- Balancing your stomach acid eliminates rosacea for many. It also improves over-all health by significantly improving digestion and absorption.
Stomach acid appears to inhibit small intestinal bacteria associated with rosacea. So far, neither researchers nor practicing physicians have found the cause for every disease there is, but both groups know that if we can find the cause, the cure should not be far behind. That’s why natural medicine doctors always say , “Find the cause, find the cause.”
Unfortunately, mainstream medical practitioners and researchers haven’t yet jumped fully aboard the “find the cause” bandwagon, very likely because the cause of illness is never, ever an absence of patent medicines, and the medical mainstream is still recommending patent medicines for nearly every non-surgical condition, and in large part ignoring natural, unpatentable substances and energies.
A cure for acne rosacea in most individuals was discovered and confirmed in the 1920s and 1930s. And after the cure was found, it led to confirmation of the cause. (Yes, that seems backwards—cure before cause—details about that later on.) Yes, like ultraviolet blood irradiation (UBI) the cure for acne rosacea is another “cure that time forgot.”
Twenty-first century medicine has gotten closer to the cause, but isn’t there yet, although what has been found in the twenty-first century “fits right in” as a secondary effect of the real cause uncovered in the early twentieth century.
What is acne rosacea? Here’s an illustrative case of a man who completely recovered from one of the worst cases of acne rosacea I’ve seen. In doing so, he also improved his overall health and very likely improved his chances of living healthier and longer quite significantly.
One of David Flanagan’s problems was obvious. His entire face was shiny and pinkish red, more pink around the edges and more red and shiny on and around his nose and the central areas of his face. There were a few small nodules scattered at random on his forehead, cheeks, and chin, and an unfortunately larger one on the end of his nose.
“I’m here from Chicago,” he said. “And you can see why! I’ve had this ‘rosacea’ thing since I was twenty-two or twenty-three, and I’m forty-one now. I’ve had more tetracycline than I can remember, and it helps when I take it, but it’s been helping less and less the last few years. I asked my dermatologist about cortisone ointment or cream, but she said if I kept using it for a chronic skin condition like this,my skin would just thin out. She’s tried other antibiotics, but they don’t even work as well as the tetracycline. So my face just keeps getting redder and redder, and now I just use the tetracycline when the pimples”—he pointed to his nose—“get particularly bad.”
“Yeah, though I haven’t gotten as many bad outbreaks as I’ve gotten older.”
“Any other problems with your health?”
“Any heartburn, gas, indigestion . . . ?”
“Yeah, but no more than a lot of other guys my age. Besides, that happens more when I overeat.”
“I don’t think so. ’Course, I’m not as full of energy as when I was younger.”
I asked other questions about possible symptoms; his answers were negative. After his physical exam, we returned to my office.
“So, what vitamins should I take? That’s why I’m here from Chicago. My wife says your clinic does a lot with vitamins and minerals and herbs and all, and that’s an approach I haven’t tried. If I need to stay a few days, that’s OK, I’m staying with my brother here in Seattle.”
“You’ll just need a day or two at most,” I said. “You’ll need to have your stomach tested. . . .”
“My stomach? The rosacea’s on my face.”
“I know. But your face is reflecting a gastrointestinal problem.”
“Heck of a reflection! So if rosacea ‘reflects a gastrointestinal problem,’ how come no one told me that before? Besides, this gas and heartburn thing is minor, and just started. I’ve had this rosacea thing for years.”
“I don’t know why no one told you,” I said. “There’s an article published in 1948 that says ‘every dermatologist knows’ about stomach malfunction—specifically low or no stomach acid—in cases of rosacea.”
“No stomach acid? What’s that got to do with my face?”
“What’s tetracycline got to do with your face?”
“Kills germs, I guess.”
“Where are the germs?”
“In these pimple things.”
“How about all the red skin in between the pimples—or when you don’t even have pimples? The redness of your skin doesn’t go away then, does it?”
“Not really, I guess. So where are the germs?”
“Don’t know for certain, but I can guess. When you swallow the tetracycline, where does it go?”
“My stomach. . . .”
“And into the intestines after that. Biggest reservoir of bacteria in the whole body, the intestines, especially the colon. And if we don’t have strong hydrochloric acid produced by our stomachs, the entire pH—the acid-alkaline balance—of the intestines and colon are shifted more alkaline. When that happens, ‘unfriendly’ germs are more likely to grow.”
“And maybe that’s why tetracycline works, at least some?”
“Likely so. It’s also probably why several hydrochloric acid and pepsin capsules taken with every meal help control rosacea as well as or better than tetracycline.”
