Raynaud’s disease, also known as Raynaud’s phenomenon or syndrome, is a condition characterized by transitory blood vessels spasms, involving mostly the fingers and the toes. As a result of the limited blood circulation the skin tone of the affected areas turns white and then blue. Color changes are accompanied by sensation of cold and numbness. When the vessels spasm disappears, affected areas may become red and swallow. Symptoms such as stinging, tingling and throbbing may also be experienced during Raynaud’s disease attack. Apart from fingers and toes Raynaud’s disease may also affect other body parts such as ears, nose or nipples. The attacks are typically provoked by cold or stress. Another cause for Raynaud syndrome may be an underlying condition such as connective tissue disorder, smoking, atherosclerosis, vasculitis or trauma. Treatment includes drugs that improve the blood circulation such as calcium channel blockers, vasodilators, alpha and beta blockers.
Acupuncture and Chinese Herbs
Apart from the conventional therapy, there is a growing interest in alternative medicine treatment methods since they have already been tested in clinical trials and their advantages have been scientifically proved.
For example acupuncture may be useful for patients suffering from Raynaud’s disease as:
1. Acupuncture ameliorates the local blood circulation, which disturbance is the main reason for Raynaud’s disease attacks
2. Acupuncture modulates the expression of pro-inflammatory substances (such as IL-6, TNFα, IFN-γ, VEGF), which misbalance may be involved in the pathogenesis of the condition
3. Acupuncture decreases pain by promoting the release of body’s natural pain-killers such as endorphins.
4. Acupuncture also stimulates the nervous system, which is beneficial for relieving the stress – one of the main factors inducing Raynaud’s disease attacks.
In addition to the acupuncture, herbal treatment of Raynaud’s syndrome has also been studied. Trials showed that traditional Chinese medicine herb mixtures reduce the secretion of substances that cause blood vessels constriction and therefore prevent the attacks.
Alternative treatment techniques have very few contraindications and no side effects. They are relatively cheap and accessible. That is why their effects are being studied in order to offer the patient the most beneficial and the least risky treatment possible.
Acupuncture as well as Chinese medicine herbs are proved to decrease the frequency and the severity of the attacks. Their benefits for patients suffering from Raynaud’s disease must not be underestimated and they should be included in the standard therapy schemes.
- Treatment of primary Raynaud’s syndrome with traditional Chinese acupuncture. Appiah R, Hiller S, Caspary L, Alexander K, Creutzig A. J Intern Med. 1997;241(2):119.
- Raynaud’s phenomenon, cytokines and acupuncture: a case report. Folashade S Omole1, James S Lin1, Tehching Chu1, Charles M Sow1, Anthony Flood1, Michael David Powell. BMJ Journals Volume 30, Issue 2 Link
- Herbal Prescription, DSGOST, Prevents Cold-Induced RhoA Activation and Endothelin-1 Production in Endothelial Cells. Sung-Gook Cho, Ho Yeon Go, Jeong-Su Park,3Ki-Yong Jung, Seung-Ho Sun,4 You-Kyung Choi,3 Yun-Kyung Song, Jong-Hyeong Park, Chan-Yong Jun, and Seong Gyu Ko. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Volume 2014 (2014), Article ID 549307, Link