What is Vitiligo?
Vitiligo is an autoimmune skin condition that currently affects 1% of Americans. Small spots or larger areas of skin may be affected. Vitiligo is caused by many factors, some of which are genetics, accumulation of toxins, bacterial overgrowth, food sensitivities, nutritional deficiencies, mental-emotional stress etc. With vitiligo, the immune system attacks the melanin-producing cells called melanocytes, and this process causes areas of the skin to lose their pigmentation.
Vitiligo can negatively impact a person’s confidence and self-image, especially if it affects areas that can’t be hidden such as the face and hands. Conventional treatment for vitiligo involves ultraviolet light therapy, which can be very effective in improving the appearance. However, with conventional treatment only, the internal autoimmune process still remains because the underlying causative factors are not being addressed. An integrative approach to vitiligo treatment is necessary to not only improve the appearance of the skin long term, but also address the root cause and prevent progression and development of other autoimmune diseases. An integrative treatment approach to vitiligo would include a naturopathic medicine approach in combination with conventional treatment.
Vitiligo is not something that should be treated as a cosmetic issue only. It is a visible signal of an immune system imbalance.
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What is Functional Medicine?
Functional medicine is considered by many to be a subspecialty of naturopathic medicine. It determines how and why illness occurs and restores health by addressing the root causes of disease. Functional medicine usually involve specialized laboratory testing to identify imbalances and weakened organ systems in the individual. Treatments may include lifestyle medicine, nutrition, nutritional supplements, herbs etc. to correct imbalances and assist the body’s natural ability to heal.
Can Functional Medicine Reverse Vitiligo Naturally?
Functional medicine can arrest the autoimmune process. A holistic approach to vitiligo involves not only focusing on improving the appearance of the skin, but strengthening the body as a whole. A functional/naturopathic approach can help to normalize the overactive immune response and prevent further spreading, so permanent improvement is experienced when conventional treatments are discontinued.
Written By: Shayna Peter NMD, CNS, LDN
Functional Medicine Naturopathic Doctor | Holistic Dermatology Expert
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