is a condition where light patches (loss of pigmentation)
appear on the skin. The patches are irregular in
shape, have well defined edges and usually appear on the
hands, feet, elbows, knees, face and genitals. The condition
happens with all skin colors. It usually starts in one
small area and grows over time, sometimes rapidly, other
times slowly. Except for the coloring the skin is not
affected, it is not an infectious disease and is not
associated with any form of cancer. The discoloration can
become a source of emotional concern for many that suffer.
About 1 in 100 people will encounter this and it appears
to develop in early years, most commonly affecting those
between 10 and 40. Male and Female are equally affected. The
cause is not yet understood but the mechanism is that
melanocytes, the cells of the skin that produce melanin, no
longer produce this source of color in the skin. Why
melanocytes die or stop producing is not yet known but some
suspect that it may be autoimmune related. It is reported to
be associated with those suffering from Addison’s,
Hashimoto’s or Pernicious Anemia.
Oils, blends & products
Oils & Blends:
BergamotC, Black Pepper, DDR Prime,
Essential oils based
products: AromaTouch Technique, GX Assist/PB Assist,
Life Long Vitality supplements,
Zendocrine Detoxification Complex.
PurifyC, SandalwoodC, VetiverC,
understand the E and C superscript go to Home and
scroll to New Helps.
Some have found success using topical application of Bergamot to the areas 1
-2 times daily. Be caution about exposing the area to
sunlight since Bergamot, like all citrus oil, is
Also, since there are some indications that vitiligo is
an autoimmune disease, consider the basic suggestions for
consistently, 1 capsule or 8 drops DDR Prime 2 times daily
drops Frankincense, 2 -4 time daily under tongue
• Cleanses such as GX
Assist/PB Assist and Zendocrine (see
Detoxification) and the AromaTouch
Scientific research points to compounds in Black Pepper
being helpful but there are not yet any reported protocols
using essential oils.
Experiences and Testimonials of others
Lori - My friend
has vitiligo on his hands, white patches on his hands. Any
oil that will help it??
Brenda - Yes, I have a friend I am
working with and had success however, I will explain. He is
using the LLV, also doing the cleanses, then we sent him
black pepper but he is using more bergamot than anything
else. He is having pink return to his skin and he has hair
growing in. He is so excited. He looks like a little chia
he said. But, he was putting on the bergamot and he went
out in the sun and got burned really bad. He is not using
anything right now except the LLV and cleansing until this
Kari - My friends
little girl was just diagnosed with Vitiligo yesterday.
I looked it up in my book and told her what oils dōTERRA
recommends she uses and where she would rub them. She
is very leery about them. But I talked her into coming
to our class tonight and getting a free sample. She
asked me if she used this oil if the pigment would come back
in her little girls skin? Any ideas? Let me
Brooke - I don't know much about it -
but I remember Bergamot being suggested by Dr. Hill at last
year’s convention for Vitiligo. I don't know if it
brings the pigment back, or if it stops the disease from
spreading further - just from my notes.
Rob – Yes but be careful Bergamot is
photosensitive. Skin exposure to sunlight or ultra
violet light that has Bergamot or other citrus oils can
cause serious problems for up to 12 hours after being
applied. Because it is an autoimmune issue, I would
suggest Lavender and Frankincense applied twice daily with a
carrier or vitamin E if you like. Try on a less
conspicuous area initially. As it might also be an
immune issue that can be treated from the inside consider
GX Assist or other cleansings.
Lori B. - Hi, I've had vitiligo since I
was 18 and I'm now in my late 40's. Unfortunately I have not
found an essential oil (or anything else for that matter)
that has worked for this particular problem. I did
discuss this problem with Dr. Hill on one of his visits,
prior to doTerra introducing Bergamot, and he said that he
had not found anything that would help vitiligo. I
have not tried the Bergamot yet because of the
photosensitivity issue, also I'm not quite sure if I should
use it just topically or internally.
I know how frustrating vitiligo is since any contact
longer than about a half hour with direct sunlight causes
sunburn on the affected areas. My husband just
recently heard a study that mentioned how originally it was
thought that vitiligo sufferers were more prone to skin
cancer but the latest studies have revealed just the
opposite. Apparently there is something in our
metabolism that helps us fight cancer!
I would encourage your friend to start treating this
early because the longer you have vitiligo the more
aggressive it seems to get. I still have a lot of
natural pigment in my skin but I know several people who
have lost all of their pigment. I wish that I knew
when I first got vitiligo what I know now, I would have been
very aggressive in treating it from the beginning.
