Poor circulation can be caused by a number of factors, from high cholesterol and being overweight to a circulatory complaint such as Raynaud’s Syndrome. Some of the most common symptoms of poor circulation include tingling and numbness, cold hands and feet even if it’s warm, muscle cramps and brain fog or memory loss. Many individuals never see their doctor about their symptoms because they think always feeling cold is just part of their genetic makeup. If you do feel the cold more than most you’re probably fine, but you should see your GP to rule out any potential underlying health complaints. Circulatory problems can be treated with medication but there are also several lifestyle changes you can implement that can have positive effects long term.
Smoking and poor circulation
If you smoke, stop! Stopping smoking is the most effective way to reduce the symptoms of poor circulation, not to mention one of the healthiest decisions you’ll ever make.
Wrap up warm
Keeping warm and staying away from the cold and draughts whilst indoors can also make a huge difference. Thermal socks, hand warmers and gloves are great but try to keep your whole body warm, not just your hands and feet. Store clothes and shoes for the next day in an airing cupboard overnight or warm your clothes on a radiator before venturing out, and use shoulder bags where possible when shopping as bags with handles can restrict blood flow to your fingers.
Exercise to boost blood flow
Regular exercise can also be beneficial as it helps boost circulation. Try to exercise three times a week for at least 10 minutes to get the heart racing and the blood flowing around your body, but avoid outdoor activities during very cold weather.
Foods to improve circulation
Correct nutrition can also help. Reducing your consumption of meat, butter and cream, which contain lots of circulation-slowing saturated fats and cholesterol, is important, whereas oily fish or omega-3 supplements can help to 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, opt for healthier salt alternatives and watch your labels when buying pre-packaged and tinned foods as these often have a high salt content.
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.
Natural remedies for circulation and blood flow
As far as herbal remedies for poor circulation are concerned, Ginkgo biloba is a firm favourite. One of the oldest known plants on earth with records dating back to 3000 BC, Ginkgo is 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, helping to keep fingers and toes nice and warm. Try diluting 15 drops of A.Vogel Ginkgo biloba Drops in a little water three times a day or take two Ginkgo biloba tablets twice daily. Do bear in mind that Ginkgo may not be compatible with certain prescription drugs. Check with your GP first of on prescribed medication.
Garlic can also be used to support healthy circulation and lower cholesterol. Incorporate as much as possible into your diet, preferably raw; a garlic supplement like Jan de Vries Hawthorn-Garlic Complex can also help.