Natural Treatments for Rosacea
By Dr. Mao Shing Ni
ROSACEA, OR ACNE ROSACEA, is a chronic acne condition. It affects the forehead, nose, cheeks, and sometimes the chin, and it occurs mainly in people with light skin and of northwestern European descent. The exact cause of rosacea is unknown, though genetics are thought to play a role. Diet and lifestyle are key contributors as well. Recent research suggests that parasitic mites, known as demodex mites, are more abundant in people with rosacea. (Demodex mites are also thought to cause some severe cases of acne.) In severe cases, untreated rosacea may be disfiguring to the face. Many well-documented triggers have been identified, including extreme weather and temperature exposure, excessive sunlight or sunburn, alcohol, caffeine, spicy foods, and certain medications. Topical steroid use can also trigger an outbreak. Western medicine offers a variety of palliative treatments, including antibiotics, creams, and light therapy involving broad spectrum pulsed-light therapy.
In Chinese medicine, flushing of the face has many causes, and several organ networks may be involved. The skin is governed by the lung network, so heat in the lungs will affect the quality of the skin. Too much alcohol or rich and spicy foods creates excess heat in the stomach network, which can end up on the face as rosacea. Emotion also shows itself in the face. Stress and anxiety can flare up the fire energy of the heart, which governs the spirit, causing rosacea. My treatment for rosacea focuses on soothing and calming the spirit, clearing heat, and removing any circulation blockages through acupuncture, herbal therapy, and lifestyle and dietary changes. Here are some of my recommendations.
DIET FOR ROSACEA
- Foods play a major role in triggering rosacea. Your diet should be on the bland side, with a healthy mix of whole grains, green leafy vegetables, and fresh fruits. Identifying and avoiding triggers can dramatically reduce your symptoms.
- Incorporate more prunes, guava, pearl barley, water chestnuts, lotus seeds (cook like beans), lotus leaves, mulberries, goji berries, cucumbers, beets, beet tops, dandelion greens, squash, and mung beans into your diet.
- Omega-3 fatty acids, found in cold-water fish, can help nourish the skin.
- Water is essential for cleansing the body, so drink at least 60 ounces a day.
- Eliminate processed foods, foods containing artificial additives, simple sugar and bleached flour, soft drinks, and spicy, fried, and oily foods. Animal proteins should be avoided.
- Excessive sun exposure should also be avoided. Alcohol, especially red wine, and aged cheeses, are notorious for triggering the condition.
HOME REMEDIES FOR ROSACEA
- Shave the skin of one fresh cucumber, put it in a blender, and puree with 1 egg white. Apply with cotton ball to the affected area and leave on for 30 minutes, then wash with cold water. Repeat daily.
- Make chamomile tea and soak the affected area using a clean soft gauze, changing the application every 15 minutes. Repeat twice a day.
- Take 1 tablespoon flaxseed oil or fish oil daily; you can use it in a salad as a dressing.
DAILY VITAMIN SUPPLEMENTS
- Taking vitamin B complex and pancreatic and digestive enzymes can help reduce rosacea.
- Topical application of vitamin A (5,000 IU), often used for acne, can help with the inflammation of rosacea.
- Taking betaine hydrochloride (300 milligrams) at mealtimes aids stomach acid production and may be helpful, as some people with rosacea do not produce sufficient stomach acid.
HERBAL THERAPY FOR ROSACEA
Herbs can be found in health food or vitamin stores, online, and at the offices of Chinese medicine practitioners. Herbs should be used according to individual needs; consult with a licensed practitioner for a customized formulation.
- Burdock, yellow dock, red clover, and cleavers are used to relieve symptoms of rosacea.
- Our Exquisite Skin Chinese herbal formula helps support healthy skin function and reduce itching. It contains siler, caltrop, schizonepetae, astragalus, peony, dong quai, Fo-Ti, rhubarb, and licorice.
- Chinese medicine herbal prescriptions for rosacea include the herbs pagoda tree flower, skullcap, coptidis, cape jasmine fruit, rehmannia, peony, and cardamom.
