Raynaud’s Disease (RD) is diagnosed when a patient has recurring episodes of Raynaud’s Phenomenon (RP), where they suffer from constriction of the arteries supplying blood to the fingers and toes. This results in colour changes of the digits: either paleness or deep purple/blue, pain and numbness, and lack of strength or ability to use the fingers, as in opening a jar.
It often occurs after exposure to cold or after significant emotional stress.¹
RD can be categorised as either:
Primary – where no known cause can be established, and no obvious structural issues with vasculature can be detected, or
Secondary– where it is accompanied with autoimmune conditions such as Scleroderma or Lupus, where structural abnormalities of the blood vessels are present.
Pharmaceutical based treatments are based on medications that focus on relaxing the blood vessels such as calcium channel blockers or alpha-adrenergic blockers.²
Chinese Herbal Medicine (CHM) practitioners have been prescribing herbs for coldness of the limbs for centuries.³ In Traditional Chinese Medicine theory the symptoms of RD can be caused by a few physiological disruptions to the body. Primarily there is a blockage in the flow of Qi and blood through the meridians to the fingers and toes, resulting in poor circulation and lack of nourishment of the tissues.
Two of the mechanisms that may be involved is usually either a deficiency of the Yang energy of the body, the warming energy of in TCM theory which also assists in the movement of energy; or there can be an invasion of a cold pathogen which blocks the flow of qi. blood or yang qi in the meridians.
CHM has many formulas prescribed for centuries to warm and move the Yang energy of the body, circulate qi and blood through the meridians to the extremities, and to expel any cold pathogen that may be trapped in the body.
In TCM theory, Acupuncture has the ability to assist in resolving issues with qi and blood flow and to dispel cold pathogens, and tonify Yang qi. One study showed positive results for treatment of symptoms of RD with acupuncture and the effect lasted up to 10 months after treatment.
Techniques including massage and moxibustion have been traditionally used to warm the meridians and promote the flow of Qi throughout the body.
(1) Kumar, P. J., & Clark, M. L. (2002). Kumar & Clark clinical medicine. Edinburgh, Saunders.
(2) Appiah R., Hiller S., Caspary L, Alexander K., & Creutzig A. (1997). Treatment of primary Raynaud’s syndrome with traditional Chinese acupuncture. Journal of Internal Medicine; 241: 119±124
(3) Dharmananda, S. 2002 Raynaud’s Disease: Chinese Medical Perspective. Internet Journal Of The Institute For Traditional Medicine And Preventive Health Care
This article written by:
Dr Jason Callanan
Chinese Medical Herbalist, Acupuncturist, Massage Therapist
Jason has been practising Traditional Chinese Medicine for more than 10 years. In addition to his Acupuncture degree, he has also completed a Masters in Chinese Herbal Medicine.
Jason was first introduced to Acupuncture more than 25 years ago when he received treatment for a back injury he was told would need surgery; instead he received six sessions of acupuncture which successfully resolved the issue. Following this experience, he developed a strong passion and interest in Chinese Medicine.
His treatments may include Acupuncture, Massage, Chinese Herbal Medicine, nutritional support and exercise advice to treat illness, as well as maintaining wellness and vitality.
Jason is available:
Monday, Tuesday & Thursday
Call (03) 9486 5966