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Emily's vitiligo
By Eric Fricker

A low technology approach to vitiligo, published on the information super highway.

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First Revision, Copyright © 1997 by Eric Fricker
Second Revision, Copyright © June 1998 by Eric Fricker

Third Revision; recommending folate supplementation and food sources of vitamins over folic acid supplementation (see update below), Copyright © February 2012 by Eric Fricker

This book may be copied and distributed as long as this paragraph is also included. It is available free of charge, with a suggested value of two US dollars per download or printing. Actually any donation would be appreciated. So, if after reading it you feel helped by it, please send an expression of your gratitude to Eric Fricker, 265 Antigua Drive, Cocoa Beach, FL 32931. Or click the following icon to speed up the process.

Thank you very much for all of the gifts I have received to date.


This online book was updated on Sunday, February 12, 2012.

If you would like a professionally printed version of this book please go to the following web site, Emily laid the book out and I think she did an awesome job. The price is a bit high, but the quality of the book and the pictures are very nice.

If there was anything you disliked, send your constructive criticism to my email address: erericic <at>

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The information in this book is intended as general reference only, not as a substitute for medical consultation or treatment. Those who are ill or taking medication should not make dietary changes without professional supervision.


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Very Important Update (Sunday, February 12, 2012):


Use folate supplementation not folic acid. Better yet you should get your folate from whole plant foods like green leafy vegetables. In my recent readings I understand that folate is preferable over folic acid. I understand that there may be risks with too much folic acid so I have recommended to Emily that she take folate instead which is closer to the form of the vitamin found in food. This article discusses the concerns with folic acid I have made this choice and I thought you should be aware of it to make your own informed decision.

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About This Book

This book is the story of my daughter's skin disease and how it changed the lives of our family. We have witnessed and recorded her tremendous recovery, centered around nutritional changes. Since vitiligo is seen in only one percent of the population, there is not much information available on the disease. This book has been helpful to many people with vitiligo as well as parents of children with vitiligo.

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Comments About This Book

Overly processed foods including white flour, mayonnaise, vegetable oil, hydrogenated oils, dairy products, and TV dinners will, in time, damage anyone’s immune system to some extent. I am happy for you and your family that Emily has recovered, and I hope that others will learn the valuable lessons which you have so generously provided.
Lee Hitchcox, DC, Author of Long Life Now

I read your book and Bravo!!! I'm extremely impressed with the book, and I hope everyone with vitiligo stumbles upon it somehow.
H. "kee" Wanakee,

Man, I must say, "Well done!" Really.
John Petrik,

Your book is wonderful. Even more impressive than the content is the fact that you have put it on the Internet for all to look at.
Name withheld by request

Eric, I was moved by your story concerning Emily. Emily is a very lucky child to have parents, who have struggled to help her and find something to make her life easier. Bravo for you and your wife.
Margaret Roberts

You have both given me hope and identified my feelings (especially your wife's account).
Dottie Sunio

Thank you Eric for your inspiring, very detailed chronicle of your daughter’s vitiligo. It's now 3:00 am and I could not stop reading it. It gave me the most hope I have ever had about my own vitiligo which started a year ago. I think you should publish it (if you can), and a copy should go to all doctors dealing with this condition. The before and after photos were amazing!
M. Phillips

It was the first thing I found on the net about vitiligo that made any sort of sense to me. The photos you've listed are especially encouraging.

I went through your book and it proved to be a great inspiration for my battle with vitiligo.


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Success Stories

Here are a few success stories; I read them on the Vitiligo Support and Information Group (VSIG). These people have all had success repigmenting.

1. Emily Fricker
2. Wanakee's web page.
3. Adam Rich,

Sent: Monday, August 30, 1999 8:30 PM
Subject: progress
This is the Vitiligo Support and Information Group (VSIG)
Here is a few words of motivation.
I am 20 yrs old, and I have had vitiligo for as long as I can remember. It affects nearly every part of my body. I have never seen repigmentation, and have never tried any sort of treatment for my vitiligo, until I subscribed to this list. Here I learned about the different vitamin supplements and decided to give them a try... and to my surprise, I'm starting to notice some freckling! One patch in particular, was about the size of a silver dollar and has started freckling so much that it looks more like a collection of smaller spots than one large one. Here again is the supplements I'm taking daily:
600mg St. John's Wort Concentrate
2000mcg B-12
2000mcg Folic Acid
300mg Milk Thistle Concentrate
Length of time: 1-2 months
Sun exposure: None

4. Beverly McDonald, bzmac@OLS.NET

Sent: Tuesday, August 31, 1999 9:18 AM
Subject: [VITILIGO] dosages I am taking......
This is the Vitiligo Support and Information Group (VSIG)
I wrote a few weeks ago that I have started repigmenting ..and a few wrote in and wanted me to post what I am doing:
400 mg Milk Thistle
2000 mcg B12
2000 mcg folic acid
3 Allergy Caps by Twin labs..3 x daily (vitamins)
l000 vitamin C
DMAE-H3 (liquid Paba) mixed with Kiss My Face Calendula/honey lotion on my spots
l5 minutes to 30 minutes of natural sunlight a day after applying the liquid paba/lotion
I have a juicer, I am using daily.....also a low fat (yuk) diet of veggies, some chicken and fish...NO RED MEAT sugars ..salt....or dairy products. Trying to drink 8 glasses of water a day and exercising to keep my mind clear...... that and chasing after 3 kids... I have an appointment next week with the dermatologist...but she will not let me use the pseudo cat. cream...that everybody is talking about. She is against it ..even though I have "begged". I'll try again...but as I am repigmenting, although slowly ..without it ..think
Ill just stick to what I'm doing now!
much luck to everyone.......

5. Heather,

Sent: Tuesday, September 07, 1999 6:41 PM
Subject: (no subject)
Eric, I have finally gotten on the net. I talked to you about my son and his vitiligo. We saw the dermatologist and she confirmed my fears but gave no hope. I spoke with you and you suggested I begin by taking dairy out of his diet. Two weeks later you cannot see any pigmentation loss. AMAZING I am so grateful to you for your work and hope Emily is doing great. I’m sorry this is so patchy but this is the 1st e-mail I have sent. Hope you feel special. My e-mail is Hope to here from you soon.

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This book is dedicated to my wife Susan and our children Kyle, Emily and Katie, as well as the many people suffering from vitiligo.

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You Go

You came into my life,
was there a reason?
Wherever Emily goes, you go,
you pesky vitiligo.

One day it will be just her,
healthy through and through.
Slowly you'll leave her,
until the day that you're gone.

I won't miss you a bit.
I won't see you again,
you pesky vitiligo. One day I will say,
vitiligo, where did you go?

Was there a reason that you left?
We made many changes,
which one worked?
You are a puzzle, vitiligo.

Here is another vitiligo poem I really liked.

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I want to thank the members of the Vitiligo Support and Information Group (VSIG) for their help. When I was having trouble handling the mental aspects of this disease, they were there to comfort me.

Thanks to Susan Rizzo for being there, when we needed to learn how to cook good vegetarian meals.

Thanks to Mark and Jill Vigeant for teaching me the importance of eating raw vegetables and vegetable juices for healthy skin and for Mark's library of alternative health related books.

I am also grateful to Sandy Konkel for the mind-body connection, Dr. Montes for his book, Vitiligo, Nutritional Therapy, John Robbins for the food, body and environment connection, Dr. John McDougall, Dr. Dean Ornish and Dr. Neal Barnard for their low fat approach to health, and Lee Hitchcox for his exercise inspiration. Thank you to Earle Harris, also known as the Peas Pilgrim, for helping us live a simpler life.

Special thanks to Joe Cabezut for proofreading the text, Alec Patvalds for helping me surf the net via email when the web was still young, and Mike McCracken for converting my VCR pictures into JPG images. Thanks to Jeff Palin for his help scanning images and Sue Pagano for the most excellent picture of Emily on the cover.

Thank you, Emily, for opening our eyes.

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Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Our Search For Information
Chapter 2 Parents' Perspective
Spontaneous Repigmentation
Chapter 3 Lifestyle
Why Have We Done This?
How Did We Change Our Food Choices?
Chapter 4 Diagnosis
Chapter 5 Treatment
Chapter 6 Typical Weekly Meal Plan
Chapter 7 Don't Give Up
Comparison (before and after)
Chapter 8 VSIG and Other Resources
Animal Testing
Appendix A Email
Appendix B Dr. Montes
Appendix C My Cholesterol Levels
About the Author

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One of my favorite things to do, when I have the time, is to put together a jigsaw puzzle. A jigsaw puzzle comes with a picture, the way it should look after it has been put together. We knew how Emily’s skin should look, and this is a story of how we helped her put the pieces together.

I thought we might start working our vitiligo puzzle out by visiting our pediatrician. Our son had been climbing trees earlier and had some funny looking spots on him. The pediatrician told us that they would just fade away and they did. So we thought the same would happen for Emily. We were in for the shock of our lives. We were given a brochure explaining vitiligo, a skin disease that turns your skin milk-white in patches.

The goal of this book is to present a method that an average person can follow to achieve permanent results. These results do not apply just to vitiligo, they affect all aspects of your health. This includes everything from your cholesterol level to high blood sugar, as well as pigment. Most of the things we did to treat Emily's vitiligo are things we should all do to support health and support the body's ability to heal itself.

This book deals with trying to repigment the vitiligo plaques to match the original skin pigment. Others have been successful in depigmenting the remainder of their skin to match the vitiligo plaques. Still others have successfully used camouflage to cover the vitiligo plaques. All of these are valid options and are discussed regularly on the Vitiligo Support and Information Group (VSIG). Many people we have talked to, have had success with homeopathic doctors. I don't have any experience with them, but before we made any progress I was considering it. We viewed each of these as potential options, that if we were not successful in repigmenting, we would consider them more closely.

To every Ph.D., there is an equal and opposite Ph.D.

B. Duggan

In fact, we did visit a local acupuncturist at one point. He said Emily's vitiligo was too far along for him to help her. He was very negative and right in front of Emily he told my wife that she would never get better. I would love to show him her progress now. It is sad to think that health care providers can be so callous. That negative attitude could easily have taken the wind out of our sails. I am lucky to be an eternal optimist and we persisted. Health care providers should mention to their patients that although they may have nothing to offer, there are other treatment approaches that they don't know anything about, allopathy, homeopathy, naturopathy, mind body counseling, stress management techniques, ayurveda. Never take away the patient's hope and say they will have to live with it. Say, "I don't have anything to offer but there may be other choices available down the street".

We did not get much help from the local medical doctors. I got the feeling that they wanted to work with someone that had a disease they knew more about. When I started asking questions they started getting "short" with me. How could I question the MD? I apologize to caring doctors reading this out there, this is just my experience with a few local doctors. Vitiligo is not something you can handle in a fifteen minute office visit, the initial visit should take at least an hour, with lots of questions, answers and some hand holding. I know there are caring doctors out there. They are just so hard to find when you first get this disease. My suggestion is to read as much as you can, because you must be more knowledgeable about this disease than the doctors you talk to. That is the only way you will be able to judge the treatments they offer. After reading this story you will see the lengths that a father will go to, when the medical community tells you there is nothing that can be done.

I am not a doctor, so consult your physician before attempting any self-treatment. Be warned that you will probably know more about vitiligo than your family doctor after reading this book and spending a few days on the Internet. Discuss the ideas that you read about with your doctor. With an open mind and some perseverance you will succeed in repigmenting.

It's time to take the shrink-wrap off of the puzzle and get to work.

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Chapter 1

Our Search for Information

Every year for Christmas someone gives me a jigsaw, it's almost a family tradition. It is the only time of year that I have time to work it. When we started working with Emily and her vitiligo I envisioned it as a large jigsaw.

We Needed Information

Vitiligo was not and still is not a household word. The Internet was still young. I had a hard time finding any information about vitiligo. Learning about the National Vitiligo Foundation Inc. gave us some relief. It was probably the best thing that came from our visits to the dermatologists. We had so many questions, we found that sending mail was too slow and cumbersome, phone calls were expensive. The Internet was where we found fast answers and some comfort.

I had experience using email. A friend and I were experimenting at work with email mailing lists. We downloaded a huge file of mailing lists that discussed all kinds of issues. None of them were specific to or remotely connected to vitiligo. I had seen the power of these mailing lists, their ability to connect like-minded individuals was fantastic. One person could send a question out to hundreds, in some cases thousands of people, interested in the same subject. You could get an answer back in a few minutes to a few hours. For a parent that needs an answer this could be a godsend. It turns out to be a good way to meet friends as well. Members of VSIG join for information and support. As they learn more from other members, they can then offer support to new members. There is something healing about being able to support and help another. I can't tell you how many people have contacted me and told me that they no longer feel alone in the world with their vitiligo. These are people who had lived for many years, now middle aged adults, who had never spoke to anyone else who had vitiligo.

The implications of this new tool are not easily seen by the uninitiated. I remember when I first suggested the idea to the National Vitiligo Foundation Incorporated (NVFI). They thought it was an interesting idea but couldn't see any practical use. Today 750 people from around the world (more than 30 countries and at least four languages) discuss vitiligo and offer support to those that need it. VSIG has become a close-knit Internet community. We argue, complain, piss and moan, try to hypothesize a cure, cry, and laugh. We discuss similarities and differences. Most importantly we talk to others who have had success repigmenting. This is where research dollars should be spent, studying the success stories, not studying chickens.

Another reason these mailing lists appealed to me was that when you deal in email you don't necessarily have to see the person you are talking to. I felt that with vitiligo this could be a benefit. I was in a situation once where we turned out the lights in a crowded room and in candlelight discussed sensitive topics. I noticed that in the room, with the lights down low, people were more willing to open up and express themselves, than when the lights were on and everyone could see them talk. Back then I used to think of myself as shy, when the lights went out I felt it was easier to express my opinion.

I felt that the same rule could apply with vitiligo. Without seeing the person you are talking to, you are less likely to develop preconceived opinions about the person. You don't know the sex, race religion, economic status, the car they drive, if they have vitiligo or if their child or friend has it, you can't even hear their accent. What you see in your in-box is what you get. As a result VSIG has become a tremendous success. People pour their hearts out in an atmosphere of acceptance. No one wants to be different and email puts everyone on the same level ground. The only limiting factor is your ability to use the language and your keyboard. It is like a continuous group therapy session.

Finally all of the messages sent to the list are archived. Members of the list can search past posts to the list, to read previous discussions of anything related to vitiligo. You want to learn about pseudo catalase, search the archives.

Creating a Mailing List

So I set out to start a mailing list. All I needed was software and a computer to run it on. Without a direct connection to the internet or even World Wide Web access (this was before Netscape) this was not going to be an easy task, but I had email and I was determined to make it work. I asked at work if I could set it up on their computers, but was rejected. I started sending email every day, to everyone I could think of. I started this on a VAX VT100 mainframe computer system that was completely text based. I finally found a tool that turned out to be a huge help.

It was a UseNet filter. UseNet is an area on the Internet where people post notes, similar to the bulletin board at your local public library. One big difference is the size and the frequency of notes added to the board. The UseNet can be accessed by anyone in the world with Internet access. You can imagine that the ability to filter out the word "vitiligo" from all of the words posted to the UseNet daily would be a huge help.

I would get a daily message with every usage of the word vitiligo. I got lots of junk. People talking about Michael Jackson, questioning whether he really had vitiligo. I have since talked to a member of VSIG who said he met Michael, the Jackson's performed at his high school dance, where they compared their vitiligo. Other people would talk about pets that have vitiligo.

Back to my story. Out of the junk, I would find a name or two of people concerned with vitiligo. I would send notes to these people. Asking for help. Many thought a mailing list would be a great idea, but none knew how to go about it. This is how I met John Petrik. John had a positive attitude and he really fueled my fire.

Then I heard about National Public Telecomputing Network (NPTN). Kind of like Public Radio, but with an Internet twist. They offered free Internet access to people in cities all over the US. I contacted them and finally someone said yes, they could set me up. It took what seemed to be forever, over a month of negotiating with different people.

In the process, I was put in contact with Dr. Bob Zenhausern at St. John's University in New York City. He was able to set us up immediately. He also had better software than NPTN so I jumped on the opportunity. Dr. Bob and the system administrator at St. John's (Paul 'Kary' Karagianis) have been tremendous. They have since set me up with three other listservs. They also allowed John Petrik to create a sister list to VSIG, which is the VSIG-Lab (doctors and health care professionals only).

I guess I felt that all this work would help me, eventually. I had the need to talk to others about vitiligo. The more people I talked to the better my chances of finding a cure. One thing was sure, I couldn't talk to my wife about it. She would just clam up, she couldn't face it. Just ignore it and it will go away. I am sure I didn't make it easy for her to talk about, I was very frustrated, frustrated with the disease and with not being able to talk to her about it. It wasn't healthy for either of us and it wasn't helping Emily either. I occasionally had difficulty talking about it, but sending email about it was easier for me.

It seemed easier to talk to strangers, thousands of miles away, than to friends. It is a very emotional disease. Have you noticed that when you meet someone with vitiligo, you tend not to talk about it. At least that was the case with me. It is easier for me to talk to people I meet about their vitiligo now. I have stepped out of my comfort zone so many times now that talking about it is almost second nature. I start by saying, "My daughter has vitiligo, is that what you have?" or "You know my daughter has white spots on her skin, just like yours.". So far I have not had a negative response and I find most people would like to talk about it.

Let's dump the box out onto a large table and start working the jigsaw.

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Chapter 2

Parents' Perspective

We had all the pieces to the jigsaw and as emotional beings we stood staring at the pieces frozen in panic. Panic because we knew we had to put it all together but not knowing where to start. We were worried about the future, what it would be like if we didn't or couldn't get it together. But not knowing where to start and worrying about the future were not going to help us put this puzzle together. We had to take the first step. Spread the pieces out on the table and start turning them right side up.

