A Systematic Review of Nutrition, Supplement, and Herbal-Based Adjunctive Therapies for Vitiligo

Anastasia Shakhbazova, Hera Wu, Cindy J. Chambers, Raja K. Sivamani

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: Vitiligo is an autoimmune skin condition that affects people globally anywhere, from <0.1% to more than 8% of individuals. The disease destroys skin melanocytes, resulting in a patchy depigmentation of the skin. About 50% of all patients develop the disease before their 20s. Methods: We systematically searched the literature and reviewed the evidence for the use of nutritional supplements and diet in the management of vitiligo. Embase and Medline were searched for diet, herbal, and nutrition-based clinical studies. Additional filters were applied that looked for controlled trial or randomized controlled trial and article or article in press or letter and English and clinical study. We selected clinical studies in humans that showed how diet or natural supplements can improve the symptoms of vitiligo in all of our searches. Results: There were 62 manuscripts that resulted from the PubMed search and 259 from the Embase search. A final of 26 studies were reviewed, and other supplemental case and case-control studies were used to introduce diet components that may influence either exacerbation or amelioration of vitiligo. Possible mechanisms of action are introduced for natural and supplemental interventions. Conclusion: Some of the supplements reviewed include Gingko biloba, oral Polypodium leucotomos, alpha lipoic acid, vitamins B12, D, and E, folic acid, phenylalanine, canthaxanthin, Nigella sativa oil, and other combined herbal bio-Actives. Overall, the growing evidence is promising, but more studies are needed in this area to further explore the impact that supplements and diet can have on vitiligo management. The most promising therapies included oral phenylalanine as adjuvant therapy with UVA therapy, oral G. biloba as monotherapy, both of which can be used with other traditional therapies, and oral P. leucotomos with phototherapy or photochemotherapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)294-311
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2021


  • alternative medicine
  • herbs
  • phototherapy
  • supplements
  • vitiligo

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Complementary and alternative medicine


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