Chilblains are a mild form of frostbite. When exposed to severe cold for long periods, the body hoards heat to keep the vital organs functioning by reducing blood circulation to the extremities. This leaves the nose, cheeks, ears, fingers, and toes vulnerable to chilblains.
First, affected bits redden, tingle or ache, and feel cold; then they become swollen, and may itch or burn. Severe chilblains can cause permanent damage to blood vessels, nerves and skin.
Although Raynaud's disease is not related to chilblains (it is an autoimmune condition which affects mainly young women), it also causes poor circulation to the fingers, and for this symptom, responds to the kind of treatment mentioned below.
The treatments given below are also recommended if you are generally prone to poor circulation.
- Smoking inhibits circulation. Stop it.
- Extremes of temperature, for example freezing cold, followed immediately by warming yourself over a blazing fire.
What To Do
- When cooking, be generous with all the circulation-enhancing spices and herbs such as chilli, ginger, garlic, thyme and turmeric.
- Have plenty of warm hearty soups.
- Legumes such as kidney and lima beans and the root vegetables are very warming and good for the ciculation.
- Avoid alcohol: you may feel warmed up, but it is a dangerous illusion. Peripheral circulation diminishes, leaving your fingers and toes at risk.
Herbs and Supplements
- (See Longevity":node/345)
- Take vitamin C, 1 g daily, with the bioflavonoids.
- Vitamin B3, niacin in the form of nicotinic acid, dilates blood vessels. Use in small doses as large doses may cause flushing.
- Mag. phos. tissue salt eases the spasm of small blood vessels. Take two tablets twice daily.
- Vitamin E improves circulation, take 500 mg-1 g daily.
- Bayberry, ginkgo biloba, prickly ash, nettle and ginger are all herbs that improve circulation. Take them in tea, tablet or tincture form twice daily for several months.
- Avoid smoking. Nicotine constricts the blood vessels.
- Exercise is the very best way to improve circulation.
- If you live near the beach, take a dip in the ocean every day, winter and summer.
- Take warm footbaths and hand baths with ginger and thyme. Put 6-7 sprigs of fresh thyme and a few drops of thyme oil, or a handful of grated ginger tied in a sock or stocking, into the bath. Don't put frozen hands straight into hot water; shake them around first, to get the blood flowing.
- Massage your hands and feet with hand cream to improve circulation.
- Wear warm, dry, moisture-absorbing socks and undergarments, covered by a waterproof layer. Outdoor adventure suppliers are used to catering for the cold weather.
- Wear a hat or beanie; one-third of our body heat is lost from the head.
- Always wear gloves and woollen socks, scarf and hat when outside in cold weather.
- The colour red is warming, and is always in fashion.
- Male cyclists and runners should wear an extra pair of shorts to prevent penile frostbite... a condition seldom talked about.
- Try to avoid extremes of temperature. When coming inside from the cold, don't toast your hands in front of the fire or heater immediately: wait until you have warmed up a little.
- Avoid tight shoes as these restrict circulation.
At a glance
- Good food
- Warming soups, root vegetables and legumes, chilli, ginger, thyme, turmeric.
- Food to avoid
- Sugar, alcohol.
- Remedies to begin
- Ginger hand/foot bath and massage, vitamin E, vitamin C plus bioflavonoids, niacin, Mag. phos.
- Exercise, avoid tight shoes, wear socks, hat, scarf and gloves, swim. Stop smoking.
- Chilblains are caused by a closing down of the circulation. Are you in danger of 'shutting down' emotionally?