Herbal Spotlight: Psoralea (bu gu zhi) – A Treatment for Vitiligo
What is vitiligo?
Vitiligo (pronounced vit-ill-EYE-go) is a skin disorder that causes the loss of normal skin color in spots or patches. It is not life-threatening or contagious. Vitiligo can affect people of any race or color, although it is more easily visible in people with darker skin. The average age of onset is in the mid-20’s, but it can begin at any age. It is a result of the destruction or loss of function of melanocytes, the skin cells that are responsible for producing skin color. As a result, white patches appear in the skin in various places on the body, especially those areas that are normally exposed to the sun. The hair may turn prematurely gray if the underlying skin is affected. It may also appear on the inside of the mouth or the retina of the eye.
What causes vitiligo?
The cause of vitiligo is not known for certain, but the prevailing theory is that it is an autoimmune disorder – for unknown reasons, the immune system has lost the ability to distinguish self from non-self. In other words, a person’s own immune system is attacking and destroying the body’s own melanocytes, the pigment-producing cells of the skin. There may be a genetic component – vitiligo often runs in families, but it seems that environmental factors such as sun exposure may also contribute to its development. There is yet another theory that melanocytes destroy themselves, a process known as apoptosis, or programmed cell death, wherein a cell is triggered to kill itself. Again, the reasons for this are not completely clear. Regardless of the cause, vitiligo can be treated successfully using Chinese herbal medicine.
Chinese Herbal Medicine for Vitiligo Treatment
One herb in particular, Psoralea corylifolia (Chinese name: bu gu zhi), is very effective in vitiligo treatment. A member of the pea family, psoralea is also commonly used in Indian Ayurvedic medicine. In Chinese medicine, besides treating vitiligo, it is widely used for the healing of bone fractures. In fact, the Chinese name bu gu zhi translates as “tonify bone resin.” It is also used for low back and knee pain, as well as impotence, bed wetting and hair loss. It also has other benefits such as fighting cancer, dilating the coronary arteries, fighting the bacteria that cause tuberculosis, and treating psoriasis. The list of benefits of this great herb is long. The way this herb works to treat vitiligo is that it increases the photosensitivity of the skin, making it more sensitive to ultraviolet radiation, and therefore more prone to re-pigmentation.
Although there has been some concern about the safety of long-term use of psoralea, Merry Clinic herbal products that contain psoralea are very safe. In Chinese herbal medicine, it is extremely rare for one herb to be used alone. The vast majority of Chinese herbs are used in a formula, with at least two herbs, and very often more than ten herbs. If herbs with reported toxicity are used in a formula, these toxic effects will be mitigated by the other herbs in the formula. Chinese herbal formulas are meant to create balance within the body, and the herbs in the formula work in harmony with each other in order to foster that balance. The Merry Clinic Vitilax herbal capsules and skin oil contain psoralea, along with many other effective ingredients. The success rate of these products is above 90%, and they have helped hundreds of people to regain the appearance and health of their skin. For more information, please visit our website: http://www.merryclinic.com/vitiligo/treatment.htm