In every issue of Herbs for Health, professionals from a variety
of health-care fields answer your questions about using medicinal
herbs. In this issue, Terry Willard and Jill Stansbury answer your
questions on children’s nutrition and rosacea.
Terry Willard is a clinical herbalist, president of the Canadian
Association of Herbal Practitioners, and founder of the Wild Rose
College of Natural Healing in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. He is the
author of eight books and a CD-ROM, Interactive Herbal.
Jill Stansbury has been a naturopathic physician for more than
ten years, with a private practice in Battle-ground, Washington.
She is the chair of the Botanical Medicine Department at the
National College of Naturopathic Medicine in Portland, Oregon, and
the author of many books including Herbs for Health and Healing
(Publication International, 1997).
Please send your questions to Herbs for Health “Q & A,” Herb
Companion Press, 243 E. Fourth St., Loveland, CO 80537; fax (970)
663-0909; or e-mail us at HerbsForHealth@HCPress.com. Provide your
name and full address for verification, although both will be kept
The information offered in “Q & A” is not intended to be a
substitute for advice from your health-care provider.
Herb teas can provide nutrients and electrolytes.
My ten-year-old daughter has recently joined a competitive swim
team. She practices four days a week for an hour each day. My
concern is providing her with peak nutrition without overdoing it.
I’m also very aware of her entering a pivotal state of her growth
and development. What do you think about supplements, sport-mixes,
sport drinks, etc.? She is also a very finicky eater. She’s taking
two children’s multivitamins with an additional two chewable
vitamin Cs. I’ve also tried a “green” cocktail (organic apple
juice mixed with a powdered barley grass/spirulina, etc. mix) with
Stansbury responds: Being the parent of a
ten-year-old myself, I can appreciate the less-than-enthusiastic
response to some of the nutritional supplements you have
offered—but kudos to you for trying. Because your young athlete is
a finicky eater, the multivitamins aren’t a bad idea, but as you
are no doubt aware, nothing is a substitute for a good diet.
Perhaps working with whatever healthy foods she does like, while
attempting to expand her horizons, would be the best place to
direct your efforts. Consider having her help you devise a week’s
worth of healthy meals, and selecting a few snacks for between
meals such as fresh fruit, almonds, vegetable sticks and dips, and
so on. Sometimes, compromising can facilitate improved nutrition
better than strict meal plans.
For example, my children will eat a whole plate of salad or bowl
of homemade vegetable soup to earn the piece of cornbread with
butter and honey that goes with it. Or I might allow them to choose
what they want for Saturday dinner (“Pizza!”) if they have eaten
well all week. Treats with some redeeming qualities can be allowed
as a reward for accomplishing the good diet goal of the week or
even of the day.
I don’t feel that the “sport” drinks and mixes are at all
necessary in the situation you describe. Diluted fruit or vegetable
juices and high-nutrient herbal teas such as nettle (Urtica
dioica), gotu kola (Centella asiatica), and oatstraw (Avena sativa)
can provide nutrients and electrolytes at a fraction of the cost,
processing, and packaging. Furthermore, some of the powdered,
canned, and bottled products contain sugar and questionable
ingredients. Lots of water is advised. Add some powdered vitamin C
crystals, minerals, or lemon juice if it helps your daughter drink
more. Unless there are actual medical concerns or complaints, keep
up the great job you’re doing providing a healthy diet, exercise
routine, and lifestyle.
Willard responds: This is a type of question I
get regularly in the clinic: “How can I help my child’s athletic
performance without pushing her too hard?” By far the most proven
herb in this category is Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus
senticosus). Research clarifies it enhances endurance and is quite
suitable to take during growth and developmental stages. I make up
a tincture in my clinic that contains 40 percent Siberian ginseng,
20 percent astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus), 10 percent
American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius), 10 percent reishi
(Ganoderma lucidum), 10 percent licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra), 5
percent codonopsis (Codonopsis pilosula), and 5 percent polygonum
(Polygonum multiflorum). You can probably get a compounding herbal
clinic to make this up for you. I have the patient take 1/2 to 1
teaspoon of the mixture, one to two times daily. In your daughter’s
case once a day, or even just on practice days, might be enough. If
you can’t get all of the ingredients, leave out whichever you can’t
obtain. Often people can only get the Siberian ginseng and
astragalus and that still works pretty well. With these herbs,
tincture form works best and is easy to put in a blender drink.
I often get my athletic patients to use a blender drink that
includes half a banana, 1 tablespoon of yogurt, 2 tablespoons of
protein powder, 1 cup of apple juice, and the above tincture
mixture. You can also add berries and some cinnamon or nutmeg to
taste, if your daughter enjoys these. I would suggest that you
might want to add one additional multimineral to your daughter’s
program. Good luck with the swim meets!
