What your hands and feet say about your brain
Although your hands and feet are located the farthest distance from your brain, the health of your feet and hands can give you clues about the health of your brain, mainly whether your brain is receiving enough oxygen. When blood circulation to your most distal extremities is poor, this is a red flag circulation to the brain is compromised as well. Just because you can breathe doesn’t mean your brain is getting enough oxygen. A condition called dysautonomia results from improper control over blood circulation.
If your brain is not getting enough oxygen it won’t function well. You may notice brain fog, declining memory, that you tire more easily, and that it is harder to learn new things. Depression is another common symptom. Poor brain oxygen is a serious matter because it accelerates degeneration of your brain—vascular dementia from lack of blood flow to the brain is the second most common type of dementia after Alzheimer’s.
Feet and hand symptoms that could point to problems in your brain
Cold toes and feet are often seen in conditions such as dysautonomia, POTs, RSD, concussion, mTBI, and complex regional pain syndrome. If your feet and toes are colder than your ankles or calves, this means circulation is poor to your feet, and hence to your brain. It’s hard to measure your own skin temperature so have someone else compare the temperature of your calves and ankles with that of your feet and toes. The small vessels that supply blood to your feet and hands which keep them warm and pink are the exact same vessels that also supply blood to the brain. The same vasoconstriction(blood vessels shrinking) or dilation(expanding) of blood vessels that occurs in your distal extremities is also occurring in your brain. Cold fingers and a cold nose are common as well.
Chronic fungal growth in toenails
Do you have chronic fungal nail infections, or chronic athlete’s foot? When circulation is poor the blood is not able to carry oxygen, immune cells, and nutrients to the feet to keep them healthy. As a result, infections can take root and be difficult to impossible to banish while circulation is poor. General nail health will also be poor. This is a sign circulation in your brain is also compromised.
White nail beds; poor capillary refill time
The nail beds of your toes should be a healthy pink color. If they are pale or white this is another symptom of poor circulation. Also, when you press down on a nail bed it turns white, but the pink color should return instantly. If it takes a few seconds for the color to return, this means blood flow to the nails is poor, as is blood flow to the brain.
Sometimes people with poor circulation get foot cramps that seem impossible to relieve. This is because there is not enough blood and oxygen flowing to the muscles in the feet. They may also get cramps in their hands. Again, these are signs that blood flow to the brain may be poor.
Treatment for Dysautonomia Through Brain-based Therapies
It’s important to rule out a health condition that can cause poor blood flow to your feet, such as hypothyroidism, anemia, a heart condition, diabetes, or low blood pressure. Normal blood pressure is considered 120/70. If either number is 10 or more points below that it means blood is not getting pushed into these more distant capillaries of the feet and brain. People with low blood pressure typically also have low blood sugar (reactive hypoglycemia) and fatigue.
It’s important to stabilize blood sugar by avoiding sugars and processed carbohydrates and not skipping meals. Exercise is great for increasing circulation, especially short bursts of high-intensity exercise. Also, a variety of nutritional compounds can support blood flow to your feet and your brain.