Emily’s Vitiligo- part 8
One of my old college professors told me, “If you want a new idea, read an old book.” So thanks to Dr. Richard N. Miller at the University of Central Florida I read an old book on vitiligo. Dr. Montes listed this book in the bibliography of an article; Abdel Monem El Mofty called the book Vitiligo and Psoralens. PUVA, Psoralen combined with Ultra Violet light is a common therapy for vitiligo. I enjoyed reading about these psoralens because it made me realize I had options, other than pharmaceuticals with their dangerous side effects. We use an herb called St. Johns Wort, which contains psoralen. Emily takes one tablet three times a week, on “T”-days, Tuesday, Thursday and SaTurday. She started out taking one tablet per week. It is made by Nature’s Plus Herbal Actives (it contains 450 mg./0.3-0.5% hypericin). They say to take two a day, I assume this is for an adult, so I cut it down for her. As of 8-20-97, at the age of 9, she takes one a day.
The following table shows the many plants that contain psoralen. Notice that even celery, carrots, parsnips and other common foods have psoralen in them. We have increased our intake of raw vegetables by juicing, 6-28-95. When we first started we were juicing everyday. We juice once or twice a week now. A big glass of carrot and celery juice contains lots of nutrients for the skin as well as psoralen.
DO NOT USE THESE WITHOUT DISCUSSING IT WITH YOUR DOCTOR. DO NOT COMBINE PHARMACEUTICAL PSORALENS WITH THESE.
From: Vitiligo and Psoralens
by Abdel Monem El Mofty
(Pergamon Press, Oxford 1968).
PLANTS REPORTED TO EVOKE PHYTOPHOTODERMATITISE
|Common name||Botanical name||Natural order|
|Cow parsnip||Heracleum sphondylium||Umbelliferae|
|Garden parsnip||Heracleum gigantum||Umbelliferae|
|Wild parsnip||Pastinaca sativa||Umbelliferae|
|Wild carrot||Daucus carota||Umbelliferae|
|Garden carrot||Daucus sativa||Umbelliferae|
|Common rue||Ruta graveolens||Rutaceae|
|Gas plant||Dictamus albus||Rutaceae|
|Lime bergamot||Citrus bergamia||Rutaceae|
|Persian lime||Citrus aurantifolia, var.||Rutaceae|
|Blind weed||Convolvolus arevensis||Convolvulaceae|
|Yarrow (milfoil)||Achillaea millefolium||Compositae|
|Goose foot||Chenopodium species||Chenopodiaceae|
|St. John’s Wort||Hypericum perforatum||Hypericaceae|
Note: Phytophotodermatitis denotes the reaction to sunlight of skin, which has been in contact with certain species of plants.
Here is some interesting information on psoralen and the immune system. From Secrets of Supercharging Your Immune System The Natural Way by Dr. David G. Williams, page 17. Copyright 1993, he can be reached at Mountain Home Publishing PO Box 829, Ingram, TX 78025.
Researchers at Morristown Memorial Hospital in Morristown, New Jersey have demonstrated that ultraviolet light and a light-activated drug (psoralen) can be used to strengthen the immune system of patients with AIDS-related complex (ARC). Five patients (three homosexual men, plus one male and one female intravenous drug abusers) were involved in the study. One male withdrew from the treatment after five months, but continued to participate in laboratory evaluations each month. The researcher used a technique where a pint of the patients’ blood, pretreated with psoralen, was removed from the body. The red blood cells were filtered out and then returned to the body while the remaining white cells and plasma were first exposed to the long A wavelengths of the ultraviolet spectrum for three hours. Treatments were given once a month.
Within six months, lymph node swelling had decreased in all five patients and all the previous disease symptoms were gone in four patients. At the beginning of the study all patients cultured positive for the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). After five months one patient’s cultures were negative! Two other patients tested negative at 14 and 15 months; however, one of those became positive again the following month.
All three patients who stayed with the program for 15 months showed increased levels of the T lymphocytes, indicating a substantial boost to their immune systems! (Ann Inter Med 90; 113(4): 270-5)
The FDA has just approved an expanded trial of the treatment involving 20 additional patients.
About safety, I don’t feel good saying yes this is safe, since I am not qualified to do so. I will tell you that we read a lot about St. Johns Wort before we used it. It is one of the best known herbs and the only side effect that I know of is that it is helpful in depression. The bottle said that an adult should take three per day, Emily was about a third of the weight of an adult so we cut that down to one a day. Then to be even safer we cut that in half. She is now taking one a day, at nine years of age. I discussed this dosage with a doctor that specializes in herbal treatment and he agreed on the dose. In Germany it is used for mild depression, in place of Prozac. One caution to people on drugs for depression, consult your doctor before starting St. John’s Wort.
I have been told that too much St. Johns Wort can cause problems not being able to urinate. It is actually recommended to people for enuresis. We give Emily very little and have not noticed any trouble in this area.
Some members of VSIG have found St. John’s Wort in a cream. I tend to get lazy with creams; it takes a lot of effort to do it every day.
Information supplied to VSIG by H. “kee” Wanakee, Wanakeeh@aol.com, seems to indicate that an Auyrvedic herb called Picrorrhiza is helpful in vitiligo patients. I have found picrorrhiza mentioned in The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants by Andrew Chevallier, the author states that “Picrorrhiza also helps treat…autoimmune diseases, including psoriasis and vitiligo”. I have not been able to find picrorrhiza at the local health food store, but it is available on the net at Sequential Healing. This is where Kee gets her supply.
Kee has an excellent web site with more info on picrorrhiza and other options, check it out. I really like her approach to good healthy skin care.
One concern when I read the bottle was that the tablet contained hydrogenated oil and I try to avoid anything hydrogenated. I asked them at Sequential Healing and they said “The hydrogenated oil is part of the manufacturing process; they use it in the tablet machine instead of machine oils. The small amount there is insignificant – but they are into full disclosure.”
After a month of using picrorrhiza (July 98), I have noticed an improvement in my bowel movements. You would think that someone who eats nothing but veggies would have no problems with elimination, but I do occasionally get a slight constipation. Nothing like what I used to get before we changed our carnivorous ways, but you can tell when things get slowed down. I blame it on a little too much fat in a meal or eating something highly processed with very little fiber. I think I just have a slow or sluggish system. Picrorrhiza seems to have helped in that I no longer have any difficulty, it really stimulates the peristalsis. In fact if you take too much you will experience a slight discomfort or griping. I tend to use a half tablet twice a day, just like Kee.