Vitiligo is a condition that causes the loss of melanin from your skin. Melanin is the pigment that is responsible for the color of your skin, eyes and hair. Vitiligo manifests when your melanin-producing cells die or no longer generate melanin, which causes white patches of skin to appear in the affected area. Natural herbal treatments may be helpful for your vitiligo. However, herbs should only be used under the care of a skilled health care professional.
The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Disorders states that the precise cause of vitiligo is unclear, although evidence points toward a group of three genes that make you vulnerable to depigmentation. The most common sign or symptom associated with vitiligo is milky-white skin patches, although other symptoms -- premature graying or whitening of your hair, loss of mucous membrane color, and color changes or loss in your retina -- may also occur.
Natural Herbal Treatments
Natural herbal treatments for vitiligo include katuki, St. John's wort and ginkgo, notes nutrition researcher Phyllis A. Balch, author of "Prescription for Nutritional Healing." Katuki is an herbal remedy that is commonly prescribed for vitiligo by practitioners of ayurvedic medicine, which is the traditional healing system of India. St. John's wort is used to help reduce the negative health effects of stress, while ginkgo may help retard the vitiligo disease course. Many non-herbal supplements may also be helpful in treating this condition, including vitamin B complex, essential fatty acids and silica.
A Helpful Remedy
Ginkgo biloba, or simply ginkgo, is a natural herbal treatment frequently prescribed for vitiligo. Balch recommends a ginkgo dosage of 40 mg, three times per day, to help treat your vitiligo, although you should always discuss proper dosage with your physician before ingesting herbs for your ailments. Ginkgo possesses strong antioxidant action and helps enhance the health and function of your immune system, which are two important health actions in the treatment of vitiligo. Ginkgo should not be taken, however, if you have a bleeding disorder or are scheduled for surgery.
Although several herbs have traditionally been used in treating vitiligo, not all natural herbal treatments may have been rigorously evaluated using conventional scientific testing methods. Some herbs may not be appropriate for this condition, especially if you have certain allergies or medical conditions. Herbal remedies may interact with your prescription medication, so it is always wise to discuss herb-related issues with a qualified health care provider before using herbs. A health care practitioner trained in herbal medicine can assist you in selecting herbal remedies that are best for you.
- MayoClinic.com: Vitiligo
- National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Disorders: Vitiligo
- "Prescription for Nutritional Healing"; Phyllis A. Balch, CNC; 2010
Martin Hughes is a chiropractic physician, health writer and the co-owner of a website devoted to natural footgear. He writes about health, fitness, diet and lifestyle. Hughes earned his Bachelor of Science in kinesiology at the University of Waterloo and his doctoral degree from Western States Chiropractic College in Portland, Ore.