Get comfy, because this is a long post! Before you begin taking any of these supplements, please know this is not medical advice and you should speak to a natural healthcare practitioner about what is safe and effective for you.
Now that we've got that out of the way, I'm going to share with you natural health supplements that can help manage symptoms of rosacea that are both evidence-based and effective. However, no two people are exactly alike and what works for one may not work for another. For instance, SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) can be a cause of rosacea so wiping out SIBO can stop rosacea. However, not all cases of rosacea have SIBO and if you have SIBO, taking a probiotic is just fueling the fire. H. pylori is another known cause but not all people who have rosacea have elevated H. pylori. Note: You can get your doctor to test you for H. pylori to rule it out.
Before you scroll down to the supplements, please take note that supplements are complimentary to a healthy diet. If you're eating crappy foods, no supplement is going to fix your skin.
This is why treating rosacea is a bit of trial and error. It took me about 3-4 years to find out what works for me and countless hours of research and reading. You can see my before photos here. There were some days I didn't want to show my face on social media or be seen in public because I was so embarrassed.
It is estimated that 14 million people in the U.S. live with rosacea and many people live with undiagnosed rosacea. Rosacea is one of the most common skin conditions and research shows it can also have detrimental mental health effects including depression and anxiety.
I decided to go the natural route after seeing a Dermatologist last year who recommended the birth control pill, antibiotic cream (metronidazole) and three months of oral antibiotics (doxycycline). Honestly, my jaw dropped to the floor when I was given these recommendations after chatting with this skin doc for about 10 minutes. Based on all my knowledge on the birth control pill and the importance of a healthy skin and gut microbiome, I never filled the prescription. I didn't want to carpet bomb my skin and gut microbiome with antibiotics potentially making things worse down the line for temporary relief. And the birth control pill? Good god, no way, there are so many problems with the birth control pill and using it to balance my hormones would be a bandaid solution.
After reading countless reviews and forums online, I came to the realization that none of these pharmaceutical recommendations seems to work for the long term and every single Rx intervention has negative side effects. If you're reading this and you're currently on meds or using the prescription cream, you can still support your body naturally - there is no clear path to treating your rosacea, you do what is best for you!
Alright, let's dig into the nitty-gritty of supplements to consider for healing and preventing rosacea.
Why? Healthy skin begins in the gut. So gut health is paramount when it comes to managing any condition of the skin especially rosacea and acne.
Research has shown that probiotics can significantly improve gut health and in doing so, directly and positively impact the skin in a variety of ways. If you have SIBO, probiotics may not be ideal.
Benefits of Probiotics for Rosacea
What probiotics are best?
I'm so glad you asked! There are three different probiotic strains that have shown promising results.
Lactobacillus paracasei: This probiotic has been shown to reduce skin sensitivity and improve skin barrier function. It has also been found to increase TGF-beta which plays a significant role in the integrity of the skin.
Lactobacillus longum: Studies have found this probiotic provides increased resistance to physical stressors to the skin such as heat, cold and wind, as well as chemical aggressors (skin-care products) and a decrease in dryness with supplementation of this probiotic.
Lactobacillus plantarum: Research has shown that this probiotic has anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. While most studies focus on the treatment of acne with this strain, the fact it supports healthy skin sebum and hydration is promising for the treatment of rosacea.
It's worth noting that many probiotic strains can increase histamine production which can be a trigger for rosacea. However, some strains such a L. plantarum and L. longum can help degrade histamines.
You can address the histamines by limiting them in your diet and consider other natural health supplements to reduce histamines as well: quercitin, holy basil, milk thistle (in our Joyous Detox and Joyous Rejuvenate tea), green tea and nettle. We have both green tea and nettle in our Radiance Tea which is specifically formulated for healthy skin!
As a little experiment, I've mixed my Hella Hydrating serum with a probiotic powder and put it on my cheeks before bed. The texture of my face was super smooth from this application and inflammation was significantly reduced.
Genuine Health makes a great multi-strain probiotic that I love, and it contains all 3 of those mentioned above in addition to 12 more strains.
This is actually a beneficial yeast and not a bacteria but it is part of a healthy gut microbiome. It has been shown to interfere with cellular pathways that are common in inflammatory conditions such as rosacea. Which means it is a potent anti-inflammatory yeast.
It helps to eradicate H. pylori, supports the immune system and it is effective in reducing flare-ups from inflammatory-based gut disorders such as IBS and colitis which are both linked to rosacea. If that wasn't enough, it is able to promote the secretion of secretory IgA which is an important part of your immune system and helps prevent leaky gut by supporting the mucosal lining of the intestinal wall.
