Gluten, Inflammation & Rosacea

If you’re like me, you’ve probably been eating bread, crackers, pizza dough and cereal since you were a kid. Maybe, like me, you never reacted to it either. 

Bread was one of the only things I could eat without an immediate flare-up. Unlike peppers, salsa, wine or tomatoes which would cause instantaneous, hot redness gushing into my cheeks, bread never seemed to have that effect. Just to be sure, I discussed it with my doctor and had a celiac test and allergy tests performed. I was actually kind of disappointed to hear that the results were all negative. Part of me was hoping if I was positive, I’d finally have an answer to my rosacea.  Surprisingly, I did not have any allergy, sensitivity or intolerance to gluten whatsoever. Not only that, I did not have a food allergy, sensitivity or intolerance to ANY food. 

The reason I continued to be suspicious about the foods I was eating was that every time I had the flu and was very ill for days, meaning there was nothing left in my stomach or intestines, my skin would clear up. I mean drastically clear up. I would still have generalized pinkness and a sandpaper feel to my skin, but the bumps and flares were gone. Then I would go back to my normal diet, and things would immediately return to a state of chronic rosacea. 

In December 2019 a friend convinced me to try a 30 day clean eating program which forced me to completely eliminate dairy and gluten for the full month. I was extremely skeptical due to all of my negative test results,  but I stuck to the plan and the progress to my skin was very surprising. I saw a significant improvement in my symptoms, enough to want to continue. 

This prompted me to begin researching dairy and gluten, and WHY they are so problematic, even for someone who is NOT sensitive to them. What exactly was going on?

Gluten has a story to tell. It turns out gluten is a mixture of two proteins and is found in barley, rye and wheat. The more glutenous the grain, the more gooey and stretchy (and yummy) the bread. Prior to 1940, grains were grown and harvested in the natural state. In the 1940s, geneticist Norman Borlaug discovered he could cross-breed different varieties of wheat to produce a shorter, stalkier type of wheat which could hold more kernels. America wanted to produce more wheat to ship all over the world, so they did. The new cross-bred variety was lower to the ground and needed more pesticides, and more pesticides meant more depleted soil. The new variety of wheat was called “dwarf wheat” and today is referred to as “frankenwheat.” Today almost all wheat has been genetically modified, even nonGMO wheat. The only wheat which has been untouched by geneticists  is an ancient grain variety, which usually comes from another part of the world and can be grown in America under strict organic guidelines. The wheat is then harvested and ground using original techniques like stone grinding, not machine grinding. 

But let’s look at the big picture. The biggest problem is, humans have been evolving for 7 million years. Our diets have consisted mainly of plants, barks, flowers, fruits, vegetables, herbs, insects, meats, fish, and the occasional grain. For 7 million years. 

Now consider what’s happened in the last 100 years. Not only have we drastically changed what we’re eating, we’re changing the actual food itself. The American diet today consists mainly of boxed cereal, toast, milk, bread, pasta, grilled cheese, pizza, chicken nuggets, more bread, crackers, chips, and soda. And fast food. Kids are being raised on Eggo waffles, mac & cheese, pizza, and Lunchables. The wheat is not only genetically manipulated, it’s literally grown in glyphosate (RoundUp). Throw in the occasional packaged fruit cup or fruit gummy as a fruit serving, and the day is complete. This is NOT what humans were meant to eat. 

Consider the chart below to see the dramatic rise in glyphosate usage beginning in 1990.

The big problem here is inflammation. When your gut becomes damaged over time from medications, mucus inducing foods, (dairy), gluten, pesticides, cortisone, etc., it can no longer break down food and therefore no longer absorb nutrients well. This leads to three things: chronic gut irritability, malnutrition, and a poor immune response. Eighty percent of your immune system is housed in your gut, so when your gut is compromised, your immune system will suffer. Research tells us that rosacea is often related to two things: systemic inflammation and a compromised immune system. It is no coincidence that people who focus on gut healing frequently see a drastic improvement in their rosacea symptoms. Is there a connection? Absolutely.

This past year has been a major wake up call to my whole family. After I saw the changes that happened to my skin and to my overall health, I could no longer serve the pesticide grown/nitrate-filled/chemically-processed/bleached/colored/sweetened “foods” to my children and husband. We bought tons of organic produce, organic meats, and Einkorn flour to make our own bread. There was definitely a transition period where we struggled to find good recipes, but we found TONS of foods we loved, especially for my daughters. They now eat about 8 fruits per day, including kiwi, mango, pineapple, dragonfruit, pomegranate, watermelon, coconut, avocado, wild blueberries, and many others they’d never even tried before. We make our own gluten free banana bread, sweet potato fries, and have switched from dairy milk to coconut milk and almond milk. 

