Lupus is a chronic, inflammatory, auto-immune (the body is attacking itself) disease that affects connective tissue (tissue that binds and supports various structures of the body and also includes the blood). Discoid lupus erythematosus (DLE) is a less serious type, affecting exposed areas of the skin and sometimes the joints. Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is more serious, potentially fatal, and affects more organs of the body.
Lupus occurs mostly in young women and in young children. SLE is often chronic, with periods of improvement and relapse over many years. Sometimes there are years of remission in between periods of symptoms. It’s classified as mild if the symptoms are mainly fever, joint pain, rash, headaches, pleurisy, and pericarditis. It is considered severe if it is associated with life-threatening diseases. Mild SLE may respond well to natural therapies.
Allopathic medicine does not consider there to be a cure for lupus, but naturally oriented physicians report “cures” of lupus by eliminating causes and treating the body as a whole.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a chronic autoimmune disorder, an illness in which immune defenses mistakenly attack the body’s own cells rather than protecting them from outside invaders. In SLE, immune proteins called autoantibodies target cells in many different parts of the body, causing inflammation and tissue damage in the joints, skin, kidney, nervous system (brain, spinal cord, and nerves), blood, heart, lungs, digestive system, and eyes. Autoantibodies can also attach themselves to specific body chemicals, forming abnormal molecules called immune complexes. When immune complexes deposit in various organs and tissues, they trigger additional inflammation and injury.
The exact cause of SLE remains a mystery, although scientists are currently investigating genetic, environmental, and hormonal origins for the illness. Being female is clearly a risk factor, since 90% of all lupus patients are women, usually of childbearing age; however, children and adult men are also occasionally affected. With respect to racial differences, there is some evidence that the illness may be more common in persons of African, Native American, West Indian, or Chinese ethnic background. Currently, among populations living in U.S. cities, SLE affects 15-50 out of every 100,000 persons. In the United States as a whole, SLE may affect as many as 2,000,000 Americans.
In some patients, lupus causes only mild illness, but in others it leads to potentially deadly complications. Its symptoms tend to wax and wane in a series of “flares” (periods of intensified symptoms) followed by remissions (periods of decreased symptoms). Flares may be triggered by many different factors, including: sun exposure, infection, medication, or pregnancy.
Because SLE has the potential to affect so many different parts of the body, it can produce a wide range of symptoms. In the body as a whole, SLE may cause fatigue, malaise (a generally “sick” feeling), fever, anorexia (not wanting to eat), and weight loss. When lupus affects the skin, it may produce a classic malar rash (a “butterfly”-shaped rash on the cheeks and bridge of the nose), as well as skin photosensitivity (a more widespread rash after exposure to sunlight), or hair loss. In about 20% of patients, there is a discoid rash, which is often painful and can appear as firm, round red plaques with raised borders. There may also be mildly painful ulcers in the mouth, nose and genital regions.
In addition, lupus may cause muscle pain, together with pain and swelling of the joints. The small joints of the fingers are most often affected, as well as the wrists and knees. Other possible symptoms of lupus include: neurologic symptoms (headaches, seizures, trouble “thinking” or remembering); psychiatric symptoms; heart problems (abnormal heart rhythms, heart failure, sudden death); lung symptoms (cough, shortness of breath); loss of vision; vasculitis (inflammation of blood vessels) and thrombosis (abnormal blood clots).