From my own personal experience, I've been taking it since February and it really improved my gut health and my tolerance to histamines. This is the brand I recommend - AOR.
Zinc is an absolute beauty mineral as it's involved in cellular renewal and repair plus it helps heal skin lesions (particularly beneficial for acne-prone skin). Studies have shown that zinc is a potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant-rich mineral and should always be considered in conditions of the skin whether it's rosacea, acne, or eczema. It is essential for a healthy immune system and plays a role in maintaining the barrier function of the skin.
Another benefit is that zinc is a cofactor for collagen synthesis and DNA repair which helps your skin maintain a healthy, youthful texture.
Note: It is really important you don't take too much as it's a very delicate balance with copper and too much zinc can offset copper.
This is the one I recommend - AOR Zinc-Copper Balance.
Fish and fish oil contain EPA and DHA which act on anti-inflammatory prostaglandins. These prostaglandins inhibit pro-inflammatory pathways.
Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to decrease inflammation and decrease insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) preventing hyperkeratinization of sebaceous follicles which in turn helps with many skin issues, including rosacea.
I'm a fan of cod liver fish oil for rosacea because it also contains vitamin D and A which are both beneficial for the skin. This is the brand I recommend for cod liver oil, Nordic Naturals. It can also be taken as a liquid.
GLA Borage Oil
This is one of my favourite skin supplements! GLA is an essential omega 6 fatty acid with well-known anti-inflammatory properties. It nourishes your skin from the inside out to improve skin moisture, elasticity and firmness. It helps to improve skin hydration which is essential for strengthening the barrier function of the skin.
GLA has been found in research to help restore a defective skin barrier function. The skin barrier is everything in reducing symptoms of rosacea.
Not only can it help with rosacea, by reducing redness but it can also be used therapeutically to help with eczema and acne.
There is no food source in high enough quantities for therapeutic benefits which is why I recommend supplementation - this brand Smart Solutions.
Vitamin C plus bioflavonoids
Vitamin C is incredibly important for healthy skin. It is involved in the formation of the skin barrier (which is compromised in rosacea) and the synthesis of collagen. Vitamin C helps prevent oxidation which is what causes premature wrinkling and is essential for cell signal pathways involved in cell growth. Vitamin C modulates inflammatory chemical secretion making it an anti-inflammatory superstar.
Broken capillaries are a hallmark of rosacea. Vitamin C is a superstar when it comes to helping manage rosacea and support healthy skin. It helps to strengthen capillaries which results in fewer broken capillaries. It won't reverse the damage already done, but it helps prevent new ones from forming.
I really like this vitamin C complex because it has many antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits due to the bioflavonoids present within this vitamin C complex. Bioflavonoids help with the absorption of vitamin C.
This is the brand I recommend - Progressive Vitamin C Complex or Liposomal Vitamin C.
The "king of antioxidants" known as a carotenoid, it's found in orange foods and gives those foods the colourful orange hue like salmon, oranges, orange bell peppers, carrots, and tomatoes. Studies have found that astaxanthin is a more potent antioxidant than vitamin C!
It improves dryness, protects the skin against free radicals and sun damage. A study found that daily supplementation improved skin texture, elasticity, reduced age spot size and even addressed crow's feet. You may have heard it helps boost the skin's natural sun protection too, however, you still need to use sunscreen.
Its anti-inflammatory properties aid in reducing skin redness, sensitivity, and inflammation making it essential for rosacea sufferers.
This is the brand I recommend - Pure Encapsulations.
Other notable considerations
If hormonal imbalance is at the root of your rosacea then DIM for hormonal balance can be beneficial. I personally took it for 3 months. I also want to mention that managing stress is absolutely key so considering adaptogenic herbs is worth considering. I've got an upcoming post on lifestyle factors in managing rosacea and I will be tackling stress as it's a HUGE factor in rosacea flare-ups. Stay tuned for that!
Should you take every single one of these supplements?
The short answer is no. That would be a lot of pill-popping. Evaluate each supplement carefully and review this with your natural healthcare practitioner who can help you decide what is right for you. This is really important because there could be a medication you are taking that is contraindicated. For instance, if you take blood-thinning medications, you can't take fish oil.
Want to learn more about healing rosacea from a natural health perspective? Check out these posts:
I truly hope this information is beneficial to you. If you have anything to add or you have questions, please feel free to post below.
Wishing you joyous health!