“Because the hydrochloric acid changes the pH—the acidity—back towards normal, and the ‘unfriendly’ germs can’t grow as well?”
“Exactly right. And we get even better results when we use lactobacillus acidophilus—those are ‘normal,’ acid-loving bacteria—as well.
“That’s certainly a different approach.”
“Almost always works, though. Also, we add injections of vitamin B12, which isn’t absorbed as well when our stomachs aren’t working, or when we have bacterial overgrowth in the intestines. And as long as we’re injecting vitamin B12, we put the other B vitamins in there, too, especially vitamin B2.”
Like nearly everyone with acne rosacea, Mr. Flanagan had very poor stomach function. After six months of replacement hydrochloric-acid-with-pepsin capsules with meals, lactobacillus acidophilus, and B12 with B-complex injections, he sent us a picture of his face, which had much less rosacea than when he first came to Seattle.
A few months after that, he flew back to Seattle from Chicago to visit his brother again, and came by to show us that his skin was almost normal “for the first time in twenty years.” Yes, curing acne rosacea is usually as simple as that; it’s yet another example of “find the cause, the cure follows.”
Twenty-first century researchers have come closer to the cause of rosacea. In doing so, they’ve also helped many rosacea sufferers achieve remission of their symptoms. One research report tells us about 113 rosacea sufferers and sixty “normal controls” (no rosacea, of course), all of whom were given “breath tests” for small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). Fifty-two of the 113 rosacea sufferers (46%) were found to have positive tests for SIBO. Only three of the sixty “normal controls”—just 5%—had positive SIBO tests. (For the technically inclined, this a very significant difference, p < .001).
Twenty-eight of the SIBO-positive rosacea sufferers were treated with Xifaxan, a still-covered-by-patent antibiotic. Rosacea was eliminated from twenty of the twenty-eight, and “greatly improved” in the other eight. Another twenty SIBO-positive rosacea sufferers were treated with a placebo; eighteen of these twenty had no change, and two of the twenty got worse. The placebo group was then treated with Xifaxan; in seventeen of these twenty, rosacea was eradicated.
So the “cause” of acne rosacea in many cases is SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth), right? And these research results tell us that Xifaxan is a “cure” for many cases if rosacea, no? If we can afford it—remember, Xifaxan is still “covered” by a patent. Xifaxan is licensed by Alfa Wassermann SPA (an Italian patent medicine company) to Salix Pharmaceuticals, located in North Carolina. In these United States, Xifaxan costs $62.13 per day ($1,864.00 per month for the 1100 milligram total daily dose) as of January 2017. What’s the alternative? It’s “back to the future” again, back to another “cure that time forgot,” in large part because it’s not patentable.
The major cause of acne rosacea was actually published in the Lancet in 1920, and confirmed in many studies which followed. In that article, Drs. Ryle and Barber of Guy’s Hospital, London, first found an effective remedy, which they deduced from physical examination of rosacea sufferers. They wrote:
“It has long been noticed that the appearance of the tongue in the majority of patients suffering from rosacea is characteristic; it is broad, flabby, pale in colour, and markedly indented at the edges. Believing that such features are frequently an accompaniment of hypochlorhydria, we prescribed the acid hydrochloric . . . well diluted in water, to be taken after meals or sipped during the meal. The results obtained with this treatment have been very satisfactory and frequently almost magical, even in the very worst cases.
This is real health care, real medicine. Physical signs and symptoms leading to a conclusion about a potential cause, then acting on these clues, and “the results obtained . . . have been very satisfactory and frequently almost magical, even in the very worst cases.” Real health care, real medicine!
Drs. Ryle and Barber then proved their case with fractional gastric analysis, which checks directly for stomach acid adequacy and inadequacy. They reported that that ten of twelve women with acne rosacea had low stomach acid (hypochlorhydria, for the technically inclined). Seven of the ten women had “extreme hypochlorhydria.” In men with rosacea, 58% were found to have no stomach acid at all (“achlorhydria”) or a “pronounced hypochlorhydria.”
In 1925, Dr. H.W. Brown reported that of fifty individuals with rosacea, 30% had achlorhydria or “marked hypochlorhydria,” and 26% had a slight deficiency of stomach acid. He also reported that “the very worst case” of rosacea was found to have normal stomach acidity; despite this, this individual’s rosacea was “vastly improved with occasional relapses” with the use of hydrochloric acid.
A 1927 report about gastric analysis in fifty individuals with rosacea reported “complete” or “marked” hypochlorhydria in 48%, and “slight” hypochlorhydria another 22%. This author writes about the connection between inadequate stomach acid and rosacea: “The antiseptic action of the gastric juice is decreased and germs ordinarily destroyed in the stomach pass to the intestine.”
