For most of my life #vitiligo has been a distressing condition that has cause me a lot of anguish and - at times - depression and self pity. But ever since I started to repigment a couple of years ago I have found it fascinating as well. In particular, the way in which the pigment has returned is a real mystery. It's pretty clear to me that the #repigmentation is due to the nutritional supplements I have been taking but the actual progression of repigmentation is what I find so interesting. Most of my white patches filled in with freckles within the first few months of taking supplements and moderate amounts of sunlight or UVB. But the more stubborn areas (tops of feet and backs of hands) started the same way but then stopped after a while and looked as if they weren't going to make any further progress. However, the freckled areas and the non-freckled areas seem to be merging very gradually into one uniform colour. This has been happening so gradually that I thought for a long time that it must be wishful thinking. But no - it's definitely happening. How weird and wonderful is the human body!
_ I read the beautiful words of Max Ehrmann's Desiderata again recently and it struck me that they are as therapeutic as any medicine known to mankind. The following sentences in particular should be available on prescription to all #vitiligo sufferers...
You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore, be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.
_I have suffered with digestive problems ever since I was a baby and started developing vitiligo from toddler age onwards. From early adulthood I also developed #arthritis. Either I'm unlucky or there is a link! Interestingly, the nutritional supplements I have been taking for the past two and a half years have not only improved my vitiligo by about 98% but my digestion is better than it ever was and I have less arthritic pain too. Again, I doubt that this is coincidence.
I found the following on a website called rawfoodinfo.com and it reinforced, yet again, that the key to vitiligo (and so many other diseases no doubt) lies in the condition of our digestive system and therefore the effective treatment of it can be found by changing and/or supplementing our diet. The nutrients referred to in this study (plus a lot of others too) are all in the supplements that I take and - also in line with the study - sun exposure has been an important part of my recovery. I'd be interested to know how many other vitiligo sufferers also have digestive problems...
Swedish researchers Lennart Juhlin, M.D. and colleagues at the University of Uppsala helped a significant number of patients in their study achieve re-pigmentation of their skin utilizing vitamin B12, folic acid, and sun exposure. Sixty-seven women and 33 men (ages 9 to 75) were given 1 mg. of vitamin B12 and 5 mg. of folic acid, two times daily. During the summer they were encouraged to have sunlight fall on their skin and during the winter to use lamps that emit ultraviolet B (UVB) light. Sunlight or UVB exposure was carried on long enough to create a slight reddening of the white areas of the skin. The participants were in the program for 3 to 6 months and 52 of the 67 patients experienced significant re-pigmentation of the blanched areas of their skin. Most noted re-pigmentation during the summer months.
Six patients experienced complete re-pigmentation of their vitiliginous skin, while 64% noted that the vitiligo stopped advancing after treatment. The combination of folic acid and vitamin B12 combined with the sun exposure produced better re-pigmentation than sun exposure or the vitamins alone.
The recommendation is that the vitamin and ultraviolet light treatment should continue as long as the white areas continue to re-pigment. Since at least 3 to 6 months were required for re-pigmentation to occur, patience is required for those utilizing this therapy. (Since the underlying causes of the pigment loss in vitiligo may be associated with autoimmune mechanisms arising from the "leaky gut syndrome," ...)
I just came across this great vitiligo post from the New York Times website commenting on an article published in February last year. I've copied and posted it below in case the link doesn't work...
February 25, 2010 12:17 am
This article served to remind me of my disappointment with the wondrous but often woefully lacking institution of western medicine. A high-ranking physician in the article says that he doesn’t know what causes autoimmune disorders, which upsets me as a 23-year-old who has spent the majority of my life afflicted with and treated unsuccessfully for both vitiligo and chronic hives, both “incurable” autoimmune disorders.
After learning how to read my own blood work and realizing my doctors were not addressing key issues about my health, I decided to work with trained physicians, yes, but also to educate myself as best as I could and to be my own primary healthcare provider.
I learned my hormones were unbalanced so I improved my musculature and got more sunlight; my diet was unhealthy and so I experimented with different foods until I found what was comfortable for me and my body; I consumed more antioxidants, more nutritive foods and supplements; and, lastly, I began to “watch the thinker” in my mind and to control my stress.
These are measures that a doctor shouldn’t have to prescribe for us. Indeed, they won’t. It wasn’t too long ago that the American Medical Association refused to acknowledge the connection between diet and wellness, if you can believe it.
We mustn’t have diets of pure junk, live unhappy lives, hold on to emotional baggage, and then expect that we’re going to be in perfect physical condition. This is common sense, but can’t one see how western medicine fails to recognize this? Heal yourself by living a strong, healthy, happy life. Do your own research, but don’t do anything stupid. Use both your logic and your intuition.
I spent an entire summer with my vitiligo-patched body directly under the sun while being careful never to burn, following advice propounded by Hippocrates over 1,500 years before our contemporary medical establishment told us to avoid the sun’s rays like the plague. I am completely cured of my vitiligo. Since I began treating my body to vigorous exercise and to a diet that it feels comfortable with, my chronic hives have disappeared and return only when my stress levels spiral out of control. Which makes me wonder: if I can experience a severe autoimmune reaction through one relatively simple mismanagement of daily stress, imagine how stress actually manifests itself in the chronic diseases and disorders of billions of people around the world.
Stress? Go to your doctor and they’ll give you Xanax. (Don’t take psychotropics; they exacerbate autoimmune disorders.) Instead, look to the doctor within. Ask yourself for maybe the first time what it is that you need physically, emotionally, maybe even spiritually, and then begin the process of healing yourself.