The results are incredible. My husband lost a total of 60 lbs and he’s never gone to the gym. This is through clean eating alone. (Clean eating is not a diet. It’s making specific, consistent choices to the foods you are buying and eating.) My daughter’s constipation finally went away for the first time since she was born, as well as her eczema and chronically chapped hands. My other daughter has had a fructose intolerance for 5 years, and it’s finally healed to the point where she can eat a party cupcake without being doubled over in pain. This journey  for our family has truly been life changing. 

I would encourage you to experiment with gluten-free foods for at least a month and see what happens. For some of you there will be no change, but for many of you, the elimination of gluten will allow the gut healing process to begin. When your gut is not bombarded with gluten at every meal, it can begin to regenerate the cell wall and produce the enzymes necessary for food breakdown and nutrient absorption. When your liver is not overburdened by detoxifying glyphosate, nitrates, coloring, flavoring, caffeine and synthetic sweeteners at every meal, it can begin to break down the toxins that are already waiting to be processed. 

Not all rosacea has a link to gut health.  Most cases do, but not all. I have met a handful of patients who have no gut issues whatsoever, (meaning no constipation, no IBS, no diarrhea, no upset stomach, no food sensitivities, no SIBO, no leaky gut, no h.pylori, no parasites, etc.) and for them, their rosacea had an underlying causes which was not one of the most common ones. If you partake in a gluten free diet for a month and do not see any change in your rosacea, I would encourage you to consider other underlying causes.

Rosacea healing takes time. I can’t emphasize this enough. Two weeks of a new diet plan is not enough time to heal rosacea. 

While gluten is often a contributing factor in a rosacea diagnosis, it is usually just one piece of the puzzle. There are multiple other factors involved, ranging from dormant viruses to chemical exposures to negative thought processes. Problems with the inner workings of your body are what caused the rosacea to appear in the first place; healing must start on the inside, and the results will show in your skin, given time.

To learn more about the underlying causes of rosacea, and how to heal, consider enrolling in one of my programs or courses.

Rosacea and Heavy Metals

If you’re familiar with Anthony William (Medical Medium) then you’ve heard of the problem with heavy metals. He believes they are the underlying cause of hundreds of ailments ranging from psoriasis to Alzheimer’s to thyroid conditions. When I first heard this theory I didn’t give it much thought. (This was back when I thought rosacea was a skin condition.) After all I’ve learned in the past 10 months and all the people I’ve witnessed get better after years of rosacea, I do think heavy metals play a role. Mercury is the biggest offender, followed by aluminum, lead, copper, etc. We are exposed to these metals daily in our water, medications, vaccines, canned food, soda cans, cookware, deodorant, medications, makeup, lotions, shampoo, etc. Ugh. Now a small amount of heavy metal exposure is manageable, but the problem is we are no longer eating the foods necessary to purge these metals out of the body.

Heavy metals most often land in our liver, gut and brain. They stay there, accumulating over time. Heavy metal deposits in the brain are the main cause of dementia and Alzheimer’s. Heavy metal deposits in the liver are one of the underlying causes of rosacea. So how do we rid our bodies of these metals? There is a combination of ingredients recommended by Anthony William which is very effective. I started making smoothies last fall with all the ingredients when I considered the possibility of this being the underlying cause of my rosacea. These ingredients all work in harmony to latch on to heavy metals, carry them to the kidneys and colon, and get rid of them! The problem is I don’t like taking the time to prepare everything, so I came up with an alternative: a heavy metal detox drink. It turns out that 4 of the 5 critical ingredients are already in the Greens Balance powder I use daily. (Spirulina, Chlorella, Barley Grass Juice Powder, Blueberries). I then add a scoop of cilantro powder or eat cilantro during the day, and I’m done.

I knew this detox was working when I started to have sore gums. I couldn’t figure out what this was from so I would go a couple of days without the greens, and my gums would stop hurting. Then when I did the greens again, within a few hours my gums would start to ache. It finally occurred to me that it was probably the mercury in my amalgams. They ached on and off for a few weeks, then finally stopped aching. Many people experience headaches the first few weeks of doing a heavy metal detox, but I always see all side effects as a good thing. They are temporary, and they are a reminder that you are on the right path.

I plan to have this daily drink for the rest of my life, along with my liver detox tea and probiotic. While I’ve already purged the majority of toxins, chemicals and heavy metals that were overwhelming my organs, I want to keep my liver happy for maintenance. So a daily greens drink and a cup of detox tea are certainly within reason.

If you would like to make your own smoothies, the best ingredients are:

-Cilantro, wild blueberries from Maine, Atlantic dulse, spirulina, chlorella, and barley grass juice powder. There are a few other substitutions that can be made, but those are they key ingredients.

This is also an excellent daily drink to give kids (35 fruits and veggies!) or elderly who may be showing early signs of dementia. While you may not see results right away, over time, why NOT detox heavy metals from the body?

