How a potato can improve blood supply

Do your fingers and toes tingle or hurt when the colder weather sets in? Do the tips of your fingers turn blue (or white) when you hold something cold?

If you answered yes to these two questions, you may be suffering from a syndrome that more than 28 million people in the US experience – yet less than one in ten of sufferers realize what they have or seek treatment?

Raynaud’s syndrome (or Raynaud’s disease) was first recognized in 1862 by the French physician Maurice Raynaud. He wrote a thesis on a set of intermittent symptoms where a person extremities would turn blue and white, and in severe cases would lead to the development of gangrene.

handcolors - How a potato can improve blood supply

For a person with Raynaud’s, the disease causes a restriction to the amount of blood flowing to the fingers, toes, nose, and ears and is triggered by exposure to cold or emotional stress.

When the attack first starts, the tissue changes from a healthy pink color to a chalky white and start to tingle or throb. This is the first indications that your fingers or toes have inadequate blood flow.

As the attack takes hold, and the tissues become starved of oxygen, the tissues change from white to blue, the throbbing intensifies and may cause noticeable pain. If this is allowed to continue for long periods, the tissue starts to die and forms ulcers or hard patches. And in the most severe cases, untreated symptoms can turn gangrene.

Thankfully most people recognize the early signs and take steps to warm up the tissue.

Some of the simplest treatments involve wearing warm socks and gloves and staying away from cold environments. In the middle of winter, finding a good, low-cost heat source can be a challenge.

Because of the cost of heating, many of us tend to heat a single room or area of the house. Unfortunately, visiting the bathroom or other parts of the house can result in a change of temperature that can trigger an attack. For some people, this also means they are unable to put their hands under cold water from a running tap without the risk of starting an episode.

While portable hand warmers can be useful, they quickly become quite expensive. A good pair of indoor gloves can help maintain your core temperature as you move around the house. While expensive, heated hoodies, jackets, and socks can also provide relief.

The potato heater

For a good natural heat source (and a great winter meal), you can’t look past the humble baked potato.

Have you ever noticed that a long time after your vegetables have gone cold on your plate, the potato is still steaming hot?

If you’ve ever wondered why, it’s because of the perfect combination of density, the outer skin, and the water molecules trapped within the flesh.

With the heat trapped deep within the potato, it needs to travel to the surface to be transferred to the cooler air around it. Because potatoes are really dense, this movement of moisture and heat can take a long time to occur.

Wrap a bit of tin foil around the outside to reflect the heat back into the core, and you have a highly efficient potato heater to keep you warm on a cold day.

To make the perfect potato heater

Step 1 : Find a good size potato
Step 2 : If you’re hungry (see note below), scrub the skin
Step 3 : Prick the surface several times with a fork
Step 4 : Microwave on high for 6 minutes
Step 5 : Take it out and wrap the potato in tin foil

If you wrap your jacket potato in tin foil, it will stay warmer for a lot longer than you would expect.

Of course, if you get hungry you can always eat the potato at the end. (You might want to turn the potato over and cool it for an extra 4 or 5 minutes in step 4)

How do you manage with Raynaud’s?

Even though it’s been more than 100 years since Raynaud’s was first recognized, very little is known about the condition, its cause, and its cure. Most sufferers struggle to find ways to fully control the symptoms and many dread the onset of winter.

How do you manage? Post your ideas in the comments below and watch out for a post where we describe 33 ways to keep warm for Raynaud’s syndrome.

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