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Is it Possible to Stop Vitiligo with Diet and Supplements?

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Think you are doomed to suffer from vitiligo without hope? Think again. These studies will have you questioning everything you thought about the disease.

Do you suffer from vitiligo or other skin pigmentation issues? It turns out; the disease may not be as random as scientists first thought.

As more studies come to light about vitiligo and the causes of the disease, they are indicating that many of the cases of vitiligo are related to a suppressed immune system and autoimmune disorders. Based on the information from the studies listed below, it is starting to look like diet and supplements can play a huge role in the healing and prevention of the disease. If you suffer from vitiligo, you won’t want to miss taking a look at these studies to find out how you can heal your skin issues naturally and without side effects.

 What is Vitiligo?

Vitiligo is a somewhat strange condition that affects about 1-2 percent of the entire world’s population. This condition is simply the loss of pigmentation of the skin. Doctors and medical professionals are unaware, for the most part, about what precisely causes the condition. Certain theories are in place, however, and there several treatment options available.

When someone is struck by vitiligo, the pigmentation around the eyes, mouth, hands, and other extremities starts to fade. The skin turns a whitened color, and it almost looks as if the top layer of skin started to peel off like a coat of paint. The condition can affect all races and genders, but it is most noticeable in dark complexions, simply because the contrast between the white and dark skin is more pronounced.

What Causes Vitiligo?

Doctors are unsure about what causes vitiligo. According to Web MD, the most likely cause is an autoimmune disorder. Basically, the theory is that the body sees the pigmentation as a threat or invading pathogen. This causes the immune system to react and attack the pigment, causing it to break down. Often, other conditions like illness, stress, and a weakened immune system are likely to trigger the condition. In families with a history of the condition, there is a 30 percent chance of contracting the problem. This indicates that genetics is a strong factor in the condition. Other family history diseases, such as connective tissue and endocrine diseases (such as thyroid problems, diabetes, Addison’s disease, alopecia areata, and pernicious anemia), also increase the chance of a person contracting vitiligo.

Web MD states that vitiligo is a chronic, variable disease. Usually, the disease strikes rapidly, then slows to a moderate-to-mild degenerative rate. It is possible for some case to show recovery after some treatment. This is due to migrating melanocytes from surrounding normal skin or hair follicles. This re-pigmentation occurs in approximately 30 percent of vitiligo cases.

Theories on the origin of vitiligo
  • Immune destruction
  • A genetic predisposition
  • Thyroid malfunction
  • Family history of endocrine and connective tissue diseases

Who is at risk for vitiligo?

If you have a genetic history of vitiligo, thyroid problems, diabetes, Addison’s disease, endocrine diseases, connective tissue diseases, alopecia areata, or pernicious anemia; then you have about a 30 percent chance of getting the disorder. Otherwise, there is about a two percent chance that anyone will get vitiligo. Any autoimmune thyroid disease increases the chance of vitiligo. The presence of thyroid antibodies often precedes or follows the onset of the condition, particularly in children.

The disease will also strike due to association with HLA antigens. HLA-B13 related to thyroid disease is also linked to vitiligo. Certain individuals can also contract vitiligo after injuries, trauma, or exposure to certain chemicals, according to data collected by Patient.co.uk.

What does vitiligo look like?

It is easy to identify vitiligo because it looks like clearly defined patches of white skin. No matter the base color of a person’s skin, vitiligo is noticeably a few shades lighter. This is due to the complete removal of pigmentation from the area. In persons with dark skin, the condition is much more noticeable. Because of the loss of pigmentation, the white patches will not darken even after exposure to sunlight (except in some cases of light therapy). The white skin also lacks the protection of melanin, which makes the person more susceptible to sunburn.

