There are many different treatments, which can help with Raynaud's. You may need to try using a combination of them, either together, or separately at different times of the year to find a regime that works for you.
Your doctor or specialist nurse will recommend some treatments for you to try first, however if you decide you want to try different ones (particularly the prescription medications) then you can take this information to your GP who will be able to prescribe a different treatment. Here is the difference between natural therapies and medical treatment.
Natural and over the counter complimentary medicine
People are often keen to avoid prescription medications if possible and like to try natural therapies first. These are available from many pharmacies and supermarkets as well as from health food stores.
It is recommended that anyone affected by scleroderma take the following vitamins, as their antioxidant effect will help to protect the blood vessels from the damage which scleroderma causes:
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) 500 - 1000mg daily
Vitamin E (tocopheryl acetate) 200 - 400mg daily
In addition to vitamins C and E there are many treatments you can try. You may take more than one treatment at a time, however it is best to only start taking one new one at a time in order to be able to identify whether it works. There is limited research into these treatments, however many people do find them to be effective for Raynaud's Phenomenon:
Gamolenic Acid (GLA) approx 320mg daily. You can get GLA in several ways:
- It can be bought on its own
- It can be found in evening primrose, starflower and linseed/flaxseed oils, in which case you need to work out how many of the oil capsules you need to take to get the correct dose of GLA. Try and find capsules with a high level of GLA so you don't have to take too many.
- It can be found in Omega-3 fish oils. Either Maxepa 10000mg daily (5 capsules twice each day) or Omacor 4000mg daily (4 capsules) will provide the recommended amount of GLA. These two fish oils are available on prescription.
You only need to choose one of these ways of getting GLA. Many people find that GLA is very effective, however it may take up to eight weeks to get full benefit. If there is no benefit after taking GLA for 3 months then stop and try something else.
Gingko Biloba Up to 240mg daily in three doses. Some people find that this produces a significant reduction in their Raynaud's symptoms.
Ginger 2000mg – 4000mg daily.
Hawthorn, cayenne, magnesium, horse chestnut, dong quai, and prickly ash are also often used for treatment of circulation problems and some people report benefits in Raynaud's Phenomenon. You should speak to a complementary therapy specialist for advice on dose. Ginger extracts are available over the counter in pharmacies in the form of capsules and oil.
All the above treatments should be avoided if you are taking warfarin or other blood-thinning treatments.
Dietary changes to try to help Raynaud's Phenomenon include increasing consumption of omega-3 oils and antioxidant vitamins (particularly C & E). Using and eating more traditionally warming foods such as ginger, cayenne peppers and chillies can also help.
Supported by the Royal Free Hospital, London.