Me­gan Shep­pard

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My daugh­ter-in-law suf­fers from Ray­naud’s syn­drome, and while it is not at the se­vere end of the spec­trum, it does cause her a lot of trou­ble. She is care­ful of her health and is into nat­u­ral health. What reme­dies or treat­ment would you rec­om­mend?

>> Ray­naud’s syn­drome (also known as Ray­naud’s Phenomenon or dis­ease) is far more com­mon in women than men, with more than 90% of suf­fer­ers be­ing fe­male. It doesn’t dis­crim­i­nate ac­cord­ing to age, but can be trig­gered by the hor­monal changes as­so­ci­ated with pu­berty, preg­nancy, and menopause.

There is some­times a fam­ily his­tory of Ray­naud’s, but more of­ten than not it is dif­fi­cult to pin down just why some in­di­vid­u­als sud­denly find them­selves hav­ing an ex­treme re­ac­tion to the slight­est vari­a­tion in tem­per­a­ture.

A num­ber of cases oc­cur as a sec­ondary is­sue, mean­ing the Ray­naud’s is a symp­tom of another un­der­ly­ing dis­or­der, which is why it is im­por­tant to work to­gether with a doc­tor or spe­cial­ist.

Some­thing as sim­ple as tak­ing an item from the fridge or even sit­ting near a draught can trig­ger an at­tack. Ray­naud’s af­fects the ex­trem­i­ties — fin­gers, toes, nose, ears, lips, and nip­ples. This con­di­tion is so much more than just cold ex­trem­i­ties though. When the blood sup­ply is in­ter­rupted, the ef­fects can be ex­tremely painful and de­bil­i­tat­ing. Sim­ple tasks can be­come im­pos­si­ble, and an at­tack might last any­thing from a few min­utes to a num­ber of hours.

The flesh turns bright white as the body re­stricts blood flow with the tiny blood ves­sels spas­ming in re­sponse to cold, and then when the blood re­turns ex­trem­i­ties will be­come blue and then red. It is when the blood re­turns that pain, burn­ing, and pins and nee­dles be­come even more in­tense.

De­tect­ing Ray­naud’s early on can pre­vent a whole host of sec­ondary is­sues, such as scle­ro­derma, where healthy tis­sue and blood ves­sels can be per­ma­nently dam­aged.

The bad news is that there is no cure as such. The good news is that there are many treat­ments, both nat­u­ral and con­ven­tional, which have been shown to man­age symp­toms very ef­fec­tively.

Ex­tracts from ginkgo biloba, gin­ger root, and gar­lic are the most pop­u­lar herbal treat­ments. Sup­ple­ments in­clud­ing vi­ta­min E, fish oils, evening prim­rose, and mag­ne­sium are very pop­u­lar, while acupunc­ture is the most com­monly used nat­u­ral ther­apy.

Padma 28 is a herbal for­mu­la­tion based on a tra­di­tional Ti­betan recipe, and has been shown in clin­i­cal tri­als to be use­ful in cir­cu­la­tory dis­or­ders, in­clud­ing Ray­naud’s. Padma 28 con­sists of a care­fully bal­anced prepa­ra­tion of 19 dried and milled herbs, to­gether with nat­u­ral cam­phor and cal­cium sul­phate. This for­mula has pow­er­ful anti-ox­i­dant ef­fects which have been found to be im­por­tant in main­tain­ing healthy cir­cu­la­tion. For fur­ther in­for­ma­tion and sup­port, your daugh­ter-in-law might like to visit the Ray­nauds & Scle­ro­derma Ire­land web­site at irishray­, or phone the helpline on 01-2157663 / 081-8363999.

Is it safe to take with­a­nia while I am still nurs­ing my 12-week-old son? I have found it to be very use­ful in the past, but can’t find any in­for­ma­tion about safety for breast­feed­ing ba­bies.

>> With­a­nia som­nifera, known as ash­wa­gandha in Ayurvedic medicine, is a very pop­u­lar herbal rem­edy for moth­ers, since it helps to re­duce the feel­ing of over­whelm and is in­deed safe to use while breast­feed­ing . It can also be a use­ful rem­edy to help with any stress and anx­i­ety for the non-breast­feed­ing par­ent.

In India, Ayurvedic prac­ti­tion­ers use this herb as a nerve strength­en­ing tonic for all ages, in­clud­ing chil­dren and even dur­ing preg­nancy. With­a­nia is widely used for its abil­ity to ad­dress phys­i­cal im­bal­ances within the body as well as the emo­tional state. The only con­traindi­ca­tion to be aware of is bar­bi­tu­rates, as it may in­ten­sify their ef­fects. If this herb is taken as a long-term rem­edy it is best to take a break for a week fol­low­ing every six weeks of use.

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