Q. My son has Raynaud’s phenomenon, which is very painful when it is cold. I heard that eating more bananas and potatoes could help because of the magnesium in them. The mineral is supposed to relax constricted blood vessels. Is there any truth in this? Would magnesium pills as a supplement work just as well?

A. Raynaud’s phenomenon is a condition in which cold temperatures or emotional stress trigger vasoconstriction of the fingers and toes. They turn white or even blue and become painful with exposure to cold.

We have heard from other readers that cinnamon extract or astragalus root can ease the symptoms of Raynaud’s. Swedish researchers have concluded that magnesium plays a significant role in Raynaud’s phenomenon (Clinical Physiology, Sept., 1994). We can imagine that taking a supplement might help. Neither bananas nor potatoes are especially rich in magnesium, however. Whole grains, leafy green vegetables (spinach, chard), nuts and blackstrap molasses are good sources of magnesium.

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  1. LMR

    I used to have VERY cold hands that I would run under hot water to warm. People used to good heartedly tease me about it. Several years ago I was struggling with seasonal allergies and read that cayenne and honey tea would help. So I tried it, and everything got hot! My mouth, my throat, my body. It didn’t work for the allergies, but boy did it work for my circulation! My hand and feet haven’t been cold since.

  2. MDF

    I have suffered with pain in my hands and my hands being very cold. I used to have to run hot water over my hands in the winter time and wear gloves indoors. It got so bad I feared losing the use of my hands.
    A couple of years ago I started drinking a tea that I bought from Nepal with several herbs in it, and I felt tingling in my fingers and I regained the full use of my hands without pain after drinking the tea daily for several months. So the tea must have increased blood flow in my fingers. I now drink it only about once a week.
    The ingredients are: Gurmarbuti (gymenma sylvestre), Guduchi (Tinospora cordifolia), Chirayita (Swertia chirayita), Green tea, Lemon Grass (Cymbopogon flexuosus), Purified Shilajit (Asphaltum).

  3. Melissa

    Yes, Magnesium does help with constipation, and also with Restless Leg Syndrome. What has helped me most for constipation is high doses of Vitamin C. I get Nature Made brand, Timed Release formula with Rosehips, and take either 500mg or 1000mg 2-3 times a day. I’ve been told that you know when you’re taking too much if you get diarrhea, but other than that not to worry about taking too much. Of course, some high fiber foods are very helpful also – apples, raisins, craisins, Flat Out brand wraps, beans, whole grains and things with Flax, like Smart Balance Peanut Butter. Also, regular daily exercise and lots of water.

  4. pkp

    I also have Raynaud’s and have been taking grape seed extract capsules (1-2 per day) for about two years. It has helped quite a bit. I began taking it for rosacea but then read it was good for Raynaud’s.

  5. Harold S.

    I have read that taking magnesium tablets will help a constipation problem. Is there any truth to this? Also, taking olive oil might help. Any other helpful suggestions?
    Thank you.

  6. Brent B.

    I used to have Raynaud’s but then I discovered ginger beer and the condition disappeared after I used that for a while. Ginger is great for circulation (as well as a variety of other uses). And ginkgo biloba would be another option.

  7. Else H.

    My late companion had Raynaud’s phenomenon and the doctor told him that if he stopped smoking that would help to improve it…. but of course he never stopped smoking and it eventually caused lung cancer which killed him.

  8. Sue

    I have Raynaud’s, and have found that yoga provides more long-term relief than anything else; ask a yoga teacher for a routine of poses that boost circulation. I imagine any exercise that gets the blood pumping would help as well.

  9. pb

    I have Raynauds and I’m interested in your comments about cinnamon. I’ve seen several times that cinnamon was good for Raynauds, but I haven’t seen anywhere the amount to be used. This article mentions cinnamon extract. Does that have to be bought at a special store?? Also, how about the ground cinnamon you buy in the grocery store as I have that on hand? How much of that should be used daily?
    I’ve read that you should not use too much. I guess I am asking for specifics about using cinnamon – – or anything else that will help with Raynauds as I have not been able to tolerate any of the medicine that has been given to me.

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