Poor circulation occurs, usually as a result of other conditions such as obesity, diabetes, heart conditions, and arterial issues. Reduced blood flow can cause unpleasant symptoms, such as pain, muscle cramps, numbness, digestive issues and coldness in the hands or feet.
Chilblains and Raynaud’s disease:
These are very common circulatory disorders which are both caused by cold exposure. These conditions may be present as skin colour changes, numbness and prickling sensations. Causes of Raynaud’s are related to disrupted circulation whereby there are spasms in the arteries (usually supplying the fingers and toes). Chilblains present as painful inflammation of small blood vessels in your skin that occurs in response to repeated exposure to cold but not freezing air.
Varicose veins are another very common condition. They are caused by valve failure in the veins and present as enlarged blue veins which may protrude and cause an uneven surface to the skin. The damaged veins are less effective at moving blood as efficiently as other veins, so poor circulation may become a problem. Risk factors related to varicose veins include obesity, and genetics and they are generally more common among women.
Diabetic neuropathy can cause reduced sensation in the extremities. Diabetes can also cause heart and blood vessel problems. People with diabetes are at an increased risk for clots, high blood pressure and heart disease. Read more on diabetes here.
Peripheral artery disease:
This is a circulatory condition that causes narrowing of the blood vessels and arteries, it most commonly affects the legs. If left untreated, reduced blood flow in your extremities may cause numbness, tingling, nerve damage and tissue damage.
Blood clots can develop for a variety of reasons. If a blood clot gets into circulation, it can pass through other parts of your body, including your heart or lungs. Blood clots can result from a build-up of plaque in the arteries, known as atherosclerosis or from certain medications such as contraceptive medications.
Warming, anti-inflammatory spices such as cayenne, turmeric, black pepper, cinnamon and ginger should be taken daily. Try adding these ingredients to a turmeric latte.
Cayenne - Capsaicin contained in cayenne pepper promotes blood flow to tissues by lowering blood pressure and stimulating the release of nitric oxide and other compounds which help to expand the blood vessels[i]. Try Smooth Synergy (50 caps)
Turmeric - both Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine have utilized turmeric since ancient times to open blood vessels and improve blood circulation. This spice helps increase nitric oxide production, reduce oxidative stress and decrease inflammation[ii]. Try Curcumin (60 Capsules)
Omega 3 - Omega 3 fatty acids help inhibit the clumping of platelets in your blood, a process that can lead to blood clot formation[iii]. Try Life & Soul Omega 3 Maxi Capsules (60 Caps)/ Or Vegan Omega 3 Liquid
Beetroot - This is because beets are high in nitrates, which your body converts into nitric oxide. Nitric oxide relaxes blood vessels and increases blood flow to muscle tissue[iv]. Try Organic Cordyceps Beetroot Latte Mix (20 Servings)
Ginger - ginger has been shown to reduce high blood pressure, which negatively impacts blood flow. It is used in traditional medicine in India and China. Studies show that people provided with ginger had the lowest risk of developing high blood pressure[v] [vi]. Try Glucosamine MSM with Ginger and Turmeric (60 caps) or Organic Maitake Ginger Latte (110g)
Cinnamon - is a warming spice that has many health benefits, including increased blood flow. In animal studies, cinnamon improved blood vessel dilation and blood flow in the coronary artery, which supplies blood to the heart[vii]. Try Alka Tea (50 Bags)
Pomegranate – Plant compounds such as polyphenol antioxidants and nitrates, are potent vasodilators to widen the blood vessels and promote blood flow. Consumption of pomegranate may improve blood flow and oxygenation of muscle tissue[viii]. Try Cardio Multi (60 Caps)
Vitamin E - Vitamin E promotes circulation and has been suggested for use in cases of atherosclerosis (build-up of plaque in the arteries)[ix]. Try Life & Soul Omega 3 Maxi Capsules (60 Caps). or Vitamin E (mixed tocopherols, 90 caps)
Foods rich in vitamin E include olive oil, hazelnuts and hazelnut oil, sunflower seeds, almonds and almond oil, salmon, trout, sweet peppers, green leafy veggies, avocadoes and peanuts.
