Remedies for Peripheral Artery Disease

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Peripheral artery disease (also referred to as "peripheral arterial disease" or "PAD") is a condition marked by a narrowing of the blood vessels outside of your heart. This narrowing results from the buildup of plaque on the walls of the arteries that carry blood to your arms and legs.

PAD often restricts blood flow to the legs, leaving them painful or numb. In severe cases, the lack of blood flow can induce gangrene (tissue death). People with PAD are known to have an increased risk of death from heart attack and stroke.

leg cramp, senior woman suffering from leg cramp pain at home, health problem concept
PORNCHAI SODA / Getty Images

Signs and Symptoms

At least half of people with PAD show no signs or symptoms of the disease. In other cases, however, PAD may produce the following signs and symptoms:

  • Pain, fatigue, or burning in your feet, calves and/or thighs (especially during exercise, or when walking or climbing stairs)
  • Numbness in your legs and/or feet when at rest
  • Cramping in the leg(s), buttocks, thighs, calves, and/or feet
  • A pale or bluish color to the skin in the affected area(s)
  • A lower temperature in one leg compared to the other leg
  • Decreased nail growth on the toes
  • Decreased hair growth on the legs
  • Erectile dysfunction, especially among men with diabetes


Although the exact cause of PAD is unknown, certain factors may increase your risk for the disease. These include:


Since PAD does not have symptoms in many cases, you should talk to your healthcare provider about getting checked for the disease if you are over age 70, have a history of smoking and/or diabetes, or have diabetes and one or more risk factors for atherosclerosis (plaque buildup in the arteries).

Because PAD is associated with a number of serious health complications (including coronary artery disease and blood clots), it's important to seek medical attention if you have any symptoms of the disease.

In treating PAD, healthcare providers aim to reduce symptoms and prevent complications. This may include the following lifestyle changes:

  • Quitting smoking
  • Lowering blood pressure
  • Lowering cholesterol
  • Lowering blood sugar
  • Getting regular exercise

Surgery and certain medications (such as blood pressure drugs and blood thinners) may also be used in the treatment of PAD.


To date, few studies have explored the use of alternative medicine in the treatment of PAD. However, the following natural remedies may be useful in managing or preventing the disease. (Be sure to talk to your physician before you consider taking any of the following remedies.)

Ginkgo Biloba

Ginkgo biloba (an herb said to stimulate circulation) appears to be more effective than placebo for PAD patients with intermittent claudication (discomfort in the legs that typically occurs with movement and subsides with rest), according to a systematic review published in 2005.

In a 2008 clinical trial involving 62 adults with PAD, researchers found that treatment with ginkgo biloba produced a "modest but insignificant increase" in the widening of the blood vessels.

Vitamin D

Running low on vitamin D may increase your risk for PAD, according to a study published in 2008. Analyzing data on 4,839 adults, researchers found that PAD was 64 percent more common in study members with the lowest vitamin D levels compared with those with the highest levels of vitamin D.


Due to a lack of research, little is known about the safety of regular use of supplements. It's important to keep in mind that supplements haven't been tested for safety and dietary supplements are largely unregulated. In some cases, the product may deliver doses that differ from the specified amount for each herb. In other cases, the product may be contaminated with other substances such as metals. 

Also, the safety of supplements in pregnant women, nursing mothers, children, and those with medical conditions or who are taking medications has not been established.

Ginkgo biloba may interact with antiplatelet or anticoagulant medications or supplements such as vitamin E and garlic.

Using Natural Remedies

Due to the limited research, it's too soon to recommend any form of alternative medicine for peripheral artery disease. It's also important to note that self-treating a condition and avoiding or delaying standard care may have serious consequences. If you're considering using alternative medicine, make sure to consult your healthcare provider first.

4 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Cleveland Clinic. Peripheral Artery Disease.

  2. Cleveland Clinic. Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD): Prevention.

  3. Gardner CD, Taylor-Piliae RE, Kiazand A, Nicholus J, Rigby AJ, Farquhar JW. Effect of Ginkgo biloba (EGb 761) on treadmill walking time among adults with peripheral artery disease: a randomized clinical trial. J Cardiopulm Rehabil Prev. 2008 28(4):258-65. doi10.1097/01.HCR.0000327184.51992.b8

  4. Melamed ML, Muntner P, Michos ED, Uribarri J, Weber C, Sharma J, Raggi P. Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels and the prevalence of peripheral arterial disease: results from NHANES 2001 to 2004. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2008 28(6):1179-85. doi:10.1161/ATVBAHA.108.165886

Additional Reading

By Cathy Wong
Cathy Wong is a nutritionist and wellness expert. Her work is regularly featured in media such as First For Women, Woman's World, and Natural Health.