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In recent times, Homeopathy is gaining recognition as a treatment modality by patients dissatisfied with allopathic drugs. Vitiligo is a disorder where the cells that produce pigment in the skin, melanocytes, are destroyed, and hence the area of skin loses its color and becomes white. It affects 0.5 to 1 percent of adults worldwide, and about half of these cases have an early onset. It can occur at any age, but it is more common among young people between 10-25 years old.
Vitiligo pathogenesis has not been identified to date; however, various hypotheses have been postulated, such as Genetic predisposition, Autoimmune disease mechanism, oxidative stress due to environmental factors.
Many case series and observational studies have reported improvement in vitiligo using homeopathic medicines. This article summarizes the diagnostic criteria of identifying suitable cases and providing treatment for this condition.
1. Homoeopathic approach is to treat a patient, not just the disease:
“Vitiligo is not a diagnosis; it’s merely a sign finding,” states Dr. Prashant Sardesai, an eminent homeopath from Pune. Dr.Sardesai believes that treating any symptom or illness without considering its deeper context is like nipping off branches of a tree but never getting at the roots beneath. And as we know, “root-treatment” is the essence of homeopathy.
2. Analyse the case history and existing medical records:
Analyze the case history and existing medical records. Ask about all symptoms, even if they seem unrelated to the disease in question. Find out what family members have suffered from, allergies or sensitivities (food-wise, environment-wise), any surgical procedures undergone, mental health issues such as mood swings, anxiety or depression, sleep pattern disturbances, etc. Homeopath has to ask about these details so that the big picture can be understood thoroughly and suitable homeopathic treatment is chosen.
3. Understand vitiligo type:
Homeopaths divide vitiligo into three types based on its clinical manifestations, viz., non-segmental, segmental, and mixed type of vitiligo.
Non-segmental vitiligo: It is the most common type. Here, there are macules (patches) of depigmentation – initially discrete and round with sharp margins, but over time, they increase in number, size, and borders tend to become irregular. There may be a few stable areas of pigmentation within these patches, indicating some activity of vital force at that point. Later on, those areas too become involved with skin lesions.
Non-segmental type can be further divided into subtypes based on its onset, spread, and genetic history of disease or family background. These subtypes include :
Melanocyte loss due to autoimmune process (e.g., Hashimoto’s thyroiditis or Graves’ disease)
Melanocyte loss due to an inflammatory process, e.g., mycosis fungoides, sarcoidosis, or lichen planus pigmentosus
Melanocyte loss is associated with generalized diseases such as lichen planus, Darier’s disease, erythropoietic protoporphyria, and some cases of guttate psoriasis. Or in association with non-cutaneous benign tumors typically present on the nipple (e.g., fibrocystic breast disease and prolactinoma). In these cases, vitiligo is also called ‘lactogenic’ or ‘nevoid’ vitiligo.
People who suffer from hypothyroidism are at higher risk of developing vitiligo. In this type of vitiligo, there is a loss of pigment in the hair and skin due to insufficient thyroid hormone production.
In some cases of vitiligo, autoimmune thyroid disease is also present.
Melanocyte loss due to psychogenic factors, e.g., stress-induced or behavioral modification therapy-induced.
Melanocyte loss is a part of syndromes such as poliosis circumscripta, nevoid basal cell carcinoma syndrome (Gorlin’s syndrome).
Segmental vitiligo: It starts early in life and usually affects one side of the body more than the other or both sides simultaneously but asymmetrically. There are that can be round or oval but primarily irregular in the perimeter. The skin lesions are also called ‘leopard spots’ or ‘feline aureole.’
A lesion is classed as segmental vitiligo if it affects two adjacent body segments, i.e., half the trunk and both arms, or one side of upper and lower limbs, etc.
Mixed type of vitiligo: Some cases have manifestations of more than one type; i.e., non-segmental and segmental vitiligo at different sites on the body, e.g., small patches of non-segmental vitiligo over knees and elbows along with segmental lesions on the neck (in this case only those areas are selected for treatment that has segmental vitiligo, in other words, the patches on the neck).
This classification is only for homeopathic treatment. It is not a natural division, and it won’t show up during medical examination or lab work reports. In all cases of vitiligo, there are depigmented macules (patches) or spots that appear that may be round or irregular in shape with smooth borders; they vary from one to many (some patients may have single lesions as well). Sometimes the patches fuse to form large areas of vitiligo, which can be functionally disabling depending upon location, i.e., hands, feet, face, etc.
4. Homeopathy doctor will identify the cause of vitiligo:
a. Patient’s reaction towards any allergy or medicine taken in the past may cause vitiligo. Such a case is considered as ‘ Trauma induced Vitiligo.’
b. Stress and emotional problems will be examined for their role in causing vitiligo; it may sometimes worsen the condition, but not always stress causes vitiligo alone, as many doctors diagnose wrongly.
c. If a parent or sibling has Vitiligo, it is evaluated whether the patient will have vitiligo; if yes, then it is called a ‘hereditary’ type of vitiligo.
d. Patient’s past medical history is checked for any chronic disease or an ongoing autoimmune disorder such as lupus erythematosus (LE), thyroid disorders, diabetes mellitus, Addison’s disease – an endocrine disease that occurs when the adrenal glands do not produce enough hormones. The very high hydrochloric acid level also causes vitiligo in few cases.
e. Generally, ‘Tests’ rule out other diseases like leprosy and syphilis tuberculosis, similar to vitiligo.
f. Complete clinical examination will check for any other skin disorder like psoriasis, eczema, etc.
