Rosacea is an inﬂammatory skin disorder in which the nose, the cheeks, the forehead, or the chin are chronically reddened and prone to breaking out in acne-like welts. Unlike acne, however, rosacea never produces blackheads or whiteheads, and it rarely appears during adolescence. Instead, rosacea generally sets in during a person’s thirties or forties, beginning with a mild pink blush that doesn’t go away. If treated early, the condition may never progress any further or may even recede a bit. But in advanced cases, it can cause permanent thickening and redness, especially on the nose.
Although women are more likely to have rosacea than men are, men who do have rosacea tend to have more severe cases.
Anything that dilates blood vessels in the face can lead to a ﬂare-up of rosacea. Spe- ciﬁc triggers differ from person to person, but the most common are alcohol, hot liq- uids, coffee, spicy or fatty foods, extreme temperatures, sun exposure, harsh wind, and stress. It’s important to minimize the exposure to triggers, because each time the blood vessels expand, they lose some elasticity. Over time, they become incapable of con- stricting properly and they remain in a dilated state—hence the redness. A person who already has the early ﬂushing of rosacea will ﬁnd that triggers make his or her face even redder, or that they lead to pimples that may or may not disappear when the trig- ger is removed.
Although we understand the elements that make rosacea worse, there is no one underlying cause of this. Skin conditions generally point to some kind of digestive problem, and rosacea is no exception. Many rosacea sufferers have been found to have low levels of stomach acid, which prevents proper digestion of trace minerals and pos- sibly the overgrowth of bacteria that aggravates the skin. Sluggish bowels and con- stipation may have a similar effect on digestion. And whenever pimples or red spots appear, it’s likely that the skin is pushing out toxins that an impaired digestive tract is unable to process. Leaky gut syndrome, which is characterized by malabsorption, may be an issue for people with rosacea. Also, B-vitamin deﬁciencies, especially of B12, are common with this condition. Friendly ﬂora that are involved with detoxiﬁ- cation and that prevent the overgrowth of infectious bacteria are often depleted. We have also found that rosacea becomes a problem as the result of a hormone imbal- ance. Premenopausal and menopausal woman often ﬁnd that rosacea starts to act up until they get their hormones balanced with natural therapies. On the other hand, syn- thetic hormone replacements and birth control pill use initiate or worsen this condi- tion for some women. Finally, hidden food allergies may cause ﬂushing that is mistaken for rosacea.
Conventional treatment for rosacea involves antibiotics, either oral or topical, which have a minimal effect and which must be taken continuously. While people with severe cases that may lead to disﬁgurement might want to consider medication, most peo- ple will be better off making an effort to avoid their personal triggers and improve their digestion.
• Redness across the nose, the cheeks, the forehead, or the chin
• Red pimples or welts
• Repeated exposure to rosacea trig- gers (alcohol, wind, sun, etc.)
• Low levels of stomach acid
• A diet that’s high in fat and low in ﬁber
• Food allergies
• Nutritional deﬁciencies (especially of B vitamins)
• Dysbiosis (imbalance of the gut bacteria)
• Hormone imbalance
• Reaction to synthetic hormones
The following tests help assess possible reasons for rosacea:
Hormone testing (thyroid, DHEA, cortisol, testosterone, IGF-1, estrogen, progesterone)—saliva, blood, or urine
Vitamin and mineral analysis (especially B12)—blood
Digestive function and microbe/parasite/candida testing—stool analysis
Food and environmental allergies/sensitivities—blood, electrodermal
Eat lots of raw foods. In their natural state, vegetables, fruits, nuts, sprouts, and seeds all possess enzymes that help you convert food into the nutrients that are needed for skin and circulatory health. Green leafy vegetables are especially good for rosacea patients, as they’re an excellent source of trace minerals.
Drink several glasses of fresh vegetable juices a day. If you have rosacea, it’s likely that your digestive system isn’t processing food thoroughly, and juices are a potent way to deliver nutrients directly to your bloodstream.
Make sure your diet includes plenty of ﬁber. If you’re eating a couple of servings of raw foods at every meal, you’re probably getting almost as much ﬁber as you need to keep toxins moving through your digestive tract, instead of erupting from your skin. Add whole grains and beans to round out your meals.
