I have often read that #stress can be a trigger for vitiligo and used to find this concept rather mystifying. Of course, it stands to reason that stress is likely to weaken the immune system and therefore increase the likelihood of developing a variety of illnesses. But why should it be linked to vitiligo in particular?
Somewhere in the back of my mind was the idea that a sudden shock or trauma can somehow supernaturally turn a victim's hair pure white overnight (which could, in theory, happen at the follicular level, but of course it wouldn't become visible until the roots had grown through!). But, as far as I know, this urban myth makes no mention of #white patches on the skin. In any case, a sudden shock isn't quite the same thing as stress, which tends to be a protracted state of nervous tension caused by some relentless daily pressure. Although some people are generally luckier in life than others, all of us suffer periods of intense stress at some time or another. So why do some develop vitiligo when most do not?
I believe the answer to this question is that some people have a predisposition to digestive problems and these weaknesses in the digestive system are highly sensitive to stress. Stress, especially prolonged periods of it, acts like a trigger to poor digestion and malabsorption which, in turn, leads to a toxic colon and nutritional depletion. This not only weakens the immune system but also results in a variety of symptoms and syndromes, like IBS, chronic fatigue, a variety of allergies and auto immune conditions ... and vitiligo.
This being the case, it is obviously good advice for those with poor digestion to remove as much stress from their lives as possible. But, sadly, stress is rarely optional. We don't have total control over the ups and downs of life and some people are better than others at controlling their emotional response to them. In fact, I have sometimes noticed that the more I suppress my emotional response to stress, the more my innards seem to absorb the effects. So, while I am busy putting a brave face on things on the outside my stomach is even busier bloating and cramping on the inside!
The best advice of all, therefore, is to protect and strengthen the digestive system so that it is better equipped to cope with stress and also replace lost nutrients to enable the body to recover from the ravages of malabsorption.
My personal experience supports this conclusion completely. Having suffered from "tummy troubles" ever since I was a baby I started developing vitiligo from a very early age. This continued to spread throughout my life (and with it, so did the IBS symptoms, arthritis, chronic fatigue and allergies.) By the time I was 50 the white patches covered 80% of my body and my general state of health was poor. Interestingly, up until that point, I had suffered no more stress than the average person (but I was always aware of that my digestion was the first thing to suffer in stressful situations). I then was fortunate enough to discover an effective nutritional treatment and regained virtually all of my lost pigment over a period of 1 - 2 years. My dramatic re-pigmentation (and corresponding better general health) has proved permanent despite the fact that the last couple of years have been the most stressful of my life! This proves to me that the key to curing my vitiligo was in fact not the avoidance of stress (desirable though that may be) but the correct nutrition to protect, heal and replenish my damaged digestive system.
Image courtesy of FrameAngel / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.
My name is Caroline.