Our Fear of Vitiligo and Inability to Face the Problem

I think my fear of vitiligo was concerning the teenage years. I had a fairly easy teen life and I wanted Emily to have the same or easier time of it. Susie and I spent quite a few nights crying ourselves to sleep. I can remember a few nights when I was shaking and sobbing, that is from a guy who unfortunately doesn't cry very often (macho-macho man). We were concerned about how others might treat her. It helps you realize the old saying, "You can't judge a book by its cover", is so true. If this disease has done anything it has helped us see others in a different and more compassionate light.

A pressing problem was the way the other children treated her on the playground and at school. We have been lucky in that we are in a very small school and have stayed there for all of Emily's schooling. My wife, Susan, shared a brochure published by the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) with her teachers. It explained about vitiligo and that it was not contagious. Now Emily very rarely gets asked or teased about her vitiligo.

Susie’s Thoughts on Emily's Vitiligo

I guess I have dealt with writing this section of the book for you much like I dealt with the fact that my daughter Emily had a condition, situation, affliction, disease I don't know what to call it. As long as I don't think or talk about it... it can't be happening. Well that kind of thinking if you want to call it that can lead to problems. OK so here I have this perfectly wonderful life, three kids, a sweet and supportive husband and I'm finishing up my last bit of schooling on my way to a big Bachelor of Arts degree. When all of the sudden one spring day my sweet beautiful Emily gets these two little white spots on the tops of her feet. I always thought they looked like someone spilled a little milk on her and where the liquid hit is where the mark was left... funny huh... Anyway I take her to a local dermatologist due to a mild concern about it on my part. He takes one look at it and says it looks like vitiligo. At this point my mind is racing to find where I've heard that word before. He says you know... the disease (?) Michael Jackson has. Then it hits me that is where I've heard it. Holy cow I'm thinking... a disease that turned a black man white... my daughter has that. Inside I'm freaking but I calmly ask him what we can do about it. Well at this point he says simply not much but here is a brochure that explains the condition and some treatments that are available. So I thank him for what I now will call the brochure from hell because I think reading those few pages on vitiligo absolutely scared me to death. Words like, "while it is not a physically debilitating condition the social stigma of the disease could prove very difficult, counseling should be considered, if it progresses to such an extent there is treatment to get rid of all the pigment bla bla bla".

Well honestly I think that is the point when I first started shutting down. I was in a major state of denial as to what was happening to Emily. Fall came and school started for the kids and me. There was not much time spent at the beach or sunning ourselves. While I noticed that more and more white spots were appearing on Emily I just wasn't getting to worked up about it, I think, I was in the, this isn't happening mode. The holidays came and went and school started again but for me it was a different story. I was taking 15 credits just to see if I could handle the load for a possible future in law school and also so I could then graduate in May. The semester was busy. Looking back, I don't even know how I did it except that my Eric basically took over when homework called, which was always.

Again... we were not beaching it as it was still cool and I was so busy that I don't even remember thinking much about Emily's condition. Then in May it hit me like a ton of bricks. I did graduate, the weather warmed up and we were out in the sun. All of the sudden Emily's body got tanned except for the spots that now to me seemed to have a mind of their own and were spreading everywhere. I guess the contrast between her tanned skin and the spots really made things show up. At this point, I could not deny it anymore and I was miserable about it. Every time though, that I even thought about talking about it to Eric I would get choked up. I did not want to cry, I did not want to be upset so I would just say nothing. Some of my friends provided shoulders for me to cry on, but a lot of the times, to comfort me, things like "well at least it's not a life threatening disease" were said in hopes of easing my distress. There was a part of me screaming inside that, "life threatening or not this is my beautiful girl and why should she have to deal with this" and, "if it was your beautiful girl/boy how would you feel?" I mean here I'm thinking how horrible I felt as a teenager because I had zits on my chest and how I went to great lengths to hide them and I have a daughter that might have great big white splotches on her hands, neck, god forbid her face. How in the heck can she hide that! Needless to say I should have shared these thoughts then and I probably would have gotten through this so much easier and been a much bigger help to my husband in his quest to search for a cure/reason for this disease. As Eric spent hours upon hours researching and researching I completely ignored what he was doing. I guess it was just what I had to do for me at that time. I remember vaguely that somehow I finally got to the point where I just cried like a baby to him about the whole-blessed situation, which is my mode. Store up feelings inside until they explode. And he was finally able to share with me all the findings of his research and he could discuss it with me without me freaking out, well sort of. You see, there is still a part of me that blames my last term of school on Emily's spread of vitiligo.

We learned that stress plays a part. During that four months things were pretty crazy and quite stressful. I was very unavailable to my children While Eric did pick up the slack of my absence I can never stop wondering if life hadn't been so crazy then would things have turned out different. Anyway I probably beat myself up about that for now. But you said to put it down on paper so here it is.

Denial is a large river in Egypt.

Unknown Author

After reading that section you may wish that Susie had written the entire book, she is a passionate lady and that is part of her beauty. Back to the world according to Eric. Susie has expressed well that, vitiligo is very much a mental disease as well as a physical disease. Before you can attempt to get rid of the physical plaque, you have to be prepared mentally for the challenge. I don't know if this will help but, I have listed the good that has come of Emily's vitiligo here (I suggest that you try this exercise).

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We have started eating healthier.

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I am more compassionate to others. My circle of compassion has expanded.

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VSIG was started and has touched many lives.

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We started a local chapter of EarthSave International in Cocoa Beach.

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We have simplified our lives.

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I wrote a book and created a web page.

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I have been invited to speak to different groups. I even spoke at an "Alliance for Holistic Healing" meeting. If you had told me years ago that I would be speaking to them about preventative medicine, I would have thought you were crazy.

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I have met some wonderful, famous doctors and health practitioners (John McDougall, Neal Barnard, Michael Klapper, Lee Hitchcox).

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I have even been reacquainted with old friends who have also been affected by vitiligo.

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We have made friends with other parents, whose children have vitiligo.

Spontaneous Repigmentation

I have read about spontaneous repigmentation in vitiligo patients. Call it the engineer (read engin-nerd for those of you married to one) in me, but I have a hard time believing the spontaneous part of the repigmentation. I believe there must have been some kind of a lifestyle change or behavior modification that came first, IMHO. I believe that if it went away something changed that made it go away. The use of these two words seems to me to be the easy way out. Any case of spontaneous repigmentation should be cataloged and closely studied. This is where the cure for vitiligo will come from, not from studying animal models. Even if it was caused by a hormonal change as an individual passed through a life change.

I have had a friend joke "so looks like Emily grew out of it", even though I knew he was joking it drove me crazy. It is like saying I just grew out of my high cholesterol problem. I think the reason I have problems with phrases like these is, I may never be able to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that Emily did not "just grow out of it" or that it wasn't spontaneous repigmentation. I can only sympathize with Dr. Dean Ornish, when he was trying to prove that he could reverse heart disease with lifestyle changes. Of course Ornish finally did prove that he could reverse heart disease, so one day I may be able to prove that Emily's repigmentation wasn't spontaneous. I do believe that lifestyle changes can change the course of disease, and I believe I have seen this many times in my own family.

A study using techniques similar to the ones that Dr. Ornish used could easily be performed on vitiligo patients. Using a control group and a group following the methods I describe later in this book, nutrition, mind body counseling, natural psoralen, and support groups. We would take pictures of all the patients. The control group would go to their dermatologist and follow the standard advice. At yearly intervals we could see the results, statistically we could compare the progress made by each group.

Another study would involve vitiligo affected human skin grown in a laboratory. Using varying amounts of the vitamins mentioned by Dr. Montes in Vitiligo, Nutritional Therapy we could test their effect on skin that contained vitiligo. In this experiment you may need to vary the skin types (darker and lighter, hairy and not hairy) and vitiligo types (symmetrical, segmental).

It has also occurred to me that we might use population studies to help understand why a country like India (8.8%) could have such a high rate of vitiligo, while the United States (1%), Europe (0.4%) and Russia (0.1%) have comparatively low rates.

We could study this thing to death but right now there are many people looking for a safe and effective treatment. It reminds me of the following story told by Denis Burkitt, MD, in Foods Can Save Your Life by Neal Barnard. Dr. Burkitt had just finished a speech about colon cancer and its relationship to diverticular disease and going further its relationship to a lack of dietary fiber. A man approached him and said

'I understand what you are talking about, but I'm not going to advise anybody until I understand all the mechanisms and have double-blind trials, and what have you.' 'Well,' I said, Diverticular disease is going to take a sixty-year trial, so it'll be your grandson writing up the last paper. If you were on a pier and your son fell into the water, I know what you'd do. If you had a life jacket in your hand, you wouldn't throw it to him. You'd say, "I'm not sure of the specific gravity of this life jacket, and I don't really know whether it fits my son. I think I'll go back to the lab. I'll do three more weeks' work on my life jacket, then I'll come back to the harbor and, if Jimmy's still swimming around, I'll throw him the life jacket'

There are a lot of vitiligo patients out there that need a life jacket, unfortunately there aren't any coast guard approved jackets laying around. Do not despair, there are clues available to safe treatments that can keep you afloat, they may even get you back to shore.

You Are Not Alone

One percent (1%) of the world population is estimated to have vitiligo, which is one person out of one hundred. That may seem like a large percentage. When I first heard that number I said, no way, it couldn't be, I thought it had to be a smaller percentage, I just couldn't remember seeing that many people with vitiligo. The more you think about it, people use camouflage, cover up with clothing or just have a minor case of it. I was surprised to find out that a neighbor has it, two of the guys I work with have it and a close friend has it. I remember seeing someone with vitiligo once as a child, a friend and I, were at the local gas station. I asked my friend and he told me very seriously that it came about because the person spilled gasoline on herself. At the time I accepted his analysis, now I know better. For a long time I avoided gasoline.

Dr. Leopoldo Montes and his book Vitiligo, Nutritional Therapy has helped us formulate a nutritional regime for Emily. In a letter I received from Dr. Montes on 6-13-95 he told me "Leading vitiligo experts in India, a country with about 8% of the population suffering from vitiligo, agree that the nutritional basis for many cases of this condition are real." From what I understand India is a country with a high percentage of malnourished people. I have read on VSIG that in India, young girls that have vitiligo are ostracized. Fortunately in the US (land of the Barbie doll) it is not currently that bad, but the outer image is still very important to many. We may not ostracize the person openly and publicly as in India, we do it subtly. Where people are not accepted into the in group, for whatever reason. I do believe we are becoming a more open and accepting society in general, it is just in less educated pockets that you might see this kind of thinking. Later in this book I will describe in detail the nutritional approach we follow.

Looser, looser, double looser, as if, whatever, get the picture, duh!

-My children, talking to me, totally, for sure.

For now let's look at a few posts from VSIG on the subject of India and Vitiligo. I have included them here to give you an example of some of the variety of information you will read about on VSIG. They also allude to the strategy that we have been successful with.

Message Number 1 of 3:
Subject: [VITILIGO] Cultural attitudes
This is the Vitiligo Support and Information Group (VSIG)

Hi all,

I've been sitting here musing. It's a glorious summer day; I'm wearing a sleeveless top, which shows off several of my patches to their best advantage, and long trousers. Why the trousers? Well, for one thing I feel more comfortable in them, but specifically today - well, to be frank, I didn't have time to shave my legs this morning. This got me thinking - why don't I mind showing my patches, but I'm shy about body hair? I've got a theory on that: does anyone remember some of the rather cruel jokes that used to make the rounds about Germanic (German, Swedish etc.) girls' underarm hair? I walked straight into that when I first came to England as a happily hairy 20-year-old Swiss girl. I've been here ever since, give or take a couple of years, and guess what? I've gone through the full range of hair-removing equipment. So it's not as though I'm insensitive to others' opinion of my appearance...

And all that got me wondering has anybody done any research on attitudes to vitiligo (by both people who have it and the societies they live in) in different cultures/countries? In particular, in cultures which are basically of Northern European extraction? Are for example Swedes, who seem to have a pretty relaxed attitude to their bodies in general, less bothered about it? Or is the issue one of conformity, and whether one society tolerates "deviance from the norm" more easily than another? Slightly off-topic, I admit and apologize, but it might be useful to think these things over to get to the bottom of what it actually is that bothers us about our vitiligo. Any opinions?

Message Number 2 of 3:
Subject: Re: [VITILIGO] Cultural attitudes
This is the Vitiligo Support and Information Group (VSIG)

Hi Peps I remember reading once that Gandhi said vitiligo caused a lot of suffering in India because people often confused it with leprosy. Those who had vitiligo were shunned; don't know if it's still the same today. He hoped there would be a cure found soon. Don't we all?
best wishes

Message Number 3 of 3:
Subject: Re: [VITILIGO] Cultural attitudes
This is the Vitiligo Support and Information Group (VSIG)

Hi Elizabeth:
Yes, people in rural parts of India (mostly uneducated) still Confuse Vitiligo with Leprosy and yes they are shunned even today. Especially young girls who develop this condition during their puberty and teen years in villages live a terrible life. Most never get married; many rely on their extended families to take care of them for life. Someday I will post actual case studies (makes interesting reading) from my grandpa's medical files (he was a Dr. of traditional Indian medicine called 'Ayurveda', practiced for 45 years and passed away in 1981).

By the way, for the benefit of diet advocates on this list, my grandpa treated a lot of Vitiligo Patients during his medical career and he always put them on special diet for at least six weeks and special purgatives for one week before treating them with "Bavachi" extract (Plant Psoralens in natural form) and sunlight. The special diet was very simple, almost fat free and excluded many food items like Onions, cheeses, meat, milk/milk products, fried stuff (no oils), alcohol, tobacco and some hot spices. [Could we now theorize that may be these foods cause higher intradermal production/accumulation of H2O2 in Catalase deficient patient?] He always maintained that inadequate sleep and fatty diet in wrong combination produced vitiligo in genetically predisposed individuals. This condition was only treatable in some individuals if the diet and lifestyle were corrected first followed by Psoralen/natural sun light. Success depended on the age of vitiligo condition (older patches were difficult to treat) and patient's adherence to this strict regimen. He also once mentioned that Vitiligo was a "condition" not a "disease" and was manifestation of different but related causes in different patients. That is why this treatment was not suitable for some. (This might explain unsuccessful double blind studies).

Well, I only wrote this (a boring article) to open up a healthy debate on this subject and may be inviting subscribers who have already experimented with strict diet regimens to hear their stories. The worst thing you can do is to eat onions and drink milk (or milk products) in a single sitting (this makes Pizza with cheese and onions a bad combination food) and then starve the body of sleep. Anybody with experience out there?

S. Shah, MS

Rigidity of Modern Medicine

Could nutrition effect health? The food we eat three times a day. I began to read about doctors who were successful with nutritional therapy or using nutrition preventatively for a variety of diseases like heart disease, diabetes, cancer and vitiligo. The problem was none of the local doctors had heard of it. We had a pediatrician and two dermatologists tell us there was nothing we could do, ignore it, live with it. They said she was too young for PUVA. Turns out now that I am glad they said these things. It helped us open our minds to look for alternatives, to ask questions. We just couldn't accept what they told us. Our doctors didn't even recommend steroids, which some doctors do recommend for vitiligo. I am glad we didn't use steroids, but I am not knocking any parent or vitiligo patient that is using them. If things had been different in our lives we may have went that direction. I just want to say that at this point, looking back on our journey, I am glad we didn't have to make that choice. I have concerns about the drugs that we are asked to use by our doctors. I am concerned about steroids and their immune suppressing effect. I might be willing to use it for a short period, but not for a long term treatment and vitiligo requires a long-term lifestyle change.

My father was dying as I wrote this book. He had prostate cancer, coronary heart disease, diabetes and the cancer had moved to his bones and lungs. I had to witness firsthand what happens when you don't practice preventative medicine. It is very painful to watch, but it is also showing me and I hope my children, the benefits of living a simpler lifestyle. More in touch with nature, more compassionate. If you are lucky it may help reverse your vitiligo, I know for certain it will help in other areas of your life. My Dad was taking a soup of different drugs, at least seven different drugs from four different doctors. An interesting side note is that the doctors were giving my father rat poison to thin his blood. Yet when I asked if it was all right to give him an enzyme pill to help him digest his food, they became very concerned about the health implications of giving him these enzymes. I realize the reason that the rat poison was used and I also realize it was used in minute doses. It is just in this atmosphere where doctors get frequent flyer miles to prescribe high blood pressure medicine. Chemical companies make money without consideration for the damage they do to the environment. The chemicals they make are then studied for their effects on humans (using animal models). There seems to be no money available to test the simplest of herbs, and prevention is barely taught. We live in a very strange time in medical history.

I am sorry to imply blame on anyone. I am not interested in blame or in judgment in any way. I do not blame my Dad for his prostate cancer, just as I don't blame anyone for his or her vitiligo. All I am saying is that, in my humble opinion, we can have a positive effect on our health by following some basic preventative guidelines. For instance in 1996 the American Cancer Society said "Increase of risk of prostate cancer is associated with animal fat, red meats and dairy products, suggesting that saturated fat may be involved." Of course this was too late for my father, if he had known this 50 years ago, he might have had a chance. My father was a lively and vibrant 70-year-old, who was stopped, in his tracks by this disease. I believe that we can use this same preventative information, to produce an environment that will promote healing, even for vitiligo. Blame is not part of healing.

