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Supplements that Repigment the Skin

Do you have strange white patches on your skin? It could be vitiligo. These supplements are proven to stop or reverse signs of vitiligo.
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If you are suffering from a sudden lack of pigmentation on the skin, you are probably wondering what the issue is, what caused the issue, and how to fix it. Skin whitening can be caused by a variety of factors, including autoimmune diseases, medications, or tinea versicolor (a fungal infection).

About 1-2 percent of the world’s population suffers from vitiligo. Most people who will get vitiligo start seeing signs between the ages of 20 and 40, according to the Genetic Home Reference Guide. If you are seeing signs of vitiligo on your skin, you may be worried, and with good reason. Conventional medicine has no cure for the condition, but only offers temporary solutions that may or may not halt the progression of the disease.

If you are facing the issue of vitiligo, take a look at some of the causes, conventional treatment options, and the supplements that are proven to fight the disease and slow or reverse the symptoms of this embarrassing condition.

Causes of Vitiligo

Vitiligo is a condition where the body’s immune system attacks the pigmentation of the skin. Your body attacks the cells that produce melanin (what colors your skin), and removes all color and pigmentation from the skin. Usually, the condition starts in small patches then gradually spreads to larger and larger areas over a period of years. It is rare for the condition to remove all pigment from your entire body. It is unknown what precisely causes vitiligo to start. Most medical professionals consider it to be a mix of genetics and an autoimmune disorder. If someone in your family has vitiligo, then you are more likely to get it.

According to the Genetic Home Reference Guide, vitiligo is an autoimmune disorder. This is when your immune system attacks its own systems or tissues. Vitiligo is specifically targeted to attacking the pigment cells. Up to 25 percent of vitiligo patients also suffer from some other autoimmune disorder, like type 1 diabetes, Addison disease, thyroid disease, rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, pernicious anemia, or psoriasis. Unless a patient has another autoimmune disorder, he or she is unlikely to face health risks or problems from vitiligo, other than the social problems associated with a skin condition. Dark-skinned persons with vitiligo may feel they are losing their ethnic identity with a progressed form of the disease.

Another potential cause for the disease is oxidative stress. A 2013 study conducted by The Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda in India indicates that the link between oxidative stress and an overactive immune system is a possible cause for vitiligo symptoms. The researchers concluded that while oxidative stress seems to contribute to certain cases of vitiligo, other cases are caused purely by autoimmune dysfunction caused by an unidentified reason.

Treatments for Vitiligo

Treatments for vitiligo are not designed to cure the condition. In fact, there is no known cure for the disease in either traditional or alternative methods. Most treatment measures work to slow the progression of pigmentation loss, or increase the speed to make the skin pigmentation more even. The Mayo Clinic lists 7 possible treatment options for vitiligo:

Topical steroids: In the early stages of the disease, corticosteroids may be able to return pigmentation to the skin. In some cases, a vitamin D-derived cream is used to restore pigmentation. Topical immunomodulators: These treatment creams are most effective for patches on the face and neck. Usually, this cream is used in combination with light therapy.

Topical PUVA: In patients with less than 20 percent depigmentation, topical PUVA is effective for repigmenting the skin. The cream makes your skin more sensitive to UV rays, which are used to burn the skin and restore a normal color to it.

Oral PUVA: This treatment method is used for individuals with more than 20 percent depigmentation. The same process happens as with the topical PUVA, except that you ingest the PUVA, rather than rubbing it on.

UVB therapy: In this treatment method, patients are simply exposed to narrowband UVB light. This helps add pigmentation to the skin with few side effects. Depigmentation: Severe cases of vitiligo usually require depigmentation treatments. This is done by lightening the remaining colored skin with a medication called monobenzone.

Skin grafts: Some patients may be able to have surgical treatments to restore pigmentation to the skin. A doctor moves pigmented skin to unpigmented areas. This will sometimes caused the surrounding skin to re-pigment. Blister grafting is also used, where blisters are moved from a pigmented area to a depigmented area to encourage re-pigmentation. Some doctors also use a tattoo method, which dyes unpigmented skin with tattoo ink.

Other therapies: Right now, two new therapies are under review for vitiligo. One option is an autologous melanocyte transplant. This is where doctors grow melanocytes from your body in a lab. They transplant the healthy cells to unpigmented areas of the skin. One compound found in black pepper, piperine may be an effective supplement for repigmenting the skin. According to the Mayo Clinic, piperine caused repigmentation in mice when combined with UV light exposure.

Do Supplements Help Pigment the Skin?

Although the idea seems far-fetched, there are actually numerous studies that back the idea of taking a variety of supplements to cause repigmentation on the skin. One theory behind why supplements can help is derived by the vary nature of the disease itself. Since vitiligo is considered an autoimmune disorder, scientists have theorized that by restoring the natural balance of the immune system in the body, it is possible to slow or stop the progression of pigmentation loss. Certain immune-boosting supplements and immune balance-restoring supplements can help reduce the appearance and size of vitiligo patches.

