Use of natural herbs like turmeric (curcumin) is a major pillar of holistic (natural) healing of vitiligo (leucoderma). In case you are curious about curcumin, it is the principle constituent of turmeric which is responsible for all the health benefits. Thus, when we discuss about the health benefits of turmeric for vitiligo, we are actually referring to the benefits of curcumin.
What is Vitiligo
Vitiligo, also known as leucoderma, is an auto-immune skin condition; the faulty immune system mistakenly attacks the pigment producing skin cells (melanocytes). It results in loss of skin pigment to develop white patches on various parts of the body.
The exact cause of such an abnormal behavior of the immune system is not known yet, however, the possible reasons include:
- Chronic stress
- Poor gut health- chronic constipation, indigestion, lack of healthy gut microbes (probiotics), low stomach acid
- Nutritional deficiency
- Genes (hereditary)
- Skin injury
- Infection such as strep throat
- Overuse of antibiotics, steroids and certain medications
- Alcohol abuse
- Poor diet and lifestyle habits
As the exact cause is unknown, hence, the cure is also not found yet. But, you can manage (control) vitiligo symptoms with the help of natural healing strategy that includes:
- Healthy, restricted diet
- Positive lifestyle
- Stress management techniques like yoga, meditation, pranayam etc.
- Use of natural herbs like turmeric, triphala, milk thistle, ginkgo biloba etc.
- Use of dietary supplements like omega 3 fats, vitamin D3, vitamin B12, zinc, selenium etc.
Read more: Vitamin D capsules for Vitiligo
The real culprit is Leaky gut
As explained earlier, the exact cause of vitiligo is not defined yet. But, when it comes to the natural healing of vitiligo, ‘leaky gut syndrome’ is considered the real culprit for all autoimmune problems including vitiligo.
Leaky gut simply means leakage in the gut. The gut refers to the whole gastrointestinal tract that starts at the mouth and ends at the anus. When you eat food, it travels through various sections of gut- mouth, food pipe, stomach- to reach small intestine. In small intestine, complete digestion of food takes place and food nutrients are transferred into the blood stream. The waste byproducts (toxins)- undigested food, bad bacteria, heavy metals and other toxins- are filtered out by liver. The fat soluble toxins are eliminated through large intestine in the form of stool and the water soluble toxins are eliminated through kidney in the form of urine.
To understand leaky gut, imagine that the walls of your small intestine have a net like structure with extremely small holes. These micro holes allow small food nutrients to pass through and enter your blood stream and restricts the bigger waste particles from entering the blood stream. If due to some reason, this net structure gets damaged and the holes get bigger- then the bigger waste particles would seep through and enter into your blood stream and circulate through the body. Your immune system gets alarmed due to such a high inflow of foreign invaders. It triggers an autoimmune reaction and your immune system starts attacking the healthy skin cells to cause inflammation and skin de-pigmentation. It results in white patches aka vitiligo lesions on various parts of the body.
Thus, leaky gut syndrome refers to the thinning of the walls of small intestine so that the undigested food, disease causing microbes and other toxins can seep through into the blood stream and trigger an autoimmune response in the form of skin de-pigmentation.
How turmeric (curcumin) can help heal leaky gut and vitiligo?
Curcumin in turmeric is a much required natural compound to repair leaky gut and restore optimum gut health to calm down the immune system.
Turmeric aids in digestion, accelerates fat metabolism, promotes liver detoxification, reduces gut inflammation, relieves stress and regulates immune system.
Let us know Turmeric
Turmeric is native to India and neighboring South Asian countries. It is regularly used as a spice to make Indian curries. It provides yellowish brown color, enhances the taste and improve aroma. It is also used as a natural food preservative due to its powerful antimicrobial and antioxidant properties. In Indian religious ceremonies and weddings, it is used a symbol of purity and prosperity.
It has a long history of use in Ayurveda and Chinese medicines. In Ayurveda, turmeric is used to treat skin problems, liver disorders, digestive discomforts, joint pain and viral and bacterial infections. Impressed by its incredible health benefits, the modern medical science has also started taking it seriously and by 2015, more than 7000 published medical articles have discussed the antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic and anti-cancer properties of curcumin, the active ingredient of turmeric. (1)
Based on the extensive research studies conducted over the past half century, turmeric has been found to be useful in below health problems (4):
- Joint pain
- Autoimmune skin problems like vitiligo and psoriasis
- Liver problems
- Stomach ulcer
- Ulcerative colitis
- Intestinal worms
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Crohn’s disease
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Brain disorders
- Various types of cancer
Turmeric (Curcumin) for Vitiligo (Leucoderma)
Curcumin in turmeric can help manage vitiligo symptoms due to below research proven health benefits:
- Reduces inflammation– Curcumin in turmeric is one of the most powerful natural anti-inflammatory compound. Due to its potent anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, turmeric can prove beneficial in the manage of chronic skin issues vitiligo, psoriasis, scleroderma and melanoma (a type of skin cancer). (5, 6, 7)
- Promotes liver detox– Bile is a thick digestive fluid, produced by liver and stored in the gallbladder, that helps in the breakdown of fat and other complex food nutrients for proper digestion and absorption. Also, proper bile flow is mandatory for proper cleansing otherwise the body wastes would congest liver and impair its performance. When the liver health deteriorates, the bile production gets affected as well. Curcumin in turmeric stimulates the live to produce more bile. Also, it assists in the smooth contraction of gallbladder to release enough bile to the small intestine when required. (8) Thus, curcumin increases bile production as well as its flow to improve liver functioning. Also, it promotes the activity of liver detoxifying enzymes to cleanse your liver. It has a protective action against liver cirrhosis (liver damage). (9, 10, 11, 12, 13)