"How good it is to be well-fed, healthy, and kind all at the same time!"
Henry Heimlich, M.D. (invented Heimlich Maneuver)

In any statistical sample there will be an outlier, like Winston Churchill or George Burns, don't let their success stop you from taking positive action today for your own health. I believe it will help your vitiligo, and I guarantee it will help other areas of your health and the health of your family. Future generations will benefit from the changes you make today. These new habits once learned by your children will be passed on for many generations to come. If you don't have children, your actions will have a tremendous effect on your friends. Most people are interested in living a healthier lifestyle; we just need positive role models to help us along the way. As we change our lifestyles we become those positive role models. Others realize that if you can do it, they can too.

You are probably asking, what changes? What does cancer have to do with vitiligo and saturated fat? Trust me I will get there, eventually.

Peter Lynch, in his book One Up On Wall Street, said that the individual investor has a better chance of making money in the market than the large institutional investors. He reasoned that the individual was not encumbered by the rules that the institutions were under. They could buy as little or as much of any stock in any sector that they had funds to invest. In the same way, I believe individuals have a better chance of healing themselves or their loved ones, of a chronic disease like vitiligo, than a doctor does. The doctors are restricted by the AMA and the FDA as to which drugs they can use to cure someone. A doctor may not see it this way, these organizations have been put in place to standardize and test available treatments. Doctors must also be concerned about litigation. There are financial incentives for doctors to prescribe certain drugs. Medical insurance companies discourage services that are outside of the standard. The problem is that instead of being about healing, it has become a moneymaking juggernaut. Often times the high ideals required for healing are not always the same ones required for making money. In the current environment if your doctor were interested in trying some kind of "mind body" approach to healing, other doctors would in my opinion, ridicule them for being unscientific. In the current environment they can't even consider herbs or vitamins. Medical practitioners must feel trapped within this double blind system, at least when they deal with chronic disease. Money and fear double blind the system.

I actually feel sorry for the dermatologist that said there was nothing that we could do. He had worked himself into a belief that it was his way or the highway. It was his belief that the alternative health care professions don't offer anything. He must have felt that the millions of people who spend their money on alternatives are just wasting their money. When he told us to go home and just live with it, I wonder if he really believed that he had earned the fee he charged. There is wisdom in the large group of people choosing alternative health care, and their wisdom should not be discounted.

An unexpected feeling is gratitude, I am actually grateful for the unbending belief of modern medicine. This rigid belief that their way is the only way, helped wake me up. It made me realize that there is never just one way. It helped me to search for a way that would work in our family.

We had taken the first step, in our case the parents had to heal before the child. We had to face the problem and we were now ready to do so. Then we could take the small steps required to solve any puzzle. This took a long time but it was the foundation of our future work.

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Chapter 3


Next step in puzzle solving was to find the pieces with the straight edges. I like to work the border first. This gives me a frame to work in. In this regard our treatment was to rearrange our lifestyle. We brought our lifestyle into alignment with healthy living. We changed our food choices and simplified our lives.

Why Have We Done This?

Emily's vitiligo made us reevaluate our entire lives. Anytime the conversation about health came up and it is surprising how often this happens, we listened. We did a lot of listening and reading. So I started researching the disease and health in general. At the time I had a cholesterol level of 242 (2 points away from the average for a heart attack victim, 244) and I was experimenting with natural ways to reduce my cholesterol. My father had adult onset diabetes, which he controlled for years with a pill and had just started injecting insulin a few years earlier. My blood sugar level had just crossed the threshold into the high range. So there were a lot of good reasons to start studying and changing. I could accept that these things were my inherited traits, which I could do nothing about, or I could do something about them. I chose the high road.

Loyalty to a petrified opinion never broke a chain or freed a human soul.

Mark Twain

Dr.'s didn't have much to offer Emily in the way of a cure and in fact what they did offer had the potential to screw up her liver. We went to the local library and read the Physicians’ Desk Reference concerning the pharmaceutical grade psoralens one dermatologist recommended, it didn't give us a warm feeling. Most doctors said we shouldn't do anything until she was 12 years old. Their PUVA treatment didn't exactly offer me much hope. After reading the next quote (Klaus, S. and Lerner, A. B., Vitiligo. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatologists, 5:997-1000, 1984) you may see why;

A combination of an orally ingested drug (psoralens) and the exposure to long-wave ultraviolet light (PUVA) has become a popular form of therapy. Although this treatment may improve the appearance of a patient it rarely induces total repigmentation. Repigmenting therapy often takes several years and requires a tremendous expenditure of time by both the physician and the patient. The basic defect that led to the destruction of the pigment cells is not corrected. Because of the disappointing results patients are often rebuffed or advised to ignore the white patches or to cover them with cosmetics.

Then there are the questions about how permanent the repigmentation is after using PUVA. This caused us to lean away from PUVA, in search of a solution to the "basic defect". Admit it if I could give you a pill a day that would correct the "basic defect", you would pay me $500 per year, for the rest of your life... would you be willing to change your lifestyle, if I told you to keep the $500, keep reading.

About 30-40% of Emily's body (chest, back, ankles, shins, knees, and neck) was depigmented at the time, and it was increasing, we had to do something. So we looked into non-mainstream treatments. I was studying biochemistry and looking at vitamin therapy, I was in search of the "basic defect".

What Have We Done?

Susie took a vegetarian cooking class at the local hospital, she was so excited about the class, she stopped at the local library on the way home. She picked up a large stack of vegetarian books. When she got home she announced "we are going vegetarian". I would like to think that because of my humanitarianism and my feminist ideals, I embraced the idea whole-heartedly. In actuality it was because I am lazy when it comes to preparing food. I will cook if I absolutely have to but I am more than happy to eat what is made available. Then I started reading the books she brought home and I was moved.

I read a book called May All Be Fed by John Robbins. He is the guy that walked away from millions of dollars when he decided not to take over his family’s business, Baskin-Robbins. He wanted to take his own path; I don't think that made his father very happy. He talked about how the food we eat gets to our table. He opened my eyes so to speak, when he showed me how my daughter was getting sulfa-based antibiotics. I had read in a biochemistry textbook that sulfa-based antibiotics block the body’s ability to process folic acid, a B vitamin that is important for healthy skin.

Here is the quote from Introduction to Organic and Biological Chemistry, Ronald M. Scott 1980, page 294.

Tetrahydrofolic Acid
Intestinal bacteria provide a supply of this cofactor. A deficiency, usually termed a folacin deficiency, produces anemia. A deficiency is more likely to occur during treatment with antibiotics, particularly with sulfa drugs. The sulfa drugs are particularly effective because their mechanism of action is to prevent synthesis of tetrahydrofolic acid. The sulfa drug is chemically similar to the para-aminobenzoic acid portion of the cofactor. It is mistakenly incorporated by the microorganism, producing a nonfunctional cofactor.

I had previously searched her medical records to see if she had gotten sulfa and she hadn't. Then I read the following quote from May All Be Fed by John Robbins, page 112.

Four different surveys of the safety of our milk supply were conducted by independent researchers between 1987 and 1989. The results were not comforting, unless you like antibiotics and other veterinary drugs in your dairy products. The studies found between 63 and 86 percent of milk samples to contain sulfa drugs, tetracyclines, and other antibiotics. These surveys embarrassed the FDA so much that the agency finally got around to conducting a survey of its own. Despite using outdated methods that cannot detect small quantities of the dangerous drug sulfamethazine, a March 1988 FDA survey found sulfamethazine in 74 percent of the samples tested.
This finding was particularly disturbing. Sulfamethazine is a sulfa drug that is a suspected human carcinogen.

It is an important book that you should check out from the library sometime. Emily was born in 1988 and after one year of breast-feeding, we put her on cows milk. After all, we are told that milk is the world's perfect food. Unfortunately they don't tell us that it is the most perfect food for calves. It seems to me that there is a possibility that we had given her these antibiotics in the milk and dairy we were eating. We were eating a lot of dairy products, I used to joke that Susie was the "cheese queen".

Dr. Christine Northrup, a gynecologist in Yarmouth, Maine, states, "Dairy is a tremendous mucus producer and a burden on the respiratory, digestive and immune systems." Dr. Northrup says when patients "eliminate dairy products for an extended period and eat a balanced diet, they suffer less from colds and sinus infections."

Besides the anti-biotics in milk there is the cholesterol, saturated fat, and worst of all is the protein. This animal protein is theorized to be involved in many autoimmune diseases, which vitiligo is theorized to be. In 1997, I learned this at a health show in Orlando, FL from a Dr. John McDougall (author and practicing internist). He mentioned vitiligo in his presentation, in a long list of autoimmune diseases he felt would one day be linked to milk intake.

There is one thing dairy products have more of than any other food I can think of: contamination.

John A. McDougall, MD

Then there is pesticide contamination to be concerned about. In John Robbins first book Diet for a New America he pointed out another problem with animal protein, which had an important connection to our family. On page 324 he writes:

...occurred in Michigan in 1973 and 1974, and involved one of the worst cases of pesticide poisoning yet to come to light. Here, the poison involved was PBB's (polybrominated biphenyls). When the U.S. Congress finally investigated the fiasco six years later, they asked expert witnesses about PBB's. The answers were not reassuring. Impartial experts testified:
"PBB's are persistent and can be passed on for generations. PBB's are stored in the body fat, where they can remain indefinitely. During pregnancy, they can cross the placenta to the developing fetus...PBB is...capable of producing physical defects in offspring in utero."
Not substances you'd particularly want in your hamburgers. Yet, in 1976 alone, several years after the PBB contamination occurred, Michigan residents ate over 5 million pounds of hamburger contaminated with PBB's.
What had happened was that this toxic chemical had somehow gotten mixed into livestock feed which was dispersed throughout the state. When the PBB's were first discovered in virtually all of Michigan's meat and dairy products, state officials tried in every way to cover up the incident. Had the public been notified of the extreme urgency of the situation, a great deal of tragedy could have been avoided. But as it is, according to testimony before Michigan's Senate Commerce Subcommittee on March 29, 1977, nearly all of Michigan's residents now have unacceptable levels of PBB's in their bodies. It is quite likely that every single person who consumed meats, dairy products or eggs in the state of Michigan during 1976 or 1977 now has significant amounts of these carcinogens in his or her organs. Tests in 1976 found that 96% of nursing mothers in Michigan had PBB's in their milk.

Can you imagine the heir to Baskin-Robbins (an ice cream chain) saying these things? Susie is from Michigan and she turned sixteen in 1977. Our son Kyle had a deformed baby tooth and Emily has vitiligo. I sometimes wonder if these things were caused by PBB's. Any lawyers out there think I have a case?

Michael Klaper, MD, from page 29 of his book Vegan Nutrition: Pure and Simple, has this to add;

Dairy products also harbor a little discussed, but very ominous connection with leukemia in children. As any veterinarian will verify, leukemia is common in dairy cows and is caused by a virus, bovine leukemia virus. A cow with leukemia passes this virus into the milk. Up to 20% of the cows in a herd may be infected with leukemia virus. Their virus-laden milk is mixed with other milk and sold in stores. Could the high rate of leukemia in children be connected to their high levels of milk consumption? Denmark, the country with the highest rate of leukemia in their cattle and in their children, has an active program to remove leukemic cows from the dairy herd.

If you are interested in what Robert M. Kradjian, MD, Breast Surgery Chief, Division of General Surgery, Seton Medical Centre, Daly City, California, recommends to his patients; please read his essay The Milk Letter: A Message To My Patients.

I now realized that something else affected my course of action in fighting this disease. Early in my working career three young women (in their thirties) died from cancer. I worked closely with all three; my desk was next to two of them. Zeanne Houllemont (cervical cancer, Aug. ‘87), Jill White (melanoma, Jan ‘88) and Carol Scheitauer (breast cancer, ‘92) all died after going through conventional treatments. This was painful to watch in all three cases, surgery, steroids, diuretics to reduce the edema caused by the steroids, chemotherapy, radiation, more surgery, then funeral. This left me looking for alternatives. I ended up subscribing to a newsletter by Dr. Williams called Alternatives. Dr. Williams left me with one very important piece of information. Find out what your relatives died of and protect yourself from those diseases. So I did research on our families past health history. We had problems that are all too common in America, heart disease, diabetes and cancer. My grandmother is said to have turned white (just her hair) when she was 18. Could be connected to vitiligo. Both of my parent's hair turned white or gray in their early 30's.

So for all of these reasons, in August of 1995, our whole family gave up animal products. I think that the steady drop in my cholesterol levels over these years solidified my belief that what we eat can affect our health. My cholesterol is now 145 (a level where you no longer have to be concerned about ratios of good to bad cholesterol). My blood sugar also dropped back into the normal range.

We've never had a heart attack in Framingham in thirty-five years in anyone who had a cholesterol under 150. Three-quarters of the people who live on the face of this earth never have a heart attack.

Dr. William Castelli

More importantly Emily's vitiligo has improved greatly, for more current information see her timeline with pictures. Pictures are as important in vitiligo, as blood tests are in heart disease. We need that feedback to make sure we are making progress. Another benefit of our lifestyle is that our daughter Katie has not had bronchitis since we started this lifestyle. The year before she had it four times, as well as a constant cough and lots of mucus.

My wife and I now weigh what we did when we were happy about and proud of, our bodies. If you have been trying to loose weight you will find it easier on a low-fat vegetarian diet. When you eat fat, 3% of it is burned in converting it to body fat. When you eat complex carbohydrates you burn 25% in the conversion to body fat. Put simply it is easier to turn fat to fat than starch to fat. For more on weight loss, read Eat Right, Live Longer.

Skin as an Eliminatory Organ

It seems simple but it needs to be said. The skin has a purpose other than being an envelope to keep our insides from falling out. Remember that one function of the skin is to remove toxins from the body; in this sense the skin is an eliminatory organ. When we sweat, toxins can be eliminated through our pores.

Much of the alternative literature that discusses healthy skin, mention that if your other organs are backed up with waste products, then the skin will be overworked, the amount of toxins it will have to remove will increase. I have seen pictures, in Dr. Jensen's book, of one fellow who got rid of a bad case of psoriasis, when he went in for multiple colon cleansings. Do not read this book when you are eating, it contains wonderful color photos of what came out of this man.

That is one reason why we went to a mostly vegetarian diet, high in fiber and low in fat. All that fiber help to move things through the system and aids in eliminating toxins. It actually reduces the amount of calories that your body derives from the food you eat, by decreasing the transit time that food moves through your body. It reduces fat, glucose and triglyceride levels in the blood. If all systems are running smoothly, then the skin will have a chance to heal itself.

How Did We Change Our Food Choices?

For me it was easier to cut out categories of foods. I was trying to reduce my cholesterol so, one of the first categories for me was deep fried foods. For my personality type it was easier than say having only two deep-fried meals per week and I tended to stick to it better if I cut it out completely. As we mentioned earlier we had been adding one or two vegetarian meals per week to our diet for years, while it was a step in the right direction, I don't think we experienced any physical benefits until we made the complete shift. Dr. McDougall explains it this way, any change is difficult, it is even harder to make a change when you don't see any progress. It is better to make a big change and see results right away.

We tried early in the year to cut meat out of our diet but we failed. Then after Susie took her vegetarian cooking class we cut out meat again, although we still ate fish. Then later fish and dairy left our kitchen for good. During this process of eliminating animalized and feminized protein, we sat down with the children who were 8, 6 and 4 at the time and had many family meetings. We used the old "Full House" style meeting, where the only one allowed to talk was the one holding the teddy bear. When you want to talk, you raise your hand and the person talking will eventually pass the teddy bear to you so that you might get your chance. "Full House" was a popular TV show at the time; you know the show with the three girls (DJ, Stephanie and Michelle) their Dad Danny, Uncles Jesse and Joey, and beautiful Rebecca. So we explained why and the kids thought about it, asked some good questions and were actually very supportive. We felt it was important, we explained the many reasons for vegetarian food choices. Other than health there is, environmentalism, feeding the impoverished (cows eat better than some people do), feminism, ethical reasons and animal rights. Reading some of the books in the bibliography will open your mind to some of the other reasons for making a vegetarian choice at each meal. Children can connect with feelings. That was June 1, 1995 and we have been eating a vegetarian diet since then. In August of 95 we became pure vegetarians.

We went to the library and checked out every veggie cookbook we could find. We did a lot of experimenting in the kitchen. Each of our children had unique tastes. We tried soymilk and found that rice milk was much better over cereal; we use both to replace milk in cooking. We have also tried oat and almond milks. We try to make this an adventure, a team effort. New taste sensations, different restaurants, shopping at the natural food store with all of those woo-woo types (of which we are now card-carrying members). Recently I was asked what woo-woo meant, well to answer that I have to ask, have you ever seen anyone that you thought was "way out there", well that was woo-woo.

At first we tended to look for foods that replace the old foods we ate. One thing we learned is that these foods may taste close to the same as what we were used to, they just won't taste exactly like them. Once we let go of that requirement, the shift became easier. The test was no longer "Does it taste like cheese?” it was "Does it taste good?". The kids have been carrying sack lunches to school ever since we started this. Peanut butter and jelly, leftover pasta, beans, raw veggie sandwiches, meat substitutes (on occasion), fruit, pretzels, nuts and seeds, grass clippings (kidding). We also drink plenty of water.

We don't get on our children's case if they make other food choices; it has to be their decision. They get lots of good options at home. If we notice them making a lot of the wrong choices when we go out, we try to reinforce the message later. You can't push too hard, we have seen that backfire on others.

Of course there is more to it, and it was easier for us than most. Susie and I were united in our decision to change our food choices. Susie had a sister who was already a vegetarian. We had, for years, been eating at least one or two vegetarian meals per week but we liked our burgers, ham, chicken and turkey. Now we have decided that we like cows, pigs, chickens and turkeys better.

We also joined EarthSave and became very active in it. Our children see by our actions how important it is to us. EarthSave has lots of educational materials and we share them with the kids. EarthSave makes the connection between what we eat and how it effects the environment. They teach people to shift towards a more plant centered diet.

