1. You probably have a leaky gut and low stomach acid
Leaky gut, A.K.A. intestinal permeability, is the microscopic loss of the integrity of your intestinal lining. In other words, it’s teeny tiny holes in the lining of your intestine.
Dr. Weil describes leaky gut this way:
Leaky gut is the result of damage to the intestinal lining, making it less able to protect the internal environment as well as to filter needed nutrients and other biological substances. As a consequence, some bacteria and their toxins, incompletely digested proteins and fats, and waste not normally absorbed may “leak” out of the intestines into the blood stream. This triggers an autoimmune reaction, which can lead to gastrointestinal problems such as abdominal bloating, excessive gas and cramps, fatigue, food sensitivities, joint pain, skin rashes, and autoimmunity….(source)
Your intestinal lining gets damaged by a combination of one or more of the following:
Poor diet (excessive sugar intake or alcohol consumption), lack of good bacteria, antibiotics and medications (including OTC meds such as aspirin or ibuprofen), chronic inflammation, and food sensitivities.
2. You likely have thyroid and adrenal dysfunction of some sort
Hashimotos is often seen along with vitiligo, as this study shows. It mentions that there is “a significant association between vitiligo and thyroid autoimmunity, and that tests to detect thyroid autoantibodies are relevant in patients with vitiligo.
If you have vitiligo, especially vitiligo that is active, you may want to consider getting your thyroid and adrenal function checked. Vitiligo is often a sign that other things are wrong inside of your body.
An endocrinologist can run a FULL thyroid panel for you…NOT JUST TSH. This is very important. A full thyroid panel will include TSH, T3 and T4 levels, TPO antibodies (crucial for detecting Hashimotos Thyroiditis).
A 24-hour urine cortisol test or a hair mineral analysis test are the best ways to get your adrenal function checked – I did both and they both revealed severe adrenal fatigue. I think you can also get a blood test as well.
3. You could have a copper/zinc imbalance
Many people are under the impression that because low copper levels are implicated in vitiligo then this must mean they need to take more copper. However, most people (women especially) are copper toxic and some also have copper bio-unavailability, which means the body is unable to use the copper for some reason. Taking more copper will aggravate this problem.
On the flip side, most people are zinc deficient. This article mentions vitiligo as one of the symptoms of zinc deficiency:
These include stretch marks on the skin, varicose veins, and, in fact, most cases of acne, dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis, boils, vitiligo, skin infections and many others. They also often include white spots on the fingernails, although there are a few other causes of this symptom.
Zinc is a strong copper antagonist – which means that it prevents the body from accumulating too much copper. Many vegetarians are copper toxic because meat is naturally high in zinc and helps prevent the accumulation of copper in the body. If you have vitiligo, it may be helpful to evaluate your diet and see if you may benefit from taking a zinc supplement.
In addition to controlling copper levels, zinc appears to be important in preventing and treating vitiligo by inhibiting free radicals, encouraging repigmentation, and preventing immunity related cells that result in toxin accumulation, altered cellular environment and infection. (source)
4. You are gluten intolerant, and possibly have celiac
Gluten is a dangerous food for those with vitiligo, celiac, and hashimotos thyroiditis. Gluten is very damaging to the gut and its molecular structure actually resembles the thyroid gland – which causes your body to become confused and attack the thyroid gland.
What’s more, is that vitiligo and celiac share the same gene – NLRP1.
…the gene NLRP1 (formerly known as NALP1), has been confirmed as being associated with vitiligo, as well as with celiac disease, Addison’s disease, systemic sclerosis, and lupus, and with type 1 diabetes in two out of three studies. (source)
So, if you have vitiligo you may want to avoid gluten altogether as it can be very risky, to say the least.
5. Changing your diet can help you stop your vitiligo from spreading and can help repigment stable vitiligo.
There’s no specific “diet” for vitiligo – and many people will tell you that diet is worthless for treating vitiligo. However, based on the research that I have done, I have come to realize that diet plays a very important role in treating ANY autoimmune disorder, including vitiligo.
The reason for this is simple:
Proper immune system function is heavily dependent on a healthy diet, full of vitamins and minerals. Also, autoimmune disorders are largely due to inflammation in the body, which is diet related.
The most important vitamins for vitiligo are the B complex vitamins, especially B-12, B-6, and folate (not folic acid).
It’s best to take the methylated forms of B-12 and folate. The B-12 should be in the form of methylcobalamin (not cyanocobalamin), and folate should say 5-MTHF on the label. This means they are already in a form that your body can use immediately. Your body has to convert folic acid and cyanocobalamin into usable forms.
The problem is that it has been discovered that many people have an MTHFR mutation that prevents folic acid from being converted into MTHFR-the usable form of folate. I found out that I have an MTRR A66G mutation, which means that I have poor ability to methylate B-12, so it’s important for me to take methylcobalamin.
You can get genetic testing done here.
6. It’s not hopeless.
Doctors will always tell you there is no cure, because this is what they believe…and many of them have little to no experience treating vitiligo, so they really don’t know what else to tell you.
Remember, docs don’t know everything, so when they say negative or discouraging things, just respect their opinion and move on to a more open minded doctor that is willing to work with you. Don’t be disheartened, there are lots of things you can do to help yourself.
Sure, you won’t reverse your vitiligo overnight, but it can be done. It just takes a lot of determination and belief that it will happen. 😉