Q: My daughter has been losing the pigmentation on her hands over the last several months. We have looked it up online and discovered that it is called Vitiligo. She is 21. Is there a cure and what is the cause? Your help is greatly appreciated.
A: Vitiligo is referred to as shvitra in the Ayurvedic texts, and like all diseases is related to imbalances in the digestion as well as aggravation of one, two, or even all three of the doshas defined by the patient’s relative health. And, also like all diseases, the cause is indicative of the specific issues, lifestyle choices, and physical constitution the patient was born with. Your daughter will benefit from having her condition examined by a trained Ayurvedic practitioner so that he/she may determine whether the patches of pigment loss are indicative of the dryness associated with aggravated Vata, the burning, reddish qualities associated with aggravated Pitta, or the white, itchy qualities associated with aggravated Kapha. When the doshic nature of the imbalance is determined, she will be able to modify her lifestyle accordingly and hopefully reverse the symptoms.
Therapies used to reverse shvitra include inducing elimination to purge the body of waste matter, taking herbs like turmeric, amalaki, and neem with cane sugar, and topical applications of indicated herbs. But again, the specific regimen that your daughter will benefit from is best determined by a practitioner who is able to address her specific imbalances through direct interaction. To learn more about Ayurvedic practitioners, you can go to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.