Another tool to make eating a plant-centered diet easier for kids is "Babe" and "Gordy", two great videos with an animal rights theme. We watch them and talk frankly about the meaning of different scenes in the videos. Children just naturally love animals and don't want to do anything to hurt them. "Free Willy" is another good video that we picked up from the local library.

Who is strong? He who can conquer his bad habits.

Ben Franklin

Our lifestyle choices now added value to our lives. It was now a framework for health living and loving. Putting the long lines of frame pieces together creates an impressive frame for the jigsaw to finally fill.

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Chapter 4


After the frame is arranged and the border to the puzzle is all laid out, it is time to decide where to start. Pick a well recognizable picture on the cover to start on. One holiday we worked on a scene of a small town covered in snow. So I started my work on a house in the center of town that had very distinguishable characteristics. Its coloring was quite different from the rest of the puzzle. Each piece was easily recognizable as belonging to that house. In this chapter I will try to identify all of the bases that you should consider, in order to better understand if you really have vitiligo and what may have caused it.


What causes vitiligo? Stress or unusual trauma (especially to the head) can cause vitiligo. Diabetes mellitus (adult onset), abnormal thyroid function, Addison's disease, Pernicious anemia and Alopecia areata (hair loss in patches) are each associated with vitiligo. So you want to rule out each of these diseases and minimize stress. I started asking myself questions, like what do these diseases have in common? What connections are there? Many of the answers pointed towards diet.

Another possibility is that you were exposed to an industrial chemical that affected your pigment.

Genetics and Heredity

Turns out that my grandmother's hair turned white at age 18. My parent's hair turned white when they were about 32. My hair is currently turning white and I am 37. I have been studying our family tree and these are the only links I can find to vitiligo that I can find. There are no reports of anyone with milk-white patches of skin.
I think that too often we try to say it is one or the other, environmental or genetic. I think that it could be both. I believe genetics is involved, but it is my belief that environmental factors have more weight. Since the environmental factors are the only ones we as parents can change, the only ones we have some control over, this book will deal exclusively with them. If we tend to have a genetic propensity towards vitiligo or any disease, we need to influence the environmental factors in order to make life easier and symptom free.

Life-style changes can alter a child's genetic blueprint by many fold.

Charles R. Attwood, M.D., F.A.A.P.

I tend to like Dr. Christine Northrup's view of disease, as a messenger, telling us it is time to re-evaluate our lives. Maybe it is time to slow down and clean up our act. The fast paced, fast food world we live in can have a tremendous influence on our health.

Tinea Versicolor

Go to a dermatologist that uses a Wood's lamp. This is like a black light and the vitiligo will show up under the lamp. Find a dermatologist that knows vitiligo and can differentiate it from the fungus (tinea versicolor). Early on a friend, who happens to be a doctor, thought Emily's vitiligo might have been the fungus, so we wasted time putting Selson Blue on it.

Another pigment related disorder is guttate hypomelanosis I have this as well. It is said to be caused by sun damage and looks like small white porcelain spots on the skin.

For further information on making a correct diagnosis Dr. Montes has an excellent chapter in his book. Dr. Montes takes a skin biopsy in his diagnosis, which may be a little traumatic for a child.

Blood Test

Your doctor will probably not recommend this but you should get a blood test for vitamin and mineral levels. See the following table for the vitamin and mineral levels to check for.

If you have been taking vitamins, stop for three months then take the blood test, which is what we did. Emily was tested on 1-3-95 and all of her levels were normal. Even though her levels were normal Dr. Montes recommended we treat her with high doses of vitamins. We didn't feel he was correct at the time, we figured this was not the problem since her levels were all normal. We were wrong, we have come around to the wisdom of his suggestion. I think that our diet change as well as our juicing vegetables increased our intake of B vitamins, which is essentially the same and probably better than supplementing. As of 3-98 we added folic acid and B12 to our regime. We have also become more systematic about taking our supplements. I remember the first blood test we forced Emily to take, it was terrible. I almost think it would have been better to have waited, taking the vitamins, until she was older. We could have then taken her off of the vitamins for a few months and tested her blood levels. It might not be important to know which one your child is deficient in, right away. One thing to remember when taking any B vitamins, you should also be taking a B complex, a B complex contains a broad spectrum of B vitamins. This is important since B vitamins work together, a lot of one of them might reduce the supply of another. Dr. Montes has found that many of his patients are deficient in one or more of the following vitamins.

Vitamin or Mineral

Normal Range

Vitamin B12

205-700 PG/ML

Plasma Folate

2-10 NG/ML

RBC Folate

140-340 NG/ML

Vitamin A

25-70 UG %

Vitamin E

0.6-1.4 MG %

Vitamin C

0.2-1.5 MG %

Vitamin B-6 A/C

1.0-1.89 A/C

thiamin B1 A/C

1.0-1.23 A/C


79-237 UG %


did not get a normal range from them

These are the blood levels checked at the University of Alabama at Birmingham for Dr. Montes. If you are interested in more information about the nutritional approach to vitiligo, read Dr. Montes book Vitiligo, Nutritional Therapy. Dr. Montes has also mentioned checking homocysteine levels, high levels of homocysteine is also an indicator of coronary artery disease. Just as high levels of homocysteine indicate CAD, high cholesterol levels indicate the same problem. In Emily's blood test, her cholesterol levels were high. High homocysteine levels can be corrected with B vitamins, and I believe they help with high cholesterol as well. So have them add a cholesterol and homocysteine check to your blood test. As well as tests to rule out diabetes, thyroid disease, Addison's disease, the B12 check above will check for pernicious anemia.

Thyroid Test

I have read that the blood test for thyroid problems is not very accurate. I suggest the morning temperature test or the iodine absorption test. Emily's blood test for thyroid levels came out normal, but her morning temperature was a little low. Balch describes this test in Prescription for Nutritional Healing. The iodine absorption test was brought to my attention on VSIG. I have paraphrased it here, from the archives of VSIG, thanks to Nuki.

Your thyroid (located at the frontal base of the neck) is a key gland that furnishes energy to every cell in your body. It is dependent on a balance of two trace minerals, manganese and especially iodine. Thyroid does not function proficiently in the absence of adequate iodine.
Applying a tincture of Brown Iodine to your skin is the most efficient (as well as economical) method of determining a metabolic deficiency of iodine. It is a test as well as a treatment. If the brown stain fades in 24 hours (or less), it indicates that iodine is not sufficient to normalize thyroid secretion to the cells. By following these instructions, when the faded brown stain is apparent after 24 hours, your thyroid will more likely be able to function normally.
Use applicator rod to apply iodine to upper thigh or low abdomen in a 3" square patch. Apply as often as you notice that the iodine has absorbed and the skin is clear, rotating areas of applications each time. For instance, if absorption occurs in 2 hours, reapply then; if it occurs in 4 or 8 or 12 hours, reapply whenever you notice the skin is clear.
When you eventually notice a faded brown stain after 12 hours, check in another 12 hours for the stain. If your skin is clear after 24 hours, continue application once a day until the stain is still apparent after 24 hours. Discontinue application when you observe a faded stain at 24 hours after initial application. The objective of the frequent applications is to accomplish the 24-hour slight stain as quickly as possible, rather than have to continue to apply over several months time. Recheck iodine absorption every 3 months. Repeat the process as above if it fades in 24 hours or less.
It seems this test is for people with skin on which the stain would be more apparent, so I apologize if those of us with darker skin will not be able to use this test. As always, if you have questions, check with your doctor.

Iodine is good for hypothyroidism. A good source of iodine is kelp, a sea vegetable that grows off of the coast of California. Emily reacted well to kelp pills, she used to have fits after school (depressed, cranky, tired), now she seems to be the old happy Emily all day long.

The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, in diet, and in the cause and prevention of disease.

Thomas Edison


Diabetes (the body's inability to maintain blood sugar levels) is influenced by the amount of fat in our diet. My glucose level dropped into the normal range when I shifted to a low-fat vegetarian diet. For three months while my father battled cancer, he switched to the same diet and his insulin requirement dropped from 80 units to 55 units per day. I have a friend with diabetes who no longer needs insulin, he credits this with a low-fat vegetarian diet and a book titled Reversing Diabetes by Dr. Julian Whitaker.

Just as in working a puzzle, taking an occasional break can be a healthy thing. Treat yourself to a night out at the movies. Make it a comedy, they say laughter is the best remedy.

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Chapter 5


Long after the first recognizable picture in the puzzle is put together, many of the other pictures are falling into place. Some of the hardest work is yet to come. It is the most monotonous part. One particularly hard puzzle had a clear blue sky. It was just about impossible for me to distinguish each individual piece. You couldn't look at the cover and see where the piece would fit in, they were all seemingly the same. So I started one piece at a time, trying to fit it into the hole that was left in the puzzle. Slowly the puzzle came together, as the sky was filled in.

As with the treatment of any disease or anything important in life we had to stay the course. We found what we thought would work and we kept at it. Making adjustments along the way. Never giving up. Taking supplements every day can be very monotonous and changing your lifestyle can be very challenging. It is easy to fall back into old habits.

First Do No Harm.

Hippocrates, 460-377 BC

At one point my wife and I had a big arguement. I was the tyrant, insisting on everything being perfect and pure. I felt that we had been slipping backwards, eating more refined foods. She was feeling overworked and underappreciated; she was also not willing to face the problem. I was obsessing over it. Susie wouldn't even talk about vitiligo. Anyway we had a huge fight. She was sitting down at the dinner table and I started digging all of the unhealthy stuff in our cabinets. I started pouring all of the bad stuff on her dinner plate. White flour, mayonnaise, vegetable oil, anything I could find that was overly processed or had hydrogenated oils in it. She sat there watching me as her dish was piled high in this really gross looking mess, overflowing from her plate. I remember telling her, "here if you think this stuff is good to eat, then eat it". I'm sure she thought I had gone insane. Finally we both looked at each other and busted out laughing. We laughed like we hadn't laughed before; we were crying we laughed so hard. It turned out to be part of the process. We can both talk about vitiligo now.

When treating vitiligo two very important things should be addressed. First the underlying disease or condition that has caused the skin to lose its health. Only after this problem has been addressed will you start to repigment. Second, you must support your body in repigmenting.

This is how we have been treating our daughter Emily for her vitiligo.

As an engineer I come across problems weekly that I have to troubleshoot. Like most engineers I try to simplify the problem. We work on very complicated computer systems (of course they are not near as complex as the human body). When I have a problem with the system at work, I ask questions of all of the experts, the technicians and engineers. We try to address every subsystem that is affected. We systematically address each subsystem and their relation to the problem at hand. I guess that our approach for vitiligo was the same, from a systems level, whole body. We saw the vitiligo as an indication that there was something wrong. We hoped that fixing the underlying problem would help her body heal itself. It is important to find what works for you. We knew that other diseases were associated with vitiligo, so I learned as much as I could about each disease. I started to learn that many doctors had been successful treating these diseases, using a common approach. Their approaches appealed to me because of the lack of potentially damaging side effects.


Clean air is important and most of the time it is abundant in our small town by the ocean. As long as the Florida forest fires aren't burning out of control and the local launches from the Space Center aren't exploding and dumping their toxic fuel in huge clouds. If we lived in a more polluted area, I would have invested in a whole house, air purification system.


We started our therapy by cleaning up the water we drink. We drink and cook with only distilled water, since 8-9-95. I suggest a solar distiller, from SunWater Solar Inc., Pima, AZ 85543-0968 (525)485-0023. We have started adding minerals as an occasional supplement, 5-28-97; we mix it in with our carrot juice. Reverse Osmosis removes 80% of impurities, where distilled water removes 99%. As a minimum, I think it is important to use a carbon filter to remove the chlorine in the water. I am concerned about the affect of chlorine on your intestinal flora. Chlorine kills bacteria. Chlorine is added to your water to kill bacteria and it does its job well. Unfortunately when you drink it, it also kills the good bacteria in your digestive system.

Food Choices

Our family adopted a pure vegetarian lifestyle (no meat, dairy or eggs). Check out why we chose this life style. You might also be asking yourself, how did we convince our children to go along with us?

Vitiligo is theorized to be an autoimmune disease. As an autoimmune disease it should respond well to a low fat vegetarian diet. Just as diabetics require less insulin when on this diet. Reducing the amount of saturated fat floating around in your veins will make it easier for your body's immune system to identify good and bad cells. This is the foundation of the treatment we use and besides helping Emily's vitiligo it has helped my cholesterol and my blood sugar levels.

... the diets of South and Central Americans, Africans, Indians, and Chinese contain little fat and little meat, and they're better off for it.

Michael DeBakey, MD, pioneer heart surgeon

I believe that in our case, changing our lifestyle helped stop the progress of the disease. It also supported the following things that we were using to help her repigment. As well as supporting her body to heal itself, our diet is about ten percent fat; the kids probably get more than that. Pediatricians like Dr. Attwood and Dr. Spock have since come out with books that specifically recommend this diet for healthy children.

Dairy food can impair a child's ability to absorb iron and can cause subtle blood loss from the digestive tract in small children. These problems, combined with the fact that milk has virtually no iron of its own, can lead to iron deficiencies. ...Children who grow up getting their nutrition from plant foods rather than meats have a tremendous health advantage. They are less likely to develop weight problems, diabetes, high blood pressure, and some forms of cancer.

Benjamin Spock, MD, Dr. Spock's Baby and Child Care, pages 332-3

I am sorry to say but, our food budget used to be one of the low priorities in our household budget. At the end of the month, if we were a little short on cash, we tended to eat cheaper food. Now food is the top of the budget, I am now very happy to spend money on food. We try to buy organically grown produce as much as we can, whenever it is available. These are grown without the use of synthetic pesticides, fungicides and herbicides.

Whether it is the immune system, various enzyme systems, the uptake of carcinogens into the cells, or hormonal activities, animal protein generally only causes mischief.

T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D., Cornell University, director of the China Diet and Health Study

Food Allergies

I have been interested in allergies and their affects on vitiligo for some time. I am reading more and more about elimination diets lately. Two good sources are Foods That Fight Pain and The McDougall Plan (see the bibliography).

We have eaten some very good macrobiotic meals, a way of life, which is said to be very healthy. Macrobiotics seems to me to be very rice centered; it is basically vegetarian although some fish is acceptable. They avoid nightshade plants, I know for a long time I used to say to myself, "What in the heck is a nightshade plant?" I finally found out that there is a poisonous plant called a nightshade and there are vegetables that we eat everyday that are from this family, potatoes, tomatoes and eggplants are the ones that I am aware of. This is just an area of food choices that I am interested in, I haven't done anything about it, just trying to learn more.

Antibiotics and Acidophilus

As well as chlorinated water, intestinal flora can be damaged by antibiotic use. After any treatment with antibiotics we should replace the beneficial bacterium that has been killed by the antibiotic. Also, many of us are getting antibiotics every day in the foods we eat. Modern factory farming techniques create the need to use antibiotics to maintain bio-security. These antibiotics can find their way onto our table, specifically in milk and dairy. Very powerful antibiotics are used by the meat and dairy industry, sulfa-based antibiotics. Residues are found in our milk. Sulfa-based antibiotics block the body's ability to process folic acid. Folic acid is an important nutrient for healthy skin and it is involved in the production of melanin.

To further emphasize the importance of bacterial flora, I found this tidbit from A Pictorial Handbook of Anatomy and Physiology by Dr. James Bevan.

The large intestine
The fecal matter is further decomposed by bacterial action to produce gas, some of the vitamin B complex and feces.

For these reasons we added acidophilus capsules to our diet. Look for a brand that has enteric-coated capsules to protect these microorganisms from destructive stomach acids and release them live into the intestinal tract. I haven't been able to find a vegetarian brand that is enteric-coated so we use one made by Veg-Life, it is kept refrigerated at the Health Food Store.

People have gone to the store and picked up packages of poultry and taken them off to a laboratory and checked them for salmonella contamination. The number of birds contaminated has been shown in several studies to be around a third.

Carol Tucker Foreman, former Assistant Secretary of Agriculture

In these days of factory farming, with e-coli and salmonella in the news every day, it is important to clean your vegetables. We soak them in peppermint castile soap, then rinse them well. In addition to cleaning the veggies, you must have a strong flora. The good bacteria will literally displace the bad bacteria in your gut.


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.


From: Vitiligo and Psoralens
by Abdel Monem El Mofty
(Pergamon Press, Oxford 1968).


Common name

Botanical name

Natural order


Ficus carica



Pastinaca sativa


Cow parsnip

Heracleum sphondylium


Garden parsnip

Heracleum gigantum


Wild parsnip

Pastinaca sativa



Heracleum mantegazzianum



Foeniculum vulgare



Anethum graveolens



Peucedanum oreoselium


Wild carrot

Daucus carota


Garden carrot

Daucus sativa



Peucedanum ostruthium



Apium graveolens



Ammi majus



Angelica species


Common rue

Ruta graveolens


Gas plant

Dictamus albus


Lime bergamot

Citrus bergamia



Dictamus fraxinella



Citrus aurantiom



Citrus aurantifolia


Persian lime

Citrus aurantifolia, var.


(Tahitian, Bearss)




Renunculus species



Brassica species



Sinapsis arevensis


Blind weed

Convolvolus arevensis



Agrimnony eupatoria


Yarrow (milfoil)

Achillaea millefolium


Goose foot

Chenopodium species



Psoralea corylifolia


St. John's Wort

Hypericum perforatum


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,, 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.

Taboo Subjects

Of all cancers, colon cancer is the one which is most characteristic of modern Western culture. Colorectal cancer is always rare amongst primitive people. Everything points to diet, and the most important things in diet are fat and fiber.

