I recently reached out to Alana over at LegallyVegan.com. She has a very inspiring post on her blog about how she overcame her vitiligo. I must have read that post more than ten times when I was diagnosed with vitiligo because it gave me hope that I could overcome mine. She was a great inspiration to me and I know she will be to you too! I really like what she has to say about stress 😉
1. When and how did your vitiligo start?
My vitiligo started flaring up when I was about 15 years old. I had burnt myself with a curling iron on my forehead about a month before the vitiligo came and when the scar had healed, vitiligo formed in it’s place and started spreading to my elbows, knees, and chin.
2. What do you feel caused or triggered your vitiligo?
While I definitely think the burning my forehead triggered something, I don’t necessarily think it was the cause of my vitiligo. Rather, I think the burn triggered my body’s poor immune system. And I’m sure the junk food I was eating in high school and throughout college didn’t help!
3. Did you change your diet? If so what changes did you make?
I’ve gone through quite a few diet changes over the years. When I first had vitiligo, I ate anything and everything. No limitations on my diet whatsoever. When I got to college, I became really interested in animal rights theory and was compelled to go vegan for ethical reasons. I remained mostly vegan for four years, but was still eating garbage. Oreos are vegan! It finally started to catch up with me when I entered the workforce. I started to suffer from serious indigestion, sinus infections, and allergies. I started to see a holistic nutritionist who suggested I cut out gluten, refined sugar, process foods, and take certain supplements. That’s when I really started to notice a difference in my health and my skin and a lot of the pigmentation returned.
4. Do you recommend supplements? If so, which ones?
I’m hesitant to recommend anything because I am not a doctor, and what worked for me might not work for someone else. That being said, I personally found using L-Glutamine, NAC, and probiotics to be very helpful.
5. What topical treatments do you use to help you repigment?
I don’t! I used to use topical steroids before changing my diet but nothing worked. I’ve really come to believe that vitiligo is something that needs to be cured from the inside.
6. What do you feel was most important to your success?
When I first started changing my diet, I didn’t start to see the physical changes until I changed my environment. I was working in a very high stakes environment where it was very difficult for me to get enough sleep or avoid being stressed out all the time. I quit my job and went to Canada for 10 days and felt more relaxed there than I had felt in a long time. I remember going bike riding on a warm summer day and coming back worried about how my new tan would look. Then I looked in the mirror and saw that for the first time in years, my tan was even on my forehead. So while diet is certainly important, I don’t think my body would have been able to truly heal without taking the stress out of my life. Even now, I’ll see vitiligo spots pop back up during major times of stress. Now, I make sure to fit in at least 10 minutes of meditation every day to keep it under control.
8. Any books you recommend?
I’m going to have to echo one of your other vitiligo success stories – Aine Anderson– in saying that I don’t want to endorse any dietary trend. I am however, a big fan of authors who provide insight into how our eating affects the bigger picture. Marion Nestle and Michelle Simon’s books are really great for that purpose.
9. What advice would you give to someone who wants to reverse their vitiligo? Where should he or she start?
Worry about your health as a whole. If you have vitiligo, my guess is that it’s the least of your health problems. How’s your diet? Are you sleeping enough? Eating too much sugar/alcohol/processed food? Fix those things first and eventually deeper healing will come. In the meantime, find a good coverup and forget about it, because stressing over vitiligo can make it even worse!