As the disease progresses, lesions can also occur on the skin in addition to a loss of pigment. Usually, the patches slowly increase in size and number until the person suffers from complete loss of pigmentation. In some cases, the disease is localized. Typically, it is generalized and affects both sides of the body. It is common to see the issue on hands, feet, face, neck, and scalp. Oddly, sites of repeated trauma (like elbows, the forearms, the wrists, and the underside of the hands. The disease can also affect the hair, causing it to turn white or grey.

How is vitiligo diagnosed?

Usually, it is easy to see the loss of pigmentation on the skin. Doctors can recognize it almost instantly. Associated diseases, like Addison’s disease, pernicious anemia, and thyroid disease may also cause a doctor to look for signs of vitiligo before the person notices the issue on their own. The skin condition is assigned a rating based on how well it stands up to the sun. Type I is highly sensitive and never tans at all, while type II is someone sensitive, but tans lightly.

Conventional Treatments for Vitiligo

In today’s medical world, there are few viable treatment options for vitiligo. Little is known about the disease or how to treat it. However, there are several treatment options (both natural and medicine-based), that help some people with the disease.

Makeup: One trick to treating the disease is to simply skip treating the cause and simply covering up the symptoms with makeup. This trick can help prevent the awkward social feelings that often go along with the disease, according to Web MD. Wearing a high SPF sunscreen is also recommended to protect the delicate skin from burning.

Steroid cream: Another tactic is to apply a topical steroid cream to encourage depigmentation on the remaining colored areas of the skin. This helps blend the two types of skin together. However, according to Web MD, these potent topical steroids may cause skin atrophy. Topical pimecrolimus is also used and has fewer side effects. Another option is systemic steroids, but these steroids have a higher side effect risk. Adults with over 50 percent depigmentation can have p-(benzyloxy)phenol depigmentation therapy. This will remove more of the pigmentation from the area. However, the patient will never be able to safely tan again.

Phototherapy: Some doctors prescribe phototherapy to patients who do not respond to conservative treatments, for localized vitiligo that affects their quality of life, or for widespread vitiligo. In this case, Narrow-band ultraviolet B (UVB) light is more effective than oral psoralen with ultraviolet A (PUVA), according to Web MD. Phototherapy shows the most success in patients with dark skin.

Surgery: Surgery is an option for adults where there are no new lesions or Kobner’s phenomenon (skin lesions on the lines of trauma) in the previous 12 months. Both split-skin grafting and micrografting are used, with split-skin grafting giving the best results.

Supplements: Some studies have shown that taking certain supplements can slow, stop, and even repair the de-pigmentation of the skin. You can read more about these studies in the next section.

Studies about vitiligo treatments

A 1992 study from the Birmingham Medical Center at the University of Alabama showed that patients with vitiligo often had diminished levels of folate in their blood. A group of 15 patients with vitiligo was studied, and 11 had lower-than-normal levels of folate in the serum, 5 had lowered folate levels in all the blood, and 6 showed lowered levels in the erythrocytes. In addition, vitamin B12 levels were below normal in one-third of the patient. Four of the patients showed reduced vitamin C levels. Eight patients were given a prolonged oral administration of folate and vitamin C. Parenteral treatment of vitamin B12 was also given. These eight patients showed definite re-pigmentation after vitamin treatments. Web MD states that the results of this study indicate that the treatment is “possibly effective.”

A 2003 study from the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research in India indicated that Ginkgo biloba may be helpful in recovering from vitiligo. 47 patients were studied in this experiment. The participants were divided into groups of two. Group A was given a Ginkgo biloba extract of 40 mg three times a day. Group B received placebo pills. In Group A, 10 patients showed pigmentation improvement, while the other patients in Group A showed a slower rate of degeneration. In Group B, only two patients showed re-pigmentation. This study concluded that Ginkgo biloba is a safe and effective way to slow or stop the progression of the disease. According to Web MD, this treatment method has “insufficient evidence.”