Denis Burkitt, MD

While we are on the subject of constipation let’s talk about bowel movements. Here are Eric's rules to live by; rules of good health, your movements should occur two to three times a day. After all, you eat two to three times each day. A two foot by two inch comfortable and pain-free movement should not be a surprise, no-urgency, no brown racing stripes in the underwear, no anal itching, not excessively smelly, no diarrhea or constipation, a one wiper. Of course all of this would rule out Olestra (the fake fat put out by Monsanto, also known as Olean) with its warnings of, anal leakage and fecal urgency, Yuk.

If you don't turn your compost pile it will really stink, that is an indication of rotting putrefied matter, and you are supposed to turn it often. If your bowel movement smells really bad then you have a problem with putrefying and rotting matter. This can be corrected by getting more fiber in your diet; this decreases transit time, thus increasing the frequency that you turn your internal compost pile. Death begins in the colon, eat an apple a day and make sure you stay away from refined white flour. Get some fiber and acidophilus in your life. Increase the percentage of raw and unprocessed foods that you eat. It might help to squat on the toilet or put a stool in front of the toilet to raise your feet off of the ground and put you in the proper position. A colon cleansing might help if you have consistent complaints. Your skin is an eliminatory organ, if the rest of the elimination system is backed up or not working smoothly; the skin has to handle more of the load. If your skin is dealing with extra toxins, what possibility will there be for your skin to heal itself? One last point, hemorrhoids are not a vegetarian disease.

You should see a minimum of one clear urination per day, if not then you should be drinking more water. That's right, just plain old ordinary water, not soda with its 9 teaspoons of sugar per can. Can you imagine sitting down and eating 9 to 12 teaspoons of sugar at once? The section about phenylalanine will show you why NutraSweet should also be avoided. Distilled water is our preferred choice.

These are all things that can be passed on from generation to generation; they are a gift from me to you. They are important things to talk about even though many of us would rather not. :-) These are not things that have to happen overnight. It is just movement (no pun) in the right direction we need. Check back occasionally to see how you are doing.

Ultraviolet Light

We use natural light, and we tend to wear hats more often than we used too. When in the sun, we only stay out for about half an hour to an hour then take a break inside. There is always a fun inside activity to fill a half-hour. This is of course effected by the time of day, we really try to avoid the mid day sun. At times when she might get too much sun, I cut an aloe leaf off of one of our plants and slather it all over her pink areas. This keeps her from peeling and helps tan. Even in Florida we can't get sun all year round, so we plan on visiting a tanning salon in the cooler weeks.

Everyone on the planet seems to be concerned about skin cancer, specifically melanoma. On VSIG we have heard that vitiligo patients may have more of a chance for skin cancer. Then we hear that they have less of a chance to develop melanoma. Which is it? In our concern for skin cancer we eat low on the food chain, this also reduces your chance for skin cancer. When you eat lots of fruits and veggies you increase your intake of anti-oxidants, which help fight off the free radicals that, cause so much damage. This also reduces the saturated fat we eat, which means we get more oxygen to our tissues than the average American.

Anyone with vitiligo and concerned about skin cancer should read this:

Researchers have found that a low fat diet may decrease the likelihood of skin cancer. Subjects fed a low fat diet (20 percent of calories from fat) had 70 percent fewer appearances of a skin lesion associated with increased risk for skin cancer compared with subjects consuming the usual American diet of 36 percent of calories from fat. "The International Journal of Cancer" 1995; 62:165-169

So, we use sunlight to help our daughter repigment. We do not use sunscreen unless we can't get out of the sun for some reason. This might be because of a long day at a local spring where we don't anticipate there being a lot of shade. Emily also has a few different bathing suits so that different areas of her skin get exposed. She had a little resistance at first to a bikini, but now she loves them. She went on a special shopping trip with her Mom and sister, and that’s all it took.

This is one of the most confusing parts of the whole vitiligo puzzle to me. It seems (to me) the confusion comes from the conventional PUVA therapy. The doctor prescribes a specific amount of psoralen and UVA. She/he doesn't want you to get anymore sun than what was prescribed so they tell you to stay out of the sun and wear sun block. The doctor probably tells you to stay away from foods that contain a lot of psoralen as well (I only say this because I seem to remember reading it somewhere).

IMHO, if you are not on PUVA you need to get sun light to repigment. So... it doesn't make sense to overdo it on sunscreen. Don't go out and get burned, but get some daily exposure. If you are going to be out for a long time, use sunscreen. Planned interruption or breaks in outdoor activity, would be the better option. Time enough to allow your skin to recover from its previous sun exposure.

Emily doesn't say much about her vitiligo, although recently I upset her. I didn't mean to, she got a little too much sun one day so I told her that it could cause vitiligo (trauma to the skin). You have to walk a tight rope; you want sun to repigment, but not enough to burn and cause the vitiligo to come back. Later that night Susie told me Emily cried a little about it, that she didn't want to get any more vitiligo. So the next morning I talked to her about it. I told her about the tight rope thing and I also told her that because of everything we have done, the problem may have gone away. By that I mean, trauma like sunburn may not cause her to lose her pigment, because her body may be able to handle it better. (I am not saying that she was ever affected by trauma, just that in general trauma affects some people with loss of pigment. We just try to avoid anything that could cause vitiligo.)

The following is information from an August 12, 1996 article called The Treatment Of Children With Vitiligo by Aaron B. Lerner, M.D. Department of Dermatology Yale University School of Medicine. I really like the way he describes this whole issue of sun exposure.

The child should be exposed to as much sunlight as possible without getting sunburn. Ultraviolet light is a mitogen for pigment cells. That is, light stimulates pigments cells to divide so that new cells can be made. Whether this action of light on pigment cells is direct or indirect is not known. We are walking a tightrope here because sunburn is trauma to the skin, and the normal pigmented skin in a person with vitiligo is easily depigmented when traumatized. In fact, it is common for a patient to state that his/her vitiligo first appeared after sunburn. Following a 15- to 60-minute stay in sunlight, a light protective preparation or sunscreen cream or lotion of SPF 8 or higher should then be applied to the skin to stop the further action of light. This controlled, limited exposure to light will most likely avoid predisposing the child to significant photo-aging of skin.

Folic Acid

Feeling grouchy? Weak or anxious? Sleeping poorly? You could be deficient in folic acid. Folic acid is important for healthy skin and for the nervous system. It rebuilds damaged DNA. Often times vitiligo follows along areas of the skin where bundles of nerves branch out to the skin from the spinal column. There is a theory that the nerve cells are improperly functioning and damaging the melanocytes.

Thus the depigmentation often strikes places that are richly supplied by nerves.

Leopoldo Montes, MD

We have this handy kitchen reference card that contains the following information about folic acid. From the Nutritional Awareness Guide by Legion of Light, The benefits and whole-food sources of vitamins and minerals. Legion of Light Products PO Box 1557 Mount Shasta, CA 96067 (916) 938-1461

Vitamin: Folic Acid (B complex) (Destroyed by heat)
Functions in the body: Necessary for proper brain function. Essential for mental and emotional health. Improves lactation. Helps prevent anemia. Essential to the formation of red blood cells. Promotes healthy skin. Aids in the performance of the liver. Needed for the division of body cells. Aids in protein metabolism. Important for the production of the nucleic acids RNA and DNA. Aids the intestinal tract. Enhances circulation.
Finest food sources: Alfalfa sprouts, Apricot, Asparagus, Avocados, Beans (sprouted and whole), Beet Greens, Broccoli, Buckwheat sprouts, Cantaloupe, Cauliflower, Citrus Fruits, Comfrey Leaf (herb), Cucumber, Ginseng (Korean), Grains (sprouted and whole), Greens (leafy), Kelp, Peas, Soybeans (sprouted and whole), Spinach, Spirulina, Sprouts (all kinds), Wheat-germ, Wheat-grass

This is something I received from the National Vitiligo Foundation Inc., during the summer of 1998:

From a Journal Watch for Dermatology (Published by the Massachusetts Medical Society, publishers of The New England Journal of Medicine and Journal Watch): Treatment of Vitiligo with Oral Vitamin B12 and Folic Acid.

Vitiligo rarely improves with current therapies. A previous report found low levels of folic acid and vitamin B12 in some patients with vitiligo and a response to aggressive replacement therapy. Prompted by that report, investigators in Sweden conducted a non-blinded, uncontrolled study of oral folic acid and vitamin B12 supplementation in 100 patients with vitiligo.
The patients ranged in age from 9 to 79 years; 67 were women, and 64 had active disease. Vitiligo had been present for 1 to 43 years, with the age of onset ranging from 1 to 65 years. Patients were treated with tablets containing 1 mg of vitamin B12 and 5 mg of folic acid twice daily, which they were instructed to take for 3 months or more. They were encouraged to seek UVB exposure throughout the year. Baseline vitamin B12 and folate levels were normal in the subgroup tested.
Patients were ultimately treated for 1 to 12 months. Repigmentation to some degree occurred in 52 patients, mostly in sun-exposed areas. The best predictors of success were age less than 26 years, vitiligo duration less than 10 years, treatment for 7 to 12 months, and a commitment to UVB exposure.

This was the article that finally convinced my dermatologist to give Emily vitamins.

Here is something I read in Good Medicine (Spring/Summer 1998) put out by PCRM:
“People suffering from depression often are low in folic acid, a B-vitamin found in vegetables and
beans, according to psychiatrist Jonathan E. Alpert of Harvard Medical School.”
The more I read about depression and vitiligo, the more I find circumstantial evidence that folic acid and St. Johns Wort should be helpful for both problems.

Folic acid is very safe, it is even given to neonatal children.


We recently (6-6-98) started painting PABA on Emily's left ankle once a day. The product we are using was recommended by H. "kee" Wanakee,, it is called DMAE-H3 and is made by Twin-Labs. PABA is part of the Folic Acid molecule. Kee sent me the following information that convinced me to start the DMAE-H3.

I talked to Twin Labs to find out exactly what is in the DMAE-H3 liquid that is much cheaper than the lotion, and the PABA is far more concentrated, and to my amazement, I was told the product is totally vegetarian. I asked several times, and demanded to know why it smells fishy. Again, I was told its totally veggie, though the material did not list which specific veggies were used. Could be sea veggies, for Kelp and other edible sea veggies smell like fish. You can call Twin Lab customer service at 1-800-645-5626.

Eat Your Greens

We added Super Blue Green Algae to our daughter’s diet, eating low on the food chain, 6-10-96. Two pills twice daily of the 'Alpha' (this is the least expensive of their products). We also gave her a veggie chewable multi-vitamin, we were less regular with this than the algae.

A friend of mine invited me to a lecture by a chiropractor about the Super Blue Green Algae (Multi-Level Marketing). The speaker mentioned that he had vitiligo and within 3 months it went away. I questioned him after the lecture and I didn't get a warm feeling about his "vitiligo". He didn't seem to realize that there is also a fungus that causes similar depigmentation. He said his could have been the fungus. Anytime someone tells you he got rid of vitiligo in three months, you should question him.

Emily was able to swallow large capsules early on so we were lucky. Our other daughter Katie had more trouble, if we ever needed to have her take anything we would break it up in a spoonful of maple syrup.

We take a break from all supplements for a month each year. December works well for us; since there isn't the intense sunlight we get the rest of the year.

As of, about 6-97, we stopped using the algae. We were trying to reduce the number of supplements we were giving to Emily. If we started loosing ground we felt we might go back to the SBGA.

Mind Body Connection

We are lucky that a local counselor and friend took interest in Emily's vitiligo. He offered to consult with her for free. He gives her mental exercises to help her to repigment. He is a licensed Mental Health Counselor and he specializes in Mind / Body medicine Hypnosis, NLP, EMDR. We now pay him for his effort and believe that it is helping her. It gets her in the right frame of mind to support the healing process.

Since Susie’s brother committed suicide, we have been concerned about depression in our family. We had concerns that her vitiligo might one day depress her.

I received email from a suicidal teenager. Unfortunately, this is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Vitiligo may seem permanent but it doesn't have to be. If nutritional support isn't for you, try depigmenting or camouflage. If you are feeling depressed try St. John's Wort. Someone on VSIG said "I can't force myself to be depressed when I take it" and I agree, it works that way for me.

One morning I woke up from a dream. This will sound awful but I immediately looked over to my wonderful wife with some very mean spirited thoughts. I literally hated her for what she was doing in my dream. This wasn't just any ordinary kind of hate. Every cell in my body hated her, I was even trying to convince my intestinal flora to hate her. :-)
Before I tell you what she was doing in my dream, I have to apologize to a whole group of people. You see I am showing a prejudice on my part, and that is not always easy to do. In my dream Susie was smoking cigarettes. Of course this is not a terrible thing, people do it every day. I just happen to have a completely unreasonable phobia towards it. Anyway, I finally worked out my anger and hatred, realizing it was a completely emotional reaction to a strange dream. So logic prevailed and I went back to sleep next to the wife that I so much adore.
The next day I didn't even mention the dream to my wife and I went on with my life. A few nights later I woke up in a cold sweat. Of course Susie had once again been smoking cigarettes in my dream. Once again I must apologize to any smokers reading this, but I really hated her for smoking in my dream. I felt she had betrayed me and betrayed my trust. She knew that I couldn't stand cigarette smoke and that I was also concerned about the health effects of smoking. We had talked about it early in our relationship and she knew how I felt. So I was justified in my hate, but wait, this was just a dream. I had to go back to sleep and forget this nightmare. Again I didn't mention my dream to Susie.
Then again, for a third time, I had the same dream. I decided I had to mention the dream to Susie before I went insane, or any more insane. I mentioned my dream to Susie. I told her that I had these terrible feelings towards her and that in my dream she was smoking. I also told her that I had dreamt it three times. Her jaw dropped and she told me. She told me that she had in fact been smoking at work with some of the other waitresses. We had a terrible fight, after I said some mean things. Like I had not married a smoker and that I wasn't going to be married to one. Terrible ultimatum and it goes to show the depth of my phobia. This dream really made the mind body connection for me. At least it makes it easier for me to believe the possibilities for healing, from first healing the mind.


If you think this is all a bunch of woo-woo garbage, I suggest as a minimum to get some counseling for stress management. Read You'll See It When You Believe It by Wayne Dyer, it helped me deal with stress. Thinking of that book reminds me about a story; I met an old friend who told me that years earlier I had hurt her badly by something I said. I didn't even remember saying it to her, but I didn't doubt for a moment that I could have said it (I have my moments). I apologized to her for hurting her feelings. It was amazing that for years this thing I said and forgot about had been on her mind and bothering her. She carried it around for many years. Wayne's book put it another way, if you are in traffic and the person in front of you cuts you off, there are two ways you can process the information. You could get angry about it and stew over it, scream at the person and let it ruin your day. Think about who really is affected by this anger, you are. The other person, the one that turned right three miles back has gone on with their life and forgot about the whole thing. They might have not been aware of it at all. The second way to process this event is to realize that that person was doing exactly what they were supposed to be doing. You could choose to learn from the situation, drive more defensively and get along with your life. Wayne puts it much more eloquently and gives you tools to use to make life less stressful.

We are also simplifying our lives. Getting rid of things we don't need, not volunteering as much as we used to. Learning to say no. This has reduced the stress level around our home.

To boost her self confidence we have emphasized sports. She tried gymnastics and is currently in soccer. She didn't enjoy her first experience at soccer; she was the only girl on the team. She didn't play soccer for a year after that, then an all girls team formed and she loves it.

She also is interested in acting and music. She sang a solo at the school talent show, January 1997.

Food Enzymes

Ever since we heard about the new pseudo-catalase treatment being tested in Europe, I had wondered about taking a dietary enzyme supplement. So we went ahead and added that to the regime, 6-25-96. My theory is that if the skin needs catalase to repigment, the body must be robbing the skin for some other need. This might be an over-simplification but we are willing to try it. We use a product that has 150 Units of catalase. It is called Power Enzyme Complex and it is made by New Spirit Naturals. You can order it from at 1-800-922-2766, tell them I sent you and my products will be cheaper in the future. This is a vegetarian product; we actually started with a non-vegetarian brand and have now switched over. We started at 1 capsule per day and are now using 2 per day.

We only used the catalase for about a year, and then we stopped using it, in an effort to reduce the supplements she takes. If we start losing ground we will try this again.

There are many thousands of different enzymes in our bodies and in the raw foods that we eat each day. The enzymes in our foods aid digestion. Enzymes are specific protein catalysts; they actually speed up the process of breaking down the food.

One of the guys I work with (Glenn Strickland) said it this way:

If the food you eat is over processed, it will be devoid of enzymes. The purpose of these enzymes is to help digest the food that you eat. You body will rob your immune system of its enzymes, to help breakdown the enzyme lacking food.

Your immune system uses enzymes to breakdown the toxins it finds in your body. The cells of the immune system carry enzymes with them.

Foods That Contain Catalase










Sugar Cane






1. Enzyme Nutrition by Edward Howell, page 35.
2. Food Enzymes by Humbart Santillo, page 12.

Another good book on enzymes is, Enzymes The Fountain of Life by D.A. Lopez, MD. It goes in depth into the process of how large enzyme molecules are absorbed when taken orally.

The following is information on how to find out if a food contains catalase, from Albert R Gordon, Jul. 2, 1997.

Although animal liver is often used as a source of catalase for laboratory experiments, you will find catalase in most plant species. I recall reading reviews many years ago that outlined specific plant species that have large amounts, but I do not recall the sources (I'd check the Annual Review of Biochemistry). There are several books out also but these may be quite dated by now.
You can easily test for the presence of catalase in a plant by using 3% hydrogen peroxide in a beaker and dropping a small chuck of plant with cut sides into the beaker. The evolution of bubbles (oxygen) is indicative of catalase activity. Fleshy stems and leaves will rise to the surface.
Plants that do not have large amounts of catalase usually have large amounts of a related enzyme called peroxidase. Peroxidase breaks down hydrogen peroxide using an electron donor that is oxidized in the process. Catalase tends to work best at higher hydrogen peroxide concentrations whereas peroxidase is most efficient at lower hydrogen peroxide concentrations.