In contrast with SLE, which involves many organs, some people develop cutaneous lupus or lupus involving just the skin and mucosal surfaces. This is termed chronic cutaneous lupus erythematosus or discord lupus erythematosus.
a. Immune insufficiency with subsequent inflammation.
b. Occurs predominantly in females and begins frequently before the fourth decade of life.
c. Often the first system to fail is the renal function.
d. Often confused with rheumatoid arthritis in the early phase; usually positive antinuclear and anti-DNA antibodies and usually elevated Sedimentation Rate.
e. An increased prevalence of allergic food reactions is usually noted in SLE patients; be vigilant as to what foods you may be sensitive to.
f. As with most autoimmune diseases there is an association with “Leaky-Gut” syndrome, which appears to affect the immune system.
g. According to Leon Chaitow, N.D., D.O., hydrochloric acid deficiency is common in people with lupus. Supplementation of HCl with meals can help.
a. Sip one (1) mouthful of distilled or filtered water every 30 minutes while awake. Drink more if you are perspiring.
b. Eliminate all hydrogenated fats and oils. Use only fresh extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil and fish oils as your source of dietary oils
c. Avoid refined carbohydrate, processed food, alcohol, dairy products, and gluten containing grains and caffeine containing foods.
d. Avoid excess consumption of juice as well as fruits and vegetables high in fast acting sugars.
e. Increase raw food and quality protein especially fish and sea vegetables. If renal dysfunction is present, insure total protein consumption remains low and is of good quality, i.e., easily digestible.
f. Eat a diet low in the amino acids phenylalanine and tyrosine, i.e. very low intakes of beef and dairy products.
g. Follow, instead, a vegan diet that is low in these 2 amino acids. Also avoid Alfalfa sprouts and tablets, which can aggravate some SLE patients.
h. Supplementation with tryptophan or 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HT) should also be avoided (unless it is first shown to be tolerated) as some SLE patients have abnormal metabolism for this substance.
3. Primary Supplemental Support: The following program can be expensive and difficult to follow; however, SLE does not lend itself to conservative treatment. This program should be used only after consultation with a doctor qualified to manage SLE.
NOTE FROM A DOCTOR FRIEND OF MINE WHO USES INJECTABLE NUTRIENTS:
Just a note on Lupus:
I was talking with Bob Jones, inventor of the Cavitat for evaluating for toxic root canals and cavitations. He told me that a group that he’s working with has had, at the time, some 45 to 50 patients with lupus and infected/abscessed root canals. They properly removed the teeth and the abscessed materials and gave the patients high dose vitamin C and glutathione daily over the next week. Accordingly, every patient went into remission.
It so happened that I had a lupus patient that had just come in to the office. Her history showed a root canal being put in just before the onset of symptoms and she had continued to have pain in the area. She had her root canal tooth removed (pulled) and had five or six IV treatments and she has done extremely well. We’ll see how she does with more time, but now, some three months out, she’s feeling very good.
1. BIO-MULTI PLUS – 1 tablet, 3 times daily after meals.
2. BIO-C PLUS 1000 – 1 tablet, 3 times daily after meals.
3. M S M POWDER – 1/2 teaspoonful, 4 times daily after meals and at bedtime.
NOTE: Take M S M 4 times daily until all symptoms resolve, then decrease dosage to once or twice daily or whatever your optimum intake is.
4. BIOMEGA-3 – 4 – 5 capsules, twice daily after meals for 1 month, then 4 – 5 capsules once daily thereafter for reduction of generalized Pain & Inflammation.
5. HYDRO-ZYME – 2 tablets, with each substantial meal to restore gastric function.
FOR THE 1ST MONTH – DETOX PROGRAM
a) M C S – 2 capsules after breakfast and 1 capsule after lunch for 1 month.
b) BETA TCP – 2 tablets, 3 times daily after meals.
c) A D H S – 2 tablets after breakfast and 1 tablet after lunch. Do not take after 1PM.
d) 21ST CENTURY HOMEOPATHICS REMEDY # 1 – Detoxification – 1 capful daily until all the bottle is taken.
AFTER DETOXIFICATION, BEGIN WITH SPECIFIC NUTRIENTS.
Specific Nutrients: When symptoms or condition begins to subside, gradually, as needed, wean yourself from the Specific Nutrients & stay on the Primary Nutrients. If any symptoms re-occur resume Specific Nutrients.
