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Vitiligo is an autoimmune condition in which white patches develop on the skin. In India, the incidence of vitiligo is from 0.25 to 2.5%. Rajasthan and Gujarat have the highest prevalence of this condition  .
What Is Vitiligo?
Melanocytes, the cells that make the skin's pigment, are responsible for your skin colour, eye colour, and hair colour. When the melanocytes are destroyed, white patches form on the skin, known as vitiligo  . Vitiligo affects other areas of the body like the hands, face, neck, knees, feet and elbows.
Vitiligo isn't contagious and it is a result of either genetic factors, environmental factors or a deficiency in certain nutrients.
The first sign of vitiligo is a patch that slowly appears on the skin area with the hair turning white. Other signs are premature whitening of the hair on your scalp, eyebrows, beard and eyelashes, loss of colour in the tissues that line the inside of your nose and mouth, and loss of colour in the retina.
Treatment for vitiligo takes time to show positive results. Whether it's conventional or natural treatment, it can take 6 months to two years.
Since ancient times, different types of herbs have been used for the treatment of vitiligo.
10 Natural Remedies To Treat Vitiligo
1. Ginkgo biloba
In the last few years, ginkgo biloba extracts have been used for the treatment of vitiligo because ginkgo biloba possesses anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory, and antioxidant properties. A study data shows that ginkgo biloba controls the activity of vitiligo and induces repigmentation of the white macules if used with other therapies like phototherapies and corticosteroids  . Another study also shows the effectiveness of the herbal extract when administered alone  .
The results of repigmentation may vary depending on factors like the different types of ginkgo biloba extracts, the treatment duration, and the number of doses per day.
- The drug is formulated into a tablet and the daily dosage is 120 mg per day. It should be taken orally once to three times daily for more than 3 months.
Turmeric contains a polyphenol compound called curcumin which is known to contain antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antibacterial, antiproliferative and antifungal properties. According to a recent study, a tetrahydrocurcumide cream has been used with nb - UVB for vitiligo treatments and the results showed better repigmentation  .
3. Green tea
Green tea leaves are rich in polyphenol antioxidants. Green tea leaf extracts work as anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and immunomodulatory agents which are proven to be useful for the treatment of vitiligo by stopping oxidative stress of the melanocyte unit  .
- Green tea leaf extract can be administered both orally and topically.
Chilli peppers contain an active compound called capsaicin that contains antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties which work as a therapeutic treatment for vitiligo  .
5. Aloe vera
Aloe vera can treat various skin diseases including pigmentation disorders because it contains antioxidant vitamins like vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B12 and folic acid. Aloe vera extract also contains zinc, copper, and chromium which may support repigmentation of the skin  .
- Extract the gel from the aloe vera leaf and apply it to the affected area.
Muskmelon extract is packed full of antioxidants that inhibit the melanocytes deconstruction caused by oxidative stress. A study showed the efficacy of a gel formulation containing phenylalanine, muskmelon extract, and acetylcysteine in vitiligo. The treatment continued for 12 weeks and 75 per cent of repigmentation was shown in patients  .
7. Picrorhiza kurroa
Picrorhiza kurroa, also known as kutki or kutaki, is a medicinal plant found in the Himalayas. It contains hepatoprotective, antioxidant and immunomodulatory properties. A study showed the potent ability of Picrorhiza kurroa used along with phototherapy for the treatment of vitiligo. It was administered twice a day orally for 3 months  .
8. Pyrostegia venusta
Pyrostegia venusta is a herb used for the treatment of vitiligo. It contains antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and melanogenic properties. It is found in Southern Brazil, where topical formulations are used for the treatment of vitiligo  .
Since ancient Egyptian times, khellin has been used as a herbal folk medicine for the treatment of many diseases such as kidney stones, coronary heart disease, vitiligo, bronchial asthma and psoriasis. Khellin used along with UVA phototherapy has been shown to be effective in the treatment of vitiligo. Khellin works by stimulating melanocytes proliferation and melanogenesis  .
10. Polypodium leucotomos
Polypodium leucotomos is a tropical fern available in the form of capsules and topical cream. It is found in the tropical and subtropical regions of America. Polypodium leucotomos extracts are famous for their antioxidant and photoprotective properties and they are used for the treatment of various skin diseases. Polypodium leucotomos has been used along with phototherapy in vitiligo patients  .
Note: Before using these natural herbal remedies, it is best to consult a doctor for the right dosage and proper application as they might have side effects which you are unaware of.
-  Vora, R. V., Patel, B. B., Chaudhary, A. H., Mehta, M. J., & Pilani, A. P. (2014). A Clinical Study of Vitiligo in a Rural Set up of Gujarat.Indian journal of community medicine : official publication of Indian Association of Preventive & Social Medicine,39(3), 143–146.
-  Yamaguchi, Y., & Hearing, V. J. (2014). Melanocytes and their diseases.Cold Spring Harbor perspectives in medicine,4(5), a017046.
-  Cohen, B. E., Elbuluk, N., Mu, E. W., & Orlow, S. J. (2015). Alternative systemic treatments for vitiligo: a review.American journal of clinical dermatology,16(6), 463-474.
-  Parsad, D., Pandhi, R., & Juneja, A. (2003). Effectiveness of oral Ginkgo biloba in treating limited, slowly spreading vitiligo.Clinical and Experimental Dermatology: Experimental dermatology,28(3), 285-287.
-  Asawanonda, P., & Klahan, S. O. (2010). Tetrahydrocurcuminoid cream plus targeted narrowband UVB phototherapy for vitiligo: a preliminary randomized controlled study.Photomedicine and laser surgery,28(5), 679-684.
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-  Tabassum, N., & Hamdani, M. (2014). Plants used to treat skin diseases.Pharmacognosy reviews,8(15), 52–60
-  Buggiani, G., Tsampau, D., Hercogovà, J., Rossi, R., Brazzini, B., & Lotti, T. (2012). Clinical efficacy of a novel topical formulation for vitiligo: compared evaluation of different treatment modalities in 149 patients.Dermatologic therapy,25(5), 472-476.
-  Gianfaldoni, S., Wollina, U., Tirant, M., Tchernev, G., Lotti, J., Satolli, F., … Lotti, T. (2018). Herbal Compounds for the Treatment of Vitiligo: A Review.Open access Macedonian journal of medical sciences,6(1), 203–207.
-  Moreira, C. G., Carrenho, L. Z. B., Pawloski, P. L., Soley, B. S., Cabrini, D. A., & Otuki, M. F. (2015). Pre-clinical evidences of Pyrostegia venusta in the treatment of vitiligo.Journal of ethnopharmacology,168, 315-325.
-  Carlie, G., Ntusi, N. B. A., Hulley, P. A., & Kidson, S. H. (2003). KUVA (khellin plus ultraviolet A) stimulates proliferation and melanogenesis in normal human melanocytes and melanoma cells in vitro.British Journal of Dermatology,149(4), 707-717.
-  Nestor, M., Bucay, V., Callender, V., Cohen, J. L., Sadick, N., & Waldorf, H. (2014). Polypodium leucotomos as an Adjunct Treatment of Pigmentary Disorders.The Journal of clinical and aesthetic dermatology,7(3), 13–17.