This shows that plants in general contain either catalase or peroxidase, which break down hydrogen peroxide. If the excess hydrogen peroxide in the skin is causing the breakdown of melanin or inactivation of the melanocytes then plants may be the protectors of these cells. Adding more plant foods and reducing animal proteins may in fact allow the melanocytes to perform their intended function.

Sugar Cane also contains tyrosinase, an enzyme important in the production of melanin. We have been eating evaporated cane juice since we went on a health food diet. The brand we use is called Sucanat. (Sucanat North American Corporation, 26 Clinton Drive #117, Hollis, NH 03049 USA) Remember that enzymes are destroyed at about 120 degrees F, so you should eat raw foods to get them in your diet. Unfortunately Sucanat confirmed to me that they do heat the juice to above 120 degrees F.

I am concerned about the direction we are taking with food processing in this country. We are all concerned about food borne pathogens like the new strains of E-Coli and Salmonella. The problem I see is that we are looking towards the quick fix instead of addressing the root of the problem. Many of us are ready to embrace irradiation of our foods to eliminate the pathogens. The concern is that the pathogens are not the only things affected by irradiation. Irradiation destroys the enzymes in the food as well. As I have found from the available literature, these enzymes are important in a long and healthy life. The real fix to the pathogen problem is a conversion from factory farming of livestock towards buying more locally grown, organically produced vegetable, grains, fruits and legumes. We are creating the problem by our own demand for animal products, with the huge demand come huge amounts of manure. The more we purchase animal products, the more antibiotics are used for bio-security. The more antibiotics used, the more virulent forms of bacteria are grown. So with each dollar we spend, we can vote to have more locally grown, organic produce and fewer factory farmed animal products. Creating less manure and causing fewer problems with bacteria and pollution from runoff.


I have also read that as we age our ability to produce hydrochloric acid in our stomach is reduced. This is called achlorhydria. The same source talked about a doctor that cured his vitiligo with these supplements. There is a test a doctor can perform to check for this condition. It requires dropping a radio transmitter into your stomach, with a string attached. The acid levels are measured and transmitted back to a recording device. For more information on the low stomach acid test follow this link. There are HCL supplements you can buy; a company called Freeda's makes a vegetarian tablet. We have not tried this, as Emily is still very young.

Permanent Goosebumps and Carrots

Emily has been getting "permanent Goosebumps" lately. We just give her a carrot a day and this seems to keep them under control. Vitamin A is known to be good for Permanent Goosebumps (I learned this from Dr. Williams he publishes a newsletter called Alternatives) and beta-carotene from carrots is a precursor to vitamin A. Our bodies can make vitamin A from beta carotene. Permanent Goosebumps are little bumps that Emily and I get when we haven't had enough beta-carotene. They look and externally feel much like regular Goosebumps but don't go away, unless of course I eat or juice a carrot. I say externally feel because you don't actually get the tingling up the spine feeling, of real Goosebumps. I think that in certain areas of the skin that this occurs, the waste products that the skin is trying to eliminate are not able to make their way out.

I would suggest staying away from vitamin A supplements; I feel that carrots and carrot juice are the appropriate way to get beta-carotene (precursor to vitamin A). Other sources are sweet potato, winter squash, pumpkins, mango, apricots, papaya and cantaloupe. Food sources are better than beta-carotene supplements as foods have other important carotenoids. Carotenoids are powerful antioxidants.

This problem has seemed to disappear over time, or maybe we just eat enough carrots now.

Skin Conditioner and Pine Tar Soap

We have gotten into the habit of applying a skin conditioner after showering (after reading Neal Barnard's book, Eat Right, Live Longer). The one we use is cruelty free and something we picked up at the local food coop, April 1997. It is called Yuzu (Japanese Citrus) Moisturizing Formula and ShiKai makes it.

We have also changed over to castile soap (we get it at our local HFS) from the standard brands we used to buy at the grocery stores.

Soap that we have recently started using contains Pine Tar; it is made by Aubrey Organics. Pine Tar is also called pycnogenol and it is a powerful anti-oxidant, more powerful that vitamin C.

Abrasions and Scratching

We noticed that often times Emily's scraped knees were not recovering their pigment. This led us to be concerned that scratching might cause new depigmented areas (others have posted information about scratching on VSIG). We have asked Emily not to scratch and if she feels the need, we apply aloe or a skin conditioner.

This problem seems to have gone away. She now repigments scrapes with no problem.

Pesticides, Herbicides and Fungicides

If you know that animal food sources contain a lot of these substances which you know are potentially harmful, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense to go on eating them.

Oliver Alabaster, MD, George Washington University Medical Center, from Foods Can Save Your Life by Neal Barnard, page 28

Our home and property is now a pesticide free zone. Any chemicals we used to use, such as diazinon, dursban, baygone, atrazine, have now been replaced by natural alternatives.

We have planted all native (indigenous) plants, with lots of flowers. We use a thick layer of pine bark to fight the weeds. If a fungus attacks our plants, then it didn't deserve to be a part of our landscape in the first place.

One good thing is that we don't have all of those poisons around the house to worry about. Like if the kids get into them.

This is another gray area, I used these chemicals for years then Emily developed vitiligo. Could they have caused it, I believe it is possible. I can remember shaking after spraying my house for cockroaches. My whole body shook uncontrollably for a short period of time, probably less than half an hour. My father had used these same chemicals to keep away roaches when I was young, so I used them. You mix the bottle with a few gallons of water, shake it up and apply it to the baseboards of the house. We would evacuate for a few hours and let the stuff dry and the fumes would dissipate. It is amazing what we would do to our bodies in this country, I would do it again and my body would shake, then I would do it again. I would probably be doing it today if the vitiligo had not opened our eyes. We no longer spray, we keep the house very clean, as well as cleaning the dishes immediately after meals (this has always been the case), well sealed and we use Harris roach tablets. They are made with boric acid, are non-toxic and are very effective. They are also easier to use then chemical sprays. Spraying around the beds in the children's rooms always concerned me.

For ants we use boric acid mixed with powdered sugar, or Terro syrup (a product that contains borax and syrup).


I had considered using an amino acid treatment on Emily. It involves supplementing with phenylalanine. The following excerpt from Foods Can Save Your Life changed my mind. This is from an interview of Richard Wurtman, MD, from MIT:

Phenylalanine can damage brain cells. High levels of phenylalanine develop in children with a disease called phenylketonuria, or PKU. Profound brain damage is often the result. When we consume aspartame, we are essentially drinking phenylalanine. How much NutraSweet can we consume and still be sure that the phenylalanine levels in the brain are safe? No one knows. Wurtman advises pregnant women and small children to stay off aspartame completely. Phenylalanine affects brain cells directly and interferes with substances in the brain, which are responsible for preventing seizures.

This amino acid is abundant in our diets, is it possible that we are not digesting our protein well enough to break down this acid?

Hair Color

My hair has been lightening since I was about 33. I have noticed friends whose hair regained its color. One friend used colloidal minerals and swore that it was the tin that gave him his color back. Another used the Asian herb ginseng and was successful in regaining his hair color. I work with both of them and they both had remarkable changes in hair color. I tried both of these things and didn't see any progress. The pictures in Dr. Montes' book have inspired me to try using PABA to regain the pigment in my hair, July 1998. I have also added a hydrochloric acid supplement after each meal. I will keep you updated as to how this is working.

More Ideas

From Let's Live February 1996, page 22, in the "Preventative Medicine" section by Richard P. Huemer, MD

Q. My 11-year-old son has vitiligo, a rare skin pigmentation problem. It started five years ago, and now is spreading over his body. His pediatric dermatologist says nothing can be done for him. Hydrocortisone has failed. Blood tests have ruled out associated conditions like Addison's disease and diabetes. Would natural products that are good for the immune system and skin be of any benefit? I was wondering about zinc, garlic, royal jelly and vitamins A, E and C. -J.L., Elysburg, Penn.


Q. I found an old article in "Let's Live" (Dec. 1977) on vitiligo by the late Paavo Airola, ND It was the most encouraging information I've found. I began losing my pigment two years ago after a stubborn infection. According to the article, Dr. Sieve gave injections of PABA with monoethanolamine to 48 cases, and had disappearance of vitiligo in every case. Where can I find liquid PABA? -J.K., Rochelle, Ill.


A. Dr. Airola was probably referring to a report by B.F. Sieve in Virginia Medical Monthly (Jan. 1945; 6-17). Sieve started out by giving 100 mg of PABA three or four times daily, in addition to B complex. Because the effect was slow, injectable monoethanolamine PABA was added, 100 mg twice daily. The results were stated to be striking after six or seven months of treatment.
Oral PABA is available in this dosage range, but watch out for potential side effects like skin rash, loss of appetite and liver toxicity with high doses. To get the injectable form, you need three things: a cooperative doctor who will write a prescription, a compounding pharmacist who will prepare the injectable solution and a copy of Dr. Sieve's original article for both the doctor and the pharmacist.
Other nutrients that have been tried include copper and the amino acid l-phenylalanine. The phenylalanine gets converted by the body into l-tyrosine, another amino acid. Tyrosine has many roles in the body, one of which is to become skin pigment (melanin) through the action of a special enzyme that requires copper.
In a 1985 study, doctors treated patients with doses of phenylalanine in the 3- to 4-gm range, and then exposed the patients to ultraviolet light shortly after the dose. They reported "reasonable" repigmentation after four months of this.
Low stomach acid may be a factor in vitiligo. Of the several ways of testing for this condition, I prefer the radio telemetry pill ("Heidelberg capsule"), which broadcasts pH information from inside the stomach to the outside world. Betaine hydrochloride or glutamic acid hydrochloride are supplements to help correct a low-acid problem.
I don't see why multiple vitamins wouldn't help some, but I'd suggest going easy on zinc, since it antagonizes copper.

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Chapter 6

Typical Weekly Meal Plan

I have been asked many times, "So what do you eat?" So here is a list of some the things we might eat in a typical week.


oatmeal with Stevia,
shredded wheat with fat free soy milk,
on special occasions we have pancakes and maple syrup,
bagels with onion slices and fake Canadian bacon (made from soy)


leftovers from dinner,
soup or chili with extra potatoes or corn,
tomato onion sandwiches,
cucumber onion sandwiches,
peanut butter and jelly sandwich (I don't eat them very often, cause they are high in fat and sugars),
home made sauerkraut,
eggless egg salad (from Cooking Healthy With One Foot Out the Door)


black bean and corn salad,
potato salad and baked beans,
spaghetti with marinara sauce with Parmazano (from the Uncheese Cookbook),
butternut squash and spinach,
French fried wedges (really baked potato wedges),
Macaroni and fake cheese with stewed tomatoes (our own twist on a recipe from the Uncheese Cookbook) Emily's favorite,
black beans and rice (homemade salsa),
Mexican fiesta Mom's favorite,
Submarine Sandwich fiesta,
split pea soup and whole wheat bread,
Not-dogs or garden burgers with sprouted wheat buns and lots of fresh cut veggies,
veggie kabobs,
red beans and rice,
Turkish wedding soup (red lentils),
fettuccini alphonso (from the Uncheese Cookbook),
stir fry with baked tofu, cauliflower casserole,
burrito night with "Gee Whiz" (from the Uncheese Cookbook),
pizza (hold the cheese, add extra sauce on the side),
pasta Fagioli,
nori rolls Kyle's favorite,
sloppy Joe's,
baked ziti,
veggie ribs


apple pie/crisp,

Please, order a copy of our cookbook, These Are a Few of Our Favorite Things. Full of staple recipes that we enjoy each month.

I also like this brief write-up by the PCRM called The 3-Step Way to Go Vegetarian.

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Chapter 7

Don't Give Up

While working a large puzzle it is important to step back at times, take a break and rest. Always look back at the cover for the big picture. It helped in this vitiligo puzzle to keep a record of what happened on the journey, through notes, photos, and medical records. One thing that helped was that anything we posted to VSIG was saved into an archive. So it was easy to go back and find out when we started any new course of treatment.

You will find the treatment that is right for you. With a little perseverance you will get rid of vitiligo.


We watched Lorenzo's Oil a couple of times. If anyone needs inspiration in the fight against any disease, rent this movie. It also shows you that things could be worse. Another good inspirational movie was Patch Adams, it helps you to think outside of the envelope.
Also the support we receive from VSIG has been fantastic. Reading about what others are doing and their success is very inspirational.

Repigmentation Process

This disease could drive you crazy, if you let it. At one point Emily was gaining and loosing pigment at the same rate. The timeline will be helpful in this regard, in it I talk a little about how she was depigmenting and repigmenting. There was a transition period between depigmenting and repigmenting. I seem to remember that she was depigmenting for a few years, then she was depigmenting and repigmenting for some period (but the depigmentation was winning), then she stopped depigmenting altogether.

I have noticed that since Emily's vitiligo is no longer "active" (read - actively spreading) her scars heal and pigment normally.

We have noticed that when Emily's spots turn red that seems to be a good sign. They start freckling after that.

With vitiligo, persistence pays off. I have noticed that with anything that requires persistence it helps me to read different authors on the subject. Their words will inspire you to keep the fires burning.


Emily has made very good progress. Here is a timeline of her progress with before and after photos. We recommend taking pictures of the vitiligo often. I suggest using artificial light, write down information like the film speed, pay attention to body position and facial expression and watts of light used. Keep the background the same, a solid color works best. Without pictures it is hard to get feedback as to whether the repigmentation is progressing. Keeping other records helps as well, start a scrapbook. It is all great feedback, how else will you know what works for you? The timeline really helps when you find yourself slipping and going back to old habits. Sometimes we forget how far along the vitiligo had gotten on Emily. When we see the pictures we get renewed energy to stick with what works.

Following the timeline is a side by side comparison of the photos (before and after).

