A Challenging Condition That Can Respond Well To Natural Treatment Approaches

There are four main subtypes of rosacea:

Ocular rosacea leaves sufferers with red, dry and irritated eyes and eyelids and symptoms including  itching and burning and feelings of having dust or grit or a foreign body in the eye.

Erythematotelangiectatic rosacea causes a permanent redness of the skin with a tendency to blush or flush easily and frequently small blood vessels are visible near the surface of the skin.

Papulopustular rosacea can cause some permanent redness with red bumps and / or pus-filled bumps or lesions which usually last for 1 to 4 days – this can be easily mistaken for acne.

Phymatous rosacea is most commonly associated with rhinophyma, an enlargement of the nose. Symptoms include thickening of the skin, irregular surface nodules or bumps, and enlargement. Phymatous rosacea can also affect the chin, forehead, cheeks, eyelids, and ears. As with Erythematotelangiectatic rosacea small blood vessels visible near the surface of the skin (known as telangiectasias) may be present.

So, what causes rosacea and what can be done for it?

Conventional Medicine does not recognize any one specific cause for rosacea – but has several theories which involve things such as Cathelicidins, elevated levels of stratum corneum tryptic enzymes (SCTEs), overgrowth of intestinal bacteria, Demodex mites (which may be increased in steroid-induced rosacea), stress, sunburn, temperature extremes, alcohol, caffiene, histamine intolerance, drugs, and steroids – which are often prescribed to treat other skin conditions. Unfortunately for Conventional Medicine there is no one simple test to diagnose rosacea – leaving Conventional Doctors in the difficult position of having to “do it the old way” – by actually examining and listening to their patient!

The response to rosacea by Conventional Medicine is equally predictable – for it involves throwing a variety of patented Big Pharma drug offerings at the problem in the hopes that something will work and provide relief. Antibiotics are ever-popular as is clonidine (an antihypertensive drug that is also used to help addicts withdraw from opiates!) and other antihypertensive drugs. Of course, if all else fails (or even before all else fails) some Conventional Doctors may fall back to their old faithful, steroids – despite the fact that steroids can actually cause rosacea symptoms for many people.

Some more natural approaches to rosacea include:

Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) and Silymarin – which have been clinically examined and found to be of benefit. MSM, a biologically active form of sulfur has a long history of benefit to the skin and silymarin – a flavonoid found in Milk Thistle is a powerful antioxidant with a special affinity for the liver.

High potency fish oil has a valuable place in the treatment of rosacea, for the powerful antiinflammatory effects of Omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA.

Antiinflammatory flavonoids such as are found in Dr. Myatt’s Maxi Flavone could be expected to reduce inflammation since Maxi Flavone contains contains optimal doses of the flavonoid herbs which quench Radical Oxygen Species (ROS), lower TNF alpha and NK cell activity and decrease excess inflammation. Maxi Flavone is a potent formula providing support for immune function, circulatory health, liver detoxification mechanisms, and antioxidant pathways.

High dose Folic Acid and Vitamin C have been investigated and found helpful in some cases of rosacea.

Vitamin D is becoming increasingly recognized for it’s relationship to overall health and skin health – and many Americans are deficient in this important vitamin. Fortunately, Vitamin D testing is easy and accurate, and supplementation is safe and effective in restoring Vitamin D to healthy levels. A warning though: vitamin D and retinoic acid may promote expression of cathelicidin, which has been implicated as a causitive factor for some rosacea sufferers. Other researchers take an opposing view, feeling that Vitamin D may play an important role in treatment because of the cathelicidins.

There are many other herbs that have been tried in the treatment of rosacea, with varying degrees of success. What seems to work for one sufferer often shows little benefit for another – underscoring the importance of an individualized and holistic approach to each individual.

Finally, digestive factors appear to be very important in almost all cases of rosacea that we have treated here at The Wellness Club. Many sufferers are found to be deficient in hydrochloric acid – a problem which initiates a whole cascade of other digestion-related problems. Fortunately, Gastric Acid Function Self Testing is quick and easy and gives a very clear indication of a person’s gastric acid function. For those deficient in stomach acid, Betaine Hydrochloride can provide what may seem like a “miracle cure” to symptoms of rosacea.

Food allergies have also been implicated in rosacea – and many sufferers are well aware of certain foods that exacerbate their symptoms. For others, the allergens may not be so obvious, and Food Intolerance Testing may be indicated. In difficult cases further digestive system testing such as Gastro-Intestinal (GI) Health Profile with Parasitology to rule out bacterial and parasitic infections (remember, even Conventional Medicine is now grudgingly accepting that bacterial overgrowth may be a causative factor in rosacea) and Intestinal Permeability testing because of the relationship between intestinal permeability (AKA “Leaky Gut Syndrome”) and generalized inflammation and toxicity may be needed.

So there you have it: Rosacea can be an embarassing condition and difficult to treat – but a good holistic doctor who is willing to take the time and make the effort to work with a sufferer can usually work wonders!


Berardesca E, Cameli N, Cavallotti C, Levy JL, Piérard GE, de Paoli Ambrosi G (2008). “Combined effects of silymarin and methylsulfonylmethane in the management of rosacea: clinical and instrumental evaluation”. J Cosmet Dermatol 7 (1): 8–14.

Yamasaki, Kenshi; Di Nardo, Anna; Bardan, Antonella; Murakami, Masamoto; Ohtake, Takaaki; Coda, Alvin; Dorschner, Robert A.; Bonnart, Chrystelle; Descargues, Pascal; Hovnanian, Alain; Morhenn, Vera B.; Gallo, Richard L. (2007)     Increased serine protease activity and  cathelicidin  promotes skin inflammation in rosacea Nature Medicine 13(8),  975-980.

Journal of Investigative Dermatology (2008) 128, 773–775. doi:10.1038/jid.2008.35 Vitamin D Regulation of Cathelicidin in the Skin: Toward a Renaissance of Vitamin D in Dermatology? Siegfried Segaert