Raynaud’s Phenomenon

Raynaud’s phenomenon is a common disorder in which the small blood vessels in the extremities are oversensitive to changes in temperature, causing the blood supply to be interrupted.

Raynaud's Phenomenon affects between 3-20% of the adult population worldwide and is much more common in women.

An attack will often be triggered by touching cold objects or exposure to cold of any kind. Emotions, such as anxiety, may also play a part, as can smoking.

Raynaud’s can be subdivided into primary or secondary Raynaud’s:

Primary Raynaud’s can develop in anyone of any age. It occurs spontaneously without any underlying condition being present. It can be hereditary in which case it is usually fairly mild.

Secondary Raynaud’s is less common and is associated with underlying diseases such as scleroderma, systemic lupus erythematosus and rheumatoid arthritis.


During an attack a number of changes take place in sufferer’s extremities, most commonly the fingers and toes, but sometimes areas such as ears and nose are involved.

The affected area first becomes white and dead-looking, before turning blue and finally red and burning when the blood flow is restored. There may also be considerable pain, numbness or tingling and in severe cases loss of hand function.

These symptoms are due to an intermittent lack of blood in the affected parts when the arteries normally supplying them spasmodically contract.

Contributory factors

Stress: stress and emotional upset may trigger a Raynaud’s attack, particularly in people who have primary Raynaud’s syndrome. Learning to effectively cope with stressful situations may help control the number of attacks.

A particularly demanding lifestyle can be a major factor in your Raynaud’s attacks. An Adrenal Stress Test can  pinpoint any imbalances in your stress hormones. Smart Nutrition can also use the results to put together a specific and personalised stress management programme for longterm relief.

Smoking: nicotine causes blood vessels to constrict and skin temperature to drop, both of which can precipitate a Raynaud’s attack. Quitting smoking will help to restore some of the blood flow to the extremities and can help reduce the incidence of Raynaud’s attacks.

Smart Nutrition’s nutritional therapy is a valuable support through this process, and uses diet and supplements to support your body and reduce cravings. Please use the button at the bottom of the page to find out more.

Diet and nutrient levels: certain foods and nutrients can be very beneficial for Raynaud’s sufferers. Foods that have warming properties and nutrients that improve blood flow can help to encourage circulation to the extremities, and some nutrients help vascular integrity and hence reduce the incidence of symptoms. 

Useful Links

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