Leucoderma, also known as vitiligo, is a distressing skin condition. The word literally means white skin. There is a gradual loss of the pigment melanin from the skin layers which results in white patches. These patches look ugly, especially in persons with a dark complexion. The condition does not cause any organic harm. This disease is caused neither by any germs, nor is it due to bad blood. It is considered to be neither infectious nor contagious.
Causes and Symptoms
The problem usually starts with a small white spot which later develops into patches. These patches are pale in the beginning, but become whiter and whiter as time passes by due to loss of pigment As the spots enlarge, they merge into each other and, in course of time, form a very broad patch. In some cases, most of the skin of the body may be covered with white patches.
The main causes of leucoderma are said to be excessive mental worry, chronic or acute gastric disorders, impaired hepatic function such as jaundice, worms or other parasites in the alimentary’ canal, typhoid, a defective perspiratory mechanism, and burn injuries. Heredity is also a well-recognised causative factor.
Psoralea: The best-known home remedy for leucoderma is the use of seeds of psoralea (babchi). These seeds should be steeped in the juice of ginger for three days. The fluid should be renewed every day. The seeds should then be rubbed with the hands to remove the husks, dried in the shade and powdered. One gram of this powder should be taken every day with one cup of fresh milk for- forty days continuously. The ground seeds should also be applied to the white spots.
Babchi seeds, combined with tamarind (imli) seeds, are also useful. An equal quantity of both the seeds should be steeped in water for three to four days. They should then be shelled and dried in the shade. They should be ground into paste and applied to the white patches for a week. If the application of this paste causes itching, or the white spots become red and a fluid begins to ooze out, this treatment should be discontinued.
Red Clay: Another useful remedy for leucoderma is red clay found by the river side or on hill slopes. The clay should be mixed >n ginger juice in a ratio of 1:1, and applied over the white spots once a day. The copper contained in the clay seems to bring back skin pigmentation. Ginger juice also serves as a mild stimulant, facilitating increased blood flow to the spots. Drinking water kept overnight in a copper vessel will also help.
Radish: A paste made fiom the seeds of the radish is valuable in treating leucoderma. About thirty-five grams of these seeds should be powdered in two teaspoons of vinegar and applied one white patches.
Goose Foot: The use of goose foot is beneficial in the treatment of this disease. This vegetable should be taken twice daily, in the morning as well as in the evening, for two months continuously. Simultaneously, the juice of the leaves should be applied over the patches of leucoderma.
Turmeric: Turmeric mixed with mustard oil has also proved useful in leucoderma. About 500 gm of turmeric should be pounded and soaked in 8 litres of water at night. It should be boiled in the moming till only one litre of water is left, and then be strained and mixed with 500 ml of mustard oil. This mixture should be heated till only the oil is left. It should then be strained and preserved in a bottle. The mixture should be applied on the white patches every morning and evening for a few months.
Constitutional measures should be adopted to cleanse the system of accumulated toxins. To begin with, the patient should undertake a fast of juices for about a week. After the juice fast, the patient may adopt a restricted diet consisting of fresh fruits, raw or steamed vegetables, and wholemeal bread or chapatis. Curd and milk may be added to this diet after a few days. The patient may, thereafter, gradually embark upon a well-balanced diet of seeds, nuts, grains, vegetables, and fruits. This diet may be supplemented with cold-pressed vegetable oils, honey, and yeast. Juice fasting may be repeated at intervals of two months or so. The patient should avoid tea, coffee, alcoholic beverages, all condiments and highly- flavoured dishes, sugar, white flour products, denatured cereals like polished rice and pearled barley, and tinned or bottled foods.
During the initial one-week juice fast, the bowels should be cleansed daily with a lukewarm-water enema.