6. INTENZYME FORTE ? 5 tablets at bedtime on an empty stomach.
7. I A G – 2 teaspoonsful, dissolved in a little water 3 times daily after meals for 1 bottle only.
8. BUTYRIC-CAL-MAG – 2 capsules, 3 times daily after meals.
9. I P S – 2 capsules, 3 times daily after meals.
10. MG-ZYME ? 1 tablet, 3 times daily after meals.
11. CYTOZYME-AD ? 2 tablets, twice daily between meals on empty stomach.
12. RENAL PLUS ? 5 tablets, 3 times daily after meals. (Use if there is some kidney involvement.
NOTE: Specific Nutrients numbers 8 through 13 should be used for 3 months then discontinued.
At the United Nations last week, medical experts told a U.N. panel that autoimmune diseases overwhelmingly strike women – and are often misdiagnosed. One of the major goals of the panel, held in conjunction with a meeting of the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women, was to deliver a message to the international community that autoimmune disease is a major women’s health issue.
What is Lupus?
Lupus is an autoimmune (the body is attacking itself) disorder of the connective tissues that affects eight times more women (between the ages of 20 and 40) than men. Among ethnic backgrounds, those of African, Native American, and Asian descent develop the condition more frequently than those of European ancestry. Lupus can be mild such as discoid lupus (DLE), affecting exposed areas of the skin, and sometimes the joints, to life threatening (systemic lupus erythematosis), affecting more organs of the body.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms vary according to the severity of the illness and which organs are affected. Initial signs include arthritis, a red “butterfly” rash across the bridge of the nose and on the cheeks (in SLE), or more of a red, circular, thickened areas that leave scars (in DLE). Lupus is the Latin word for “wolf,” and erythema means “redness”; the typical red skin sores are said to resemble a wolf’s bite.
Other symptoms include weakness, prolonged and extreme fatigue, and weight loss. SLE may occur very abruptly with a fever and mimic an acute infection or it may occur very slowly over months and years with only several episodes of fever and fatigue. SLE may be classified as mild if the symptoms are mainly fever, joint pain, rash, headaches, pleurisy, and pericarditis, but is often chronic with periods of improvement and relapse. There can also be years of remission in between periods of symptoms.
What causes Lupus?
The exact cause is unknown at this time. However, hormones are believed to aggravate it, particularly estrogen, which is why more women are affected. It also seems to be related to the use of estrogen therapy and birth control pills. This would make it then, to some extent, hormone-dependent.
Suggested Alternative Treatments
Allopathic medicine does not consider there to be a cure for lupus, but naturally oriented physicians report “cures” by eliminating causes and treating the body as a whole, beginning with adjustments in diet and appropriate supplementation.
It is suggested that people with lupus avoid overeating (more frequent smaller meals are suggested), limit your intake of cow’s milk and beef products, increase vegetables and consume fish several times a week (omega-3 fatty acids). Avoid alfalfa sprouts or tablets, which contain L-canavanine, sulfate, and avoid L-tryptophan, which may produce substances in the body that may promote the autoimmune process. Adhere to a whole foods diet. You may also want to discuss a fasting program with your doctor as an avenue to use in order to establish a complete cleansing and remission.
Herbs and supplements such as cat’s claw, black walnut, omega-3 fatty acids and flaxseed oil are purported to lessen inflammation. Colloidal silver may be used as an antibacterial, antifungal, and antiarthritic remedy. Be sure you are getting the proper amount for your condition by discussing these options with a professional health care provider.
In addition to diet and supplements, you may want to consider acupuncture as this procedure is individualized towards each person’s unique profile and specific health conditions.
Since lupus can flare up during times of extreme stress, regular exercise and stress management is very important. Create a life that promotes health and happiness.
Better Methods for Treating Lupus?
