Raynaud’s phenomenon – Cannabis Treatment

Raynaud's phenomenon Cannabis Treatment

In medicine, Raynaud's phenomenon (pronounced /re?'no?z/, ) is a vasospastic disorder causing discoloration of the fingers, toes, and occasionally other areas (ears, cheeks, tongue).   This condition can also cause nails to become brittle with longitudinal ridges.   Named for French  physician Maurice Raynaud (1834–1881),  the phenomenon is believed to be the result of vasospasms that decrease blood supply to the respective regions.   Emotional stress and cold are  two known triggers.

It comprises both Raynaud's disease (also known as "Primary Raynaud's phenomenon")  where the phenomenon is idiopathic,  and Raynaud's syndrome (secondary Raynaud's),  where it is caused by some other instigating factor.  Measurement of hand-temperature gradients is one tool used to distinguish between the primary and secondary forms.
It is possible for the primary form to progress to the secondary form.
In extreme cases, the secondary form can progress to necrosis or gangrene of the fingertips.

Raynaud's phenomenon is an exaggeration of  vasomotor responses  to cold or emotional stress.  More specifically,  it is a hyperactivation of the sympathetic system causing extreme  vasoconstriction of the peripheral blood vessels,  leading to tissue hypoxia.  Chronic, recurrent cases of Raynaud phenomenon can result in atrophy of the skin, subcutaneous tissues, and muscle.   In rare cases it can cause ulceration  and ischemic gangrene.


The condition can cause pain within the affected extremities,  discoloration (paleness) and sensations of cold and/or numbness.  This can often be distressing to those who are not diagnosed,  and sometimes it can be obstructive.  If someone with Raynaud's is placed in too cold a climate,  it could potentially become dangerous.

The symptoms include several cyclic color changes:

  • When exposed to cold temperatures, the blood supply to the fingers or toes, and in some cases the nose or earlobes, is markedly reduced; the skin turns pale or white (called pallor), and becomes cold and numb.
  • When the oxygen supply is depleted, the skin color turns blue (called cyanosis).   If the color progresses to purple,  resembling a bruise that doesn't go away (or spreads in size) and is accompanied by excruciating pain,  contact your doctor immediately.
  • These events are episodic, and when the episode subsides or the area is warmed, the blood flow returns and the skin color first turns red , and then back to normal,  often  accompanied by swelling, tingling, and a painful "pins and needles" sensation.

All three color changes are observed in classic Raynaud's.  However,  not all patients see all of the aforementioned color changes in all episodes,  especially in milder cases of the condition.  Symptoms are thought to be due to reactive hyperemias of the areas deprived of blood flow.

The phenomenon is more common in women than men.

Raynaud's disease, or "Primary Raynaud's", is diagnosed if the symptoms are idiopathic, that is,  if they occur by themselves and not in association with other diseases.   Some refer to Primary Raynaud's disease as "being allergic to coldness".   It often develops in young women in their teens and early adulthood.   Primary Raynaud's is thought to be at least partly hereditary, although specific genes have not yet been identified.   Smoking worsens frequency and intensity of attacks, and there is a hormonal component.  Caffeine also worsens the attacks.

Secondary Raynaud's (syndrome)
Raynaud's syndrome, or "Secondary Raynaud's",  occurs secondary to a wide variety of other conditions. Secondary Raynaud's has a number of associations:

  • Connective tissue disorders:
  • scleroderma
  • systemic lupus erythematosus
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • Sjögren's syndrome
  • dermatomyositis
  • polymyositis
  • mixed connective tissue disease
  • cold agglutinin disease
  • Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome
  • Eating disorders

Treatment options are dependent on the type of Raynaud's present.   Raynaud's syndrome is treated primarily by addressing the underlying cause, but includes all options for Raynaud's disease as well. Treatment of primary Raynaud's focuses on avoiding triggers.

General care

Avoid environmental triggers, e.g. cold, vibration, etc.  Emotional stress is another recognized trigger;  although the various sources of stress can not all be avoided,  it is possible to learn healthier,  more effective ways of dealing with them,  which will reduce stress and its damaging physical effects.

Keep your hands,  feet and head warm—especially your fingers,  toes,  ears,  and nose — by wearing mittens,  insulated footwear,  a ski mask;  or using hand and foot warmers, etc.

Quit smoking.
Avoid caffeine and other stimulants and vasoconstrictors that have not been prescribed to you by your doctor. Read product labels.   Caffeine is found not only in coffee and tea,  stay-awake pills,  soft drinks,  and candies,  but also in some cosmetics,  soaps, and shampoos(shower shock caffeinated bar and alpecin shampoo).

Make sure all your doctors know about all the medicines you take and the OTC remedies you use, especially hormones and drugs that regulate hormones,  such as hormonal contraception,  so that these professionals can  make an assessment of your chemical regimen and make any changes that may be indicated.  Contraception which is low in estrogen is preferable, and the progesterone only pill is often prescribed for women with Raynaud's.
If you are diabetic, follow your diabetes treatment plan.
Calcium channel blockers can be helpful for the treatment of Raynaud's phenomenon.

Surgical Intervention

In severe cases, a sympathectomy  procedure can be performed.  Here, the nerves that signal the blood vessels of the fingertips to constrict are surgically cut.   Microvascular surgery of the affected areas is another possible therapy.   Infusions of prostaglandins, e.g. prostacyclin, may be tried, with  amputation in exceptionally  severe cases.

A more recent treatment for severe Raynaud's is the use of Botox.   The 2009 article  studied 19 patients ranging in age from 15 to 72 years with severe Raynaud's phenomenon of which 16 patients (84%) reported pain reduction  at  rest.   13 patients reported immediate pain relief,   3 more had gradual pain reduction over  1–2 months.   All 13 patients with chronic finger ulcers healed within 60 days.   Only  21%  of the patients required repeated injections.   A 2007 article[  describes similar improvement in a series of 11 patients.   All patients had significant relief of pain.

Arginine, which increase nitric oxide acts as a vasodilator.   The extract of the Ginkgo biloba leaves, ( 80 mg) may reduce frequency of attacks.   Fish oil supplements which contain long-chain omega-3 fatty acids may help to control symptoms of primary Raynaud's.


Medical marijuana helps maintain good blood flow to the hands.  It dilates small arteries (blood vessels).  It also relieves stress, which is a trigger.  Cannabis also relieves pain.
Oral ingestion of cannabis can last up to eight (8) hours.  Cannabis Oil, CannaButter in edibles.
Cannabis can be applied topically as an ointment or tincture
¼ cup extracted cannabis oil can be added to a hot bath where it is absorbed through the skin.  You can use vegetable based oils or alcohol based preparations.

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