Essential fatty acids reduce inﬂammation. Have cold-water ﬁsh from a clean source several times a week, and eat ﬂaxseeds (1 to 2 tablespoons, with 10 ounces of water) each day.
A deﬁciency of B vitamins has been found in many people who have rosacea. Brown rice, oats, wheat germ, nutritional brewer’s yeast, and whole-grain bread and crackers are all good sources. If you tend to be anxious, B vitamins will also help you feel calmer.
It’s generally inadvisable to take antibiotics for most cosmetic disorders (save them for the more severe infections), but if you feel you must take them, be sure to eat some live unsweetened yogurt or another cultured product every day. Cultured foods replace the “friendly” intestinal bacteria that antibiotics strip away.
Food to Avoid
Avoid food items that make you ﬂush. Spicy food, caffeine, and alcohol are tripwires for most rosacea sufferers. Sugar and iodized salt may also dilate your blood vessels. Learn which foods bother your skin, and eliminate them from your diet.
Be careful of food and drinks that are hot in temperature. Allow hot beverages and soups to cool before you eat them.
Saturated fat has an inﬂammatory effect on many body systems, including the skin. If you stay away from red meat and fried, greasy foods, you’ll also improve your digestion.
Food allergies may mimic the symptoms of rosacea or make an existing problem worse. Read the Food Allergies section on pages 251–256, and follow the elimina- tion diet there.
Follow a one- to three-day juice fast to clean toxins and irritants from your body and to put your digestive system in optimum working order. You should drink a variety of liquids during your fast, but green drinks and cleansing herbal preparations are especially supportive of detoxiﬁcation.
Super Seven Prescriptions—Rosacea
Super Prescription #1 Gentian root (Gentiana lutea)
Gentian root improves overall digestive function. Take 300 mg or 10 to 20 drops ﬁve to ﬁfteen minutes before meals. It also works well as part of a bitters diges- tion formula.
Super Prescription #2 Betaine hydrochloride
Take 1 to 3 capsules with each meal. Reduce the dose if you feel a warming or burn- ing sensation. This supplement improves stomach acidity and digestion, especially of proteins. It also prevents the overgrowth of bacteria in the digestive tract that may inﬂuence rosacea.
Super Prescription #3 B-complex vitamins
Take a 50 mg B-complex twice daily. It supplies B vitamins that improve rosacea.
Super Prescription #4 Vitamin B12
Take 400 to 800 mcg sublingually or 1 cc injection by your doctor weekly. This B
vitamin works to reduce ﬂare-ups of rosacea.
Super Prescription #5 Burdock root (Articum lappa)
Take 300 mg or 3 ml three times daily. Burdock has historically been prescribed for rosacea and other chronic skin disorders. It appears to improve detoxiﬁcation, as well as hormone balance.
Super Prescription #6 Natural progesterone
See the Menopause section for proper usage, which depends on where you are with your menopausal transition. This hormone has anti-inﬂammatory beneﬁts and improves skin conditions if it is deﬁcient and then supplemented correctly.
Super Prescription #7 Probiotic
Take a product containing at least 4 billion active organisms twice daily, thirty min- utes after meals. It supplies friendly bacteria, such as Lactobacillus acidophilus and biﬁdus, that improve skin health.
Milk thistle (Silybum marianum) improves liver function and detoxiﬁcation for opti- mal skin health. Take 250 mg three times daily of a 80 to 85 percent silymarin extract.
Digestive enzymes help you to digest food more efﬁciently. Take 1 to 2 capsules of a full-spectrum enzyme product with each meal. Lipase enzymes that digest fat appear to be particularly important for people with this condition.
Black cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa) improves hormone balance for pre- menopausal and menopausal women affected by rosacea. Take 80 mg of a 2.5 per- cent triterpene glycoside extract daily.
Studies completed during the early part of the twentieth century found that a signiﬁcant percentage of people with rosacea had low stomach acid (hypochlorhydria). Supplementation with hydrochloric acid resulted in an improvement of their skin.
study of ninety- six people with rosacea found that supplementation with six tablets of brewer’s yeast plus iron resulted in an improvement of their skin lesions.
Green tea (Camellia sinensis) contains a rich source of antioxidants and substances that assist detoxiﬁcation. Drink the organic tea regularly (2 cups or more daily) or take
500 to 1,500 mg of the capsule form.