In 2002, the Department of Dermatology from the Venereología Hospital Universitario Virgen Macarena Avda in Spain studied the effectiveness of oral and topical L-phenylalanine in combination with light treatment and 0.025% clobetasol propionate at night. The researchers looked at 70 patients with vitiligo. Once a day, the patients took 100 mg of L-phenylalanine and applied a 10 percent topical gel. The patients were then exposed to sunlight or UVA lamps and given clobetasol propionate at night. These patients were studied over a period of 4 years. 90 percent of patients showed improvement, and 68 percent saw an improvement of over 75 percent. Patients that received UVA light rather than sunlight showed a slight additional improvement. Web MD lists this treatment method as “possibly effective.”

Another “possibly effective” treatment for vitiligo was studied by the Regional Research Laboratory in India in 1989. Over six months, 20 patients with vitiligo of all ages were given 200 mg of the shade dried rhizomes of picrorhiza twice a day for three month periods. By the end of six months, only 10 percent of subjects did not respond to treatment at all, while 27 percent showed complete recovery.

Supplements for Vitiligo

Since vitiligo is related to both loss of melanin and a lowered immune systems, supplements that boost skin health and immunity will help vitiligo in addition to the above-studied supplements. Try adding the following supplements to your diet to reduce vitiligo symptoms:

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is essential for the healing of vitiligo as outlined above. It prevents the accumulation of homocysteine in the body and the consequent release of free radicals. B12 acts as a catalyst for the conversion of harmful homocysteine into helpful methionine. This means that the oxidative stress on the skin is reduced, which protects the melanocytes from damage.

Folic Acid or Folate

Folate is the natural form of folic acid and is easier for the body to use. Folate levels are often low in individuals suffering from vitiligo, as outlined in the studies above. Folate prevents the accumulation of homocysteine and it supplies building blocks to convert tyrosine into melanin.


This amino acid synthesizes neurotransmitters like epinephrine, dopamine, and norepinephrine. It is also the precursor to tyrosine, which synthesizes melanin into the skin. This treatment method is best when combined with UV light exposure, as outlined in the study above.

Ginkgo biloba

Ginkgo biloba is an antioxidant and an immunomodulatory supplement. It helps to prevent the further progression of vitiligo, as outlined in the study above. When taken in combination with other supplements, ginkgo biloba should stop the progression of the disease and improve skin pigmentation at the same time.

Picrorhiza kurroa

This plant is often used in Ayurvedic medicine to treat immune problems. The plant offers immunomodulatory properties, and in the study outlined above, it was proven effective at reducing or eliminating vitiligo symptoms.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is an all-around immune-boosting and regulating material. It is most effective in its natural form, straight from nature. Ascorbic acid is not as effective or absorbable by the body as natural vitamin C. In the University of Alabama study, taking vitamin C orally helped show marked improvement in patients with vitiligo.

Foods high in immune-boosting vitamins

  • Dairy products: For the most natural form of phenylalanine, turn to dairy products. This amino acid is found naturally in the breast milk of animals, according to Wikipedia.
  • Ginkgo biloba: You can find this plant in stem, leaf, or supplement form. This supplement comes from one of the oldest known tree species in the world today. It has an estimated age that dates back over 270 million years.
  • Picrorhiza kurroa: Picrorhiza kurroa is one of the oldest medicinal plants in the world today. The rhizomes are what is best to consume for helping vitiligo symptoms.
  • Liver: Your grandmother always said liver was good for you, and she was right. It has a high concentration of folate, vitamin B12, vitamin D, and vitamin A.
  • Dark greens: Dark greens are high in folate, calcium, vitamin K, and vitamin A. All essential for healthy skin and a healthy immune system.
  • Beans: Beans are a healthy source of folate, protein, and healthy carbohydrates. If you don’t eat meat, it is especially important to eat your beans.
  • Shellfish: Shellfish like clams and shrimp have high levels of B12. Other fish also have high B12 levels as well as healthy levels of DHA and Omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Red meat: Red meat is high in vitamin A, vitamin B 12, protein, and other essential nutrients that can help heal the skin.
  • Red bell pepper: Did you know that red bell pepper contains more vitamin C than an orange? This delicious pepper is good in both cooked and raw dishes.
  • Strawberries: Strawberries also contain high levels of vitamin C, as well as brain-boosting powers that may improve cognitive function, according to a 2012 study conducted by Harvard Medical School.
  • Kiwi: The small brown, furry fruit with the green inside and black seeds has more vitamin C than an orange. Add this to your morning breakfast routine to improve your vitamin C intake naturally.