Sunny - About a year ago I noticed light
spots on my arms. I suspected it was vitiligo but it
was not officially diagnosed as such. I remembered at
the introduction of dōTERRA Bergamot oil that Dr. Hill had
mentioned it as a help for vitiligo. About six weeks
ago I began faithfully applying it topically to these spots
every morning. They are almost gone now. By the
way, I also use the Life Long Vitality supplements regularly
along with periodic GX Assist and Zendocrine cleanses.
Maybe it all has helped.
What Science & Research are saying
Editor's note: the following articles
describe the progress that has been going on wrt treatment
of vitiligo using derivatives of black pepper.
OHSU Oregon Health and Science
Oregon Health & Science University has licensed a family
of compounds derived from black pepper extract – on which it
owns the patents – to AdPharma, Inc. for potential
pharmaceutical development. The compounds have shown
potential in animal studies to be effective in treating
vitiligo, a skin pigmentation disorder.
Vitiligo, which afflicts an estimated 100 million people
worldwide, is characterized by the loss of pigment in
affected areas of skin. It is the disease pop star Michael
Jackson has publicly disclosed that he has. It is neither
life-threatening nor contagious. But the sometimes unsightly
white patches it causes produce emotional distress for many
and often lead to social ostracism because of a widespread
misperception that the condition is infectious.
An estimated 1 percent to 2 percent of the world’s
population suffers from the malady. Current treatments,
which rely on immunosuppression or ultraviolet radiation to
stimulate repigmentation, are only partially effective,
often producing a mottled appearance. Excessive ultraviolet
(UV) radiation also poses the risk of skin cancer.
“Based on the animal studies we have done, these
compounds, if proved safe in humans, promise far superior
results in the treatment of vitiligo than current
approaches,” said Amala Soumyanath, Ph.D., an associate
professor of neurology, OHSU School of Medicine. “Vitiligo
is a highly visible disease that can greatly affect patients
psychologically and emotionally, even driving some to
consider suicide. Any breakthrough in treating it would
benefit a huge number of people around the world.”
Soumyanath and her collaborators reported on the effects
of their compounds in animals in a paper just published in
the British Journal of Dermatology. But development of the
concept dates back more than a decade. Soumyanath discovered
– in research on vitiligo that she initiated at King’s
College London – that piperine, the alkaloid in black pepper
responsible for its pungency, stimulated the proliferation
of melanocytes in cell cultures. Melanocytes are the cells
that produce pigmentation in the skin. The researchers then
designed and tested many synthetic piperine analogs and
identified a number that produced the same result.
The group subsequently found that piperine and two of its
analogs – tetrahydropiperine (THP) and a cyclohexyl
derivative (RCHP) produced light, even pigmentation when
applied to the skin of a poorly pigmented mouse model. When
combined with UV radiation, the skin grew significantly
darker and showed none of the patchiness caused by UV
treatment alone. Moreover, skin pre-treated with a piperine
compound required fewer UV exposures, thus lowering the
cancer risk, and it took longer for the pigmentation to fade
again than when UV alone was used.
The Vitiligo Society
Piperine Breakthrough: Initial Research Funded By Vitiligo
by Jeff Corne - Trustee of the Vitiligo Society
It was eleven years ago, in “Dispatches”, that we
published the preliminary results of research by one of our
then trustees, Dr Amala Raman from Kings College London.
During an investigation of traditional Chinese and Indian
herbal remedies for vitiligo, she and her PhD student Zhixiu
Lin had discovered one particular plant, an extract of which
stimulated the proliferation of melanocytes in cell
Over the succeeding years this herb was revealed to be
black pepper and the active ingredient piperine. This work
was partly funded by the Vitiligo Society.
Because of a lack of resources and the departure of Amala
to the US, work on this project has been in abeyance for
some time. However, another team at King’s College has
taken up the challenge and the results of their work is to
be published shortly in the British Journal of
Dermatology. A press release from the British Association of
Dermatologists states, “They have discovered that
piperine - the compound that gives black pepper its spicy,
pungent flavour - and its synthetic derivatives can
stimulate pigmentation in the skin especially when combined
with UVR treatment.” The researchers compared the effects of
piperine and its analogues tetrahydropiperine (THP),
cyclohexyl analogue of piperine (CHP) and reduced CHP (rCHP)
when applied to the skin of mice, either alone or followed
by UVR. Treatment was also interrupted in certain groups to
see how long-term the effects would be. While CHP did not
show significant results, piperine, THP and rCHP did induce
pigmentation in the skin. Used alone, the compounds
stimulated pigmentation to an even, light brown colour
within six weeks. However, by accompanying the use of
piperine or THP with UVR, the skin became significantly
darker, and within only seven weeks. Furthermore, the
pigmentation was even, compared to the patchy pigmentation
caused by UVR treatment alone.
