. We firmly believe all of these factors are needed to achieve optimum health.

When managing Raynaud’s for example, our recommended foods include warming herbs and spices like ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, nutmeg, and black pepper. They form a key part of the EBS Anti-Inflammatory Food Lists and recipes. These foods can benefit circulation and tackle the root causes of inflammation.

Our library of movement tutorials is suitable for all levels of ability and can easily fit into your day no matter how busy you are. Our meditation and mental wellness videos will help you relax and build resilience to everyday stresses that may trigger your Raynaud’s.

Find out why anti-inflammatory foods and stress management are so important in the EBS lifestyle with my podcast episodes:

Anti-inflammatory Lifestyle


The Mediterranean Diet

And you can also dive into these articles:

Signs of inflammation that may surprise you

How to reduce inflammation


If Raynaud’s is affecting your life, act now! Check out our membership options here and begin your journey to optimum health.

Wishing you well,

Yalda x

Yalda Alaoui


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