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Black Pepper may hold key to Vitiligo cure

A tidbit on the health benefits of traditional Indian spices:

Black pepper could provide a new treatment for the skin disease vitiligo..” Excerpt:

“…Vitiligo is a condition in which areas of skin lose their normal pigment and become white.

Researchers discovered that piperine – the compound that gives black pepper its spicy, pungent flavour – can stimulate pigmentation in the skin.

The study, by King’s College London, appears in the British Journal of Dermatology. These findings could potentially lead to the development of treatments…”

As many of you may know, the incidence of Vitiligo in India is much higher than in Europe (this report suggests it is 1% in Europe)…and its appearance is more prominent in people with darker skins…

Unfortunately, there is currently no known treatment or cure for it.

“…Current treatments include corticosteroids applied to the skin, and phototherapy using UV radiation (UVR) to re-pigment the skin. However, less than a quarter of patients respond successfully to corticosteroids.

And UVR causes a re-pigmentation that is spotted and patchy and in the long-term could lead to a higher risk of skin cancer. “

As Nina Goad, of the British Association of Dermatologists says in the report:

“Vitiligo is a highly visible disease that can greatly affect patients psychologically and emotionally. Any breakthrough in treatments of this disease is most welcome.”

Indeed it is.

Incidentally, I was not aware that the word pepper is derived from the Latin word piper, which in turn is taken from the Sanskrit word pippali and its therapeutic properties include acting as an analgesic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, antitoxic, aphrodisiac, diaphoretic, digestive, diuretic, febrifuge, laxative, rubefacient and tonic (especially of the spleen) !!

(Source: http://www.essentialoils.co.za/essential-oils/black-pepper.htm; Image courtesy: Wikipedia)

See also: Pepper ‘kills prostate cancer

Related Posts: Turmeric and Cancer Treatment and Haldi’s medicinal properties

UPDATE: Vitiligo sufferers may find this site of interest: http://www.vitiligosupport.org/

February 20th, 2008 Posted by | Featured, Indian Medicine & Ayurveda | 41 comments


  1. I think that is true because in my child hood black pepper was used for boils.

    Extract application on skin also has therapeutic effect and oral use of the same is good for skin texture as per “Charak”

    Comment by Pramod | February 21, 2008

  2. Thanks for posting this excellent news.

    Sometime back only I went through all the articles on dermetological site of U.S. and U.K. out of curiosity. And I was so upset to find no cure till now . They also mentioned about Laser therepy somewhere. Hope it too come to the rescue. Though it is not dangerous but in India many problems are connected with this disesase at the time of marriage proposal. It needs to be cured and treated as early as early possible.

    Comment by Indian | February 21, 2008

  3. @ Pramod: I will try and look up the reference to this in “Charaka Samhita”.


    @ Indian: You are right…Although strictly speaking not a “disease”, Vitiligo can be very damaging for self-esteem and can lead to serious loss of confidence and self-image issues.

    In India of course, things are aggravated as awareness about the condition is still low and a lot of people believe it is contagious (it is not and cannot be transmitted in any manner).

    Many of you may not know this but Michael Jackson is said to suffer from Vitiligo.

    By the way, I just came across this inspirational story of an Indian woman who suffers from Vitiligo

    Comment by B Shantanu | February 22, 2008

  4. How was the piperine compound prepared? thanks!

    Comment by G Cruz | March 4, 2008

  5. G Cruz: I am not sure how it was prepared but this site may have answer(s) to your question:



    Comment by B Shantanu | March 10, 2008

  6. its great news that there might be a cure through black pepper finally. ive waited so many years to hear some progress for a cure for Vitiligo.

    Comment by mo | April 3, 2008

  7. *** NOTE by MODERATOR ***

    To All Readers: Please exercise due caution and care when relying on information on the internet/web. This is particulary important in matters of health and finance.

    @ Irshad: Thanks for sharing your observations. Pl. refrain from commercial promotions here. I have taken away the reference to a particular website in your comment. Thanks.

