Too cold for comfort?

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As sleeves get longer and layers woollier, spare a thought for the estimated one in six people in the UK who suffer with Raynaud’s Syndrome, or Cold Hands Complaint.

Raynaud’s prevents blood from reaching the extremities, fingers, toes and sometimes the ears and nose, and can cause numbness and tingling. The lack of blood is caused by spasmodic contractions of the arteries, which can be triggered by temperature changes, exposure to the cold or even just by touching cold objects. Emotional stress can also trigger an episode. Typically skin turns white and blue, before turning red.

Making just a few simple lifestyle changes can really help to improve your circulation:

Keep warm, thermals and gloves should be a wardrobe staple and try warming clothes and shoes in an airing cupboard overnight.

Regular exercise will also help to boost circulation. Try to exercise three times a week for at least 20 minutes but avoid outdoor activities during cold weather.

Correct nutrition is also important. Reduce your consumption of meat, butter and cream, which contain lots of circulation-slowing saturated fats and cholesterol, and increase the amount of oily fish or plant oils you consume to help reduce blood stickiness and improve circulation.

Salt hardens your arteries (which need to be elastic) so make sure you stay within the recommended 6g a day.

Foods rich in vitamin C (kiwis, blueberries, cherries and most fruit and veg) are good for your circulation, as are foods rich in rutin (buckwheat, citrus peel and rosehips), which helps to strengthen small blood vessels.

As far as herbal remedies are concerned, Ginkgo biloba is a firm favourite. One of the oldest known plants on earth, records date back to 3000 BC, recognised for its beneficial action on arterial circulation. It is thought to work by relaxing the smallest arteries to allow blood flow to penetrate the extremities.

Try diluting 15 drops of Ginkgo biloba in a little water three times a day.

If your symptoms are triggered by stress, as well as B vitamins for the adrenal glands and magnesium for the nervous system a fab herb for stress is Passiflora; it has been used for centuries as a mild sedative and is particularly beneficial when mixed with other restorative herbs such as Avena sativa.

For further advice, ask Richard Sambridge and his team at The Natural Way, 82 High Street, Braintree, Essex.

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