It was about this time 4 years ago that I first tried a particular couple of #nutritionalsupplements in the not-very-confident hope that they might help my #vitiligo – even though nothing else in 50 years ever had helped. I came across them in the product range of one of the suppliers I was using at the time for my work as an image consultant. I had resigned myself a long time before this to the probability that I would never see any improvement in my widespread vitiligo and that I would not live to see a cure. (Of course, there is still no official cure – but then, I’m not dead yet either!) But, since I was able to buy the supplements at wholesale, I thought “it’s got to be worth a try – what have I got to lose”.
Neither supplement was advertised as being designed for vitiligo. But, on reading up on their ingredients, I noticed that a lot of them were nutrients that kept cropping up in the clinical and anecdotal vitiligo treatment literature on the internet. This is what prompted me to give them a go.
The first supplement (called Boost) was actually advertised as promoting a richer, longer-lasting tan when sunbathing. Of course I knew that my white patches (which by that point in my life covered about 80% of my body) never tanned. They just went pink and then back to white again. But, once I started to think about it, it occurred to me that the reason I had developed vitiligo in the first place might just be that, for some reason, my body lacked some of the nutrients necessary for producing #pigment.
The other supplement (called Five a Day+) was a blend of 21 green “superfoods” designed to promote general good health and vitality. I didn’t have any particular reason for thinking that this might bring back my lost pigment. But, since I had suffered from poor digestion and chronic fatigue almost all my life, I thought it would at least be a good tonic. At the time, I didn’t know anything about the powerful health properties of green foods (beyond the fact that vegetables were good for you, that is). I now know that, for one thing, they are the richest source of antioxidants – which are nature’s best weapon against cellular damage. I also now realise that one of the 21 ingredients of this product (Catalase) breaks down hydrogen peroxide, which scientists have since found is present in higher levels on the skin of vitiligo patients and which they think may be responsible for the destruction of melanocytes, leading to vitiligo. (This explains why Pseudocatalase is one of the few vitiligo treatments with an impressive track record.)
Given that my trial of these supplements was really only based at the time on a vague hunch (rather than the more informed perspective that I now have, thanks to extensive research of the internet), I approached it with low expectations but a commitment to give this nutritional experiment a fair trial. I had read on the Boost literature that it should be taken in conjunction with sun exposure, so I resigned myself to the fact that this would increase the contrast between my white patches and the rest of my skin and sat out in the sunshine as many times a week as the British Spring and Summer would allow. Well used to disappointment, I resolved to continue with this process but not to get my hopes up - I’d been down that particular road before.
If I had had any real expectation of success at the time I would have taken loads of proper “before” photos for posterity (the ones I do have are pretty dramatic, but the contrast could have been even clearer if I’d taken the before shots earlier, before the first freckles started to appear). But, as anyone with vitiligo knows, allowing anyone to see you (never mind photograph you) without camouflage or clothing to hide behind is scary. And seeing yourself in pictures looking like a mosaic can be so depressing that it’s much easier to avoid the whole thing. So, imagine my shock – and complete delight – when about 6 weeks or so later I started to see a swarm of freckles appearing on my previously completely de-pigmented chest and a few emerging around my “panda eyes”!
Since then I have gone on to regain virtually all of my lost skin colour. Only someone who has suffered with a disfiguring skin condition will understand what this means. I know that some people with vitiligo are mentally tough enough to embrace it and not allow it to upset them. But, for most of us, it is the cause of daily distress, hassle, embarrassment and, often, bouts of depression. This is why – until an alternative, universally acknowledged cure is found – I will continue to tell my story in the hope that it will help others to experience the same life-changing recovery as I have. I’m realistic enough to recognise that the approach I used may not work for everyone (vitiligo is a complex condition – a simple cure would have been developed by now if that weren’t the case). But, at the very least, I want my experience to offer vitiligo sufferers proof positive that it IS possible to get your natural skin colour back, even after 50 years.
My name is Caroline.