    *** Original Comment ***

    Different people use the term Cure in different context, as regards Cure in vitiligo. Some use this term only for re-pigmentation of the existing spots, while others are concerned with complete eradication of illness from the body.
    If you mean second i.e. complete annihilation of the vitiligo from your system, that is a tricky matter.
    Vitiligo results from a derangement of your normal defense mechanisms against infection. The body starts producing antibodies against pigment producing cells of its own skin. No exact causes and remedies are known. This is a generalized abnormality of your immune system, and currently there are no acceptable permanent ways to overcome this process.

    Comment by irshad | April 29, 2008

  8. I like your post. I have strong belief that the herbal treatment is best for vitiligo because it is iconomic, easy to use and has no side effect.

    Comment by Amir | June 6, 2008

  9. most of the treatments are just money making schemes……yet to see someone offer free treatment.

    Comment by Anesh | June 12, 2008

  10. http://www.vitiligosupport.org has a lot of information.

    There is also info abut medicines available in India (these are not steroids). See below


    Yes Tacroz is not steroid..I found this very interesting article by three dermatologists from AIIMS, its about non-steroidal immunomodulatory agents.

    Khandpur S, Sharma VK, Sumanth K. Topical immunomodulators in dermatology. J Postgrad Med [serial online] 2004 [cited 2005 Jun 18];50:131-139. Available from:

    The useful extracts from the article…..

    1. Topical Tacrolimus ointment (0.3%, 0.1%, 0.03%), applied twice daily, is safe and effective in both childhood and adult cases over a period of 1 year.

    2. Available in India as Tacroz (0.03%), Rs.160/- and Tacroz forte (0.1%) ointment, Rs. 405/-, 5gm, Gracewell, Tacrovate (0.03%), Rs.160/- and Tacrovate forte (0.1%), Rs. 405/-, 5 gm, Ochoa Laboratories.

    3. Topical calcipotriol
    Calcipotriol is a synthetic vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) analogue, developed by modification of the side chain to enhance the antipsoriatic effect of vitamin D3 and ameliorate its hypercalcemic action.

    Vitiligo: Investigators have demonstrated the presence of VDR on melanocytes and have suggested that calcipotriol may regulate melanin synthesis. Research has also revealed defective calcium homeostasis in melanocytes and keratinocytes in the depigmented skin, which is reversed with calcipotriol therapy. In a randomised, double-blind, right/left comparative study, combination therapy with PUVA produced marked improvement with faster repigmentation.

    Topical calcipotriol is available as 50ug/g ointment, cream and solution internationally, and in India, as cream form. Available in India as Daivonex, 50mg/g (0.005%) ointment, 30 gm, Rs. 860/-, Croslands.


    Comment by Vitiligo Parent | September 5, 2008

  11. Chickpeas can cure skin disease: BHU scientists
    27 Jan 2009, 0850 hrs IST, IANS

    VARANASI: Chickpeas hold the cure for leucoderma, a chronic skin disease that causes loss of pigment, resulting in white spots or patches on the skin, claim scientists of the Banaras Hindu University (BHU).

    In a research project undertaken jointly by the varsity’s medicinal chemistry and skin departments, scientists have found that application of a poly-herbal ointment with chickpeas as its base can efficiently treat leucoderma or vitiligo, controlling the spread of the skin disease that is widely feared for the unsightly white patches it produces.

    “The results were encouraging,” said an elated Yamini Tripathi, a professor with BHU’s medicinal chemistry department and a member of the research team, said.

    The chickpea therapy has been tried on 50 patients, who got “considerable relief from the skin disorder”, added Tripathi, who has now approached the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) for a major research project on vitiligo treatment.

    According to the researchers, patients who applied the chickpea-based cream on affected parts of the skin for 20-90 days found their normal skin pigmentation had returned.

    In the fastest cure, a young scooter mechanic here saw the white patches disappear within 28 days.

    “Such a speedy result surprised even us. When we asked for his feedback, he said during his treatment he included a good amount of chickpeas in his regular diet,” said Tripathi.

    Vitiligo is an autoimmune disease in which the body starts producing antibodies that destroy cells known as melanocytes that give the skin its normal colour. Gradually, the affected areas of the skin turn white, which is one of the most common symptoms of vitiligo.

    BHU researchers say that the anti-vitiligo ointment derives its potency from amino acids found in chickpeas.

