Learn about the use of medicinal herbs used as home remedies for rosacea and improving the nutrition for sports-minded children.
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.
The information offered in “Q & A” is not intended to be a substitute for advice from your health-care provider.
Improving Children's Nutrition Naturally
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!
Home Remedies for Rosacea
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 (Taraxacum officinale).
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.
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 products.
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 root tea.
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.
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).
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