The Vitiligo Plot Thickens
In my last blog post I likened #vitiligo to a convoluted murder mystery, full of contradictions, plot twists, red herrings and a cast consisting of scores of suspects, one of which is histamine. Like all good whodunnits, the mystery of what causes vitiligo continues to keep everyone guessing and, just when you think you have identified all the likely suspects - genes, physical trauma, leaky gut, autoimmunity, oxidative stress, etc. etc. - another unexpected one pops up.
Personally, I had never considered that my allergic rhinitis (one of those annoying, life-long conditions that you learn to live with and almost come to think of as normal) could be connected in any way to my vitiligo. And yet, it is not an unreasonable leap of deduction to suspect that inflammation caused by allergic reactions might not be limited to those symptoms we usually associate with them, like itchy, watering eyes, sneezing, hives and other rashes. Why should we assume that there are no other parts of our body under attack from inflammation when we have elevated levels of #histamine surging through our system? I am not saying that too much histamine in the body is the main cause of vitiligo but I do believe it is involved in the process somewhere along the line. Think of it as an accomplice, rather than the murderer. In fact, now that I come to think of it, our vitiligo detective story is beginning to look a lot like Murder on the Orient Express. (If you are one of the handful of people on the planet who have not read it or seen one of the film versions, I will not spoil it for you. The rest of you know what I mean.)
Following my previous post on this subject, I received an email from a vitiligo friend (who, I am glad to say, has been re-pigmenting well using the same protocol as I did) and this is what he had to say:
I read your article about histamine the other day and interestingly, just before mine started, I had began to suffer with extreme hay fever for the first time in my life. May be a total coincidence but thought I'd drop you an email and let you know…
Evidence that there is histamine involvement in the development of vitiligo is not purely anecdotal. A number of clinical studies have been conducted that support this. For example, the Role of Histamine as a Toxic Mediator in the Pathogenesis of Vitiligo, published in 2013 in the Indian Journal of Dermatology, concludes that:
Histamine appears to play a significant role in the pathogenesis of a particular type of vitiligo characterized by faint hypopigmented patches with significant itching.
I am certainly much more aware than before of the need to avoid any sort of skin irritation, making sure that I don't allow my skin to come into contact with the harsh chemicals that lurk in every day products and clothing. And, from now on, I shall be more careful about the environmental and dietary triggers that can raise histamine levels.
To help you make some diet and lifestyle changes that will minimise so-called Histamine Intolerance (which is actually just the overproduction of histaminhe, rather than an intolerance to it), here are some useful websites.
Natural Remedies for Histamine Intolerance pulls together advice from a number of authority sources and is informative and easy to read.
Another site called Diagnosis Diet features a useful article called Histamine Intolerance: Understanding the Science which explains simply and clearly the science behind food sensitivity reactions caused by histamine.
Joe Cohen, who writes a great blog called Selfhacked, also sheds valuable light on histamine intolerance on this page and suggests a variety of ways of dealing with it.
And further dietary advice aimed at lowering histamine can be found on the Live Strong website by clicking here.
The difference between our vitiligo mystery and a whodunnit
As a result of the reading I have been doing over the past few weeks into ways of reducing inflammation in general, and histamine in particular, I decided to start supplementing with #Quercetin and Bromelain (which together have natural anti-histamine, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties) and have also added this to the Nutrition section of Vitiligo Store for anyone else who would like to include it in their protocol. (Just put Quercetin into the search box at the top of the page if you want to find it quickly.)
So, that wraps up this topic for now. But I would like to end this post by pointing out a crucial difference between the hunt for effective vitiligo treatments and solving a typical whodunnit, a difference that I hope you will find as encouraging as I do. Even the best homicide detective in the world, once he has found all the clues and solved the murder, is not able to bring the victim back to life. But we vitiligo sleuths have the power, with each piece of the puzzle we uncover, to tweak, prod, nurture and coax our body back to full health. And I believe that the holistic nature of this approach, which recognises vitiligo not as a “skin disease” but rather as a symptom of deeper systemic health issues, has a cumulative effect. This means that the results we can achieve using a variety of daily protocols end up being greater than the sum of the parts. In other words, by tackling a number of the known suspects simultaneously, we can reduce harmful influences, increase beneficial ones and support our whole system in its natural tendency to heal itself and, as we do so, each of these individual improvements adds fuel to the others.
I hope that you have found this topic interesting and that it will have provided another small step in your journey to full re-pigmentation. If it has, that will prove that a little bit of histamine knowledge is not to be sneezed at :)
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.