QI GONG FOR ROSACEA
Stress and anxiety can trigger and worsen rosacea. Tai chi and qi gong are great for reducing stress and calming the emotions, and they are also physically beneficial.
A qi gong meditation called Heart Nourishing Qi Gong helps calm anxiety, reduce stress, promote healthy circulation, and relieve symptoms.
- Inhale, and from the sides of your body, gently raise your arms to your head with your palms facing up. When you reach your head, turn your palms so that they face the top of the head at the acupoint Hundred Meeting (DU-20).
- Exhale, imagining that you are exhaling through the centers of your palm (at the Labor Palace acupoint) into the top of your head.
- Inhale, and then exhale, gently bringing your arms down with your palms facing down. At about head level, start exhaling out of the middle of your palms. Visualize bringing the energy down through your lower abdomen. End by turning your palms so that they face your abdomen.
- At this point, your arms should be curved and relaxed at about waist level. Hold this posture, gently breathe, and meditate.
- Inhale, and bring the energy up from your perineum to the top of your upper back just below the cervical vertebrae (the vertebrae in your neck).
- Exhale, imagining you are exhaling down the inside of your left arm, out of the Labor Palace point, and into your lower abdomen.
- Inhale from the middle of your palms and bring the energy up your left arm, to the center of your chest.
- Exhale, and visualize the energy moving down and around your lower abdomen, starting down your right side and finishing up around your left side.
- Inhale, and bring the energy up from your perineum to the top of your upper back just below the cervical vertebrae.
- Exhale down your right arm, out of the middle of your palms and into the lower abdomen.
- Inhale from the middle of your palms and bring the energy up your right arm to the center of your chest.
- Exhale, and visualize the energy moving down and around your lower abdomen, starting down your left side and finishing up around your right side.
- Inhale from the center of your left sole, bringing the energy up your left leg, to your thigh, and then your hip.
- Exhale, and visualize the energy moving around your abdomen, starting up your lower left side, to the top of the abdomen, down your right side and ending up around the left side of your lower abdomen.
- Inhale from the center of your right sole, bringing the energy up your right leg, to your thigh, and up to your hip.
- Exhale, and visualize the energy moving around your lower abdomen, starting from your right side, to the top, down your left side, and ending up the right side of your lower abdomen.
- Inhale, and visualize the energy at the the top of the head moving down to the center of your chest.
- Exhale, and visualize the energy moving around your lower abdomen, starting up the top, moving down your left side, and ending up at the right side of your lower abdomen.
- Begin to return the qi to your body.
- Inhale, bringing your hands to your sides. Then with your palms facing toward your back, gather the energy around you (making a circle), bringing your arms in front of you, with your palms facing your lower abdomen.
- Exhale, visualizing the gathered energy entering your lower abdomen and swirling around the navel.
- Quickly inhale, and slowly raise your hands with your palms facing down and level with your lower abdomen.
- Exhale, and bring the energy back to your lower abdomen.
Repeat this exercise twice a day. In evening, do this exercise before 7 p.m.
SELF-ACUPRESSURE FOR ROSACEA
- Find the acupoint Inner Gate (P-6), three finger-widths above the wrist crease, between the two tendons on the inside of the left forearm. Apply moderate pressure with your right thumb. Hold for 3 minutes. Repeat on the right arm.
- Find the acupoint Foot Three Miles (ST-36), four fingerwidths below the kneecap on the right leg. Apply moderate pressure with your right thumb until you feel soreness. Hold for 5 minutes. Repeat on the left leg.
ROSACEA: WHAT TO AVOID
- Exposure to temperature changes, cold or hot water, and detergents.
- Exposure to sunlight UVA rays, which can trigger an outbreak.
- Excessive use of cosmetics, creams, and abrasive skin cleansers.
- Alcohol, smoking, and caffeine, which are irritants and generate heat that contributes to flare-ups.
- Stress, anxiety, and emotional upset, which can initiate flare-ups.
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©2015 Dr. Mao Shing Ni
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