    “Amino acids found in chickpeas promote synthesis of melanin (skin pigment) formation cells, regenerates the pigment cells and help in treating the chronic skin disorder,” said Tripathi.

    In vitiligo patients, white patches are more obvious in sun-exposed areas, including arms, legs, face and lips. Other common areas for white patches to appear are the armpits and groin, around mouth and eyes.

    S.N. Ojha, a doctor who is also the member of the research team, said that at present there is no definite method to prevent vitiligo. “It is heartening that our chickpea therapy can offer a promising and cost-effective treatment,” he added.

    Comment by B Shantanu | January 27, 2009

  12. How would you take the pepper – would you eat it or get it in oil form to rub over the marks?

    Comment by Ritu | February 16, 2009

  13. @ Ritu: I do not think that the pepper was applied directly (or eaten in food). I believe the compound piperine (and two of its derivatives) was applied to the skin.

    I would urge all of you to exercise due caution when relying on information on the internet/web.

    Pl. also see this site which may have more information: http://www.vitiligosupport.org/


    Comment by B Shantanu | February 17, 2009

  14. black pepper is bettere for pigmenatation disorder vitiligo but you have to expose your affected areas to uv light to utilize the benefits of piperine.
    here is another research regarding cure of pigmentation problem vitiligo by chickpease as indicated by http://www.vitiligoguide.com/vitiligo-treatment-by-chickpease/ by chick pease you not need to expose your skin to uv rays. and chickpease alone enough to cure your skin condition.

    Comment by pigmentation | February 19, 2009

  15. would like to know the avaibality of the pepper based products . simialrly for chickpeas and the method to be adopted for the application of the same.

    Comment by sandeep | March 6, 2009

  16. Might be of use to someone…details of an NGO dedicated to this cause:

    Shweta Association
    Sahawas Hospital
    26, Sahawas Society
    Landmark: Behind Ram Hotel
    Pune – 411052

    Phone: +91 20 25458760

    General inquiries email info@myshweta.org.


    Comment by B Shantanu | June 25, 2009

  17. thanx for the valuable information. i m father of a 17 yr old daughter who has developed vitiligo . i m eager to know the hindi word for chickpea. could any body help.

    Comment by vivek savarikar | July 15, 2009

  18. Vivek,

    chickpea is kabuli chana…

    Comment by Anupam | July 16, 2009

  19. Thanks Anupam…


    Vivek: Sorry, I missed your comment. Other than “काबुली चना”, chickpea is also called “Chhole” / “छोलॆ”(the same as in “Chhole Bhature” / “छोलॆ भटूरॆ”) in north India.

    Comment by B Shantanu | July 16, 2009

  20. main apko thankx
    kahna chahta hoon,
    yeh ek kafi informative site hai.

    Comment by sunny | September 11, 2009

  21. can some1 pls give more information abt chickpeas n black pepper remedy as it doesnt seem complete here ,like how we make the paste n how should it be applied to the skin ?

    Thanx in advance ..this is really nice of u all .

    Comment by Anonymous | September 24, 2009

  22. @Sunny: Thank you. You might find a lot more information on this site:



    @Anonymous: I don’t think this is something you can prepare at home…The research will hopefully lead to a treatment but I am not sure it is on the market yet.

    In any case, you are likely to find a lot more (and reasonably well-informed) advice on the site I have mentioned above.

    Comment by B Shantanu | September 25, 2009

  23. Top 3 Frequently Asked Questions about Vitiligo:

    # Is Vitiligo contagious?

    Vitiligo is not contagious! You cannot “catch” vitiligo by eating, drinking or otherwise associating with a person who has vitiligo.

    Vitiligo is apparently caused by inheritance of multiple causal genes simultaneously, possibly in different combinations in different people, plus exposure to environmental risk factors or triggers that are not yet known. Phenols, and stress whether emotional or physical, are suspected to be environmental triggers, but research continues into these and other possibilities.

    # If I marry someone with vitiligo, will our children have vitiligo?

    Approximately 20% of vitiligo patients have a family member with the same condition. However, only 5% to 7% of children will get vitiligo even if a parent has it.

