Herbal Health Information on Chilblains

This is all about temperature regulation and maintaining a good circulation in the hands and feet.

I am keen to write about this as I remember my mother suffering horribly from chilblains and almost crying in pain. We arrived from India in the early fifties and she seemed to just carry on wearing the same clothes, although she insisted on me and my sister wearing Liberty bodices which were the itchiest undergarments ever. She did wear a coat in winter but I remember she carried on wearing her Chappals (Indian open toed sandals). Also we did not have central heating in those days it was one open fire in the living room. So when she came home she would warm her toes in front of the fire and it is these extremes of temperature which causes spasm of the capillaries (surface blood vessels) and inflammation of the skin, with accompanying pain and itching.

I know this sounds obvious but warm clothing, good socks, shoes and gloves will prevent the hands and feet getting too cold. Also avoid heating hands and feet up too quickly if they do get very cold, let them warm up slowly. This avoids the temperature extremes.

The rest is all about keeping the circulation in good condition

Diet plays an important factor in trying to improve arterial health and therefore circulation.

The good old fashioned “sensible” diet is definitely the one to go for.

Eat complex carbohydrates, such as fruit and veg and wholegrain cereals.

Lean meat

Skimmed milk

Oily Fish

Polyunsaturated oils and Olive oil

Lots of Garlic and Onions


An example of a day’s menu could be:-

BREAKFAST;- muesli or fruit or wholegrain cereals/ semi-skimmed milk/ fruit juice

LUNCH:- tinned  tuna  and salad or Baked potato with low fat Cole slaw or baked beans or a sandwich made with wholemeal bread and a sunflower or olive oil margarine.


DINNER: – lean cooked meat of any sort. Remember lamb and pork have more fat throughout the body of the meat so the fat is harder to cut off when preparing it for cooking.

Any vegetables, any fruits you like, aiming for your 5 portions a day

Try to get out of the habit of having pudding.

Drink plenty of water during the day and no more than three cups of tea or coffee, preferably decaff. Caffeine causes constriction of blood vessels so reduces blood flow.

You know I am now going to say EXERCISE!

No you do not have to be Mr or Mrs Super fit of the year but you do need to be exercising regularly.

20 minutes of walking a day or swimming twice a week or a dance class or whatever takes your fancy within your capabilities.  If you are less mobile then ask for some help from your Doctor who should be able to get you on to an exercise programme suitable for your ability. Many hospitals run exercise classes specifically to improve heart and circulation health.


The herbs commonly used to improve circulation are

  • Garlic:- this lowers cholesterol in the blood preventing a build up of cholesterol and also helps clear fat accumulating in blood vessels
  • Hawthorn:- is  a positive heart restorative and  is a cholesterol and mineral solvent
  • Lime Flower:-amongst all the other wonderful things it can do Lime flower has anti coagulant properties thus helping the blood to stay fluid in the arteries and not giving the cholesterol a chance to stick to the walls. It is also known to help dissolve fatty plaques in the arteries. It makes a delicious tea which has no caffeine and is very low in tannin.
  • Ginger: – used as a warming herb in both western and traditional Chinese medicine because it improves blood flow through the capillaries, which are the small little blood vessels, through which oxygen and nutrient exchange takes place to the body cells. It is easy to make a Ginger tea by grating a half a teaspoon of fresh ginger in to a cup and pouring boiling water on to it. Leave it to stand for 5 minutes, strain and drink.
  • Chilli: – don’t try and take this as a tincture or capsules!!! a little chilli in your food once or twice a week will set the blood buzzing and is very warming.

So that is some good advice to try and keep your circulation in good shape. It isn’t too difficult to do and I have very often had feedback from patients who have had to make life style changes to say they have found it hard to make the change, but had got used to their new regimes quickly and now would not change back.

If you need more help do come and visit me in my clinic. You can find the clinic details by clicking here or on the “clinic” tab at the top of the page.

Linda Bostock

Medical Herbalist/Herbal Health Information

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