The researchers also found that for skin treated with a
piperine compound, just four exposures of UVR were
sufficient to significantly darken the skin. Again, when
using UVR alone, more than 10 exposures were needed to
produce a similar but less even response. The results also
took longer to fade in those treated with both a piperine
compound and UVR, and did not disappear completely. By
contrast, there was no remaining detectable pigmentation
within the same timeframe for skin treated only with UVR.
Additionally, when treatment was resumed, results were
noticeably faster in the group treated with piperine
compounds. The team believe that their remarkable findings
are due to piperine stimulating the production of the skin’s
pigment cells, called melanocytes.
Professor Antony Young, Photobiologist at St John’s
Institute of Dermatology, Guy’s Hospital, London, and one of
the study’s authors, said: “We have shown that topical
treatment with piperine stimulates even pigmentation in the
skin. Combining this with UVR significantly enhances
the pigmentation with results that are cosmetically better
than conventional vitiligo therapies. This provides strong
support for the future clinical evaluation of piperine and
its derivatives as novel treatments for vitiligo.”
Nina Goad of the British Association of Dermatologists
said: “These findings could potentially lead to the
development of treatments that not only provide improved
results, but could also reduce the need for UV radiation in
vitiligo treatment, in turn lowering the risk of skin
A word of caution. Despite the length of time that it has
taken to get to what is an early stage of possible drug
development, it will take many years of further research and
development before any successful treatment could be
available for general use.
PRESENT AND FUTURE OF PIPERINE BREAKTHROUGH:
by Roy Palmer - Consultant Dermatologist and Member of
the Society’s Medical and Scientific Advisory Panel.
This was a study of a potential novel approach to the
treatment of vitiligo, and it had exciting results. However,
there are two major hurdles that need to be overcome before
piperine (or one of its analogues) can be used to treat the
condition. Firstly, the safety of piperine needs to be
considered; anything that stimulates melanocytes may
conceivably increase the chance of melanoma, a type of skin
cancer. Secondly, this study used an artificial ‘model’; it
is obvious that there is a big difference between mice with
an unusual genetically programmed pigmentary abnormality,
and vitiligo in humans.
Nevertheless, if the issue of safety is satisfied, then a
clinical trial of piperine applied to the skin of people
with vitiligo, probably in association with phototherapy (eg.
narrow-band ultraviolet B therapy), would be very exciting.
It takes a long time for treatments to move from the
laboratory bench to becoming routinely available to treat
patients; if piperine does turn out to be a useful therapy
then this process will take many years.
From: British Journal of
Dermatology, Original Study by King’s College London
Vitiligo is estimated to affect about one in 100 people.
Current treatments include corticosteroids applied to the
skin, and phototherapy using UV radiation (UVR) to
re-pigment the skin. However, less than a quarter of
patients respond successfully to corticosteroids. And
UVR causes a re-pigmentation that is spotted and patchy and
in the long-term could lead to a higher risk of skin cancer.
The King's team examined the effects of piperine, and its
synthetic derivatives, when applied to the skin of mice,
either alone or followed by UVR. Used alone, piperine
and two of its derivatives stimulated pigmentation to an
even, light brown color within six weeks.
Combining the treatment with UVR the skin became darker
still. The effect was achieved much faster than using UVR
treatment alone, and lasted longer. In addition, the
combined therapy gave a much more even pigmentation than UVR
alone, which can often result in a patchy appearance.
The researchers believe that piperine stimulates the
production of the skin’s pigment cells, called melanocytes.
Researcher Professor Antony Young said: "We have shown that
topical treatment with piperine stimulates even pigmentation
in the skin. "Combining this with UVR significantly
enhances the pigmentation with results that are
cosmetically better than conventional vitiligo therapies."
Nina Goad, of the British Association of Dermatologists,
said: "Vitiligo is a highly visible disease that can greatly
affect patients psychologically and emotionally. Any
breakthrough in treatments of this disease is most welcome."
"These findings could potentially lead to the development
of treatments that not only provide improved results, but
could also reduce the need for UV radiation in vitiligo
treatment, in turn lowering the risk of skin cancer."