5. Homeopathy doctor will ask few questions regarding vitiligo:
a. Duration of the disease?
b. When did you notice the first white patches on your skin?
c. Are they spreading or increasing in numbers?
d. How many lesions do you have now? Which part of your body is affected? (Fingers / Neck / Hands / Legs etc.)
e. Have you lost a previously pigmented area due to injury or surgery before the appearance of new lesions?
f . Is there itching on the lesions? Do you feel that due to scratching, new spots are forming on the skin?
g. Is there any treatment you are taking? It is important to know if there is any change in the number and size of lesions after stopping medication / homeopathic treatment.
Homeopathy doctor asks these questions to prescribe a correct medicine that will cure and prevent new white spots on the skin. The main aim is that no new lesion should appear in the future, and current lesions must be cured completely with the least possible doses of medicines that are very safe to use even for decades over your life.
6. Homeopathy doctor will examine the Lesions:
a. Homeopathy doctor will find out whether the white patches are present in all areas of skin or only on some parts of your body. In few cases, homeopaths prescribe constitutional treatment to cure vitiligo which covers other spots as well. Still, rarely, all spots respond equally to the same medicines even if they are from the same constitutional type.
b . If a patient presents to the homeopathic doctor with generalized vitiligo, i.e., appearing on the face also, it is diagnosed as ‘Psoriasis.’
c. Some people with vitiligo have normal and healthy lives, whereas some may have emotional or mental problems like depression, anxiety, etc. In such cases, homeopaths prescribe certain medicines to cure psychological disturbances as well.
7. homeopathic doctor will counsel you regarding vitiligo and its various aspects.
Homeopathy doctor will inform you about the various homeopathic remedies for vitiligo and how they work. If the patient is severe, these remedies are prescribed. He will also enlighten you about diet, lifestyle changes, stress management techniques, etc., which he thinks would be appropriate according to your environment and constitution. He may even advise conventional treatment if required. However, as a rule, we try not to interfere with nature’s course unless it becomes necessary. We have seen many cases recover independently without any intervention from our side; in fact, some of them were far gone cases that doctors had given up before they came for homeopathic treatment found total cure thanks only to homeopathy!
8. Homeopathy doctor will also consider the patient’s appetite, thirst, and perspiration; his weight, sleep pattern.
Stool and urine: the color of urine, frequency of urination, i.e., whether there is sand in the urine or any blood in stools? We always record these signs to study them later when selecting a homeopathic medicine for the patient.
A feeling of heat or cold; season during which vitiligo has worsened. The homeopathy doctor will take all information to form an idea as to what could be the cause for this problem and thus how it could be tackled by using homeopathy as a mode of treatment.
9. Once the diagnose is made homeopathy doctor will guide you regarding the vitiligo treatment:
- First vitiligo homeopathic treatment will be done with an individualized remedy made by a doctor after considering the case history, such as presenting symptoms in different modalities, life events that led to disease condition, the physical and mental constitution of a person, etc. Homeopathy always considers the patient a unique case rather than treating them with readymade medicines based on symptoms alone.
- In case the vitiligo is severe or has spread in a large area. It is necessary to follow a multifaceted treatment that includes the constitutional homeopathic remedy, topical remedies, nutritional supplements, and UVB phototherapy(ultraviolet B light). The ultraviolet rays excite and activate the melanocytes present in the basal layer of skin capable of synthesizing melanin.
- If there is severe itching and other local symptoms like oozing from the lesion, some homeopathic remedies will be advised, giving immediate relief. Such types of treatments include Ruta graveolens, Calendula, Natrum muriaticum, etc.
- In some cases, the patient may be advised to take homeopathic remedies prophylactically before skin undergoes any trauma or surgery so that they can get rid of pigmentary changes and remain unharmed by ultraviolet rays from sunlight. Such treatments include Psorinum, Sulphur, etc.
- Homeopathy is so effective in treating vitiligo because it enhances the body’s innate ability to heal itself without any side effects or adverse reactions caused by drugs and surgery.
- Proper diet combining all nutrients needed for the body can help control the vitiligo symptoms and give long-lasting relief.
- Some home remedies can also give good results in the early stages of vitiligo, but in general, managing this condition is a long-term process and requires a dedicated approach. However, as mentioned above, it takes around 2-3 months before we see any results from therapy. Usually, medical management needs life-long treatment depending on the severity of the disease and response to treatment.
10. In homeopathic management of vitiligo, usually, detailed case-taking is needed.
It includes taking an accurate case history (personal details and all the symptoms) and a clear family history of any other diseases to choose homeopathic medicines.
It helps to treat any pre-existing illness or autoimmune disorders related to vitiligo.
This also includes ruling out allopathic medications that the patient is using to treat some other condition where it may interfere with the treatment of vitiligo, such as using corticosteroids/cortisone for managing asthma every alternate day. For the best analysis of your vitiligo, you should visit a registered homeopathy doctor. You can visit Dr Batras homeopathy clinic in your area.
In addition, allopathic medications must be discontinued to starting homeopathic treatment. These medications often lead to suppression of vitiligo, which means the condition appears partially or entirely better. Still, later on, it returns in a more severe form.
The main goal of homeopathy in treating vitiligo is first to stop the further spread of disease and then secondly reverse what has already occurred – depigmentation/loss of skin color. At Dr Batras These goals are achieved by boosting the immune system and maintaining auto-immunity at bay while changing the existing pigmentation process with various potentized medicines, i.e., using ultra-high dilutions of natural substances prepared from animal and plant sources. In case if you have vitiligo, you can consider consulting a homeopathy doctor. You can book an appointment through OHO Homeopathy.