Calcium and magnesium - Lack of calcium and magnesium increases sensitivity to cold. Consume mineral-rich foods such as tahini, leafy green vegetables and almonds. Try Okinawa Sea Coral Minerals 50g
Gingko Biloba - ginkgo improves blood circulation by opening up blood vessels, it is also a potent antioxidant. Try Ginkgo Biloba Leaf (60 caps)
Reducing stress can lower high blood pressure to support healthy circulation. Incorporate daily exercise and relaxation techniques into your routine. Acupuncture and herbs are worth investigating. Geranium, lavender, pine bark and nutmeg essential oils may be used for therapeutic massage. Ensure essential oils are diluted prior to use.
[i] Juturu V. Capsaicinoids Modulating Cardiometabolic Syndrome Risk Factors: Current Perspectives. J Nutr Metab. 2016;2016:4986937. doi: 10.1155/2016/4986937. Epub 2016 May 23.
[ii] Santos-Parker JR, Strahler TR, Bassett CJ, Bispham NZ, Chonchol MB, Seals DR. Curcumin supplementation improves vascular endothelial function in healthy middle-aged and older adults by increasing nitric oxide bioavailability and reducing oxidative stress. Aging (Albany NY). 2017 Jan 3;9(1):187-208.
[iii] Cohen MG, Rossi JS, Garbarino J, Bowling R, Motsinger-Reif AA, Schuler C, Dupont AG, Gabriel D. Insights into the inhibition of platelet activation by omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids: beyond aspirin and clopidogrel. Thromb Res. 2011 Oct;128(4):335-40.
[iv] Clifford T, Howatson G, West DJ, Stevenson EJ. The potential benefits of red beetroot supplementation in health and disease. Nutrients. 2015 Apr 14;7(4):2801-22.
[v] Wang Y, Yu H, Zhang X, Feng Q, Guo X, Li S, Li R, Chu D, Ma Y. Evaluation of daily ginger consumption for the prevention of chronic diseases in adults: A cross-sectional study. Nutrition. 2017 Apr;36:79-84.
[vi] Akinyemi AJ, Ademiluyi AO, Oboh G. Inhibition of angiotensin-1-converting enzyme activity by two varieties of ginger (Zingiber officinale) in rats fed a high cholesterol diet. J Med Food. 2014 Mar;17(3):317-23
[vii] Badalzadeh R, Shaghaghi M, Mohammadi M, Dehghan G, Mohammadi Z. The effect of cinnamon extract and long-term aerobic training on heart function, biochemical alterations and lipid profile following exhaustive exercise in male rats. Adv Pharm Bull. 2014 Dec;4(Suppl 2):515-20. doi: 10.5681/apb.2014.076. Epub 2014 Dec 31.
[viii] Trexler ET, Smith-Ryan AE, Melvin MN, Roelofs EJ, Wingfield HL. Effects of pomegranate extract on blood flow and running time to exhaustion. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2014 Sep;39(9):1038-42. doi: 10.1139/apnm-2014-0137. Epub 2014 May 16.
[ix] Chan AC. Vitamin E and atherosclerosis. J Nutr. 1998 Oct;128(10):1593-6.
[x] Ruparelia N, Digby JE, Choudhury RP. Effects of niacin on atherosclerosis and vascular function. Curr Opin Cardiol. 2011 Jan;26(1):66-70. doi: 10.1097/HCO.0b013e3283410c16
Please note that the information contained within this website does not and should not replace medical advice, and is not intended to treat or diagnose. We always recommend you consult with your doctor. Our Nutritional Therapy team is highly trained and we offer one to one Nutritional Therapy Consultations, which are designed to be complementary to any medical treatment from a functional medicine approach, as well as offering a preventative & optimal health focus.