Rosacea is an inflammatory skin condition. The onset is generally transient and appears with emotional stress, the intake of alcohol, and the intake of hot and/or spicy foods. Over time the condition often becomes fixed and chronic with little to no change in intensity.
Traditional Chinese Medicine recognizes the causes of rosacea to be qi (energy) stagnation giving rise to heat in the digestive organs– the liver, stomach, and gall bladder. The internal pathways of the digestive organs flow though the surface of the face, on the nose, the cheeks, and sides of the face, revealing a condition of internal heat and stagnation within these organs.
What causes rosacea?
1) Stress, both emotional and physical, is the greatest cause of rosacea. One of the first areas of the body to respond negatively to stress is the digestive system. Acute stress weakens the digestive function and chronic stress weakens it greatly. Many modern people have significant intolerances to certain foods. The issue is not so much the food itself, but the person’s ability to handle and process certain foods. The digestive system has the constant task of converting food to energy and blood. Because it has a significant workload, it is especially important that it is kept strong, allowing for the proper circulation and function of each of the organs involved.
2) Two other causes are poor nutrition and poor dietary habits. A diet that is abundant in rich, greasy food, and chocolate, require much more digestive energy to process. These foods tend to weaken the digestive function and cause a simultaneous stagnation of energy in that area as well. Additionally, wine (especially red wine), coffee (tea is a better choice), and spicy foods are very heating and fuel the pre-existing heat and inflammation of the condition.
3) To support the digestive process, ideally, one should nourish oneself in a peaceful and relaxed environment. Nowadays, many people eat in the car, on the run, or in a chaotic environment. Meals should be simple and for those that have rosacea and/or food intolerances, proper food combining is recommended.
4) An environment that is hot will also add to the preexisting internal heat condition by mixing with it internally. Generally, people diagnosed with rosacea will tend to see it worsen as the temperature rises outside.
Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine offer the ideal solution for the treatment of rosacea. Acupuncture can be used to correct the function of the central nervous system, minimizing the negative effects of stress and making a person more resistant to negative stressors. This alone will help regulate and strengthen the digestive system. Treatment can also be aimed directly at restoring proper function to the digestive system.
There are many Chinese herbal formulas that can be used to safely and effectively eliminate rosacea– many of which have been used for hundreds of years. Herbs in these formulas reduce heat, regulate the qi and promote movement in the organs, restoring circulation to the digestive system. Often, fairly quickly, the condition of renewed internal balance is reflected in the internal pathways of the face.
Conventional treatment for rosacea includes antibiotics and topical creams. This is an incorrect treatment for this condition because neither of these solutions addresses the original cause/s of the condition. A person suffering with rosacea will have to use these medications indefinitely and antibiotics cannot be taken indefinitely as the use of antibiotics will disrupt the delicate balance of flora in a variety of areas within the body.
“Your Health is The Foundation of Your Life.”
June 7, 2010
By Lisa Bernazani, M.Ac., Lic.Ac., Chinese Herbal Medicine
Middle Path Acupuncture & Chinese Herbal Medicine, Cambridge, MA