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Cinnamon Keeps Fingers from Freezing due to Raynaud’s Disease

Are there any simple health remedies that might ease the pain of Raynaud's syndrome? Some visitors say cinnamon, ginger, vitamin E or astragalus could help.

Raynaud’s disease gets painful during the winter when temperatures fall. Many of the drugs that are prescribed are only partially effective and come with various side effects. Home Remedies may provide a successful alternative approach for easing symptoms of Raynaud’s.

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 for Circulation:

Cinnamon has anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant activity and promotes circulation (Pharmacognosy Magazine, Oct. 2011). Researchers have acknowledged that cinnamon “is a well-known traditional medicine for improvement of blood circulation” (Journal of Medicinal Food, Oct. 2010). These researchers note that Cinnamomum cassia has both anti-platelet and anti-coagulation activity.

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. People taking anticoagulants may be at increased risk of bleeding if they are also exposed to coumarin.

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.

A Chinese Herbal Approach to Raynaud’s:

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 the first hint of a sniffle.

Brent offers another herb for Raynaud’s:

“I had Raynaud’s Syndrome years ago — a few of my fingers would actually turn white in the winter! But since I use ginger I don’t have that problem.

“In recent months I have noticed a tingly sensation in my left hand. So I started taking a vitamin B-complex and that seems to be helping. I’ll also have to check out the cinnamon — my oldest brother takes it to prevent diabetes. Thanks for all the great information!”

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.”

Firdos adds:

“I’m taking cod liver oil and vitamin E for Raynaud and it works.”

Magnesium for Raynaud’s:

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.

A study published in the Annals of Pharmacotherapy (Feb., 2002) notes that:

Previous studies with magnesium have shown beneficial effects in pain syndromes and in vascular disorders (hypertension, migraines, Raynaud’s phenomenon).”

These researchers studied a Raynaud’s-like condition called erythromelalgia (EM or Mitchell’s disease). It is a vascular condition characterized by poor circulation in the feet or hands. The burning pain can be intense. The impact of oral magnesium on patients in this small study was impressive:


“Despite recent progress in understanding and treating EM, this vascular disorder remains painful and life-altering for many patients. In this informal survey, the use of high oral doses of magnesium produced good and sometimes dramatic results in 8 of 13 patients who had been unresponsive to many other treatments. These results suggest a possible role for high-dose oral magnesium in the treatment of EM and, perhaps, other vascular disorders.”

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

Revised, February 11, 2016

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies..
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