What is it like to love real fitness, require being outside yet suffer from what is considered a bit of a medical mystery by most professionals?
Raynaud’s Phenomenon, Raynaud’s Syndrome, Raynaud’s Disease
To be very honest, I have never been a fan of winter or cold weather. I define “cold” as anything under 60˚ which means even in Georgia there can be a LOT of cold days. I became even less of a fan of cold weather starting about 10 years ago.
Several years ago, on one cold damp winter day, my hands were just miserably cold. Unbearably cold. Painfully cold. The next thing I noticed was that I had lost feeling in the tip of one of my fingers. When I looked at it, my finger was completely white from the second joint down to the finger tip. At first I thought I had frost bite…but then the problem returned. And returned. And returned.
Some days I would have numbness in one finger. Some days it might be 2 on one hand a one on the other. One day last week I had 8 white fingers! The worst part is not when the fingers are numb (though that is bad) but when the circulation returns to my fingers. It is very painful and the discomfort can last for quite awhile. Even my joints hurt after a spell.
At first my fingers would go numb only are VERY cold days. Then it started happening in warmer temperatures if the air was damp. I have even developed white fingers if I wear my damp workout clothes too long after a workout!
Managing Raynaud’s can be challenging beacuse there often is no pattern as to when a spell will happen. My hands can be fine in temperatures below freezing and can go numb in temperatures just below 60˚. It can happen inside or outside. It can happen on a sunny day or an overcast day. The only one thing I am sure of is that if it is damp, my fingers will turn white and lose all feeling.
What IS this crazy syndrome? What IS Raynaud’s Syndrome?
Raynaud’s is a disorder of the small blood vessels located in a person’s extremities, that is, in a person’s hands and feet. When fingers and toes are exposed to cold weather, the vessels go into spasms and these spasms cause the white fingers. Sometimes they will go numb. Others times they can tingle and throb. My fingers usually start off numb and then tingle and throb as the vessels calm down again.
Cold temperatures are not the only triggers. As I mentioned above, one of my triggers is damp weather. Even warm damp weather! Emotional distress can also trigger a Raynaud’s spell.
There are two types of Raynaud’s syndrome, primary and secondary. Secondary Raynaud’s is linked to another medical issue, usually a rheumatic or other connective tissue condition.
Primary Raynaud’s (what I have and the most common type) is not linked to any underlying medical condition and has no apparent cause. It is really a medical mystery and therefore has no treatment and no cure. Primary Raynaud’s is not considered a disabling issue, but from first hand experience, I can tell you it can create some challenges when you live a lifestyle that requires you to be outside in unpredictable weather.
How does one manage Raynaud’s since since no treatment or cure is available?
Unfortunately, the most effective management suggestions are not the most practical, and the most practical are far from effective. Obviously living in a warmer climate is an effective solution but not terribly practical if you like where you live and have a job where you live! Avoiding going outside on damp or cold days is effective but not very practical at all for a horse crazy girl like myself!
Mittens seem to work a little better than gloves but I have yet to find any pair of gloves that helps at all. The problem with mittens is that I have to remove the mittens to do any of my barn chores! I would actually invite readers to contact me with recommendations for glove solutions!
Horse Lover Tip: When doing barn chores, keep a HOT HANDS™ pack in each coat pocket. When your barn day is over, store the packs in a sealed bag and you may extend the life to a second day!
While there is no direct connection to any one food product causing Raynaud’s, it does make sense to avoid any foods that cause sensitivity and build a nutritional foundation around those foods that support the immune system and vascular function. Dairy, wheat and soy are common allergens. Chocolate and caffeine are suggested to be triggers. On the other hand, cinnamon, cayenne and mustard are supposed to create warmth in the body! I personally base my nutrition on clean whole foods (organic when possible) and avoid gmo foods.
I have used Shakeology daily for several years as the cornerstone of my nutrition plan. I also use it to support my body in dealing with Raynaud’s Syndmore because it contains the following ingredients:
- Citrus Bioflavonoids, extracted from fruit. These bioflavodoids are commonly used in Europe to treat diseases of the blood vessels and lymphatic system
- Ginko Powder (leaf) is widely used in Chinese medicine to stimulate blood circulation
- Sacha Inchi meal and Chiaseed both are rich sources Omega 3’s which may contribute to less painful symptoms or help reduce the length of spells
- Maitake Powder is used in both Japanese and Chinese medicine to support the immune system
- Suma Powder (root) enhances the immune system
- Maca Powder (root), Hydrilla, Astragalus Powder (root), Blue Green Algae are also ingredients that support the immune system
- Ashwagandha powder (root) (which means from the sweat or strength of the horse) is an adaptogen that helps the body deal with stress
- Quinoa, Flaxseed and Oat Grass are a great sources of B Vitamins, considered “anti-stress” vitamins. Niacin (B3) may aide in circulation
- Calcium and Magnesium are calming minerals and help reduce stress
- Vitamin E improves circulation
- Shakeology’s Probiotic Blend contributes to gut health and therefore benefits overall health
I am such a big believer in the health benefits found in Shakeology that I will send a FREE SAMPLE to anyone suffering from Raynaud’s Syndrome. Please only submit your request if you are not currently assigned a Team Beachbody coach and have a genuine interest in Shakeology as each sample is a $5 cost to me.
Because of the impact that smoking has on the vascular system, those suffering from Raynaud’s syndrome should not smoke.
If you or anyone you know suffers from Raynaud’s Syndrome, I would encourage you to visit the website for the Raynaud’s Association for more in depth discussion of the Phenomenon.