What are the best known naturopathic treatments for rosacea, and how well have they been shown to work ? Naturopathy is a medical philosophy that tries to improve our health by helping the body’s own ability to recover from illness and injury.
Those who practice naturopathic medicine promote a holistic approach to health and would steer away from synthetic treatments such as antibiotics and metronidazole for example.
If you ever wanted to get to the bottom of the mumbo jumbo that sometimes surrounds naturopathic treatments, then read on.
There are now several products on the market to treat rosacea that promote their genesis in natural products. Additionally it may be possible to use some herbs in their natural form. Some of the commercially available products include the Aveeno Ultra Calming range that contains feverfew, and the Eucerin Redness Relief range that contains Licochalcone A, an extract of licorice. One other `naturally based’ topical worth considering is Rosacure which contains MSM and silymarin (Lady Thistle Extract). Although not a herb, colloidal oatmeal containing products from Aveeno are also based on a natural ingredients and my be useful in treating the itch of rosacea.
One herb that stands out (in theory at least) for me is arnica montana. This herb does have a long history of being used to treat swelling and bruising. If this can be extended to include the inflammation of rosacea then arnica might be worth exploring further. One other interesting approach is the Califlora and aloe vera based anti flushing protocol to control angiogenesis between IPL treatments.
It seems to me that products that are sourced from natural ingredients, that also have been tested and developed into commercial products, and are easily available; hold a lot of promise for rosacea sufferers.
Although acupuncture has been a subject of active research since the late 20th century, accupuncture’s effects are not well understood. It is considered safe when administered by well trained practitioners using sterile needles, but probably like most of these sorts of therapies, needs more research.
See the following acupuncture thread over at the Rosacea Support Community for thoughts from other rosacea sufferers. It seems that acupuncture may be good for overall health, help you relax and might just help you cope with rosacea. Another thread at The Rosacea Forum from a member’s acupuncture trial is also worth reading, although there doesn’t seem to be a conclusion just yet.
Aromatherapy uses what are called essential oils and other aromatic compounds to affect one’s mood or health. Note that the `essential’ in essential oils only refers to the oils being concentrated from the plant they were extracted from. Thus the usage of `essential’ here should not be confused with uses of the term such as essential fatty acids for example.
According to wikipedia, the scientific evidence for aromatherapy is weak and could only be considered as mildly encouraging for a limited set of possible uses. Proponents of aromatherapy suggest that there are 2 main ways that the therapy works; firstly by the influence of the aroma on the brain, and secondly by the pharmacological effects of the essential oils.
Unlike acupuncture, aromatherapy is considered a largely Western treatment regime. The delivery of aromatherapy can be via aerial diffusion, inhalation or directly on the body. Many of the potentially interesting essential oils, like lavender oil, eucalyptus oil for eg. may also be useful as a topical treatment in their own right.
As aromatherapy preparations are often concentrated, dilution with a suitable solvent would be advised.
Does homeopathy rise about the mumbo jumbo sounding statement of `treating like with like’ ? Can it offer something useful for rosacea sufferers ? While the formal description of homeopathy; “an ill person can be treated using a substance that can produce, in a healthy person, symptoms similar to those of the illness” doesn’t sound too bad, sadly the research has never been able to escape the placebo effect. When you consider that many homeopathic remedies are diluted such that the active ingredient is undetectable in the diluent, it isn’t surprising that any benefits are hard to prove.
What about the Placebo Effect ?
For those not familiar with the placebo effect, it might be worth exploring that further here. When a new medication is trialled, researchers need to prove the efficacy of the medication when compared to placebo. The mind is a powerful influence in any treatment, especially when the patient has an expectation of improving. When trialists expect that they are receiving the active ingredient, but are only receiving the inactive placebo, and do perceive a benefit – this benefit is known as the placebo effect. Thus a blind study is more convincing; where trialists do not know if they are receiving an active ingredient, and the response can be measured objectively.
There are several theories about why the placebo effect exists. A disease may have its own natural cycle, or some people may be predisposed to the power of suggestion.
Despite being hard to prove, homeopathy is one of the most wide spread non conventional treatment approaches alongside Chinese medicine, herbal medicine and osteopathy.
There is a lot of discussion about the merits of homeopathy as treatment regime. One robust criticism of the whole approach that is worth a read Quackwatch: Homeopathy The Ultimate Fake. The author, Stephen Barrett, M.D. asserts that the FDA has not held homeopathic products to the same standards as other drugs and that at best the remedies are just placebos.
We all of course know that what we eat influences our health. Just how much does diet affect our rosacea though ?
Some foods are known to be common rosacea triggers. It can be quite complicated to understand one’s own allergies and food intolerances, especially if there are rosacea flareups related to intake of unknown foods. One good source for further reading is the resource page Dietary Influence.
Beyond some directly traceable intolerance to a particular food, what about a particular style of diet ? Rosacea Diets have been around for several years. Can avoiding processed foods or eating an alkaline diet help your rosacea ? Anecdotal reports suggest that this may be the case.
One paper that looks to be heading an an interesting direction is summarised here; could rosacea be caused by diet ?
Pursuing a whole foods, plant-based diet is also something worth considering when thinking about your general health and longevity. My belief is that we would all benefit from seeking the advice of a dietician for our rosacea and indeed for our general health and wellbeing. With so many chronic diseases having links to diet, it makes good sense to explore good nutrition with a dietician.
This sort of therapy includes hydrotherapy, physiotherapy, sports medicine and soft tissue manipulative therapy. While it might be hard to imagine how physical therapies can help rosacea, they may well improve your quality of life. We also know that moderate exercise may help your rosacea.
There has been little direct research between the effects of stress and rosacea. It appears that emotional flushing in rosacea sufferers may be maintained by a combination of both cognitive and physiological factors. What comes first though ? does stress make rosacea worse, or does rosacea induce its own stress, and feed off itself.
While we wait for more research, those who do suffer from anxiety or depression will likely benefit from meditation, relaxation, and stress management.
Another result from some recent research linking rosacea and flushing found that `The stress and fear of blushing can be mitigated by psychological intervention such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Task Concentration Training.’ These are 2 more options that may be worth exploring to help rosacea sufferers copy with flushing and anxiety.
Over to you.
OK, so I have tried my best to outline the depth of naturopathic treatments and frame them with some relevance to treating rosacea. What successes can you report ? Do these sorts of treatments hold much promise for rosacea sufferers ?