What is Raynaud’s Disease?
Raynaud’s disease is a clinical disorder characterized by the features like cold fingers or toes, sudden change of the colour of the skin in response to cold or stress and a sensation of prickly feeling or stinging pain upon warming due to narrowing of blood vessels. Often numbness, pallor of the skin may also be associated with this complaint. The severity of the illness depends upon the frequency, duration and extent of the vasospasm that caused the disorder.
Raynaud’s most commonly affects the tips of fingers and toes; but rarely nose, ears and even lips or nipples may also affect badly. During an attack of Raynaud’s disease, affected parts of skin usually first turn pale and white. Then, the affected areas turn blue and cold with no sensation. As you warm the area, circulation improves and hence the affected areas will turn red, warm and appear normal. The colour change mechanism of the affected area is caused due to the narrowing of the initial blood-vessel caused because of spasm of the tiny muscles in the vessel wall, followed by dilation. This process is known as Raynaud’s phenomenon in modern medicine.
Raynaud’s ayurvedic treatment involves preventing the contraction of the blood vessels by protecting the fingers and toes from extreme cold and injuries. Medications that aggravate blood vessel spasm should be avoided by patients who are suffering from Raynaud’s disease.
Ayurvedic understanding of Raynaud’s Disease
This is a condition of Siragata vata. Due to the aetiological factors, there will be blockage of the channels especially in the siras(veins and venules). This is termed as ‘Kha vaigunya’ as per Ayurveda and further, if the aetiological factors, if not checked condition, will be worsened and Suptata (numbness) and Stabdhata (stiffness) followed with Dourbalya(debility) and Kshaya (emaciation) are caused.
To prevent an over-reaction of the blood-vessels to stress, medicines like Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri), Jatamansi (Nardostachys jatamansi), Shankhpushpi (Convolvulus pluricaulis), Vacha (Acorus calamus) and Sarpagandha (Rauwolfia serpentina) are used. From this category of medicines, the herb Mandukaparni (Centella Asiatica) deserves special mention, since it not only reduces stress, but also improves blood circulation in the extremities, thereby reducing spasm, and preventing or healing ulcers.
Line of Treatment as per Ayurveda-
- All measures explained under Vatarakta are suitable over here. Alternate therapy of warm and cold stands as the best way to reverse the pathophysiology.
2. Raktamokshana (bloodletting) by the help of leeches have shown several successful incidences in my clinical practice.
3. Seka (pouring of decoctions) over the affected area continuously helps to restore the blood circulation to the affected area.
4. Lepa (external application of medicaments) and Abhyanga (oil massage) are also contributing significant benefits in this regard.
Simple remedies for Raynaud’s disease:
- The tamarind leaves (Chincha-Tamarindus indica) and pulp of Kumari(Aloe vera) are taken in 4:1 ratio and fine paste are made. This is applied to the affected forearm and foreleg.15-20 days application daily will help to achieve symptomatic relief.
Raynaud’s phenomenon or disease is not a common disease, but it is seen quite often in the cold climates and in the cold geographical areas.
Ayurvedic medicine for treatment of raynaud’s helps to restore blood circulation and preventing narrowing of the blood vessels which results in fewer attacks. Thus, ayurvedic treatment is a boon to Raynaud’s patients.