Q. Are there any homeopathic medicines that are good for treating lupus?
(Published 9/3/96) Lupus is a serious autoimmune disease that is imperfectly managed by conventional medicine. It can be mild or life threatening and may cause a variety of symptoms, including arthritis, skin eruptions, neurological problems, and kidney disease. Four times as many women as men have lupus, and there isn’t much known about its cause. Some think a viral infection may trigger immune-system dysfunction.
The drugs that conventional doctors use for lupus are immune-suppressive and toxic. They may be necessary when symptoms are most severe, but they reduce the chance that the disease will go into remission naturally.
Homeopathic medicine would not be my first choice to treat lupus. Instead, I’ve seen very good results in lupus patients who modify their diet and use anti-inflammatory supplements and herbs like blackcurrant oil, ginger, and turmeric – as well as in patients who employ mind-body healing techniques, like hypnotherapy and guided imagery.
You also may want to experiment with Native American, Ayurvedic, or Chinese medicine. I’d start by eating as little protein as possible and eliminating dairy. Try to get lots of starches and fresh fruits and vegetables.
Eat sardines packed in sardine oil (without salt) three times a week, or take supplemental flaxseed meal. These provide omega-3 fatty acids. Blackcurrant oil is a natural source of another fatty acid called gamma linolenic acid, which is an effective anti-inflammatory. Take 500 mgs twice a day. Take Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium), an anti-inflammatory herb, to help with any arthritis (one capsule of the freeze-dried leaves twice a day for as long as you notice symptoms).
Exercise regularly. If you’re hurting from arthritis, you can swim. Drink plenty of water and get plenty of rest. Seek out ways to avoid stress and fatigue in your life.
It’s especially important not to stay with a conventional doctor who encourages you to feel hopeless or negative. Lupus has a high potential to go naturally into remission, and the attitude of your physician can be a powerful influence on your ability to feel well. For insight into one woman’s encounters with conventional and alternative medicine in her efforts to manage this disease, read Laura Chester’s book “Lupus Novice: Towards Self-Healing” (Stations Hill Press, 1987).
Dr. Andrew Weil
Natural Health, Natural Medicine online
Lupus (Systemic Lupus Erythematosus)
One of the major autoimmune diseases, affecting young women mostly, lupus can be mild or life threatening. It frequently causes arthritis that behaves like rheumatoid arthritis, skin eruptions, and kidney disease that can result in hypertension. The drugs that allopathic doctors use to treat lupus are suppressive and highly toxic. They may be necessary for brief periods of crisis, but it is important to hold them in reserve for times of need and to get off of them as soon as possible. If you take them regularly, you will reduce the chance of having the lupus go naturally into remission. Here are the recommendations I give patients with this disease:
* Eat a very low protein diet, with lots of starches and fresh fruits and vegetables. Avoid milk and all milk products.
* Avoid all polyunsaturated oils. Use only extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil and fish oils as your only source of dietary oils
* Eat sardines packed in sardine oil three times a week; or take supplemental linseed oil.
* Take black currant oil, 500 milligrams twice a day.
* If arthritis is a problem, take an herb called Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium). Use only freeze-dried Feverfew leaves (available at most health-food stores) and take one capsule twice a day. This has an anti-inflammatory effect, helpful in cases of autoimmune arthritis. Use it as long as symptoms persist.
* Drink plenty of water (mouthful every 30 minutes).
* Get plenty of rest.
* Do aerobic exercise regularly. Swim if arthritis is a problem.
* Do not stay in treatment with any medical doctors who make you feel hopeless about your condition. Lupus, like all autoimmune diseases, has a high potential to go into remission. The suggestions of practitioners, for good or ill, can be powerful influences on your state of health.
* Experiment with traditional Chinese medicine, Ayurvedic medicine, Native American medicine, and other forms of unorthodox medicine, including healers.
* Use breathing exercises and work with other techniques of relaxation and stress reduction.
* Use visualization and hypnotherapy to increase the likelihood of remission.