A 1928 report about gastric analysis done in forty-five individuals with rosacea tells us that 48% had less than normal gastric acid production. And in 1931, another report concluded:
A marked hypochlorhydria was demonstrated in 75 per cent of this series of cases of rosacea. Definite clinical improvement followed the internal administration of dilute hydrochloric acid.
So how does hydrochloric acid replacement with meals help so many individuals with rosacea to clear the problem or at the very least diminish rosacea significantly? Very, very likely by bringing stomach acidity to normal, which (when the stomach contents move into the small intestine) makes the small intestine more acid (which is normal).
Apparently, rosacea is often a facial reaction to bacteria in the intestine which thrive in a more alkaline environment, and can’t live (and cause rosacea) in a more acidic environment.
Cure Rosacea, Improve Overall Health!
Dilute hydrochloric acid is a bit tricky to use, and can erode the teeth over time. Fortunately, the same effect can be achieved by the use of betaine hydrochloride with pepsin in capsules (usually 650 milligrams each), taken with meals. Remember, that’s what helped David Flanagan (and many others) eliminate his rosacea. If you have rosacea, make sure to check with a physician skilled and knowledgeable in natural medicine for further advice about whether it might help you, how much to use, and other details.
Remember, the health benefits may go way beyond improving or eliminating rosacea. Proteins don’t digest completely without normal stomach acid. Minerals aren’t digested away from the natural matrix in various foods. I won’t bore you with this further because the partial malnutrition and many other health problems caused by lower-than-normal stomach acid is much more completely described in the book Why Stomach Acid Is Good for You, written by Lane Lenard, PhD, and me. Originally published in 2001, this book has been of use to so many that it’s still in print, and available from Tahoma Clinic Dispensary (www.tahomadispensary.com) and many other sources.
Here We Go Again. . . .
Remember the price of Xifaxan, which also effectively clears or significantly improves rosacea for many individuals? In case you’ve forgotten, in these United States, as of January 27, Xifaxan cost $62.13 per day $1,864.00 per month for the 1100 milligram total daily dose.
In 2013, the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology published a letter to the editor. It reported that thirty-two of sixty-three individuals with rosacea were found to have SIBO. Of these thirty-two, twenty-eight were treated with Xifaxan (no mention of why the other four weren’t treated); 46% of these twenty-eight had their rosacea cleared or markedly improved, 25% were moderately improved, and 11% mildly improved. Eighteen percent were unchanged.
The letter also recommended further research:
A study screening patients with rosacea in a dermatology clinic using a lactulose breath test for evidence of SIBO and a double-blind clinical study to determine the efficacy of rifaximin in these patients would greatly contribute to an understanding of the potential impact of these findings.
(And—my comment—would also likely greatly contribute to the “bottom line” of Salix Pharmaceuticals, the license holder for Xifaxan!)
The Journal also reported that the research described in this letter was “funded in part” by (can you guess?) Salix Pharmaceuticals! And that’s not all—one of the authors is on the speakers’ bureau for Salix Pharmaceuticals Inc., and another patent medicine company, too!
So where’s the incentive to tell you about betaine hydrochloride with pepsin to help eliminate or reduce your rosacea, when you can buy 500 capsules for $32.95 (quite considerably less than $1,864.00 per month) at the Tahoma Clinic Dispensary (www.tahomadispensary.com), and about that same price from other sources?
Please make sure to check with a physician skilled and knowledgeable in natural medicine about using betaine hydrochloride with pepsin, A small percentage of those who need it need a few weeks to strengthen their stomach linings to be able to use betaine hydrochloride
 Parodi A, Paolina S et al. Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth in Rosacea. Clinical Effectiveness of It’s Eradication. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol 2008
“NADAC as of 2017-01-25 | Data.Medicaid.gov”. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Retrieved 25 January 2017.
 Ryle JA, Barber HW.Gastric Analysis in Acne Rosacea. The Lancet 1920 December
 Brown HW.Some Observations on the Fractional Method of Gastric Analysis in Diseases
of the skin. Brit J Derm Syph 1925;XXXVII:213-226
Rulison RH. Rosacea. With a study of Accompanying Conditions. Am J Med Sci 1927
 Eastwood SR. Gastric Secretion and Other Digestive Factors in Rosacea. Brit J Dermatol
 Epstein N, Susnow D. Acne Rosacea, with particular reference to Gastric Secretion. Cal West Med;XXXV(2):August 1931;118-120