Ginkgo Extract Effective Treatment for Vitiligo
Healthnotes Newswire (August 21, 2003)-Supplementation with a standardized
extract of ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba) may help slow the progression of skin
depigmentation and actually increase pigmentation in adults suffering from
vitiligo, according to a study in Clinical and Experimental Dematology
(2003;28:285-7). This is encouraging news for the millions of adults that
have to deal with this often difficult to treat condition.
Vitiligo is a genetic skin disorder in which patches of skin lose pigment
and appear lighter than the surrounding skin. Hair in these areas may turn
white and the skin tends to sunburn more easily. Some studies suggest up to
4% of the world's adult population is afflicted with this condition.
Vitiligo was most recently brought to the public's attention when pop star
Michael Jackson claimed the lightening of his skin was a result of
vitiligo. The cause of vitiligo is unknown. Although no serious
consequences arise from having vitiligo, the changes in skin color can be
distressing for some individuals. Treatment often includes using topical
steroid creams, but the success rate is low and it may take months or years
to regain full pigmentation.
See All LifeSource Vitamins Ginkgo Biloba Products, Articles, and
In the new study, 47 adults with slow-spreading vitiligo were assigned to
receive 120 mg per day of a standardized extract of ginkgo (containing 9.6
mg of ginkgo flavonglycosides per day or a similar looking placebo for six
months. Photographs of the affected areas were taken every six weeks to
monitor the changes in size and pigmentation. No serious side effects were
reported by the participants taking ginkgo.
Disease progression was arrested in 80% of all people taking ginkgo,
compared with only 36% of those taking a placebo. Individuals with vitiligo
restricted to the face who took ginkgo all experienced a halt in the
progression of their vitiligo, whereas no person with this form of vitiligo
in the placebo group had any signs of the disease arresting. In the ginkgo
group, marked or complete repigmentation occurred in 40% of the
participants, but less than 10% of the placebo group had similar results.
This is the first study to show that ginkgo is an effective, safe treatment
for vitiligo. Ginkgo is a potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and
immune-modulating herb. Some researchers believe vitiligo is the result of
free-radical damage to the skin and that ginkgo prevents these free
radicals from doing further harm. Ginkgo has been shown to cause a
blood-thinning effect in some individuals, so people taking blood-thinning
medication should avoid taking ginkgo, unless under the supervision of a
Other nutrients that may be useful in treating vitiligo include
L-phenylalanine, folic acid with vitamin B12, PABA, and vitamin C.
Preliminary studies suggest picrorhiza (Picrorhiza kurroa), a traditional
Indian herb, may also stimulate repigmentation of skin in people with
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