    # Can vitiligo cause itching? What anti-itching remedies do you recommend?

    Research has shown that at least 12% of those with vitiligo experience itching of vitiligo affected areas at the onset of depigmentation.

    Our members have reported trying many things to relieve this insatiable itch,
    These are a few:
    Class 1 prescription topical steroid
    Coconut oil.
    Gold Bond Medicated Lotion, Extra Strength (in the green bottle)
    Shea Butter
    Jojoba oil (pronounced “ho-HO-bah)

    Source: http://www.vitiligosupport.org/ newsletter

    Comment by Vitiligo Parent | October 12, 2009

  24. Hi,
    am kavitha,
    Could any one pls be clear in giving details about black pepper and chickpea….how shld it b consumed………..to eat r to make a paste and apply r how is it……………i have vitilgio since 11yrs and am fed up of taking treatments………….and waste of money………..at last am planning to take dis……………..by gods grace i thnk it will help…………pls any one pls help me………….

    Comment by kavitha | November 30, 2009

  25. @ Kavitha: Pl. read my comments at #13 and #22.

    I think the effect of chick-peas and pepper on vitiligo is the subject of continuing research.

    Pl. check this site where you are likely to find more information: http://www.vitiligosupport.org/

    Comment by B Shantanu | November 30, 2009

  26. i wanted to know how you would take the black peppers…would you eat it raw or mixed with something??? please do let me know..thank you =]

    Comment by juhi | June 22, 2010

  27. @ Juhi: Pl. read my comments at #13 and #22. Thanks

    Comment by B Shantanu | June 22, 2010

  28. This reminds of my grandmother’s saying that majority of the diseases can be cured in the Indian kitchen using the spice rack! She lived for 90+ years (no birth certificates then), hardly ever took any allopathy medicine and infact prevented us from taking ‘medicines’ for simple problems like cold, cough! As we dig more, we can see more such allergy-free, side-effect less solutions in our backyard! Valuable information, thank you Shantanu!

    Comment by Uma | June 25, 2010

  29. pls hw do i get access 2 black pepper and chickpea in nigeria? ar there any equivalents her

    Comment by emmanuel | May 16, 2011

  30. hello to all those who are searching for a cure.
    I know one specialist/vaid ji near delhi, who has cured more than 100 patients within few months of treatment. The treatment is not very tough but it is hard and needs some lifestyle changes. There is no cost of the treatment, the only cost involves is the time you devote and repeated visits to him (2-4 visits per month). There is also no visiting charges by the vaidji. So please dont be hesitant. Incase you can afford those visits to him and can devote time to yourself and need to get in touch, email me at aopl_at_hotmail.com I will give you their address and phone number. Please note, I am posting this as a good deed. So I only need good wishes for my kids in return.

    Comment by vikram | July 10, 2011

  31. Pl give me the details how to use chickpea/black pepper for vitiligo.

    Comment by T Rama Chandra Rao | August 2, 2011






    Comment by RASHMIN GAJANA BHATT | December 3, 2011

  33. @Rashmin: Pl. read my comments at #13 and #22.

    I think the effect of chick-peas and pepper on vitiligo is the subject of continuing research.

    Pl. check this site where you are likely to find more information: http://www.vitiligosupport.org/

    Comment by B Shantanu | December 4, 2011

  34. can anyone suggest the way to use black pepper on spots?

    Comment by asif khan | December 8, 2011

  35. Related: A UK pharma company tried to patent the use of Ginger to treat coughs and colds. It was reported in Times of India without identifying their name! (What sloppy reporting. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/Database-helped-thwart-UK-patent-bid/articleshow/11358577.cms ). I have tracked down the name of the patent applicant/company as “Nicholas John Larkins”. Here is another 2008 patent by them which includes ginger. Please post this for the benefit of all researchers of ethnomedicine in India.


    Hope somebody will counter such patents, which are an attempt to appropriate traditional wisdom and culture handed down by the respective ancestors of elders. It is best if such wisdom is shared publicly and not made the property of any private individual, group or for-profit company. Thank you.

