Skin that has lost melanin burns fairly easily. It is, therefore, important to use a strong sunscreen if you have vitiligo. Also, make sure you speak to a doctor before using phototherapy or sun exposure to treat this condition.1
Are white patches on your skin leaving you worried and self-conscious? Patches from vitiligo commonly develop on the face, hands, and neck due to the loss of a pigment known as melanin which gives your skin color. This is believed to occur in some people when the immune system mistakenly turns on melanocyte cells which form melanin and attacks them. Oxidative stress has also been found to destroy melanocytes. 2
Vitiligo is typically treated with medication and phototherapy. In some cases, skin from other parts of your body may be grafted to affected areas or tattooing could be used to deal with this condition.3 If you are on the lookout for natural remedies that fight vitiligo, there are many that can help. But do remember, these are milder antidotes so it will take time and consistent use before you see results.
1. Try Ginkgo Biloba
Ginkgo biloba is an ancient herb valued for its many medicinal properties. Research shows that it can help halt the progression of vitiligo as well as encourage repigmentation. One study found that active progression of vitiligo significantly ceased in people who took a ginkgo biloba extract thrice a day. A greater number of people who took the extract also experienced marked or complete repigmentation when compared to people who took a placebo. As we have seen, oxidative stress plays a role in the pathogenesis of vitiligo and the antioxidant and immunomodulatory properties of this herb may be responsible for its beneficial effect in people with this condition.4
2. Apply Black Cumin Oil
An ayurvedic doctor or herbalist can guide you on use and dosage of these natural remedies. You will also need to do an allergy patch test before topical use.
Another natural remedy that can help tackle vitiligo is black cumin (Nigella sativa) oil. One study looked at the effect of applying black cumin oil for six months on people who had vitiligo. It was found that, over time, skin color improved and depigmented areas reduced. A compound known as thymoquinone which is present in black cumin seeds is thought to be responsible for this effect. Thymoquinone protects against oxidative stress. It can also stimulate a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine which can cause melanin release and skin darkening.5
3. Dab On Bakuchi Oil
A medicinal oil known as bakuchi oil which is prepared from sesame oil and the dried fruits of babchi plant (Psoralea corylifolia) is often used in ayurveda to treat vitiligo. The topical use of bakuchi oil can stimulate melanocytes when exposed to ultraviolet light and promote pigmentations thanks to its psolaren content.6
Interestingly, one study also found that applying an ointment which contained babchi seed powder significantly improved levels of pigmentation in small white vitiligo patches. A paste of babchi seed powder is also commonly applied to remedy vitiligo.7
4. Try Fern Extract
Another remedy from the plant kingdom for treating vitiligo is the fern (Polypodium leucotomos). This plant has antioxidant and immunomodulatory properties which help it tackle this skin disorder. One study found that patients who consumed an extract of Polypodium leucotomos thrice a day and received narrowband UVB phototherapy twice a week for 25 to 26 weeks showed much better repigmentation than patients who took a placebo. The research seemed to indicate that fern extracts may have a more pronounced effect in people with lighter skin.8
5. Have Kutki
Kutki or Picrorhiza kurroa is a herbal remedy used in ayurveda to treat vitiligo. Studies show that taking the root powder of this plant alongside photochemotherapy led to better repigmentation than photochemotherapy alone. This herb has immune-modulating and antioxidant properties which may account for its effectiveness in treating vitiligo.9
6. Have Bairesi Complex
Here’s a herbal remedy for vitiligo that comes all the way from China. A formulation known as Bairesi complex which consists of the hot water extract of 5 herbs, namely, Psoralea corylifolia, Brassica juncea, Vernonia anthelmintic, Plumbago zeylanica, and Nigella glandulifera, is used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat this condition. Studies have found that this medicinal formulation promotes melanin formation and repigmentation.10 11 A traditional Chinese medicine practitioner should be able to guide you on usage.
7. Apply Fig Leaf Juice
The juice of fig leaves has been used to treat vitiligo topical in traditional medicine. Sometimes, a paste of the fresh juice of the leaves and powdered roots is applied. So how does this remedy work? Research shows that fig leaves contain bergapten and psoralen, which are bioactive compounds that can oost pigmentation and treat vitiligo.12 13
8. Have Ghee Infused With Black Pepper Or Apply Piperine Ointment
Piperine, which is a compound present in black pepper, has a strong effect on melanocyte proliferation. According to a study, the topical application of piperine along with narrowband ultraviolet B treatment resulted in significantly better repigmentation than narrowband ultraviolet B treatment alone.14
Interestingly, an ayurvedic preparation containing black pepper, dried ginger, leadwort root, and pippali fermented in cow’s urine is also used topically for treating vitiligo.15 Some ayurvedic experts also suggest taking ghee or clarified butter infused with pepper. To prepare this ghee, simmer 10 peppercorns in 10 gm of ghee for a few minutes, remove the pepper, and have the ghee along with meals.16
9. Have Foods Rich In Vitamin B12 And Folic Acid
Vitamin B12 and folic acid can help improve repigmentation of skin. One study found that more than half the participants who combined sun exposure with supplementation with these nutrients experienced clear repigmentation. This treatment also stopped vitiligo from spreading in 64% of the participants. Although how this remedy works isn’t definitively clear, experts suggest that vitamin B12 can downregulate the formation of homocysteine, an amino acid that is implicated in depigmentation.
You can get vitamin B12 from beef liver, clams, meat, fish, eggs, and milk, while green leafy vegetables, dried peas and beans, and citrus fruits are good sources of folate.17 18 19 20 You could also talk to your doctor about supplementation.
