Vitiligo is an autoimmune skin disease. Autoimmune disorders are caused when the body’s immune system, which is meant to defend the body against bacteria, viruses, and any other foreign product, malfunctions and produces antibodies against healthy tissue, cells and organs. In vitiligo, the autoantibody is directed against melanocytes in the skin.
In vitiligo the absence of melanocytes (pigment-producing cells) causes a decreased pigmentation in the skin. Vitiligo is 10 to 15 times more common in patients with other autoimmune diseases, such as Addison’s disease, diabetes mellitus, pernicious anemia, Discoid lupus, and abnormal thyroid function.
This disorder has only recently been identified as an autoimmune disease because organ-specific antibodies have now been detected in patients with vitiligo. The autoimmune reaction leads to destruction of pigment cells (melanocytes). Pigment cells give color to skin, therefore their destruction leads to white patches. Vitiligo has a tendency to run in families and may follow unusual trauma, especially to the head. The disease is also referred to as leukoderma (literally "white skin").
The alternative, nutritional medicine approach is to identify hidden allergies by blood test and avoid those allergens (primarily foods). Also enzyme potentiated desensitization holds hope for putting the disease in long term remission, although whatever damage is done is not repairable.