Herbs and Autoimmune Disease

People with autoimmune diseases, including vitiligo, must be cautious in the use of herbs. Many herbs, like Goldenseal, Astragalus, Echinacea and Spirulina are immune boosters. If the immune system is attacking your melanocytes, boosting it further with these types of herbs could be problematic.

Immunostimulatory herbal supplements may exacerbate preexisting autoimmune disease or precipitate autoimmune disease in persons genetically predisposed to such disorders. Increased production of TNF-alpha may play a role, although more research is needed for clarification.

Some studies have shown that Echinacea may worsen the effects of autoimmune disorders. Studies looking at this issue are few in number and largely inconclusive. However, until sufficient evidence emerges, it is recommended that echinacea supplements should not be used by those suffering from autoimmune diseases. (Greenhills Ginsen Limited, 1998)

At least one study has shown that ginkgo biloba could be helpful in those with vitiligo, though some that have tried it have not found it helpful.