I am a forty-eight year old woman and have been going to a
dermatologist for my red face for about two years now, with a
diagnosis of rosacea. The “mask” on my cheeks and nose has gotten
better, but my nose is still often red. The flushing red, however,
is getting worse! This is splotching on my chest, neck, and face.
The last time I saw my doctor, he gave me a patient-education paper
about another medicine, Accutane. Do you know anything about it?
The list of side effects is horrible.
Stansbury responds: Used primarily for severe
acne, as well as some cases of rosacea, Accutane (isotretinoin)
does indeed have potential side affects, notably liver toxicity and
serious risks to an unborn baby if used during pregnancy, so I can
understand your reluctance to use this pharmaceutical. Retin-A
(tretinoin) is a pharmaceutical agent that can be used topically,
and therefore avoids some of the toxicity concerns associated with
the oral use of Accutane.
Some cases of rosacea have been found to be associated with a
tiny mite that colonizes the skin on the central face, leading to
inflammation. This type of rosacea may respond to pharmaceuticals
such as Metrogel (metronidazole), or perhaps topical skin washes
with antimicrobial herbs, such as garlic (Allium sativum) and tea
tree (Melaleuca alternifolia). A microscopic analysis of a skin
sample performed by your dermatologist may help determine if this
mite is contributing to your rosacea.
Other cases of rosacea have been noted to occur in individuals
with digestive disorders, particularly low stomach acid. If you
have any accompanying digestive symptoms, I suggest you try a
course of digestive enzymes containing hydrochloric acid, along
with digestion-enhancing herbs such as Oregon grape root (Mahonia
aquifolium), yellow dock (Rumex crispus), and/or dandelion root
Still other cases of rosacea may be related to iodide and
bromide sensitivity. Try reading all food labels and avoiding
everything containing these halide elements, especially if you tend
to have allergies.
Last but not least, because rosacea involves altered circulatory
responses in the capillary beds of the dermis, ultimately leading
to permanent distension of the involved capillaries, consider
trying natural agents known to reduce vascular inflammation. These
include garlic, blueberries, angelica (Angelica archangelica),
feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium), antioxidant vitamins, vitamin K,
and many others. Avoiding substances and situations that lead to
dilation of the capillaries, such as coffee drinking, eating lots
of hot spices, and using saunas is also advised. This condition is
slow to improve and requires persistence with the chosen therapies
for several months to best ascertain any efficacy.
Willard responds: Yours is a classical
condition. Rosacea is a chronic, eruptive skin disorder most often
affecting the forehead, nose, and chin. It is most often found in
adults between ages thirty and fifty. Women are affected three
times more often than men. Rosacea is recognized by small groups of
capillaries, close to the surface of the skin, which become
dilated, resulting in blotchy red areas with small bumps and
sometimes pimples. The redness can come and go, but it may become
permanent. The inflammation may look similar to acne, but it is
more pronounced, with little or no whiteheads or blackheads.
The underlying cause has not been determined, but several
factors are known to aggravate rosacea. These include alcoholism,
menopausal flushing, hot liquids, spicy foods, exposure to
sunlight, extreme temperature or humidity, makeup, local infection,
B-vitamin deficiencies, and gastrointestinal disorders. In general,
the oil metabolic pathways in the body are disturbed in people with
Rosacea is often associated with Candida albicans or a toxic
intestinal tract and/or liver. Consider some form of dietary
cleansing regime and check out your probability of a candida
condition. Eat a diet high in raw vegetables and organic grains.
Avoid fats (especially saturated), alcohol, caffeine, cheese,
chocolate, cocoa, dairy products, salt, sugars, and excessively
spicy food. Avoid drinking extremely hot liquids as well as hot
water when washing and bathing, saunas, steam baths, and hot tubs.
Keep makeup to a minimum, using only natural, water-based
Because poor digestion tends to be associated with rosacea, I
generally ask my patients to take 1 to 3 capsules of digestive
enzymes (containing hydrochloric acid) with each meal, depending on
the size of the meal. Because much of the problem is directly
related to oil metabolism, you have to be very cautious to not
consume trans-fatty acids in the diet, while including lots of
essential fatty acids (found in fish and flax oil).
Beneficial herbs include garlic, alfalfa (Medicago sativa),
dandelion root, and nettle. I also have rosacea patients take
beta-carotene, zinc, and vitamin C. The dosages are as follows:
essential fatty acids, 2,000 mg twice daily; digestive enzymes, 1
to 3 capsules with each meal; beta-carotene, 20,000 to 30,000 IU
twice daily; zinc, 50 mg daily; and vitamin C, 1,000 mg two to six
times daily. Throughout the day, drink nettle leaf or dandelion
Editor’s note: Some research suggests that rosacea may be
related to Helicobacter pylori, the same bacteria responsible for
stomach ulcers. Treatment with the antibiotic metronidazole, which
kills H. pylori, can be effective for rosacea. Bovine colostrum may
also be effective for killing the bacteria.