Low stomach acid has been linked to this increasingly prevalent skin problem.
Afflicting at least 14 million Americans, rosacea is a chronic skin condition that causes redness and pimples on the chin, cheeks, forehead, and particularly the nose. No healthy blush, this redness is truly embarrassing—and it can hurt, much the way burning, stinging, and sunburned skin does.
If bumps and pimples aren’t enough, rosacea can lead to tiny, red veins that look like spider webs on the face. And this condition sometimes spreads to the eyes, making them feel dry, gritty, and irritated, while eyelids look red and swollen.
Without treatment, ocular rosacea may cause serious eye problems. Equally worrisome, facial rosacea can cause knobby bumps on the cheeks and nose that multiply, eventually leading to swollen, waxy-looking tissue and a bulbous nose if not treated.
Risk factors include fair skin, a family history of rosacea, and numerous triggers that may vary for different individuals: corticosteroids, drugs that dilate the blood vessels (including some blood pressure meds), hot baths and saunas, hot foods and beverages, spicy foods, stress (particularly anger or embarrassment), strenuous exercise, sunlight, and temperature extremes.
Rosacea tends to be more serious for men if they ignore this problem. But it strikes women more often, particularly during the menopause transition. Anyone between the ages of 20 and 60 may develop this condition.
The medical community can’t say for sure what exactly causes rosacea. But recent Greek research links chronic sun exposure to this condition, so use natural sun protection (with SPF of 15 or higher) that blocks UVA and UVB radiation.
If you blush easily and show signs of rosacea, record what you’re eating and drinking to help identify your own triggers. Cheese, chocolate, citrus fruits and juices, nightshade family veggies (eggplant and tomatoes), and seafood (lobster and shrimp) worsen this condition in some people.
Also avoid sugary and refined foods with artificial food coloring, preservatives, and MSG. Aspartame and NutraSweet cause noticeable flushing in many people with rosacea.
Blackberries, blueberries, and cherries are vascular constrictors that assist in reducing redness. I’ve found that flavonoid-rich cranberries tonify blood vessels, helping to reduce the redness of rosacea. Drinking Cranberry H2O (you’ll find the recipe in Fat Flush for Life) throughout the day may be one reason Fat Flushers comment on how much better their skin looks.
The Right Treatment
Because rosacea tends to be cyclical, periodic detox is useful. Just be sure to modify your detox program to meet your body’s seasonal needs as Fat Flush for Life does. In winter, that means warming foods (like Hot Lemon Toddy, which kick-starts elimination in cold weather, soups, and steamed veggies) rather than raw foods. Always allow hot beverages to cool at least to body temperature to avoid facial flushing.
I’m a great believer that beauty is far more than skin deep. Both B vitamins and GLA will help improve your complexion. I’ve also seen many women obtain outstanding results from progesterone, which makes sense since hormonal changes often trigger rosacea.
Above all, treat your skin very gently: Don’t rub or touch your face too often. Avoid facial products containing alcohol or other irritants. Use only those labeled non-comedogenic to prevent clogged pores.
The American Academy of Dermatology has found topical creams with green tea helpful for rosacea, and another study has shown that topical vitamin B3 (niacin) improves this condition. According to research at the University of British Columbia, a natural cream with azelaic acid is as effective as topical metronidazole in treating pimples—and slightly better at reducing redness without encouraging the growth of fungus or drug-resistant bacteria.
Doctors often prescribe oral antibiotics (because they work faster than topical drugs) for their anti-inflammatory properties. Even so, you may need to take these meds for a month or so before you see results—and they can cause diarrhea and other digestive distress.
Interestingly, research has linked rosacea to low stomach acid. For most people, hydrochloric acid (HCl) or stomach acid, which knocks out dangerous bacteria—but not friendly flora—appears to work as a natural antibiotic, without causing the unwanted side effects of these medicines—including drug-resistant “superbugs.”
The Acid Test
Unless you have ulcers or have been diagnosed with a pre-ulcerative condition, you might want to test for HCl, the good stomach acid. Take 500 to 550 mg of betaine hydrochloride (combined with pepsin) with your next meal and carefully observe how you feel.
A burning belly or face probably means that you already have sufficient stomach acid—and may, instead, benefit from taking digestive enzymes with meals to support nutrient absorption. But if you don’t notice any extreme symptoms, do as I do and take a formula like HCL + 2 to restore normal acidity and ensure you’re absorbing the nutrients in your diet and supplements.