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Natural health: Vitiligo - white patches on the skin

Natural health: Vitiligo – white patches on the skin

As with so many complicated health issues, cleaning up your diet is a good place to begin, says Megan Sheppard.

Q. I have developed white patches on my arms, that my naturopath tells me are vitiligo. I have checked it out on the internet and some of the images are really concerning me.

The patches are only small right now, but I need to stop them from developing like some of the photographs I have seen.

Is this at all a possibility or will it just continue to spread? Please help.

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A. Vitiligo is not a straight-forward condition to deal with unfortunately.

The white patches are caused by a cessation in the natural pigmentation process, which is, of course, far more obvious if your skin is olive or dark.

The actual trigger for the loss of pigmentation is thought to be a result of a number of factors coming into play rather than one specific cause, hence the difficulty in treating this condition.

As with so many complicated health issues, cleaning up your diet is a good place to begin.

Alcohol, caffeine, processed and sugary foods should all be cut from the diet completely for best results.

Tests indicate that low levels of stomach acid, low levels of B vitamins, overactive thyroid (hyperthyroid), fungal overgrowth on the skin or internally, and/or pernicious anaemia are all potential factors.

Take a high strength B-Complex that will provide 400mcg of folic acid and 500mcg of B12 daily, if you are deficient in the B-vitamins — these are found to be low in so many people and are depleted by stress, whether it be work, emotional, physical or pain-related.

PABA (Para-aminobenzoic acid) is one of the B-vitamins not usually found in a complex formulation. It is often recommended in cases of vitiligo as it helps to re-pigment the skin.

You will need to take 100mg, three times daily.

You may be familiar with PABA as a topical sunscreen ingredient, as it is effective at helping to prevent sunburn.

It can also be used as an internal supplement to reduce burning and sensitivity in skin types that are highly sensitive to sun exposure.

Low levels of stomach acid are very common, and are in fact at the root of many cases of reflux and indigestion, despite the fact that logic would suggest the opposite.

The best way I have found to test the stomach acid levels of my patients without using the costly Heidelberg Protocol is to test using an actual Betaine HCl supplement.

If you are on NSAID or corticosteroid medications then you should not take Betaine HCl without consulting your physician as it can lead to gastritis when combined with these drugs.

If your results after doing the following at-home test twice indicate that you need to supplement with Betaine HCl, then you should take a product that also contains pepsin and comes as capsules rather than tablets.

Biocare’s HCl with pepsin is an ideal potency for adjusting your dosage according to your individual needs, and I have found this product to be highly effective.

Begin by eating a high protein meal — it should ideally contain 150-200g of protein. Stop halfway through the meal and take one of the Biocare capsules (containing 600mg HCl and 60mg pepsin), then finish your meal.

If you don’t notice any change to digestive function then you likely have low levels of acid in your stomach and will need to take one or more capsules with each meal for up to two years to correct the imbalance.

If you find your stomach is upset with burning, a sense of heaviness, or similar symptoms (all of which should pass within half an hour or so) then you have sufficient stomach acid and do not need to supplement it.

Do have your thyroid function checked, since this may be a factor.

Other remedies that people have found to be useful in treating vitiligo are Phenylalanine and Khella extract (Ammi visnaga).

Phenylalanine is an amino acid that may assist in re-pigmentation and should be taken on an empty stomach once daily at a rate of 50mg per kg of bodyweight.

Khella tincture works along the lines of a natural steroid and should be taken as directed. It can be used orally and topically.

BioCare’s HCl & Pepsin €17.95, 90 capsules, available from health stores.

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