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Cinnamon Keeps Fingers from Freezing due to Raynaud's Disease

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Q. I eat my daily oatmeal with a sprinkling of cinnamon, hoping to lower my cholesterol. I didn't imagine that this would also help my Raynaud's syndrome, but this winter my fingers have given me very little trouble, even when it gets cold. Is the cinnamon responsible, as I suspect?

A. There is no research to support the use of cinnamon for the symptoms of Raynaud's disease. In this condition, blood vessels constrict when exposed to cold so fingers and toes may become white and painful.

Cinnamon has anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant activity and promotes circulation (Pharmacognosy Magazine, Oct. 2011). Other readers with Raynaud's also report benefits from using cinnamon. One said: "I live in a warm climate, so I was puzzled to be diagnosed with Raynaud's. My physician offered a calcium channel blocker, but when I read about cinnamon I tried it. This was a godsend."

We do want to add a word of caution about consuming cassia cinnamon (the common variety of cinnamon often found in the spice section on grocery store shelves). This cinnamon is less expensive than "true" cinnamon or Ceylon cinnamon. Cassia cinnamon usually contains quantitites of a substance called coumarin. This natural contaminant can be toxic to the liver when consumed regularly. Instead of cassia cinnamon, we suggest either Ceylon cinnamon or a water-extracted product found in health food stores such as Cinnulin PF that has the coumarin removed.

Another unconventional treatment for Raynaud's is the Chinese herb astragalus. We always like to keep some on hand, as dried root or in capsules, during the winter. We find it helps ward off colds if taken at thefirst hint of a sniffle. 

Anne T. chimed in that she uses a different supplement: "For my Raynaud's, which affects one toe in cold weather, I find Vitamin E does the job. For many years, and especially since an especially uncomfortable episode in 1976, I have daily taken 400 IU High Gamma, Natural Mixed Tocopherols with Tocotrienols. If for some reason I miss one morning, my toe reminds me."

One supplement supported by research is magnesium. Swedish researchers found that inadequate magnesium could contribute to the symptoms of Raynaud's phenomenon (Clinical Physiology, Sept. 1994). It is unclear what dose of supplement would be helpful, however, since their trial was conducted using intravenous magnesium.

If you try any of these approaches yourself, please give a report in the comment section below.

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9 Comments

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I take 400 IU of vitamin E daily with no benefit for my cold weather Raynaud's, but taking 2000mg of Astragalus has completely solved the problem so far this winter.

I have Hashimoto's autoimmune hypothyroid disease. I have symptoms of Reynauds when my thyroid medication needs to be increased. This is most common in winter, when we may need to take a higher dose of thyroid hormone drugs, anyway.

Would cinnamon help Carpal Tunnel? I think that I have that Raynauds disease. My fingers will hurt no sooner I'm outside in the cold. Use to wear 2 sets of gloves. Our car is in the garage now (of which we never had before) and helps that I don't hit the cold right away. Don't like what the doctors are saying about supplements. I believe in supplements of any kind. SURE THE DOCTORS DON'T WANT YOU TO TAKE SUPPLEMENTS.. Because if you are taking good care of yourself, you prevent yourself from getting ill. And the doctors don't like that because your making fewer visits.

People's Pharmacy response: It is reasonable to try cinnamon supplements, but make sure they are water extracted. The dangerous compound in cinnamon, coumarin, is not water soluble, while the active compounds are. It would be a shame to harm your liver using a natural approach to stay healthy.

I take grapeseed extract capsules for Raynaud's. One capsule each morning does the job.

I sprinkle a little cinnamon on my oatmeal in the AM for my psoriatic arthritis. Sometimes I even add it to my plain low fat yogurt as well.

Capsaicin (hot chili peppers) is a known vasodilator and really helps treat low temperature induced Raynauds. Old timers used to put powdered hot peppers in their socks to help keep their feet warm. It works by increasing blood flow in the toes. A small amount of capsaicin in the diet will work. IME I don't really even need so much hot pepper in my diet to notice the heat in the food while eating in order to get an effect. In other words, if you notice the heat from the hot peppers in your food, you may be getting more than enough. The other option is to take cayenne capsules. I get low temperature induced Raynaud's very easily and so regularly include hot peppers in my diet all winter long. It works!

I have suffered from Raynaud's in my fingers for years(~40). Recently I joined the local YMCA and faithfully used the weight machines. Many of which require a lot of gripping and pulling. After several months, my Raynaud's symptoms are gone!

Aha! I was just wondering why my cold fingers seemed much better this winter... I've added magnesium supplements to help with sleep and blood pressure. Now it makes sense. I take 250mg twice a day, breakfast and bedtime.

I have tried astragulus root for my Raynaud's, but I find it makes me hyper. I will try the cinnamon and capsaicin.

People's Pharmacy response: Be sure not to overdo on cinnamon, or use a water-based extract. Otherwise, you could get too much coumarin, which is dangerous for the liver.

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