* Read Lupus Novice: Towards Self-Healing by Laura Chester (Barrytown, New York: Station Hill Press, 1987) for the story of one woman’s adventures with this disease and her encounters with regular and alternative medicine.
Fighting Off an Immune System Attack
Most of the time your immune system is your best friend, fighting off invading microbes and keeping you healthy. But in certain cases–in someone with lupus, for example–the immune system gets confused about who the enemy is.
A painful and potentially life-threatening illness, lupus occurs when the immune system turns renegade and attacks the body’s own tissues, causing inflammation and damage. Skin, kidneys, blood vessels, eyes, lungs, nerves, joints–just about any part of the body can be involved.
At the same time, in severe cases the immune system sometimes shirks its normal protective duties, making infections of all sorts more likely. “No one knows what sets off the immune system in the first place, but a genetic tendency and exposure to some sort of outside trigger, perhaps a virus, may be involved,” explains Sheldon Paul Blau, M.D., clinical professor of medicine at the State University of New York at Stony Brook and co-author of Living with Lupus.
Lupus affects about 1 in 2,000 people, mostly women between puberty and menopause (ages 13 and 48) and, more frequently, African-American women. Some get the more common form of the disease, systemic lupus erythematosus, which affects the entire body. Another form of the disease, discoid lupus erythematosus, can cause disfiguring skin problems. Both conditions can flare up, then subside.
Lupus may be treated with corticosteroid drugs, such as prednisone (Deltasone), which reduce inflammation and suppress the immune response. “But most people newly diagnosed with lupus don’t need steroids,” Dr. Blau says. “They may do well on nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin or with some dietary changes.”
It’s still important to see a doctor, preferably a rheumatologist (one who specializes in arthritis and autoimmune diseases), for assessment and long-term follow-up, Dr. Blau says. One good reason: People with lupus can develop inflammation in their kidneys, blood vessels and other organs but have no obvious symptoms until damage is severe. Your doctor can periodically check your kidneys with blood and urine tests.
Nutritional therapy for lupus involves correcting drug-induced deficiencies and eating a balanced diet to help prevent heart disease. Women with lupus are much more likely than normal to develop heart disease. People with kidney disease also need to follow special protein restriction guidelines.
In addition, some doctors recommend so-called antioxidant nutrients that may help reduce inflammation and protect against heart disease. “There’s good evidence that vitamins C and E can help prevent heart disease, and since that’s such a big risk, even in these young women, I feel these vitamins are essential,” Dr. Blau says.
Some doctors also recommend fish oil, which helps fight inflammation.
Antioxidants May Offer Protection
Inflammation produces unstable molecules called free radicals, which damage cells by grabbing electrons from healthy molecules in a cell’s outer membrane. Antioxidants help stop a free radical free-for-all by generously offering up their own electrons.
There’s no doubt that inflammation produces free radicals. And lupus creates inflammation, sometimes all over the body. Doctors who recommend vitamins C and E, the mineral selenium and beta-carotene (the yellow pigment found in carrots, cantaloupe and other orange and yellow fruits and vegetables) to people with lupus are hoping that over time, these nutrients will help reduce the inflammation by mopping up some of the free radicals.
“Studies of animals with lupus do show that these nutrients can help stop the damage from inflammation,” Dr. Blau says. “I give these nutrients to all of my patients, from day one.”
He recommends a daily intake of 1,000 milligrams of vitamin C, 1,000 international units of vitamin E, 25,000 international units of beta-carotene and a supplement that includes 50 micrograms of selenium and 15 milligrams of zinc, which is used by the body to produce a free radical dousing enzyme. Dr. Blau urges all people with lupus to discuss any vitamin or mineral treatment with their doctors.
In two studies, people with discoid lupus, a form of lupus typically characterized by red, inflamed skin in a butterfly pattern on the nose and cheeks, who took more than 300 international units of vitamin E daily (most took 900 to 1,600 international units daily) saw clearing of their inflamed skin. And a British doctor reported that large doses of beta-carotene (50 milligrams, or 83,000 international units, three times daily) completely cleared up sun-induced skin rashes in three of his patients with discoid lupus.
