Vitiligo, a condition in which the skin turns white due to the loss of melanocytes. These cells produce melanin, the pigment that gives the skin its characteristic color. (Melanocytes also impart color to the retina of the eye and the mucous membrane tissues lining the inside of the mouth, nose, genital and rectal areas). In vitiligo, the Melanocytes some are self-destroyed in different parts of body, the result is white patches on these parts. The hair that grows in areas affected by vitiligo may also turn white.
It is a well known fact that there is no treatment that will completely eradicate the disease from body. When one says treating vitiligo, it is meant “bringing skin color back” weather root cause is addressed or not. One oldest known way is use of Psoralen. Psoralen is capable of high UV (Ultraviolet) absorbance. It is the UV part of sun light that does the tanning magic.
Psoralens are being produced in laboratories since 1970, but before that only source of Psoralens was nature. Psoralen is the parent compound in a family of natural products known as furocoumarins. Psoralen is found in the seeds of Psoralea corylifolia, common Fig, celery, parsley and West Indian satinwood.
Oral Psoralen therapy:
An oral intake of Psoralea corylifolia (in powder form) along with sun exposure can help in gaining the pigment back, with the disadvantage of
(a) Large no. of people will not tolerate it. Some patients experience nausea and itching after ingesting the psoralen compound.
(2) It will tend to tan the whole body. And if vitiligo effected areas are not responding, the contrast ratio of these parts with normal skin will increase making the situation worse.
The therapy should hence be started with only a small intakes, and with very little sun, on limited body parts only.
Topical psoalen theapy:
In topical psoralen therapy, psoralen is applied to vitiligo affected areas, then UVA/ SUN light is applied to gain the pigmentation.
Oil extracted from Psoralean corylifolia is perhaps the oldest natural topical therapy used for this purpose. The natural psoralen in this magic herb acts and absorbs the UV portion of sunlight resulting in re-pigmentation of the skin. The disadvantage again being the non tolerance of many patients. A low dosage should be tried for this purpose. Anti-Vitiligo, a well known topical Anti-Vitiligo contains Psoralean Corylifolia in 8% weight to weight ratio with other natural herbs.
Remember that sun/ UVA is must for any therapy using psoralen. No UVA – No pigmentation. Since artificial UVA sources some times are 5 times stronger than the normal sun, so UVA/ Sun burns can happen very fast. It is highly recommended that atrtificial UVA should only be used under medical supervision.