Vasculitis can take many forms. There is large vessel and small vessel vasculitis. In these vessels there can be minor vessel involvement or serious vessel inflammation with tissue destruction leading to cellular death. Depending on the severity of the vessel inflammation, symptoms can be varied from mild to severe. Large vessel vasculitis can present symptoms ranging from acneiform lesions, spontaneous bruising, purpura, petechiae and peripheral or periorbital edema Small vessel inflammation can present symptoms of tenderness, bruising, petechiae, and extremity discoloration, cold extremities and pulse alterations, and edema. Both can contribute to transient cerebral ischemia, memory loss, stroke-like symptoms, leg pain, GI upset, thrombophlebitis, blood clots, heart arrhythmia, and more.

  • Do you have cold hands and feet?
  • Do you have discoloration in your extremities?
  • Do you notice pulse irregularities?
  • Do you have edema anywhere in the body?
  • Have you had occluded vessels?
  • Do you have spontaneous bruising?
  • Do you experience blood vessel spasms?
  • Do you have weak to no pulses in your limbs?
  • Do you have excruciating leg pain?

These symptoms may point to blood vessel spasm or inflammation.

  • What can I do about it?
  • Medication has not completely alleviated the problem.
  • Are there other causes and treatments?

Dr. William Rea, M.D., a cardiovascular surgeon, performed studies of patients exhibiting symptoms of small and large vessel vasculitis. These symptoms included loss of peripheral pulses and cyanosis in those with large vessel vasculitis. Those with small vessel vasculitis presented with spontaneous bruising, vascular spasms with recurring edema, and petechiae. The causes of the patients’ medical conditions were not clearly defined.

Many of these patients had medical histories which included symptoms of nasal stuffiness, adult acne, recurrent sinusitis, bronchitis, headaches, overwhelming fatigue, arrhythmias, and depression. Symptoms involving both gastrointestinal and genitourinary systems were noted.

These patients were placed in a controlled environment which was as free as possible from inhaled and ingested contaminants. If particulates, inhalants, and chemicals in air and food are minimized, then challenges could be introduced, and cause and effect can be measured.

It was noted that many of the patients’ symptoms of small and large vessel vasculitis vastly improved or disappeared after completion of 3-4 days of fasting in this controlled environment. With the patients’ improved symptom response, they could then be challenged with individual foods, chemicals, pollens and molds to determine cause and effect. Oral challenge of the patients revealed that symptoms could be reproduced by eating specific foods. Ninety-five of the symptoms that occurred within the first four hours began within the first 5 minutes of food ingestion. Symptoms noted were pulse alteration, color changes in hands and feet, petechiae and/or spontaneous bruising, and edema. These immediate responses left no doubt as to cause and effect. Severe symptoms could last 48 hours, with a few lasting up to 5 days.

Patients were tested for inhaled chemicals such as natural gas, chlorine, pesticides, formaldehyde, phenol, and alcohol. Spontaneous bruising occurred in all patients on at least 2 different occasions. Vascular spasm with cyanosis was seen in all patients frequently, as was petechiae and periorbital edema.

Thrombophlebitis and blood clots were known to occur in accordance with these exposures. The Environmental Health Center-Dallas has been successful in treating these without medication. As the study showed heart arrhythmia-like PVCs and atrial fibrillation could be influenced by environmental factors.

Knowledge of cause and effect can enable a patient to eliminate foods to which they are sensitive. Knowledge of chemicals to which they exhibited vasculitis responses allows the patient to eliminate the chemicals from the home and to minimize contact with these chemicals.

The Environmental Health Center-Dallas uses its environmentally controlled testing facilities and its skin testing and treatment programs to assist those with vasculitis. Our goal is to discover offending foods, inhalants, and chemicals which trigger vasculitis symptoms, and to both treat and eliminate them from the environment of the patient.

Can we try to help you with your vasculitis symptoms?

These studies are available in their entirety at the American Environmental Health Foundation (AEHF), article numbers 20 and 21. 1-800-428-2343.

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