Taking these supplements and adding these immune-boosting foods to your diet can help you see significant results and improvement in any skin discoloration and pigmentation loss. Of course, these results will not happen overnight. It takes at least six months to see recovery from a loss of pigmentation. However, the above studies and their supporting evidence indicate that with the right diet and supplements, you can completely reverse the autoimmune disorder, vitiligo.

Antioxidants for Vitiligo

If you have vitiligo, upping your antioxidant intake could be the key to halting the progression of the condition and even bringing color back to your skin. The following antioxidants can be readily found and added to your diet for a beneficial vitiligo-fighting and repigmenting boost.


Vitamin A: Vitamin A is a powerful antioxidant contained in foods such as sweet potatoes, leafy greens, carrots, squash, red peppers, cantaloupes, and other orange vegetables and fruit.

Vitamin C: Vitamin C is an antioxidant used in studies to counteract the effects of oxidative stress (including cancer). In a study from 2003 conducted by the National Institutes of Health, Vitamin C was found to counteract the oxidative damage.

Vitamin E: Vitamin E is known for its ability to break oxidative chain reactions in cells. Vitamin E comes from foods including leafy greens, nuts, tropical fruits, wheat, and vegetable oils. However, many vegetable oils sold today are already oxidized- negating the benefits of any remaining vitamin E. Look for cold-processed and non-refined vegetable oils to prevent further oxidation of vegetable oils.


A few minerals have antioxidant properties. The best minerals for antioxidant effects are manganese, selenium, and iodine. These minerals either act as antioxidants on their own or act in conjunction with other cells in the body to stimulate the production of antioxidants. Upping your intake of these three minerals can help increase the ratio of antioxidant cells in your body.


Flavonoids are the antioxidants most commonly found in the modern diet. Flavonoids are found in fruit, vegetables, and some grain products. Common sources of flavonoids in the diet are wine, beer, tea, vegetables, fruit, and soy products. There are over 4,000 varieties of flavonoids that can all reduce oxidative stress.

Other Antioxidants

A few other ingredients also act as antioxidants in the body and can help relieve oxidative stress. These antioxidants include:

Capsaicin: This antioxidant is found in chili peppers and other spicy plants and food.

Alpha-lipoic-acid: This chain-breaking antioxidant prevents free radicals from damaging biological membranes. ALA is particularly effective because it is both fat-soluble and water-soluble, meaning that once consumed, ALA remains in the body and is easily absorbed.

Fructose: Fructose- the sugar found in fruit and vegetables is able to elevate uric acid levels. Uric acid accounts for half of the antioxidant capacity in human plasma- making fructose an important source of antioxidants. However, a 2006 study published in “Nutrition” journal showed that diets high in fructose negatively affect the antioxidant level of the blood but positively affect antioxidant effects of the liver. The safest way to receive the antioxidant benefits of uric acid and fructose is by consuming it straight from fruit rather than the extracted form found in sweetened foods and beverages.

Ginkgo Biloba: Ginkgo biloba is an herb with antioxidant properties. In a 2001 study on rats conducted by the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil, it was found that ginkgo biloba was able to significantly reduce the oxidative stress in the rats. Another study from 2003 that looked at ginkgo biloba for vitiligo specifically found that ginkgo was able to slow the progression of slow-spreading vitiligo.

