Vitiligo – Vitamins & Other Strategies
Dear Dr. Klaper:
Are there any “natural” therapies for vitiligo, that patchy loss of skin pigmentation?
Swedish researchers Lennart Juhlin, M.D. and colleagues at the University of Uppsala helped a significant number of patients in their study achieve re-pigmentation of their skin utilizing vitamin B12, folic acid, and sun exposure.
Sixty-seven women and 33 men (ages 9 to 75) were given 1 mg. of vitamin B12 and 5 mg. of folic acid, two times daily. During the summer they were encouraged to have sunlight fall on their skin and during the winter to use lamps that emit ultraviolet B (UVB) light. Sunlight or UVB exposure was carried on long enough to create a slight reddening of the white areas of the skin. The participants were in the program for 3 to 6 months and 52 of the 67 patients experienced significant re-pigmentation of the blanched areas of their skin. Most noted re-pigmentation during the summer months.
Six patients experienced complete re-pigmentation of their vitiliginous skin, while 64% noted that the vitiligo stopped advancing after treatment. The combination of folic acid and vitamin B12 combined with the sun exposure produced better re-pigmentation than sun exposure or the vitamins alone.
The recommendation is that the vitamin and ultraviolet light treatment should continue as long as the white areas continue to re-pigment. Since at least 3 to 6 months were required for re-pigmentation to occur, patience is required for those utilizing this therapy.
(Since the underlying causes of the pigment loss in vitiligo may be associated with autoimmune mechanisms arising from the “leaky gut syndrome,” see the article on diet and arthritis in this website and follow the recommendations to optimize gut flora and function.)
NOTE: Modern allopathic medicine is rapidly advancing in its understanding of vitiligo and is continually devising new therapy programs. Check with your dermatologist for treatment options and, if possible, arrange a consultation with a dermatologist connected with a university medical center and who specializes in de-pigmentation disorders. You might well find an appropriate, effective therapy for your condition.
To your good health and happiness,
Dr. Michael Klaper
Reference: “Improvement of Vitiligo After Oral Treatment With Vitamin B12 and Folic Acid and The Importance of Sun Exposure,” Acta Derm Venereol (Stockh) 1997;77:460-462.