Read more: Turmeric benefits for Liver health
- Aids in digestion– Turmeric reduces inflammation in the digestive system to relieve symptoms of acid reflux, heartburn, peptic ulcer, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease and gut inflammation. Also, turmeric neutralizes the intestinal worms (parasites) to promote digestion. (14) By increasing bile production, turmeric ensures optimum digestion of dietary fats and proteins. If you are a victim of gas, bloating, constipation and other digestive issues, turmeric is surely going to help you. (15, 16, 17)
- Regulates body immunity– Curcumin in turmeric is a potent natural immunomodulator. It modifies the response of immune system in a natural way to reduce inflammation and control vitiligo symptoms. (18, 19, 20)
- Reduces oxidative stress– The free radicals are highly reactive compounds in your body which can cause oxidative stress to further increase inflammation and autoimmune response. Hence, it is very important to neutralize these free radicals with the help of antioxidants. Luckily, the antioxidant activity of curcumin is among the most talked about health benefits of turmeric. Not only curcumin has powerful antioxidant activity, but, it boosts the efficacy of already present antioxidant enzymes in your body as well. (21, 22)
Turmeric vs Methotrexate for Vitiligo
Many people with vitiligo are prescribed by their doctors to use methotrexate oral tablets. It is an immunosuppressant- it temporarily suppresses the response of immune system to control vitiligo symptoms. When used in the long term, methotrexate has serious well documented side effects- liver damage, hair fall, loss of appetite, oxidative stress, vomiting, nausea etc.
Curcumin in turmeric can help here. The immunomodulator action of curcumin can provide health benefits quite similar to methotrexate with almost no side effects. Scientists have observed good results when they used curcumin in combination with reduced dosage of methotrexate to treat autoimmune disorders. (23) Moreover, the curcumin has a protective action against the liver damaging tendency of methotrexate. (24)
Hence, if you are taking methotrexate as per your doctor’s advice, you should consider taking curcumin supplement to reduce any side effects of methotrexate and enhance the results.
How long it takes to show results
Well, this is a tricky question. First of all, turmeric (curcumin) is not a cure for vitiligo. In fact, there is no available cure for vitiligo. Hence, turmeric should be consumed with an aim to control the vitiligo symptoms only.
Regular consumption of curcumin extract capsules for around 3 months along with a healthy diet, positive lifestyle and stress management techniques can help prevent the further spreading of vitiligo spots and it can even stimulate re-pigmentation of affected skin to bring back the lost skin pigment.
Precautionary measures and side effects
Turmeric is a regular spice used in Indian curries and millions of Indians consume it everyday without any health issues. Hence, turmeric as a natural herb is quite safe for people of all ages.
As far as curcumin is concerned, up to 8000 mg (8 grams) of curcumin extracts can be consumed regularly for 3 months without any side effects whereas our requirement is only 1200 mg per day. (25)
However, people with below conditions should strictly consult their doctors before consuming curcumin extract capsules:
- Pregnant women
- Breastfeeding ladies
- Kids below 12 years of age
- People with kidney stones and gallstones
- People consuming blood thinning medicines such as aspirin, ibuprofen, warfarin etc.
- People with serious health issues
Buy the ‘right’ curcumin extract capsules
Many people complain of no benefits even after consuming curcumin extract capsules for a long time. It may be due to not using the ‘right’ product. Curcumin has a low level of bio-availability- it means that a major portion of curcumin is destroyed during the digestion process and only a small amount reaches the blood stream. To solve this problem, a small amount of piperine (a component in black pepper) is added to improve the bio-availability of curcumin. (26, 27)
Thus, always buy curcumin extract capsules with added piperine (black pepper extracts) in it.
From where to buy
Buy organic curcumin extract capsules of a reputed brand from a chemist shop near to you or check below Amazon link:
If you are from USA, click here
If you are from India, click here
If you are from UK, click here
Reminder: Daily dosage is 1200 mg and take capsules after the meals with warm water.
External application of turmeric powder and mustard oil for Vitiligo
As we have learnt, vitiligo is an internal body metabolism related problem and the external vitiligo patches on the skin are just an indication that everything is not right inside your body. So, the actual healing would always be an ‘inside-out’ treatment. As you sort out the inner body matters, your skin health would improve automatically. Thus, I’m not a big fan of external application of turmeric powder for vitiligo treatment. However, it is not going to harm you either if you apply turmeric paste on your vitiligo patches.
In fact, you may feel improvement because turmeric lightens the skin tone. But, it would be a temporary effect only. However, if you have tried light therapy (UV rays) for vitiligo and it has left your skin irritated, then applying turmeric paste can help treat the skin irritation. (28)
How to use turmeric paste on vitiligo spots:
- Mix 5 teaspoons (10 grams) of pure turmeric powder with 250 ml of mustard oil. Mix it well and apply on vitiligo lesions. Leave it for 30 minutes to 2 hours as per your comfort and then wash it off with water. The remaining oil mixture should be stored in an airtight container for future use. You may replace mustard oil with sesame oil or coconut oil if not comfortable with mustard oil.
- Alternatively, take 500 grams of pure turmeric powder and soak it in 8 liters of water for overnight. The next morning, boil this solution till it reduces to almost 2 liters. Now, add 500 ml of mustard oil in it and mix it well. Use this solution everyday on your vitiligo lesions.
Read more: How to use Coconut oil for Vitiligo