We moved to our current home, on Jamaica Dr., 2-92.
Emily's 5th birthday, 7-13-93.
Subscribed to Alternative's, from Mountain Home Publishing, I was looking for ways to lower my cholesterol, 2-10-94.
First spot, on foot, 3-94.
Ordered back issues of Alternative's, 4-7-94.
Joined the local food coop, Sunseed 4-11-94.
Started adding more yogurts with Acidophilus to our diet.
Local dermatologist (Dr. Eells) diagnosed Emily with vitiligo; she had a spot on her right ankle and one on her left thigh, 7-7-94.
Ordered back issues of Alternative's (issue dealt with Melagenina, 3-93 Vol. 4 #21), 7-8-94.
Emily turns 6, 7-13-94
Joined NVFI, 11-4-94.
Ate vegetarian for two months, Jan + Feb. 1995.
Pediatrician Acosta, diagnosed as vitiligo, requested second opinion from dermatologist 4-6-95.
Blood test, high cholesterol, 125 LDL, 184 total (this may indicate that her homocysteine levels were high. In that case folic acid and other B vitamins would be helpful. In future homocysteine levels should be checked), 4-6-95.
Wrote letter to NVFI about starting a listserv, 4-27-95.
Ordered back issues of Alternative's, 4-30-95.
Reading about PABA and B vitamins for vitiligo on the Internet, before hearing of Dr. Montes, 5-1-95.
Susie graduated from UCF, Big party, had gone back to eating meat again, 5-3-95.
Started giving Emily PABA, 5-9-95.
Photos, 5-16-95.
Description: Description: Description: Neck and chest, 5-16-95.Description: Description: Description: Neck and chest, 5-16-95.Description: Description: Description: Neck and chest, 5-16-95.Neck and upper chest, 5-16-95.
Description: Description: Description: Neck and back, 5-16-95.Description: Description: Description: Neck and back, 5-16-95.Neck and back, 5-16-95.
Description: Description: Description: The back of her knees, 5-16-95.Description: Description: Description: The back of her knees, 5-16-95.The back of her knees, 5-16-95.
Description: Description: Description: Knees, shins and ankles, 5-16-95.Description: Description: Description: Knees, shins and ankles, 5-16-95.Knees, shins and ankles, 5-16-95.
Description: Description: Description: Ankles, 5-16-95.Description: Description: Description: Ankles, 5-16-95.Description: Description: Description: Ankles, 5-16-95.Ankles, 5-16-95.
Received AAD guidelines from Dr. Eells, not much use, 5-22-95.
Noticed that it started in places where she sweats, 5-23-95.
Had it on face, armpits, ankles, knees, and neck 5-24-95.
Dermatologist Moreno, diagnosed Emily with vitiligo, he was surprised at how far along it had progressed for her age. He wanted to start PUVA immediately and he referred her to Dr. Zies. We decided against PUVA after reading Physicians’ Desk Reference, his report indicated it was on her neck, arms, legs and trunk. At this point we were really questioning our own judgment, 5-24-95.
Been reading VEGAN-L and HERB listservs, 5-26-95.
Received Dr. Montes' article on vitamin therapy from the NVFI. I wrote letter to Dr. Montes and Dr. Rebat Hadler, 5-30-95.
Started vegetarian lifestyle, also started folic acid and vitamin C treatment (probably stopped the PABA at this time), Susie took vegetarian cooking class, 6-1-95.
From a note on my to-do list, "Dr. Acosta mentioned that he will get a med-line search. Should take a couple of days. Would like time to digest information. Seemed very receptive. Would like any information I get from Dr. Nordlund. A little skeptical about Buenos Aires research.", 6-1-95.
Took my letter to Dr. Montes to the post office, 6-1-95
Reading more about herbs and psoralen, 6-95
From a note on my to-do list, "Saturday 6-10-95 3:50 PM Emily by herself on couch, sucking thumb, Kyle + Katie outside playing. Emily has headache. Just recently ate a banana, not hungry. Gave her a half a kelp pill. 15 minutes later she is outside playing and happy. 2 B-50, 500 mg C, 1/2 kelp, 1 Amino Acid complex, Multi-vitamin, Cal Mag Zinc x2, and primrose oil. I don't believe Immune system is to "strong or weak". I do believe it could use supplementation to properly carry out its function. (Note: Strong and weak sound like jargon words when describing the immune system. We should use more descriptive language to describe what is actually going on.), 6-10-95
Note on my to-do list, "folacin deficiency, produces anemia. Antibiotics particularly sulfa drugs are chemically similar to PABA. Blocks production of folacin. Page 294 Introduction to Organic and Biological Chemistry, Ronald M Scott, 6-12-95
Plotting her morning temperature, turned out to be borderline low, started kelp tablets, 6-12-95.
We received mail from Dr. Montes, 6-13-95.
Wrote to Dr. Urbanek about coal tar therapy, Dr. R. W. Urbanek 1324 Victory Blvd. Staten Island, NY 10301. My father-in-law mentioned a possible cancer link with coal tar and I didn't look into it any further, June, 1995.
Dr. Bob Zenhausern agrees to host VSIG at St. John's University, 6-15-95. YES!
Birth of VSIG, 6-23-95.
Finished reading May All Be Fed, 6-27-95.
Started Juicing, after talking to Mark Vigeant, 6-28-95.
Emily turns 7, 7-13-95.
Had read May All Be Fed, told Ludger Solbach we were eating all whole foods, 7-14-95.
Stopped vitamin supplements for blood test, 7-20-95.
Started Vegan (pure vegetarian) lifestyle, 8-95.
Switched to acidophilus supplements.
Started drinking Distilled Water, 8-9-95.
Great video clip of vitiligo on Emily's neck and shins, 8-11-95.
Description: Description: Description: D:\Fricker Library\Eric\web\ev\images\emily950811-1.jpg
Description: Description: Description: D:\Fricker Library\Eric\web\ev\images\emily950811-2.jpg
Description: Description: Description: D:\Fricker Library\Eric\web\ev\images\emily950811-3.jpg
Description: Description: Description: D:\Fricker Library\Eric\web\ev\images\emily950811-4.jpg
Description: Description: Description: D:\Fricker Library\Eric\web\ev\images\emily950811-5.jpg
Description: Description: Description: D:\Fricker Library\Eric\web\ev\images\emily950811-6.jpg
Looking into esteem building activities for Emily (sports related). I think that at this point we felt she might never repigment and we should prepare her for a potentially difficult teenage life. I remember looking into Tai Quon Do but the kids weren't interested, 8-12-95.
Joined EarthSave, 8-23-95.
Spots have spread to her legs, arms, chest, back, neck and chin, 9-20-95.
Checked vitamin levels in blood, all normal, didn't go back to using the vitamin supplements (used occasional multi-vitamins) 10-3-95.
St. John's Wort, started taking 1 per week (not sure when we increased it to three per week) 10-4-95.
Her vitiligo seems to be continually changing, freckles on a white spot, more defined border on another spot, then a new spot somewhere else, 10-20-95.
Attended Orlando Health Fair, 10-95.
Vitiligo still active, some spots freckling, others depigmenting, 11-5-95.
Article in "Let's Live" about vitiligo, PABA, b-vitamins and hydrochloric acid, 2-96.
Became lifetime members, Sunseed Food Coop 3-5-96.
Sandy Konkel offered Mind/Body Counseling, 3-10-96.
Description: Description: Description: Blurry, but this is her neck 5-96.Blurry, but this is her neck 5-96.
Went to a SBGA meeting and heard a testimonial about vitiligo, 5-11-96
Description: Description: Description: Another picture of her neck, spot turning pink, 6-96.Another picture of her neck, spot turning pink, 6-96.
First session with Sandy, Mind/Body Counseling, 6-6-96.
Started taking Super Blue Green Algae, 6-10-96.
Mind/Body Counseling, 6-20-96.
Started noticing more freckling, 6-22-96.
Started taking one Catalase per day, 6-25-96.
Emily turns 8, 7-13-96.
Photo on Aunt Sandy's rocking chair, cropped to seek neck, knee and shin, 7-23-96.
Description: Description: Description: Neck, pink spots, 7-23-96.Neck, pink spots, 7-23-96.
Description: Description: Description: Knee and shin, pink spots, 7-23-96.Knee and shin, pink spots, 7-23-96.
The backs of her knees have been freckling for at least two months. These are areas about 4 inches by 2 inches that were completely depigmented, 8-8-96
Description: Description: Description: Neck, 9-96.This is her neck, 9-96.
The large shape on her chest, like a monarch butterfly, is now filling in and looks like a small bat at dusk, 9-15-96
Description: Description: Description: Neck, 10-96.This is her neck, 10-96.
Worked the EarthSave Booth at the Orlando Health Fair, 10-30-96.
Mind/Body Counseling, 12-4-96.
Started feeling more confident about her progress, scratched vitiligo off of to-do list, 1-97.
Description: Description: Description: This is her shin, 3-2-97.This is her shin, 3-2-97.
Emily is about 60% improved and holding, we are currently giving her three St. Johns Wort tablets per week 4-9-97.
Received a free copy of Dr. Montes’ book, 5-11-97.
Started taking colloidal minerals, used infrequently, once or twice a week added to carrot juice, 5-28-97.
Started taking one St. Johns Wort per day, 6-97.
Mind/Body Counseling, 7-2-97.
Photos, 7-97.
Description: Description: Description: Neck and chest, 7-97.Description: Description: Description: Neck and chest, 7-97.Description: Description: Description: Neck and chest, 7-97.Neck and chest, 7-97.
Description: Description: Description: Neck and back, 7-97.Description: Description: Description: Neck and back, 7-97.Neck and back, 7-97.
Description: Description: Description: The back of her knees, 7-97.Description: Description: Description: The back of her knees, 7-97.The back of her knees, 7-97.
Description: Description: Description: Knees, shins and ankles, 7-97.Description: Description: Description: Knees, shins and ankles, 7-97.Knees, shins and ankles, 7-97.
Description: Description: Description: Ankles, 7-97.Description: Description: Description: Ankles, 7-97.Description: Description: Description: Ankles, 7-97.Ankles, 7-97.
Description: Description: Description: Neck, 7-97.Neck, 7-97.
Description: Description: Description: Knee and shin, some skin is actually darker than normal, 7-97.Knee and shin, some skin is actually darker than normal, 7-97.
Emily turns 9, 7-13-97.
Out to dinner with Rick and Linda DeBarros, met Paul and Eric, July, 1997.
80% repigmented, she only has two plaques that don't show any sign of repigmenting, on her ankles, 8-18-97.
Started vegetarian form of catalase, 8-20-97
Emily is fine. There has been no change in her vitiligo in the last few months. I have been trying to work with her doctors about giving her a folic acid injection in one of her ankles (spots where her vitiligo has not repigmented as much as the rest of her body). It is like beating my head against a brick wall, I feel like asking for an injection of Ritalin (bet I would get further with that). Anyway we have been slowing down with the supplements, as we want to give her a break for a month, December, 1997.
Finally convinced the pediatrician (Dr. Arnold) and dermatologist (Dr. Bishop) to give her folate (2 mg/day) and vitamin B12 (200 mcg/day), they were actually very good, just trying to cover themselves, 3-98.
Started painting her left ankle with liquid PABA once a day, took pictures, 6-6-98.
Emily is 10, 7-13-98.
Out to dinner with Tom, Carol, Tiffany, Stephanie, Whitney and Kimberly Hernandez, 8-14-98.
She is currently repigmenting very slowly. I give her five 800 micro gram folic acid tablets, one B100 complex, one SJW tablet, one 250 mg vitamin C (chewable), one chewable multi vitamin, one kelp tablet, all of these are taken daily. I occasionally give her an acidophilus capsule and a weekly glass of carrot juice. I want to juice more often, just haven’t lately. Her vitiligo is now mostly confined to her ankles and they are freckling. I say mostly confined because the other areas have freckled in very well, but still need further progress. We paint her left ankle and shin with DMAE-H3 each night, to see if it helps any, 8-31-98.
Started using Pine Tar soap, made by Aubrey Organics, 10-1-98.
Switched over to non-chewable vitamin C, 500 mg and multi vitamin. Also increased folic acid to six 800 micro gram tablets. Discontinued the DMAE-H3, just didn't see much difference. 12-98.


In this side by side (before and after) comparison of Emily's vitiligo, you will be able to dramatically see how much progress we have made.

Photo's on left were taken 5-95 Photo's on right were taken 7-97

Before (May ’95)Description: Description: Description: Front of neck and upper chest area, 5-95 Description: Description: Description: Front of neck and upper chest area, 7-97after (July ’97).
Before (May ’95)
Description: Description: Description: Front of neck and upper chest area, 5-95 Description: Description: Description: Front of neck and upper chest area, 7-97after (July ’97). Neck and chest are slowly filling in.
Before (May ’95)
Description: Description: Description: Front of neck and upper chest area, 5-95 Description: Description: Description: Front of neck and upper chest area, 7-97after (July ’97)
Description: Description: Description: Back and neck, 5-955-95 Description: Description: Description: Back and neck, 7-977-97. You can see a lot of glare in some of the "after" pictures.
Description: Description: Description: Back and neck, 5-955-95Description: Description: Description: Back and neck, 7-97. 7-97
Description: Description: Description: Lower legs, 5-955-95 Description: Description: Description: Lower legs, 7-977-97. Big difference here
Description: Description: Description: Lower legs, 5-955-95 Description: Description: Description: Lower legs, 7-977-97. And here.
Description: Description: Description: Back of knees, 5-955-95 Description: Description: Description: Back of knees, 7-97.7-97. We first started seeing her repigmenting here.
Description: Description: Description: Back of knees, 5-955-95 Description: Description: Description: Back of knees, 7-97.7-97
Description: Description: Description: Ankles, 5-955-95 Description: Description: Description: Ankles, 7-97.7-97. A little change here, but not much.
Description: Description: Description: Ankles, 5-955-95 Description: Description: Description: Ankles, 7-97.7-97
Description: Description: Description: Ankles, 5-955-95 Description: Description: Description: Ankles, 7-977-97
Description: Description: Description: Neck 5-965-96 Description: Description: Description: Neck 6-966-96 Description: Description: Description: Neck 7-23-967-23-96 Description: Description: Description: Neck, 9-96.9-96 Description: Description: Description: Neck, 10-96.10-96 Description: Description: Description: Neck 7-977-97
Description: Description: Description: Shin 7-23-967-23-96 Description: Description: Description: Shin 3-2-973-2-97 Description: Description: Description: Shin 7-977-97
Picture taken on 7-23-96 is one where the disease had progressed the most. Now you have to really look to see the vitiligo.

Go back to the timeline.

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Chapter 8

VSIG and Other Resources

There is one aspect of putting a puzzle together that I think I like most of all. It brings the family and friends together. Who can pass a puzzle and not try to put just one piece in. Everyone likes to feel that they helped, just a little bit.

Talk to someone with vitiligo

Since this is a rare disease you may not be able to find someone who lives down the street with it. Even if you could find someone locally with the disease you might not want to talk face to face about it. At least that was our reaction, when we first met people on the Internet with vitiligo we were very apprehensive about talking to them in person about vitiligo. The non-visual email boundary was enough for us. I think we really didn't want to see how bad it could get. Emily's was depigmenting so fast, I was afraid that if I met someone with a lot of vitiligo it might be too much to take. Whenever I saw a picture of someone with a large amount of vitiligo, I projected it onto my daughter.

I remember that John Petrik offered his phone number when we first met on the Internet. I declined to call. I was afraid it would lead to a meeting that I was not prepared for mentally. Of course we are now ready and more than willing to meet others with vitiligo. I realize that I was wrong at first. On a trip to Seattle we did meet with the DeBarros family, their son Paul has vitiligo. We really enjoyed ourselves and it was good therapy for Susie and me. Just to be able to talk to other parents whose children have vitiligo, face to face, was great. We are also thankful to have met their son's Eric and Paul.

That is what makes a vitiligo email list so wonderful. If you are not ready or prepared mentally to meet with others who have vitiligo, you can still talk to them. You get anonymous support, which is what we needed at first.

Here is an example of some of the mail I get thanking me for starting the VSIG.

Dear Eric
I am leaving the list only because I'm going away for a bit - will not have a chance to access my mail. This list has been so very helpful to me since last year when I was diagnosed with vitiligo. I felt that here was the only place I could turn to where no one would stare at me and wonder what planet I came from - in fact, people were sympathetic, considerate, helpful and most of all very very informative. I thank you very much for your support.


The following organizations have helped us, by supplying information about vitiligo. I have used some of that information in this book.

American Vitiligo Research Foundation, Incorporated

National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases
9000 Rockville Pike
Bethesda, MD 20892

National Vitiligo Foundation Incorporated

Animal Testing

We now recommend supporting the American Vitiligo Research Foundation Inc.; they do not support animal testing.

Why you should support an organization that does not fund animal testing.

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Animal tests have one purpose in today's medical environment; they are used to support liability defenses.

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The tests don't apply to humans; one example is that a cat will die if you feed it aspirin.

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These tests are wasteful of the human brainpower required to solve the riddle of disease. The intelligent people working on animal tests could be put to better use studying population groups, testing real human tissues and using computer models.

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Imagine if you were one of the technicians who had to do this work, day in and day out. That has to work on your psyche. In this case the animal tests are abusing the human animal. Often times IMHO these people aren't the Chief Scientist that came up with the idea of the experiment, these are the people who actually have to get their hands dirty.

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They actually obfuscate the problem. Consider that the tobacco industry used animal tests for years to show that smoking did not cause cancer.

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Animal tests and their acceptance reduce our level of compassion. It lowers the collective conscience of our society. What happens to the animals after the experiment is over? Are they sent to a sanctuary? Are their wounds healed? Do they use painkillers before they burn their skin?

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Even after animal tests, close to 50% of all drugs are removed from the market place because of adverse reactions. If the animal tests were successful, wouldn't this percentage be much lower?

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Every time a knock off drug (another generic form of the same drug) is produced it has to go through the same tests that the original generic equivalent had to go through. This has happened many times for such drugs as Valium.

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For more information on animal testing contact the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM).

Here is an excellent article titled For Stella Pavlides, Isolation of Vitiligo Strikes Two Ways from the Wall Street Journal. It describes why Stella has chosen this path.

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What have we concluded from all of this? In a nutshell I believe that following Dr. Montes advice with the possible addition of a natural psoralen (St. Johns Wort in our case) along with a 1/2 hour in the sun or some time in a tanning booth (start slowly) will correct this condition. Vitiligo won't disappear overnight, just as many of the problems that caused it have been developing over a long period of time.

Our shift to a pure vegetarian lifestyle raised our intake of the vitamins Dr. Montes recommends. It also supported our bodies in eliminating toxins, by not having to deal with a lot of unneeded nutrients (as if cholesterol is a nutrient). I believe it also eliminated potential triggers of vitiligo; animal protein, sulfa-based antibiotics, pesticides.

Follow common sense rules for healthy living, no-saturated fats, increase raw fruits and veggies, no-cholesterol, get outside in the sun and fresh air every day (not mid-day sun), exercise and see a therapist or share your feelings openly with your close friends. Keep it simple; just remember how healthy a carrot can be for your skin. You don't necessarily have to know that it contains carotenes, calcium, fluoride, iodine, manganese, silicone, sodium, sulfur, panothenic acid (vitamin B-6), calciferol (vitamin D), tocopherol (vitamin E), phylloquinone (vitamin K), catalase, psoralen, just know that veggies are good for healthy skin.

When you finally solve a jigsaw puzzle it gives you a great sense of closure. We don't quite have that with our vitiligo. I hope one day to say that we do. I remember as a child hiding a piece of the puzzle in my pocket. I would help my Mom solve the puzzle, at the end I could stick in the final piece. It isn't so important now to put in the last piece. The enjoyment has come from working the puzzle, the journey rather than the destination. We are, as a family, living healthier more compassionate lives. The beauty of it all comes into focus in that as a side benefit, Emily is visibly getting better. It is a yardstick of our choices. Vitiligo has not only started us on our path, it has measured our progress.

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Appendix A

Internet Information

VSIG is a group of individuals who discuss vitiligo daily via email. More information about VSIG can be found at Information on searching past posts to VSIG can be found here as well.

How to subscribe
Send email to with the command
in the body of the note. Of course you must substitute your real name into the command.
It might look like

Network Etiquette
VSIG is a support group and anytime you post to it, ask yourself if what you are doing is supportive. If not, don't post it. If you feel the need to be heard, send it directly to the person involved or to the ListOwner (me). Also never post a message sent directly to you, without permission to post it.

Emoticons are helpful for displaying emotion in a text-based environment. Here are a few examples; you have to look at them sideways.
:-) This is a smiley face.
;-) This is a wink.
:-| A straight face
:-( A frown

These are acronyms that are used widely on the Internet.
KIT - Keep In Touch
LOL - Laughing Out Loud
ROTFL - Rolling On The Floor Laughing
TTFN - Ta Ta For Now (It's what Tigger said in Winnie the Pooh)

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Appendix B

Dr. Leopoldo Montes

Dr. Leopoldo F. Montes, MD, MS, F.R.C.P.C.
Director of Dermatology Research Structural Research Center
Mobile Professor Emeritus of Dermatology
University of Alabama at Birmingham
Birmingham, Alabama

Dr. Montes wrote:

Vitiligo, Nutritional Therapy by Leopoldo F. Montes
Westhoven Press
Buenos Aires, Argentina
ISBN 987-96240-0-9

My Review: This is an excellent book for those suffering from vitiligo, it should be required reading. Dr. Montes explains many aspects of the disease from the history of treatment to diagnosis to ideas on nutritional therapy. There are times that a slight language barrier exists in the book between English, Spanish and medical language. Most of the time the message gets through to the reader. I am most pleased with the photographs of patients and photos used to explain the disease itself. Also included in this book are patients that have Alopecia areata (hair loss in patches), with significant progress in hair growth.