Vitamins C and E and beta-carotene are considered safe, even in fairly large amounts. Both selenium and zinc have much smaller ranges of safety. It’s best not to take more than 100 micrograms of selenium or 15 milligrams of zinc a day without medical supervision, experts say.
Should Fish Be Your Dish?
If you have lupus, you may have heard about the potential beneficial effects of fish oil for this condition. Doctors sometimes suggest fatty fish for several autoimmune diseases, including lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, Raynaud’s disease, psoriasis and scleroderma. (Autoimmune diseases are the result of the immune system turning on the body.) These conditions involve inflammation, or pain and swelling, of the joints, skin and vital organs. But since they don’t involve infection, drugs such as antibiotics usually don’t help.
“Fish oil apparently reduces inflammation by substituting for other fats when your body makes inflammation-generating biochemicals,” explains William Clark, M.D., professor of medicine at the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario, and a leading researcher of lupus and fish oil.
Your body normally makes two groups of potentially inflammatory biochemicals; prostaglandins and leukotrienes, using whatever fats are available. If you eat meats and eggs, your body uses a component of the fats found in these foods, arachidonic acid, to make very potent forms of these biochemicals. (To a much lesser extent, your body can also use corn oil, safflower oil and sunflower oil to make these biochemicals.) If fish oil is abundant, however, your body uses it to produce forms of prostaglandins and leukotrienes that are less likely to cause inflammation.
Does fish oil really help control the symptoms of lupus? “Studies of mice with lupus that were fed large amounts of fish oil instead of other dietary fats show that these diets do help reduce inflammation and improve kidney function and immunity,” says Richard Sperling, M.D., assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and a rheumatologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. “In the few studies done so far with humans, however, results have been disappointing, with no clear benefits.”
That doesn’t mean that fish oil is a bust, however. It’s possible that the people in these studies got too little fish oil and too much of other fats, says Dr. Sperling. It’s also possible that they started the diet too late in the course of their disease or were followed for too short of a time to see benefits, he speculates.
If you have lupus and want to try fish oil, your best bet may be to substitute fatty fish (broiled or poached–not fried!) for meats and eggs, experts say. Amounts as small as 6 grams a day may help reduce inflammation, but up to 15 to 18 grams a day may be necessary for cardiovascular protection, Dr. Clark says. One fish oil capsule contains only 300 milligrams (or 0.3 gram) of fish oil, so you’d still have to take about 60 capsules a day (ugh!) to reach the 18-gram level.
One seven-ounce serving of mackerel, Pacific salmon or fresh albacore tuna offers 5 grams of omega-3’s, about as much as you’d get in 16 capsules. (Omega-3 fatty acids are the beneficial part of the oil found in fish and marine mammals.) The same amount of Atlantic herring has 4.24 grams of omega-3’s; canned anchovies, 4.1 grams; canned pink salmon, 3.38 grams; and bluffing tuna, about 3 grams.
Some doctors worry that combining fish oil with anti-inflammatory medicines such as aspirin may prolong the amount of time it takes for blood to clot. But in one study of people with rheumatoid arthritis who had been taking anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin, there was no increase in bleeding time, Dr. Sperling says.
Revamping your eating habits can go a long way toward controlling the symptoms of lupus and warding off heart problems and kidney damage, its worst side effects, says Sheldon Paul Blau, M.D., clinical professor of medicine at the State University of New York at Stony Brook and co-author of Living with Lupus.
Don’t chew the fat. Saturated fat, that is. “Evidence that this fat contributes to inflammation and may promote heart disease is a good reason to keep the fat out of your diet as much as possible,” Dr. Blau says. One way to do that: Stick to small servings of lean meats and reduced-fat salad dressings and cheeses. Instead, load up on whole grains, fruits and vegetables.
