Vitiligo - the TCM view.

Date: Fri, 2 Jun 1995 19:01:22 PST
To: Medicinal and Aromatic Plants discussion list <HERB.TREARN.BITNET>
From: Paul Iannone <p_iannone.POP.COM>
Subject: Re: FW: vitiligo

: My six year old daughter Emily has vitiligo. This is a skin disease causing loss of pigment in different patches over the body. If you have any information to share with me about vitiligo, please do. Our dermatologist has suggested a treatment, but it doesn't sound promising and it could cause skin cancers. We are currently attempting nutritional therapy.

From an earlier post of mine:

Let me give you another, more holistic point-of-view. Bai Dian Feng (White Patches Wind; also called Bai Bo Feng, or White Enemy Wind) is considered, in East-Asian Traditional Healing, to be a Wind condition (as the name implies).

Imagine that the soldiers on your skin-border are weak or insufficient in number (in ETH parlance, your Yang, or 'martial' energy, is weak). This allows Wind to invade the pores, and this Wind does several things. For one thing, it fills in ('capturing') the pores, and makes it impossible for Blood (or supplies) to reach and nourish the area, which therefore loses its natural color (and takes on the color of the invader). Wind afflictions tend to produce whiteness (white is the 'color' of wind, and of the Lung, our most Wind-prone organ: colds), and patchiness (like alopecia), especially in the upper part of the body (the Yang part). Because this condition occurs because of _Deficiency_ of Yang Energy, there is none of the itching, pain, or redness that is associated with Excess conditions.

Along with this kind of complaint, we would expect to find other Yang Deficiency symptoms and signs: Coldness, Dampness (excess phlegm, urinary tract problems, weak digestion), tiredness, tendency to catch colds (or allergies), weight problems without Heat signs, low back pain, ringing in the ears, depression with little affect, problems thinking clearly, and collapsing (like bad posture, hemorrhoids, prolapse, or flat feet).

Once enough of these confirming signs are found, the condition can be treated as it actually is, which is on a global scale. Hypothyroidism has only one treatment and one target: synthetic hormone therapy for a gland which tests low sometimes, and often fine others.

Yang Deficiency, on the other hand, a holistic diagnosis, has a whole range of therapies and implications, considering the person as a whole--and involves far less imbalancing therapy, mild herbals, acupuncture, moxibustion (warming therapy using smoldering herbs), and lifestyle management.

Vitiligo, or Bai Dian Feng, can therefore be _treated_, with a range of therapies (it is not untreatable), and specific herbal formulas have been developed for this condition (one simple home-treatment example is crushed _Psoralea corylifolia_ seed [Bu gu zi], as a topical application in mustard oil*). Because it is a condition of gradual onset, there are no miraculous treatments. Another slowing aspect is that considerable Dampness often accumulates, making Clearance of it, and the Wind, difficult ("Damp impedes": think about walking in mud).

Someone with a Yang Deficient condition should consume only cooked, warm food: no fruit, fruit juice, frozen desserts, or cold salads (often people will already know this by instinct), and NO stimulants like coffee, which only further deplete Yang. They should get adequate rest, but also should exercise mildly every day without fail (being careful not to exhaust). Preferably they should consume flesh foods, and utilize Warming spices like mustard and pepper. Avoidance of windy, drafty environments is wise, and choosing warmer climates is appropriate.

An acupuncturist can treat such conditions with a rounded approach that does not leave you dependent on hormone pills for the rest of your life.

(* tests in Chinese hospitals using Psoralea have been done, though rarely as a single line of therapy. In one study, 49 patients with vitiligo were given intramuscular injections of the herbal, along with UV treatments and topical application of the herbal as above described. Within 3-6 months, 14% were cured, and another 19% had a 66% return of of pigmentation. While these aren't astounding results, it does point to the treatability of this complaint).

In addition to these comments (which were associated with a diagnosis of hypothyroidism) I would add that a six year old should be treated with traditional homeopathy FIRST! No drugs should be applied to the condition.

--Paul ||

Date: Mon, 5 Jun 1995 12:10:53 PST
To: Medicinal and Aromatic Plants discussion list <HERB.TREARNPC.EGE.EDU.TR>
From: Paul Iannone <p_iannone.POP.COM>
Subject: Re: vitiligo

: I've had a request for an herbal cure for vitiligo (leukoderma). It's a lack of skin pigment. I've found only a couple of references in some chinese books on herbs. There are recommendations for PaBA and b complex and rubbing the area with crushed ginger and a couple of other remedies involving gardenias and walnut hulls. Has anyone successfully treated this affliction? Does anytone know of any other remedies? Thanks.

Hard to remember if I have responded to this here, but --Psoralea cordifolia-- paste is an effective topical application.