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Cinnamon Helps Painful Fingers

Sometimes discoveries are made by serendipity. Several years ago we received the following message from a reader of our syndicated newspaper column. We incorporated it into our Q&A format and it was published on February 5, 2007.
Q. My Raynaud’s syndrome has suddenly seemed to disappear. The only change I’ve made is to start taking a cinnamon capsule about six weeks ago. My fingers used to turn white even in the summer. It’s in the 20s and I haven’t had a problem, even getting stuff out of the freezer. Is it the cinnamon?
A. Raynaud’s is a condition in which blood vessels in the hands and feet constrict, leading to pain and numbness. Sometimes fingers or toes even turn white or blue.
In Chinese medicine both cinnamon and the herb astragalus have been used to improve circulation and relieve symptoms of Raynaud’s. Be careful not to overdose on cinnamon, though, since the spice sometimes contains a compound called coumarin that can damage the liver. To be safe, look for a cinnamon supplement that is water extracted to eliminate the coumarin.
Since then, we have received reports from others that cinnamon may be beneficial against the symptoms of Raynaud’s.
Here is the most recent report:
Somebody asked me the dose I have been taking. I take the recommended dose on the bottle. Each pill is 250mg, and it says to take two pills twice a day before a meal. So I take 500mg before breakfast, and then again before dinner.
I have been taking it for almost a week, and have had no major Raynaud’s the entire time. My hands get cold, and once in a while show little splotches of white, but they quickly disappear.
The ultimate test for me was yesterday when I went into our grocery store (I ALWAYS get Raynaud’s there). They keep the air conditioning cranked up very high in there. I started to get cold, and looked down at my hands to see if they would turn white (like they usually do), but all I saw was a few splotches of white, which quickly disappeared. I almost always have to use a hand warmer before I leave the store, and then it usually takes 30 minutes for my hands to return to normal, but not this time. No Raynaud’s.
I still wear gloves, partly out of habit, but also to take the edge off the cold. Well, I”m off to take another dose. . .
April, 28, 2010

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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.”.
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