To order this book contact
Dr. Jan Petrik
1442 Mendelssohn Drive
Westlake, Ohio 44145
Phone: 440-835-2025

Send a Money Order or Cashier's Check addressed to Jan Petrik in the amount of $44 if mailed within the U.S. or $50 if mailed overseas. The book will then be sent to you by US Postal Priority Mail.

More Information from Jan Petrik:


Vitiligo, Nutritional Therapy

As you may know, my office is now providing distribution for Dr. Montes' book Vitiligo, Nutritional Therapy. This system of distribution has proven to be extremely effective, especially since it has provided a much faster method of delivery in addition to providing a guarantee of receiving the book. As many of you are aware, the majority of people were having lots of problems when they ordered the book from Argentina due to no fault of Dr. Montes or Westhoven Press. The supposed disorganized and corrupt mail system resulted in many checks not reaching their intended destination and therefore many people lost their money. This is the reason my office decided to help in providing this service, not only as a favor to Dr. Montes but also so that everyone could be assured of receiving their book in a more secure and timely manner. However, I cannot be responsible for books that are ordered directly from Argentina. If you are interested in ordering Dr. Montes' book, here are the details. Please send a money order or bank cashier's check addressed to Jan Petrik in the amount of $44.00 if the book is mailed in United States or $50.00 if it is mailed to a foreign country; this includes the shipping cost. The reason for the difference is due to the cost of shipping. Also, please e-mail me your address and phone number in advance if possible in addition to enclosing that information when you send your payment. Upon receipt of your payment, your book will be sent to you by U.S. Priority Mail. The majority of people are receiving their books within 1-5 days. However, your book may be delayed if your payment is sent in a manner which requires signature and pickup at a designated location due to the fact that this requires myself or office personnel to pick up your envelope personally and sign for it. This is very time consuming and costly for me; therefore, I would prefer that this method not be used unless you really feel uncomfortable sending the money in a different manner.

Dr. Jan Petrik
1442 Mendelssohn Drive
Westlake, Ohio

Phone: 440-835-2025
Thanks very much for your courtesy in this manner. My sincerest best wishes to all of you!

P.S. No refunds or returns for Dr. Montes' book.

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Appendix C

My Cholesterol Levels

When viewing the graph below, remember that the cholesterol level of the average heart attack victim is 244. You can see that at 33 I was dangerously close to that level, 242. You can also see from the graph, that my cholesterol is now lower than it was when I was 27. The trend is still downward and my goal is to get it below the 150 mark. That is the level that minimizes your risk for heart disease.

The following items correspond to the numbers on the graph. These were different things I was trying at the time.
1. Tried the Rinse Formula, invented by Dr. Jacob Rinse, it was supposed to lower cholesterol. I think it worked but it didn't taste very good.
2. I ate very little meat after February 1995.
3. Vegan diet, started transition in September 1995.
4. Started McDougall program.
5. Started using more fat in recipes.
6. Vegan, have not been concerned with fats. Recently started surfing for exercise.
7. Vegan, started watching fats again (McDougall). Still surfing regularly.
8. Vegan, watching fats, using Stevia in morning breakfast instead of maple syrup.
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I usually pick up most of my books from the local library. If you are interested in purchasing one of these books try Amazon.comDescription: Description: Description: In Association with, if you don't find the book there let them know. Especially Dr. Montes' book, it would be nice to have books that deal with vitiligo and nutrition available on the web.

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If you order a book from this page I will be paid a percentage from I receive 5% for any book ordered via the two links above, the search engine and their home page. I will receive 15% from any of the direct links to books at below. If a book was offered in paperback or hardback, I went for the cheaper of the two. So thank you in advance if you order one of these books. Sometimes offers good reviews for the books at the following links.

If you would rather order from Barnes and Noble, please follow this link:

Diet and Health

Apple Cider Vinegar Health System by Paul C. and Patricia Bragg, ND. Ph.D.
Even though I believe that using unpasteurized ACV is good for you do to the need for active bacterial cultures in our gut; I wasn't too impressed with this book.

Beyond Beef by Jeremy Rifkin (click here to order this book from
This is the story of our cattle culture and what it is and has done to our environment.

Deadly Feasts: The 'Prion' Controversy and the Public's Health by Richard Rhodes (click here to order this book from
Well researched book about the history of spongiform encephalopathy. This book really grossed me out and I can usually handle some gross stuff.

Diet for a New America by John RobbinsDescription: Description: Description: Diet For A New America(click here to order this book from
If you’re interested in eating more healthfully, I suggest reading this book. If you are concerned about how you food gets to your table, this book will validate your concerns. It is not all gloom and doom, after reading anything by John Robbins, you realize there is a better way, a higher road.

Dr. Attwood's Low-Fat Prescription for Kids by Charles R. Attwood, MD (click here to order this book from
A very successful pediatrician, he tells us why he prescribes a low-fat vegetarian diet for kids. He also mentions that the parents seem to be helped by it as well. What is it about children that cause a whole family to change their ways?

Dr. Dean Ornish's Program for Reversing Heart Disease by Dean Ornish (click here to order this book from
Interesting to hear the effort required to get this common sense approach to health excepted by the modern medical establishment. Dr. Ornish has proven that heart disease can be reversed through diet and lifestyle changes.

Dr. Spock's Baby and Child Care by Benjamin Spock, Stephen J. Parker (click here to order this book from
Before he died, Dr. Spock revised his book. It now recommends raising your children as vegetarians. He also recommends avoiding milk and dairy products. Having this book available when our children were young was very helpful; just wish this latest revision was available then.

Don't Drink Your Milk! by Frank Oski, M.D. (click here to order this book from
A doctor that say's "don't drink your milk"? He is one of many you will read, if you read some of the books listed here.

Eat Right, Live Longer by Neal D. Barnard, MD (click here to order this book from
Foods Can Save Your Life: Leading Experts Tell You Why by Neal D. Barnard (click here to order this book from
Foods That Fight Pain by Neal Barnard (click here to order this book from
The Power of Your Plate by Neal D. Barnard, MD (click here to order this book from
Neal is one of my favorite doctors and these are some of my favorite books. He started the Physician Committee for Responsible Medicine, of which I am now a member. He is an excellent speaker and if you ever get a chance to see him, take it.

The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants by Andrew Chevallier (click here to order this book from
One of the best books I have ever seen on the subject of herbs. Great color pictures of the plants, very well written, made the subject matter interesting to me.

Enzyme Nutrition by Edward Howell (click here to order this book from
He has some very interesting theories on the operation of the digestive system. Helped me decide that more raw foods would be helpful.

Enzymes the Fountain of Life by Lopez, Williams and Miehlke (click here to order this book from
Some parts were a little over my head, goes into the specific mechanisms that allow a large enzyme molecule to enter the blood stream via the intestines. This has been debated on VSIG.

Food Enzymes by Humbart Santillo (click here to order this book from
Short and informative book on digestion.

The Hippocrates Diet and Health Program by Ann Wigmore (click here to order this book from
If you are interested in adding more raw foods to your diet, this would be a helpful book.

Introduction to Organic and Biological Chemistry by Ronald M Scott
This is the book that made the connection for me between antibiotic use and folic acid depletion.

Long Life Now by Lee Hitchcox, DC (click here to order this book from
This guy helped convince me that I need to exercise as well as eating right, and that was no small feat! This book touches every aspect of your life, even what type of sun glasses to purchase. It is like the manual that all humans should come with.

Mad Cowboy, Plain Truth from the Cattle Rancher Who Won't Eat Meat
By Howard F. Lyman With Glen Merzer (click here to order this book from
Howard is the guy who caused Oprah to say "That stopped me cold from eating another burger!” The cattlemen sued and she won. Howard is an excellent speaker, this is a great book. Howard is now the president of EarthSave International.

May All Be Fed by John Robbins (click here to order this book from
This is the book that enlightened me about the amount of sulfa-based antibiotics found in dairy in the United States. I had read in a biochemistry textbook previously that these powerful antibiotics interfere in folic acid absorption. Dr. Montes tells us how important folic acid is for healthy skin, to order Dr. Montes book, see Appendix B.

The McDougall Program by John A. McDougall, MD (click here to order this book from
One amazing story after another, from his own personal health problem, to his patients on Hawaii, to his patients at his clinic in Napa Valley, California. This book is very inspiring. Dr. McDougall is another great speaker; don't miss him if he comes to a town near you. One day I would like to go to him for a full physical.

The McDougall Program for Maximum Weight Loss by John A. McDougall, MD (click here to order this book from
Great recipes.

Meatless Meals For Working People by Debra Wasserman and Charles Stahler (click here to order this book from
I really liked the section on vegetarian and vegan items found at fast food or quick service restaurant chains.

Merck Manual (click here to order this book from

Mooove Over Milk by Let's Live

Nutritional Awareness Guide by Legion of Light
This is a laminated, legal sized card that lists vitamins and the foods that contain them. It was a gift, a friend gave to me. He picked it up in a HFS near San Diego.

Physician's Desk Reference (click here to order this book from

A Pictorial Handbook of Anatomy and Physiology by Dr. James Bevan

Prescription for Nutritional Healing by James F. Balch, MD (click here to order this book from
This book is important to help understand how our bodies are affected by different nutrients. Dr. Balch addresses just about every disease I have ever heard of, vitiligo included.

Reclaiming Our Health by John Robbins (click here to order this book from
If you are concerned about what to do in the event of a major disease, like cancer, get this book. I suggest reading it before you get the disease.

Reversing Diabetes by Dr. Julian Whitaker (click here to order this book from

Tissue Cleansing Through Bowel Management by Bernard Jensen (click here to order this book from
Warning the picture in this book are graphic and will completely turn your stomach.

Vegan Nutrition by Michael Klaper, MD (click here to order this book from

Vegan: The New Ethics of Eating by Erik Marcus (click here to order this book from
Very well written with many personal accounts, I have enjoyed reading this book.

Vitiligo, Nutritional Therapy by Leopoldo Montes, MD
Every vitiligo patient and their family should have this book. If we had a vitiligo parade this man would be the center of attention, he would be the grand marshal.

Whole Health by Joseph Keon, Ph.D. (click here to order this book from

Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom by Christiane Northrup, MD (click here to order this book from
Watch out, after reading this book my wife gave up caffeine.

Animal Testing

Many of the books in this bibliography will cause you to think outside of the envelope, the following four books will certainly do that.

Animal Liberation by Peter Singer (click here to order this book from
I think that I was never able to consider animals feelings until I became a vegetarian.


The Dream of the Earth by Thomas Berry (click here to order this book from

Ishmael by Daniel QuinnDescription: Description: Description: Friends of Ishmael(click here to order this book from

The Story of B by Daniel QuinnDescription: Description: Description: The Story of B(click here to order this book from


Cooking Healthy With One Foot Out the Door by Polly Pitchford and Delia Quigley
The bad girls of natural health, very funny. Great recipe for "Tofuna or What the heck is it?". (click here to order this book from

Eat Right, Live Longer by Neal D. Barnard, MD (click here to order this book from

From the Heart of the Harvest Cafe by Susan Rizzo
-2104 Woodbury Road, Melbourne, FL 32935 $10 and $2 for shipping
-This book has some really great soup recipes, I really like the "Turkish Wedding Soup".

May All Be Fed by John Robbins (click here to order this book from
The Black Bean and Corn recipe is "to die for", I just use less oil.

The McDougall Health-Supporting Cookbook, Volume One by Mary McDougall (click here to order this book from
The McDougall Health-Supporting Cookbook, Volume Two by Mary McDougall (click here to order this book from
The McDougall Quick & Easy Cookbook by John A. and Mary McDougall (click here to order this book from
Anything by the McDougalls will lower your cholesterol, I guarantee it.

The Uncheese Cookbook by Joanne Stepaniak (click here to order this book from
Great for experimenting. We like the "Gee Whiz Spread" and the "Fettuccine Alfonzo".

Stress and the Mind Body Connection

You'll See It When You Believe It by Wayne Dyer (click here to order this book from
This book really helped me at a tough time in my life. It helped me to have a more positive outlook on life.

The Power of Myth by Bill Moyers (click here to order this book from
Religion made much more sense to me after watching this PBS video series. The book follows along with the show.

Journey of the Awakening by Ram Dass (click here to order this book from
Be here now, centered and aware.

Myths To Live By by Joseph Campbell (click here to order this book from
An excellent story teller. Very good book.

Lots of Dilbert comic booksDescription: Description: Description: Dilbert(click here to order this book from

The Simple Living Guide: A Sourcebook for Less Stressful, More Joyful Living by Janet Luhrs (click here to order this book from
She has a very enjoyable way of writing.

Your Money or Your Life by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin (click here to order this book from
Helped us simplify our lives and question some of our motives and habits.

Different Just Like Me by Lori Mitchell (click here to order this book from
Written by a Mom, whose daughter has vitiligo. This book could be very helpful if your child has vitiligo. I think it would help get the child talk about the disease and how they feel about it. As well as talking about how they feel about themselves.

To look at what Barnes and Noble has to offer, go to Mind, Body and Spirit.


Dead Meat by Sue Coe Description: Description: Description: Dead Meat(click here to order this book from
Might be a good coffee table book, but probably not a good dinner table book. :-)

The Jungle by Upton Sinclair (click here to order this book from

One Up On Wall Street by Peter Lynch (click here to order this book from

The Sexual Politics of Meat by Carol Adams (click here to order this book from
This book caused me to think differntly about the relationships I have with the women in my life.

Living Among Meat Eaters: The Vegetarian's Survival Handbook by Carol Adams (click here to order this book from

A People's History of the United States: 1492 to Present by Howard Zinn (click here to order this book from
A completely different view of our history than what we learned in school.

Toxin by Robin Cook (click here to order this book from
A co-worker of mine, Marian, came in to work claiming she had just become a vegetarian. She knows I am a vegetarian, I guess I talk about it a lot. In fact I have a sign on my desk that says “Vegetarian, Indian word for ‘Lousy Hunter’”. She called her daughter and told her to come over and clear out her freezer of meat. Marian had just finished reading a book by Robin Cook called Toxin. Marian, a grand mother, seemed to me to be one of the last people to change, so this peaked my interest. I went to the library and checked out the book. Toxin is the story of a doctor whose daughter gets sick when she is exposed to E. coli O157:H7 bacteria. She ate a hamburger that wasn’t cooked thoroughly. It is a very suspenseful story and it hits on all of the points that EarthSave is concerned about. I could hardly put this book down. I don’t often read fiction, in this case I am glad I did. I can see why Marian gave up meat after reading it. I will be recommending this book to my friends. 7-21-99

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Addison's Disease - I don't know much about Addison's Disease other than the indications of it are that your forehead gets dark black pigmented spots. The American Academy of Dermatology defines it as, decreased adrenal gland function.

BID - means "twice daily".

Diabetes - characterized by excess sugar in the blood and urine.

Guttate Hypomelanosis - Small white porcelain spots on the skin, said to be caused by sun damage.

Melagenina - An extract made from the discarded human placenta after childbirth. The product is applied to the skin and the patient is then exposed to 15 minutes of infrared light. We decided against it because of concern over blood born disease. Another reason was the product is unavailable in the US.

Pernicious Anemia - Low levels of vitamin B12 indicate pernicious anemia.

Phytophotodermatitis - denotes the reaction to sunlight of skin, which has been in contact with certain species of plants.

Psoralen - causes the skin to react when exposed to the sun. See the table of plants that contain psoralen above.

PUVA - Psoralen Ultra-Violet A, this is the treatment of choice by the dermatologists I talked to. What stopped us from using it, was first the dermatologists felt Emily was to young and the Physicians’ Desk Reference listed some unacceptable side effects.

QD - means "daily".

Straight Edge - A vegan that does not use drugs.

Thyroid - A gland in your neck that regulates your temperature. A high or low temperature level will affect your growth. The thyroid gland needs iodine to function properly. A good source of iodine is kelp, tablets of kelp can be found at your local health food store.

Vegan - pure vegetarian.

Vegetarian - Eats no flesh. There are varying forms of vegetarians.

Vitiligo - That's where your skin develops milk-white patches that are completely devoid of pigment.

VSIG - The Vitiligo Support and Information Group is a group of friends that talk to each other on the internet daily about vitiligo. If you have Internet email you can be a member of VSIG, for free.

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About The Author

Eric Fricker is the creator of the world’s first online support group for vitiligo, VSIG. He works with systems test software and was educated at the University of Central Florida as an electrical engineer. He is the proud parent of three wonderful children. Eric considers his finest achievement to be marrying, Ms. Susie Wright of Mount Clemens, MI. Most people that know Eric and Susie would agree. He has been told that he married up. Eric enjoys surfing, bicycling, camping, skateboarding and is considering roller blading.
Eric is currently looking for a publisher who may be interested in promoting this book.

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Printing This Book

I suggest doing a print preview first, that way you will know how many pages will print. A laser printer works great and I am sure it would look great on a color ink-jet printer. When I print it, Netscape prints page numbers on the bottom of each page. Remember to include the copyright paragraph.



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Very Important Update (Sunday, February 12, 2012):


Use folate supplementation not folic acid. Better yet you should get your folate from whole plant foods like green leafy vegetables. In my recent readings I understand that folate is preferable over folic acid. I understand that there may be risks with too much folic acid so I have recommended to Emily that she take folate instead which is closer to the form of the vitamin found in food. This article discusses the concerns with folic acid I have made this choice and I thought you should be aware of it to make your own informed decision.