Antioxidant Studies

Numerous studies have linked oxidative stress with vitiligo, and an increase in antioxidants with a reduction in vitiligo symptoms. These studies outline that, although scientists do not know the cause or cure for every case of vitiligo, adding extra antioxidants to the diet is a good place to start. Antioxidants benefit the body in numerous ways and help fight countless health conditions and diseases, which makes them an excellent first-line defense for nearly every health condition.

If you want to stop the progression of existing vitiligo and have the chance to see repigmentation, adding antioxidants to your diet can help.

Bael Fruit

The bael fruit looks like a small, round, yellow apple. The rind of the fruit is somewhat woody and usually yellow in color. The inside of the fruit is filled with an orange pulp that is sweet to the taste. The fruit is native to India, Burma, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. Bael is an ancient fruit, and the first historical mention of the fruit was recorded in 800 B.C. The fruit contains many beneficial ingredients, including alkaloids, tannins, psoralen, and marmelosin. Bael also contains vitamin B1, B3, B2, vitamin C, and tartaric acid.

How Bael Helps Vitiligo

One of the traditional uses for vitiligo in India is the bael fruit. According to Purdue University, the reason that bael is identified as a beneficial treatment for vitiligo is due to the psoralen contained in the pulp of the fruit. Eating the pulp increases the tolerance for sunlight, and that combined with the carotene present in the fruit helps maintain a normal skin color.

In essence, the fruit acts as a magnifier for the absorption of the beneficial parts of sun exposure. As light therapy is one of the most effective known treatment methods for vitiligo, there is a high probability that supplementing with bael will also help slow the progression of vitiligo and restore pigmentation to the skin, even though there have been no official scientific studies on the fruit in recent years.  

A study on the bael fruit conducted by Karpagam University in 2012 identified the bael fruit as a viable treatment option for vitiligo, as did a 2011 review of the fruit published in the Asian Journal of Plant Science and Research.  

Instructions for Use

There are two ways you can use bael fruit and extract to benefit vitiligo. Taking the fruit internally as a supplement or eating the fruit directly will provide one benefit while applying it to the skin will provide another.

If you are taking any medications or have any other health conditions, consult with a health professional before adding a bael supplement or any other herbal supplement to your diet. Some supplements could interfere with other medications or cause complications in some health conditions.  

Internal Dosage

Eating the fruit is the most effective treatment method. You can add a bael extract supplement of 250 to 1000 mg daily to fight vitiligo, or you can try eating a few of the fruits directly if you can find them in a local grocery store or find a place to ship them to you.  

External Dosage

Externally, applying the pulp of the fruit to the skin may also provide some benefit. The color in the fruit will provide some camouflaging benefits to white patches of skin, and the psoralen in the fruit will boost sun absorption in the area. Make sure you watch how much sun you get, as placing bael on your skin could make it easier to get sunburned.  

Other Benefits of Bael

Bael also offers an array of other benefits. According to Purdue University, bael has been used as a digestive supplement, as a healing treatment for dysentery, as a fever reducer, for reducing inflammation, as an expectorant for coughs, as a treatment for and inflamed bowel, for helping regulate the heartbeat, and as a remedy for delirium. Many of these treatment methods are part of traditional medicine and have not been studied extensively in recent history.  

A 2009 study published in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine journal proved that the fruit of the bael tree was beneficial in eliminating bacteria that caused diarrhea, validating its use as a treatment for stomach bacterial infections like dysentery.  

A 2005 study published in The Journal of Herbal Pharmacotherapy studied the effects of supplementing with bael fruit in diabetic rats. After supplementing with 250 mg of bael extract twice daily for 30 days, although the rats gained weight, their pancreas did not show additional degenerative effects, and in fact, improved a little.  

