Raynaud’s syndrome is seen as a symptom of imbalances in the body and is categorized as Xue Bi, or Blood Stagnation pattern according to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). It can sometimes be related to hereditary factors; however, the main causes according to TCM are Qi (or Chi) and Yang Deficiencies, poor dietary practices, emotional constraints, or repeated exposure to external pathogens such as Cold and Damp conditions.
Additionally, Raynaud's can be a secondary condition related to certain disease patterns, pharmaceutical medications, and trauma that trigger Raynaud’s phenomenon. In order for fingers and toes to maintain their healthy pink color and warmth, Yang Qi must be sufficient to warm them, and Blood must flow freely to nourish them. Many factors can contribute to the vacuity of Qi and Yang factors and the constriction of Blood flow leading to episodes of Raynaud’s phenomenon:
Liver Qi Stagnation and Raynaud’s
The Liver can be impacted by emotional stresses and constraints, longstanding anger and frustration, and suppressed emotions. The Liver is responsible for the free flow of Qi throughout the body, and Liver Qi constraints can result in Qi Stagnation. Chinese medicinal theory states that where Qi goes Blood goes. Therefore, Liver Qi Stagnation can result in Blood Stagnation related to Raynaud’s syndrome.
Blood Stagnation and Raynaud’s
Purple or white fingers,ears, nose, or toes with numbness and tingling are an indication of Blood Stagnation. While the underlying patterns resulting in Blood constrictions are addressed, it is important to quicken the Blood with Blood moving herbs before permanent damage is incurred.
Spleen Qi Deficiency and Raynaud’s
Qi is warming in nature, and herbal Qi tonics can help to restore warmth to the body. The Spleen can be damaged by consuming to many iced drinks, raw fruits and fruit juices, raw vegetables, greasy fried foods, sweets, and alcohol. Over exposure to environmentally damp conditions can also damage the Spleen energetic organ system according to TCM. If left unaddressed for a long period of time, Spleen Qi Deficiency can reach the Kidney energetic system and damage Kidney Yang. Additionally, Spleen imbalances will eventually result in Internal Dampness causing further constrictions of Qi and Blood flow.
Yang Deficiency and Raynaud’s
Kidney Yang Deficiency is a common pattern seen with Raynaud’s syndrome brought on by cold weather; however, it is tricky addressing Yang Deficiency, and the Yin Yang balance of the body should be understood before employing a Kidney Yang tonic. When there is severe cold of the body, Yang tonics can be invaluable for restoring warmth and health, but must be used thoughtfully. Spleen Qi tonics are Yang in nature, but are less drastic in their impact on the Yin Yang balance of the body.
Damp-Heat and Raynaud’s
If aching pain, swelling, or a feeling of distention are present with Raynaud’s syndrome, Damp-Heat may have accumulated internally complicating and exacerbating the constrictions of Blood flow and Qi flow. Damp-Heat is often a result of Spleen imbalances leading to Internal Dampness that combines with Heat generated from Liver Qi Stagnation.