Rosacea Safe Skincare

Rosacea Treatment process

I’ve been using Vaseline since I was a little girl with severely chapped hands and lips. It worked miracles on my hands and was the only thing that wouldn’t make them sting. Vaseline certainly has its place in the world, but recently I’ve been seeing a lot of “petrochemical-free” products, and I wanted to share more about them.

Products such as petroleum jelly and mineral oil are byproducts of petroleum (gasoline) refinement. It’s true they come from petroleum, but they are highly refined and are considered “safe” for use on our skin and even in our food products. On the upside, they don’t cause irritation to the vast majority of the population, don’t spoil, and are used by surgeons after closing up stitches. They provide a waterproof barrier to chapped or chafed skin to allow skin to heal beneath the barrier. As I said, they definitely have their place in the world.

My issue with petrochemical products is that they are used far too frequently as a base or additive for cosmetic moisturizers. They are abundant and cheap, can easily add substance to a moisturizer. Basically they are added to your skincare to make you think you are buying more product than you are. As good as they are at protecting irritated skin, these products should never be used on fragile facial skin which has acne, rosacea, or other sensitivities. They will only aggravate your skin further and prevent it from breathing- basically they would trap any bacteria or irritants into your skin. Even though your skin might initially feel soft, the product won’t be absorbed into your skin, and the mineral oil can actually draw moisture out of your skin. With so many fantastic, plant-based moisturizers out there full of antioxidants and natural anti-inflammatories, is it surprising that major brands like CereVe continue to use petrochemicals? No. Petrochemicals are very inexpensive and as long as dermatologists continue to promote these brands, rosacea and acne sufferers will continue to use them, not knowing that there are so many other beneficial options out there.

Since learning about petrochemicals and toxins in general, I have switched all my skincare products to clean brands, which are free of petrochemicals, sulfates, parabens, colors, fragrance, or dyes. Most clean brands are hypoallergenic, plant based, nonGMO, vegan, and cruelty free. These brands often do NOT advertise and rather spend money on the quality of the ingredients and third-party testing over fancy marketing campaigns. I’ve found that my bottles actually last a lot longer because less product is needed, since there are no fillers or petrochemicals to “bulk” up the product.

For rosacea skin, I would suggest a high-quality probiotic moisturizer which does not have petrochemicals. This does not mean buying a store-bought moisturizer with “Now with Probiotics!” listed on the label! These “beauty” companies spend more money on their advertising campaigns than on the actual product. It means spending a little more money upfront on a quality moisturizer that is not full of chemicals and will actually heal your skin because of all the natural antioxidants and anti-inflammatories.

Nature itself is the best physician.


Ocular Rosacea

Rosacea Treatment

Blepharitis, or inflammation of the eyelid, can often accompany rosacea and the reason is often the same reason as to why the rosacea is occurring: demodex mites. While there are certainly many other causes of ocular rosacea besides demodex mites, it is one which should be considered. I started to notice my eyes becoming very dry in the past two years, around the time my rosacea symptoms worsened, but I didn’t make a connection. I went to two different eye doctors complaining of dry eyes, blurry vision, redness, and frequent irritation. Both doctors looked at my eyes, prescribed eyedrops, and said I was simply getting older. That didn’t sound quite right to me but what did I know? I wasn’t an eye doctor. When I began my very precise and thorough research of rosacea I began to read about ocular rosacea, or redness and irritation of they eyes, often associated with rosacea of the skin. All of the medical websites I read (healthline, mayo clinic, WebMD) said the same things I had always read about rosacea: no one knows why it happens, and there is no cure.

Luckily I eventually stumbled upon information about demodex folloculorum and demodex brevis, the two types of demodex mites which live in the hair follicles and pores of humans. (I know it sounds terrible but they actually live on all humans, and the population grows as we get older.) So I went back to Google and searched “optometry” and “demodex” and found some fantastic products made especially for your eyelashes to kill the demodex population in the follicles of your eyelashes, thus curing your blepharitis. After discussing this with a new eye doctor, I was told to use a foam called Ocusoft Oust which can be applied each night to your lashes, then wiped off. I would only recommend using a product especially made for eyes and following the directions to the letter. I used the eye foam in conjunction with a topical demodex mite treatment on my skin, while I was focusing significantly on reducing internal inflammation through dietary changes. I will never understand why two eye doctors and three dermatologists never mentioned the existence of demodex mites to me. I’m starting to think they simply don’t know, or if they do know, they are not supposed to tell us. Either way, it turns out the solution for me was very simple, and I am thrilled that my eyes no longer itch or burn, turn red, or feel irritated. And I haven’t used my prescribed hydrating eye drops in years.

Always discuss any new products with your eye doctor and dermatologist before use. There are many other causes of ocular rosacea which are NOT demodex mites, and this is a condition which cannot be self-diagnosed.