Thanks for your common sense comments, Jordan - and congratulations on your recovery from #vitiligo!
Don't let anyone tell you that there is no effective treatment for vitiligo or that topical treatments and phototherapy are the only choices. I am certainly not the only person with vitiligo to re-pigment with the help of a diet rich in antioxidant supplements. The following abstract is taken from a case study conducted in 2002.
"Low levels of antioxidant enzymes (catalase) have been demonstrated in the epidermis of vitiligo patients. Clinical trials with antioxidants as an adjunct to UVB phototherapy have shown encouraging results. The aim of this study was to determine the efficacy of oral antioxidants as an adjunct to photochemotherapy. Thirty patients of stable vitiligo, not on any treatment fort month were included in the study. Fifteen patients were treated with photochemotherapy alone and another 15 were treated with photochemotherapy and oral antiodixants (1 capsule od). Two index lesions were assessed in each patient, priorto treatment, 1 month and 3 months after treatment. Average area was calculated by Computer Aided Design. Patients were monitored for side effects to photochemotherapy and antioxidants. Percentage decrease in the area of index lesions was calculated after 3 months. No statistically significant difference was noted between the two regimes. No side effects specific to antioxidant therapy were observed. Antioxidants as an adjunct to photochemotherapy offer no distinct advantage and antioxidant therapy is free of adverse effects."
I am not a scientist but it seems to me that this case study (and others like it) strongly indicate that the causes of vitiligo can be addressed through dietary means. My white patches started to re-pigment a few weeks after starting to take supplements containing massive doses of antioxidants. This progressed without any phototherapy. However, a course of UVB (which I began several months later) appeared to speed up the process. I discontinued the UVB at the end of my alloted course and have continued to re-pigment ever since (it's been over a year now). Logic tells me that taking antioxidants orally is what supplies the body with the nutrients necessary to create normal pigment and UV light just stimulates the process. Logic also tells me that the key factor here is not the UV light, but the dietary change. In other words if you discontinued the UV therapy but continued with the antioxidant intake, you are most likely to retain your improvement. But if you continued with the UV and stopped the antioxidants, the vitiligo would probably return.
We have all heard about the benefits of consuming #antioxidants in our food and nutritional supplements. Virtually everyone on the planet has heard about unstable compounds called “oxygen free radicals”.
According to Jean Carper, the bestselling author of Miracle Cures, Stop the Ageing Now! And Food – Your Miracle Medicine, “Loads of oxygen free radical thugs can get out of control, corrupting cells’ genetic DNA, ripping their membranes, eroding their normal functioning, and sometimes destroying them”. She further states, “In general, they (oxygen free radicals) are the dark forces that attack fatty cell membranes, creating permanent cellular damage that accumulates over time, leading to accelerated ageing and virtually every chronic disease imaginable, including heart disease, cancer, diabetes, arthritis and degenerative brain problems”.
Oxidative stress, due to #free radical damage, is certainly implicated repeatedly in the vitiligo research literature as a cause or contributing factor and therefore a diet as rich as possible in antioxidants is highly recommended for anyone with #vitiligo (or indeed any other skin complaint).
Most people think of fruits as the obvious source of dietary antioxidants (especially oranges for their vitamin C content). However, although fruits are great in moderation (see my last post), many vegetables are an even healthier choice, as they are much lower in sugar and, in many cases, very much higher in nutritional value in general and antioxidant value in particular.
A study from Tufts University in Boston ranked the antioxidant value of commonly eaten fruits and vegetables using an analysis called ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity).
Top-scoring fruits and vegetables are listed here along with their ORAC units per 100 grams:
Fruits: Prunes -- 5570
Raisins -- 2830
Blueberries -- 2400
Blackberries -- 2036
Strawberries -- 1540
Raspberries -- 1220
Plums -- 949
Oranges -- 750
Red grapes -- 739
Cherries -- 670
Kiwi fruit -- 602
Grapefruit, pink -- 483
Vegetables: Kale -- 11770
Spinach -- 11260
Brussels sprout -- 1980
Alfalfa sprouts -- 1930
Broccoli Flowers -- 1890
Beets -- 1840
Red bell pepper -- 1710
Onion -- 1450
Corn -- 1400
Eggplant -- 1390
According to research conducted by Drs. Ronald Prior and Guahau Cao, we need about 3,000 to 5,000 ORAC units per day to have a significant impact on plasma and tissue antioxidant capacity. What is shocking is that most Americans are taking in about 1200 ORAC units daily. According to the USDA estimate, these units come primarily from an average consumption of three fruit and vegetables per day. This means the average person is short between 1800 and 3800 ORAC units each day. And there is every reason to believe that vitiligo sufferers (and those with any other chronic disease) need a much higher daily intake.
Unless we eat sufficient quantities of organically grown antioxidant rich plants every day, we will not be able to combat the free radical damage we are subjected to on an ongoing basis. Green superfood supplements are one solution to the problem and this is why I highly recommend taking at least one teaspoon (but preferably three or more) of Green Magic a day. My re-pigmentation started within weeks of taking this supplement and this is, I feel sure, due to the fact that it is so rich in antioxidants (1040 ORACs per teaspoon).
A vitiligo blogger since 2011. My name is Caroline. I had vitiligo for nearly 50 years before finding an effective treatment. I created this blog to share my experiences with others affected by this skin condition.