Natural Foods Merchandiser

Nutrition Q&A

Is there a natural treatment for acne rosacea?

Acne rosacea is a chronic skin condition characterized by red, flaky patches on the nose and cheeks, and sometimes lesions that resemble small pimples. It occurs mostly in adults between the ages of 30 and 60. Severe, untreated rosacea can be disfiguring. We don?t know what causes it, and the condition can be difficult to treat nutritionally. From a dietary standpoint, alcohol, spicy foods and hot drinks may cause flare-ups. Sun exposure, temperature extremes or excessive exercise may also exacerbate rosacea. Although it is tempting to suspect food allergies, there is little literature to support this theory. Older studies reported a connection between an insufficiency of B vitamins and rosacea. However, this link has not been followed up. The same could be said for reports tying inadequate stomach acid (hydrochloric acid) or digestive enzyme secretions to rosacea.1 Although there is no recent literature on this subject, I have used hydrochloric acid supplementation in a few patients with rosacea and have noted some improvement. HCL supplements should not be taken without the supervision of a health care practitioner.

In conventional medicine, rosacea is typically treated with oral antibiotics, which are thought to have primarily an anti-inflammatory effect. Some patients opt for prescriptive creams such as azelaic acid, which is found in grain. Using oral antibiotics as a long-term treatment for rosacea concerns me because of the potential bacterial resistance this causes. I strongly suggest a topical prescriptive medication cream if the conventional route is chosen. If one opts for oral antibiotics, I always recommend concurrent use of probiotics, taken at a different time of day from the antibiotic.

I have read that the mineral vanadium is important for diabetics, but I?ve also heard it may be toxic. What is a safe dose?

Vanadium has been classified as an essential trace mineral, which means it is necessary for human health. The question is how much is enough and how much is too much. Soy, sunflower, safflower, corn and olive oils, and the foods these oils come from may contain fair amounts of vanadium. Buckwheat, parsley, oats, rice, green beans, carrots and cabbage also contain microgram amounts of the mineral. Results of some studies have suggested high doses of vanadium—in the range of 50 to 100 mg daily—may be useful in treating diabetes.2,3,4 However, these were short-term trials lasting only a few months.

There is currently no recommended dietary allowance for vanadium. The upper safe limit has been set at 1.8 mg a day; therefore, taking 50 to 100 mg long-term may be dangerous. In fact, results of a recent study suggest chronic exposure to high levels of vanadium reduces cognitive abilities.5 These results were derived from airborne exposure to vanadium, not oral doses. I think caution is called for in long-term supplementation with high doses of this mineral.

What is the evidence that probiotics help with diarrhea caused by antibiotics?

Some people, particularly children, develop loose stools or frank diarrhea during a course of antibiotics. Antibiotic-associated diarrhea can be attributed at least in part to an imbalance in intestinal microflora that ensues. Because of this, researchers have looked at supplementing with probiotic preparations to prevent this side effect. The results have varied and studies have often been small, so researchers performed several meta-analyses to try to clarify the findings.

The results all generally reach the same conclusion. Although they urge further studies, the results show a strong benefit of probiotic administration for antibiotic-associated diarrhea (particularly in children).6,7,8 In one study, researchers found probiotics reduced the risk of diarrhea lasting more than three days by nearly 60 percent.6 A meta-analysis also showed that probiotics taken alone as therapy reduced acute diarrheal illness in children.9 There certainly are questions remaining about what specific probiotic organisms to use and what dose to recommend, but it does appear that this is an important therapy. I recommend probiotics anytime one takes an antibiotic, and particularly for young children.

Dan Lukaczer, N.D., is director of clinical research at the Functional Medicine Research Center, a division of Metagenics Inc., in Gig Harbor, Wash.

1. Barba A, et al. Pancreatic exocrine function in rosacea. Dermatologica 1982;165(6):601-6.
2. Goldfine AB, et al. Metabolic effects of vanadyl sulfate in humans with non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus: in vivo and in vitro studies. Metabolism 2000;49(3):400-10.
3. Cohen N, et al. Oral vanadyl sulfate improves hepatic and peripheral insulin sensitivity in patients with non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. J Clin Invest 1995;95(6):2501-9.
4. Boden G, et al. Effects of vanadyl sulfate on carbohydrate and lipid metabolism in patients with non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. Metabolism 1996;45(9):1130-5.
5. Barth A, et al. Neurobehavioral effects of vanadium. J Toxicol Environ Health A 2002;65(9):677-83.
6. Szajewska H, Mrukowicz JZ. Probiotics in prevention of antibiotic-associated diarrhea: meta-analysis. J Pediatr 2003;142(1):85.
7. D?Souza AL, et al. Probiotics in prevention of antibiotic associated diarrhoea: meta-analysis. BMJ 2002;324(7350):1361.
8. Cremonini F, et al. Meta-analysis: the effect of probiotic administration on antibiotic-associated diarrhoea. Aliment Pharmacol Ther 2002;16(8):1461-7.
9. Huang JS, et al. Efficacy of probiotic use in acute diarrhea in children: a meta-analysis. Dig Dis Sci 2002;47(11):2625-34.

Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXV/number 2/p. 58

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