    Comment by A | January 4, 2012

  36. With reference to Ginger related patents above, please also note from http://www.faqs.org/patents/app/20090220624 that some herbal extracts were obtained from “…Picrorrhiza kurroa … obtained from SAMI Labs Limited, of Bangalore, India” according to a 2009 patent application (granted). Clearly there is a need for serious study and legal resistance. (But I will admit readily that this is easier said than done. The first problem faced by ethnic groups is that they lack any form of “public funding”. Ideally it should be the job of some local governments).

    Comment by A | January 4, 2012

  37. I am suffering from vitiligo for the past 10 years.I used english medicine but no use.Please suggest effective tratment for me.

    and also suggest me who to use Black Pepper and Chickpease.

    Thanking you Radha

    Comment by Radha | February 7, 2012

  38. i want to know that how can we used black peper .

    Comment by shalu | February 23, 2012

  39. Dear All: I continue to get numerous comments on this post asking for ways to use black pepper to cure vitiligo and other treatment options.
    I am neither a doctor nor an expert in this matter. So I cannot really comment.
    I would encourage everyone to have a look at this site which has comprehensive informaiton on many aspects of the disease. It is a free site http://www.vitiligosupport.org/
    To the best of my knowledge there is no guaranteed cure for Vitiligo at present although research is continuing.
    Needless to add, please exercise due caution when relying on information on the internet/web.
    Hope this helps.

    Comment by B Shantanu | February 23, 2012

  40. Hey Shantanu,

    Good job done here. I am a 28 year old IT professional from India. Each and every night i go through all these types of posts, research papers, blogs, articles, sites etc etc from last 1 year. Actually my love is suffered from this diseases and that was too happened just after our marriage was fixed. I am fighting hard for her and for the sake of love and humanity i would never leave her at any cost under any circumstances.

    My recommendation to all you guys just deal this disease with a little love and affection and a continuous dedicated research would exceptionally help you all. Don’t be frustrated with the slow healing. Don’t run here and there to get the quick results.

    Your self knowledge with open mind is the way of cure of this disease. so don’t expect a quick chain reaction relief from this social enigma. First know about your body pattern, its good its bad, and then go for any method described anywhere. And I know we know nothing is impossible.

    “The One, be the change”.

    Comment by TrueHeaven | February 11, 2014

  41. Somewhat related: CSIR cites ancient texts to foil MNC’s patent plea by Vishwa Mohan, TNN | Jul 17, 2015, from which some excerpts:

    India has cited ancient texts in foiling an attempt by US-based consumer goods giant Colgate-Palmolive to patent a mouthwash formula containing herb extracts. The texts cited show that the ingredients were traditionally used in ancient medicinal practices.

    The company had filed the patent at the European patent office (EPO) for “oral compositions containing extracts of ‘Myristica fragrans’ and related methods”. The application was, however, deemed to be withdrawn in June after India’s premier research body, the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR), raised objections.

    “The Innovation Protection Unit (IPU) of the CSIR had raised the objection and submitted proof in the form of references from ancient books, which said the herb and its extracts were used for oral diseases in Indian systems of medicine”, said Anjana Baruah, head of the unit.

    She told TOI that the IPU detected the claim of the consumer goods giant at the website of the EPO and immediately objected to it by citing references that are there in the ‘Traditional Knowledge Digital Library’ (TKDL) of CSIR.

    The IPU constantly looks for such claims by searching applications filed at different patent offices across the world. If it finds any evidence of bio-piracy against such claims, it immediately raises objections and submits proof.

    In the Colgate-Palmolive case, it cited existence of the particular herb extracts in the TKDL database. It informed the EPO about references of the extracts in ‘Charaka Samhita’ – the ancient text of the traditional medicinal practices. It also cited how the extracts are used in different traditional medicines like ‘Raughan’, ‘Dantaprabha Churna Manjan’ and ‘Sahakaravati’.

    India has, so far, identified 1,155 patent applications at different international patent offices with respect to Indian systems of medicine and raised objections in more than 1,120 cases till August last year.

    The TKDL technology integrates diverse disciplines like ayurveda, unani, siddha and yoga. It is based on 359 books of Indian systems of medicine. It acts as a bridge between these books and international patent examiners.

    Comment by B Shantanu | July 20, 2015

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