Possible Uses for Bael
  • Coughs
  • Bowel issues
  • Bacterial stomach infections
  • Fevers
  • Heart palpitations
  • Inflammation
  • Diabetes
  • Vitiligo    

Get Your Color Back with Bael

As outlined by Purdue University, the psoralen in bael fruit is what makes it beneficial for adding pigmentation back into the skin. In fact, psoralen is an added ingredient in many other vitiligo treatments, both oral and topical. One of the easiest ways to add psoralen into your body is through supplementing with bael fruit. With the use of other vitiligo-fighting supplements in addition to bael, you will see pigmentation return to your skin within just a few months.

Consult with your doctor about the condition and the best treatment options even if you plan to take pigmenting supplements because many of these supplements work best in conjunction with standard UV treatments for vitiligo. To stop the progression of the condition, aggressive action is needed, and the best way to do that is to combine natural methods with conventional methods prescribed by your doctor.

Foods to Avoid

Autoimmune diseases are caused by an over-reaction of the immune system. While this is largely determined by genetics, research has also suggested that other factors can also trigger autoimmune disorders, including trauma, illness, allergies, a sluggish metabolism, and diet. Certain foods have been linked more closely with autoimmune disorders than others. The following is a list of foods associated with making vitiligo symptoms worse:


If you have a gluten allergy, this can lead to inflammation in the body. Excessive inflammation can trigger autoimmune disorders as the body is overwhelmed and tries to attack everything to heal. Eliminating gluten could cut down on vitiligo symptoms if you are allergic to the grain. You can ask for a gluten sensitivity and allergy test at your doctor's office. Common symptoms of gluten intolerance include digestive issues, constipation, and poor nutrient absorption.

Nightshade Vegetables

in the nightshade family can cause immune problems with a small group of people. Nightshade causes inflammation and can make vitiligo symptoms worse. Edible members of the nightshade family include potatoes, tomatoes, tobacco, eggplant, and paprika. Try eliminating these vegetables for a few weeks and see if your vitiligo symptoms lessen or your white patches stop spreading.

Junk Food

Junk food isn't good for anyone, but for individuals with vitiligo, it can be even worse. Your immune system requires the right level of nutrients to stop the autoimmune system balance and reset your immune system. Eliminate all sources of junk food including trans fats, processed grains, fried foods, and general junk food with empty calories, processed ingredients, chemicals, preservatives, and sugar. Avoid eating pre-packaged foods and you will eliminate most forms of junk food.


Large quantities of sugar are particularly bad for the body. Your body is only able to absorb about 9 teaspoons of sugar daily, but a single large soda has more than 9 teaspoons of sugar. It is incredibly easy to eat too much sugar in a day, which causes numerous problems including obesity, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. Sugar overload can also trigger excessive inflammation and irritate the autoimmune system, possibly making vitiligo symptoms worse.

Acidic Foods

A diet high in acid can also trigger the autoimmune response. Look for low-acid foods to eat and avoid foods high in acid, including lemons, strawberries, yogurt, pickles, citrus fruit, and pineapple.

GMO Foods

GMO foods haven't been around for long. The full health effects of GMOs are unknown, but many health experts believe nothing good comes from foods that contain pesticides, herbicides, and preservatives already in the seeds. If you have allergies to any GMO ingredients, it could trigger your autoimmune response and make your vitiligo symptoms much worse. Avoid GMO foods as much as possible to protect your autoimmune system if you suffer from vitiligo.

Boost Your Metabolism

A sluggish metabolism has been linked with an overactive autoimmune system. A sluggish thyroid is often accompanied by weight gain and other health problems that cause arthritis and inflammation. Excessive inflammation can make vitiligo worse. Boost your metabolism by implementing the following steps:

Eat breakfast: Breakfast wakes up the metabolism and helps prevent binge eating later in the day.

Eat iron: Iron offers a large boost in energy and metabolism.

Exercise regularly: Exercise is essential for a healthy metabolism. Aim for exercising at least 30 minutes a day three or four times a week.





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