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Health Condition

Raynaud’s Disease

  • Fish Oil

    Supplementing with fish oil may reduce the severity of blood-vessel spasm.

    Dose:

    4 grams of EPA per day
    Fish Oil
    ×

    In a double-blind trial, supplementation with 12 large capsules of fish oil per day (providing 4 grams of eicosapentaenoic acid [EPA] per day) for 6 or 12 weeks reduced the severity of blood-vessel spasm in 5 of 11 people with Raynaud’s phenomenon.1 Fish oil was effective in people with primary Raynaud’s disease, but not in those whose symptoms were secondary to another disorder.

  • Vitamin B3 (Niacin)

    A variation on the B vitamin niacin, inositol hexaniacinate has been shown to reduce arterial spasm and improve peripheral circulation.

    Dose:

    3 to 4 grams daily of inositol hexaniacinate
    Vitamin B3 (Niacin)
    ×
     has been used with some success for relieving symptoms of Raynaud’s disease.2 In one study, 30 people with Raynaud’s disease taking 4 grams of inositol hexaniacinate each day for three months showed less spasm of their arteries.3 Another study, involving six people taking 3 grams per day of inositol hexaniacinate, again showed that this supplement improved peripheral circulation.4 People taking this supplement in these amounts should be under the care of a doctor.
  • Evening Primrose Oil

    Fatty acids in evening primrose oil (EPO) inhibit the formation of prostaglandins, which promote blood vessel constriction. One study found that supplementing with EPO reduced the number and severity of attacks.

    Dose:

    Refer to label instructions
    Evening Primrose Oil
    ×
     

    Fatty acids in evening primrose oil (EPO) inhibit the formation of biochemical messengers (prostaglandins) that promote blood vessel constriction. A double-blind trial of 21 people with Raynaud’s disease found that, compared with placebo, supplementation with EPO reduced the number and severity of attacks despite the fact that blood flow did not appear to increase.5 Researchers have used 3,000–6,000 mg of EPO per day.

  • Ginkgo

    The herb Ginkgo has been reported to improve the circulation in small blood vessels and reduce pain in people with Raynaud’s disease.

    Dose:

    Refer to label instructions
    Ginkgo
    ×

    Ginkgo biloba has been reported to improve the circulation in small blood vessels.6 For that reason, some doctors recommend ginkgo for people with Raynaud’s disease. One preliminary trial found that 160 mg of standardized ginkgo extract per day reduced pain in people with Raynaud’s disease.7 Larger clinical trials are needed to confirm ginkgo’s effectiveness for this condition. Ginkgo is often used as a standardized extract (containing 24% ginkgo flavone glycosides and 6% terpene lactones). Doctors who recommend use of ginkgo often suggest that people take 120–160 mg per day.

  • L-Carnitine

    In one study, people with Raynaud’s disease who were given L-carnitine showed less blood-vessel spasm in their fingers in response to cold exposure.

    Dose:

    Refer to label instructions
    L-Carnitine
    ×
     

    In one study, 12 people with Raynaud’s disease were given L-carnitine (1 gram three times a day) for 20 days.8 After receiving L-carnitine, these people showed less blood-vessel spasm in their fingers in response to cold exposure.

  • Magnesium

    Abnormalities of magnesium metabolism have been reported in people with Raynaud’s disease. Magnesium deficiency results in blood-vessel spasm, which may be helped with supplementation.

    Dose:

    Refer to label instructions
    Magnesium
    ×
     

    Abnormalities of magnesium metabolism have been reported in people with Raynaud’s disease.9 Symptoms similar to those seen with Raynaud’s disease occur in people with magnesium deficiency,10 probably because a deficiency of this mineral results in spasm of blood vessels.11 Some doctors recommend that people with Raynaud’s disease supplement with 200–600 mg of magnesium per day, although no clinical trials support this treatment.

What Are Star Ratings
×
Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.
Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.
For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support.

References

1. Digiacomo RA, Kremer JM, Shah DM. Fish-oil dietary supplementation in patients with Raynaud's phenomenon: a double-blind, controlled, prospective study. Am J Med 1989;86:158-64.

2. Aylward M. Hexopal in Raynaud's disease. J Int Med Res 1979;7:484-91.

3. Holti G. An experimentally controlled evaluation of the effect of inositol nicotinate upon the digital blood flow in patients with Raynaud's phenomenon. J Int Med Res 1979;7:473-83.

4. Ring EF, Bacon PA. Quantitative thermographic assessment of inositol nicotinate therapy in Raynaud's phenomenon. J Int Med Res 1977;5:217-22.

5. Belch JJF, Shaw B, O'Dowd A, et al. Evening primrose oil (Efamol) in the treatment of Raynaud's phenomenon: A double-blind study. Throm Haemost 1985;54(2):490-4.

6. Kleijnen J, Knipschild P. Ginkgo biloba. Lancet 1992;340:1136-9 [review].

7. Clement JL, Livecchi G, Jimenez C, et al. Modifications vasomotrices des extrémités lors l'exposition à des conditions thermiques défavorables. Méthodologie et résultant de l'étude de l'extrait de Ginkgo biloba. Acutal Angiol 1982;7:3-8.

8. Gasser P, Martina B, Dubler B. Reaction of capillary blood cell velocity in nailfold capillaries to L-carnitine in patients with vasospastic disease. Drugs Exp Clin Res 1997;23:39-43.

9. Leppert J, Aberg H, Levin K, et al. The concentration of magnesium in erythrocytes in female patients with primary Raynaud's phenomenon; fluctuation with the time of year. Angiology 1994;45:283-8.

10. Smith WO, Hammarsten JF, Eliel LP. The clinical expression of magnesium deficiency. JAMA 1960;174:77-8.

11. Turlapaty P, Altura BM. Magnesium deficiency produces spasms of coronary arteries; relationship to etiology of sudden death ischemic heart disease. Science 1980;208:198-200.

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The information presented by Healthnotes is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires December 2019.