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Can Garlic Supplements Be Harmful to Vitiligo?

author image Sirah Dubois
Sirah Dubois is currently a PhD student in food science after having completed her master's degree in nutrition at the University of Alberta. She has worked in private practice as a dietitian in Edmonton, Canada and her nutrition-related articles have appeared in The Edmonton Journal newspaper.
Can Garlic Supplements Be Harmful to Vitiligo?
Garlic is a strong antimicrobial. Photo Credit NA/Photos.com/Getty Images

Vitiligo is a fairly mysterious condition that causes patches of depigmentation on skin. It occurs when the cells responsible for skin pigmentation, called melanocytes, die or lose function. Autoimmune and genetic factors are the standard medical answers as to why vitiligo occurs, but alternative explanations include viral and fungal infections. Garlic displays strong antimicrobial properties and may help fight systemic and dermal infections. Applying garlic oil to the vitiligo patches may be the most efficient method, but care should be taken. Consult with your dermatologist about the treatment options for vitiligo.


The depigmentation patches of vitiligo are most common and noticeable on the extremities, particularly the hands, but can occur virtually anywhere on your body, according to “Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine.” The irregularly shaped patches appear as a very light pink color regardless of your race. The patches are initially small, but they often enlarge and change shape with time and seem to have predilection for body orifices, such as the mouth, eyes, genitalia and belly button. Vitiligo is divided into segmental and nonsegmental types depending on location and continuity. Depression, anxiety and antisocial behavior can stem from vitiligo in those who perceive a social stigma.


The cause of vitiligo is officially unknown by mainstream medical authorities, but some research suggests that it may be related to autoimmune, inflammatory, genetic, neurological or infectious causes. Infectious causes are most likely either viral or fungal in nature. The alternative health community claims that a significant proportion of vitiligo is caused by subdermal fungal infections that slowly destroy and consume melanocytes, but no human research has been conducted to confirm or disprove this theory. According to the book “Human Biochemistry and Disease” by Gerald Litwack, the incidence of vitiligo worldwide is less than 1 percent and affects people of all races, colors and ethnicity.


Garlic is often recommended for those who experience reduced immune function or chronic infections because it is a strong full-spectrum antimicrobial. The primary biologically active substance in garlic is allicin, which readily kills many pathogens, especially fungi. However, unlike pharmaceutical-based antimicrobials, allicin preserves the beneficial flora and fauna of your intestinal tract. Other compounds in garlic stimulate your liver and intestines, leading to a detoxifying affect that is beneficial in combating any infection. Garlic is most effective in its raw, unprocessed form, but can also be taken as nonodorous capsules or concentrated oil.

Garlic and Vitiligo

Vitiligo is most likely multifactoral and not all cases are fungal in nature. Taking garlic supplements orally may have an immunity-stimulating affect and be beneficial for your vitiligo if it is caused by some type of infection or immune disorder. Certainly there would be no harm in it with moderate doses. Applying raw garlic juice or processed oil on your vitiligo patches may have more of a direct impact on any subdermal infection, but be careful not to get it into any cuts. Raw garlic can be toxic to the bloodstream if introduced directly, although it is safe if processed by your digestive system first, according to the “Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine.” Raw garlic can temporary irritate skin and mucous membranes, but should not worsen vitiligo. Consult your doctor before attempting to treat your vitiligo with garlic products.

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