Essential fatty acids reduce inﬂammation of the skin. Take 1 to 2 tablespoons of ﬂaxseed oil or 5 grams of ﬁsh oil daily, or a formulation that contains a mixture of omega-3, 6, and 9 fatty acids.
Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) extract improves liver function, which is important for healthy skin. Take 800 mg twice daily.
A super green food supplement supplies phytonutrients that improve skin health. Take an organic super green food such as chlorella, spirulina, alfalfa, or a mixture of super green foods each day. Take as directed on the container.
Aloe vera gel is soothing and anti-inﬂammatory. Apply it directly to the affected area. Test it out on a small patch of your skin ﬁrst, as you may be highly sensitive to many preparations, even gentle herbal ones.
Choose the appropriate remedy from the following list, and take 6C three times daily for up to three weeks.
Use a combination acne formula or one of the following if it matches your symp- toms. Use a 6x, 12x, 6C, 12C, or a 30C potency for two weeks. If there is improve- ment, discontinue using unless symptoms return.
Arsenicum Album is for hot, dry, and ﬂaky skin. The person tends to be anxious and restless, gets cold easily, and prefers warm drinks.
Hepar Sulfuris may provide relief if you have several pus-ﬁlled spots that are painful when touched, and if the skin lesions feel better with a warm compress.
Pulsatilla (Pulsatilla pratensis) is for rosacea associated with the hormonal changes of puberty, menstrual onset, or menopause. Women tend to be sensitive and weepy. They crave sweets. They feel better in the fresh air and worse in warm rooms.
Sepia is for rosacea associated with the hormonal changes of puberty, menstrual onset, or menopause. Great irritability and fatigue are present. The woman craves chocolate and salty and sour foods. She tends to get chilly easily.
Sulphur is for chronic redness and inﬂammation that is worsened by the sun, hot baths or showers, and warm climates. The person has a high thirst for cold drinks and prefers a cool climate.
See pages 668–675 for information about pressure points and administering treatment.
• Stomach 36 improves digestion and the absorption of nutrients.
• Spleen 10 clears excess heat from the blood.
• Stomach 3 will clear up rosacea blemishes.
• Use Bladder 10 if rosacea is aggravated by stress.
To cleanse your blood, work the liver and the kidneys.
If you need to reduce stress, work the solar plexus and the diaphragm.
Some people ﬁnd that a warm foot bath pulls heat away from the face; for others, this treatment simply makes their faces even more inﬂamed. In no case you should use hot water for the foot bath, nor should you take hot baths, showers, or saunas.
Try placing a cool—not cold—compress made with lavender oil on your skin to reduce heat and swelling. Take advantage of the relaxing scent, and breathe deeply.
It’s helpful if you can minimize stress before it brings on a ﬂare-up (which usually leads to even more stress). As soon as you feel any anxiety, take a moment to breathe deeply. If you have ﬁve or ten minutes, try a brief meditation session.
Bach Flower Remedies
If rosacea redness or breakouts make you feel embarrassed or ashamed, take Crab
People who are highly efﬁcient but ﬁnd it frustrating to be around others who are slower should take Impatiens to develop their tolerance.
Gorse will brighten the outlook of people who despair of ever ﬁnding a cure for their disorder.
Bright sunlight is one of the most common rosacea triggers. Stay out of the midday sun, and when you do go outside, wear protective clothing and sunscreen. If over-the- counter sunscreens irritate your skin, ask your doctor about a gentle prescription formula.
Avoid intense exercise. You should still participate in some activity for thirty min- utes a day, but you might want to stay in the lower range of your target heart rate. Don’t go to gyms that lack proper ventilation and cooling systems.
Beauticians who see rosacea acne and dry skin may want to sell you facial treat- ments, but resist the temptation. The skin manipulation and the steam of facials will only make your condition much worse. If you want a relaxing, indulgent experience, have a body massage instead.
Limit the time you spend in cold and windy weather. When you must go outside, cover your face with a soft scarf or even a ski mask made from hypoallergenic material.
If you want to wear makeup, use gentle, hypoallergenic cosmetics and makeup- removal products.
If you are taking a synthetic hormone replacement, consult with a holistic doctor for a more natural approach, as these hormones can contribute to your acne rosacea.