For best results, these supplements should be started when vitiligo is in its early stages. There is little that either diet or modern medicine can do for advanced cases of vitiligo.

So, what should you take to improve or prevent vitiligo? The following supplements have been scientifically proven to help improve vitiligo symptoms:

Picrorhiza

Does your immune system need a boost? Picrorhiza can help! This plant derived from a tree in the Himalayas, and provides a variety of benefits, including immune support, digestion, and anti-inflammatory action. In a 1989 study conducted by the Regional Research Laboratory in India, when picrorhiza supplements were combined with the vitiligo drug methoxsalen, patients responded better to treatments than patients who were not taking the supplements during treatment.

L-phenylalanine

Some medical professionals believe that oxidative stress may be responsible for some cases of vitiligo. A 2003 study from The Netherlands conducted by the Clinic for Dermatology and Laser Treatment showed that over a period of one year, patients who supplemented with L-phenylalanine in combination with UVA/UVB light therapy treatments showed 75 to 100 percent repigmentation in 63 percent of the patient’s faces, 63 percent on the back, 59 percent on the arms, 58 percent on the trunk, 57 percent on the legs, and 56 percent of the hands. In the control group, patients showed little pigmentation improvement.

Ginkgo biloba

Ginkgo biloba is a supplement that can help in a variety of cases, but in this case, is proven to reduce the oxidative stress and improve the immune system response that can result in some cases of vitiligo. According to a 2003 study conducted by the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research in India, ginkgo biloba is a highly effective treatment method for slow-progressing vitiligo. Over the course of the study, the patients taking ginkgo biloba supplements of 40 mg per day saw a reduction in pigmentation loss, and nearly half of the patients saw marked to complete repigmentation. In the control group, only about 20 percent showed repigmentation.

Khellin

A 1998 study from the University of Pavia showed that khellin is a natural form of the conventional treatment methoxsalen. During the clinical study, it was showed that 41 percent of patients who used UVA treatments combined with khellin supplements improved their symptoms by 70 percent or more. According to the study, khellin stimulates the growth and production of the cells that create skin pigment.

Vitamin B12 and Folate

This combo of vitamins was shown to be effective in treating vitiligo in a 1997 study from the University Hospital in Sweden. The study looked at patients with active vitiligo over a period of two years. Of 100 patients taking vitamin B12 and folate supplements combined with daily sun exposure, 52 saw clear repigmentation of the skin. 6 saw complete repigmentation.

Vitamin D

It is no surprise that the “sun vitamin” is effective at slowing or stopping the progression of vitiligo. Vitamin D is a proven immune system-booster, and can help fight off a variety of common assailants in the body. A 2012 study published in “Dermato-Endocrinology” experimented with vitamin D treatments in vitiligo patients. 16 patients were given D3 supplements of 35,000 mg per day for 6 months. After the end of the study, 14 of those patients showed between 25 and 75 percent repigmentation of the skin.

The Best Treatment Options for Vitiligo

Vitiligo is a condition that requires further medical and scientific examination. It is unclear whether an overactive immune system, oxidized stress, genetics, or something else is the true cause of vitiligo. Because of this, the best treatment options for vitiligo require a multi-faceted approach. However, many studies have shown that a combination of supplements and sun exposure are effective at slowing or stopping the progression of the condition.

Supplements

Supplements for vitiligo are effective in reducing and stopping the progression of the condition. A combination of the above supplements should provide immune support and the anti-oxidative effect necessary to restore a healthy balance to skin pigmentation creation. 

Supplements for Vitiligo
  • Vitamin B12
  • Folate
  • Ginkgo biloba
  • Khellin
  • L-phenylalanine
  • Picrorhiza
  • Vitamin D

Sun exposure

Conventional medicine uses a variety of light-based treatments for vitiligo. However, sun exposure on its own could cause the light patches to appear worse, simply because the surrounding skin darkens. Many conventional vitiligo treatments also make your skin susceptible to sunburn and other harsh damaging effects from the sun. Before you start any sun treatments on your own, consult with your doctor to ensure you are not harming your skin with too much light exposure.

When used correctly and along with supplements, sun exposure can be a highly effective treatment method for vitiligo symptoms. A combination of UVA and UVB rays seems to work most effectively, according to the Mayo Clinic. Daily exposure to the sun can help your skin reproduce the levels of melatonin that are necessary to prevent the depigmentation of the skin.

The Best Supplements for Vitiligo

Supplementing with a variety of herbal remedies and vitamins while suffering from vitiligo symptoms is a highly effective way to reduce symptoms and even repigment the skin. The right combination of supplements will help restore the balance of your immune system and prevent further progression of skin pigmentation loss. For best results, start taking supplements as soon as you notice the first signs of pigmentation loss, and combine the supplements with other treatment methods to ensure your skin remains pigmented, healthy, and working effectively to protect your skin from outside assailants.

Sources


http://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition/vitiligo

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/vitiligo/DS00586/DSECTION=treatments-and-drugs

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2615440

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