10. Make Sure You Get Enough Zinc
Some experts suggest that zinc can also be useful in treating and preventing vitiligo. Zinc plays a role in the formation of melanin and may help prevent the death of melanin-forming cells or melanocytes. It may also inhibit the production of free radicals which lead to oxidative stress and the destruction of melanocytes. Moreover, some research indicates that people with vitiligo have low levels of zinc.21 22 So tank up on zinc-rich foods like oysters, poultry, nuts, seafood, and whole grains.
|↑1||Vitiligo. American Academy of Dermatology.|
|↑2||Vitiligo. National Health Service.|
|↑3||What Is Vitiligo? National Institutes of Health.|
|↑4||Parsad, D., R. Pandhi, and A. Juneja. “Effectiveness of oral Ginkgo biloba in treating limited, slowly spreading vitiligo.” Clinical and experimental dermatology 28, no. 3 (2003): 285-287.|
|↑5||Ghorbanibirgani, Alireza, Ali Khalili, and Darioush Rokhafrooz. “Comparing Nigella sativa oil and fish oil in treatment of vitiligo.” Iranian Red Crescent Medical Journal 16, no. 6 (2014).|
|↑6||Khandekar, Anuradha, Jyoti H. Jadhav, and Sunder Singh K. Danga. “Management of vitiligo: An ayurvedic perspective.” Indian Journal of Drugs in Dermatology 1, no. 1 (2015): 41.|
|↑7||Hussain, Irshad, Nisar Hussain, Abdul Manan, Abdur Rashid, Barkat Khan, and Sattar Bakhsh. “Fabrication of anti-vitiligo ointment containing Psoralea corylifolia: in vitro and in vivo characterization.” Drug design, development and therapy 10 (2016): 3805.|
|↑8||Middelkamp‐Hup, M. A., J. D. Bos, F. Rius‐Diaz, S. Gonzalez, and W. Westerhof. “Treatment of vitiligo vulgaris with narrow‐band UVB and oral Polypodium leucotomos extract: a randomized double‐blind placebo‐controlled study.” Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology 21, no. 7 (2007): 942-950.|
|↑9||Gianfaldoni, Serena, Uwe Wollina, Michael Tirant, Georgi Tchernev, Jacopo Lotti, Francesca Satolli, Miriam Rovesti, Katlein França, and Torello Lotti. “Herbal Compounds for the Treatment of Vitiligo: A Review.” Open access Macedonian journal of medical sciences 6, no. 1 (2018): 203.|
|↑10||Huang, Xuedan, Masayuki Ishikawa, Arkin Mansur, Aynur Emet, Ezimet Nasir, Repket Semet, and Yoshinori Kobayashi. “The Effects of Bairesi Complex Prescription (a Uyghur Medicine Prescription) and Its Five Crude Herbal Extracts on Melanogenesis in G-361 Cells.” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2016 (2016).|
|↑11||Gianfaldoni, Serena, Uwe Wollina, Michael Tirant, Georgi Tchernev, Jacopo Lotti, Francesca Satolli, Miriam Rovesti, Katlein França, and Torello Lotti. “Herbal Compounds for the Treatment of Vitiligo: A Review.” Open access Macedonian journal of medical sciences 6, no. 1 (2018): 203.|
|↑12||Chunyan, Chi, Shi Bo, Liang Ping, Li Jingmei, and Yoichiro Ito. “Isolation and purification of psoralen and bergapten from Ficus carica L. leaves by high-speed countercurrent chromatography.” Journal of liquid chromatography & related technologies 32, no. 1 (2008): 136-143.|
|↑13||Singh, Dueep Jyot, and John Davidson. “Dried Fruit and Plants That Heal – Learning More of the Healing Powers of Common Plants and Dried Fruit.” Mendon Cottage, 2017.|
|↑14||Shafiee, Anoosh, Mahmood Hoormand, Mohammad Shahidi‐Dadras, and Alireza Abadi. “The effect of topical piperine combined with narrowband UVB on vitiligo treatment: A clinical trial study.” Phytotherapy Research (2018).|
|↑15||Sivamani, Raja K., Jared R. Jagdeo, Peter Elsner, and Howard I. Maibach, eds. Cosmeceuticals and active cosmetics. CRC Press, 2015.|
|↑16||Bars (Vitiligo/Leucoderma). National Health Portal.|
|↑17||Vitamin B12. National Institutes of Health.|
|↑18||Folic acid in diet. National Institutes of Health.|
|↑19||Juhlin, Lennart, and Mats J. Olsson. “Improvement of vitiligo after oral treatment with vitamin B12 and folic acid and the importance of sun exposure.” ACTA DERMATOVENEREOLOGICA-STOCKHOLM- 77 (1997): 460-462.|
|↑20||Nordlund, James, ed. Vitiligo: A Monograph on the Basic and Clinical Science. John Wiley & Sons, 2008.|
|↑21||Mogaddam, Majid Rostami, Nastaran Safavi Ardabili, Nasrollah Maleki, Mir Mehdi Chinifroush, and Elham Maleki Fard. “Evaluation of the serum zinc level in patients with vitiligo.” Advances in Dermatology and Allergology/Postȩpy Dermatologii i Alergologii 34, no. 2 (2017): 116.|
|↑22||Bagherani, Nooshin, Reza Yaghoobi, and Mohammad Omidian. “Hypothesis: zinc can be effective in treatment of vitiligo.” Indian journal of dermatology 56, no. 5 (2011): 480.|