Avoid alfalfa. According to Dr. Blau, alfalfa sprouts, tablets and tea all contain an immune system stimulating compound called canavanine. In large amounts, this compound can trigger immune problems, says Dr. Blau.
Only two cases have been reported of people whose symptoms flared in response to alfalfa. One took 15 tablets a day for nine months; the other, 8 tablets a day for more than two years. Since alfalfa could be a problem for people with lupus, Dr. Blau recommends that his patients avoid it.
Stay away from cured meats and hot dogs. Both contain compounds that in large amounts can aggravate symptoms in people with lupus, says Joseph McCune, M.D., associate professor of rheumatology at the University of Michigan Hospitals in Ann Arbor.
Take it easy on mushrooms and beans. They add flavor to any dish, but both contain hydrazines and amines, compounds that in large amounts can aggravate symptoms in people with lupus, says Dr. Blau.
Load up on garlic. Numerous studies show that garlic has a remarkable ability to reduce blood cholesterol levels and help prevent the clotting of arteries.
Declining levels of DHEA may have just as much to do with the autoimmune disease lupus as they do with growing old, reports the June 1998 issue of Seminars in Arthritis and Rheumatism.
Lupus is characterized by immune changes akin to those associated with normal aging. DHEA, short for dehydroepiandrosterone, is an adrenal hormone that drops significantly with age. In addition to calming stress-induced hormonal reactions such as inflammation–a symptom of lupus–DHEA is also linked to immune function.
In one study, animals given DHEA avoided some of the immune function disruptions caused by aging and survived what are normally lethal infections. Previous research shows that people with lupus have low DHEA levels, and now studies indicate DHEA may help treat the disease.
In the first trial, 10 women with lupus received 200 mg DHEA daily for six months and showed improvement. A controlled clinical trial followed, involving 28 women with lupus who also received 200 mg DHEA or a placebo daily for three months. The women who took DHEA felt better and were able to decrease their daily dose of prednisone, a corticosteroid commonly prescribed for lupus.
The researcher suspects that low DHEA levels may be linked to the immune system changes that characterize both lupus and aging and calls for further clinical studies.
“A Word On Health Online” is a monthly column featuring readers’ questions.
My mother has been diagnosed with lupus. Is it hereditary and what are some natural ways to treat it?
Lupus is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system mistakes its own tissue as foreign and reacts against it. Lupus affects the skin, heart, kidneys and brain and can be life threatening if it damages the kidneys permanently. The cause of lupus isn’t known. Theories suggest that toxic exposure or genetic factors trigger the immune system to become aggressive. In its milder form, discoid lupus erythematosis, lupus manifests mostly as a skin rash. The severe form, systemic lupus erythematosis, may involve fever, arthritis, inflammatory rashes, kidney damage, heart problems, and neurological problems including dementia.
Here are some natural treatments that might help. Check with your doctor to determine if these therapies are right for you.
1. Lupus treatment usually begins with the digestive system because food can possibly trigger immune responses. I often place people on a restrictive diet for three weeks, removing foods that commonly cause allergic problems, then analyze the results. These foods include dairy foods, wheat, yeast, citrus, sugar, caffeine and various preservatives.
2. I also look at digestive function. Lab tests can determine whether the digestive system breaks down foods properly and whether an overgrowth of yeast or unfriendly bacteria, which can trigger immune responses, is present in their digestive tract. I often recommend garlic, extracts of tannic acid or grapefruit seed extract to suppress yeast. Acidophilus and digestive enzymes replenish the digestive tract’s beneficial bacteria, and herbal bitters stimulate digestion.
3. Because lupus is a disease involving inflammation, I recommend anti-inflammatory substances such as omega-3 fatty acids in the form of fish oil capsules or omega-6 fatty acids in the form of blackcurrant, primrose oil or borage oil. I also recommend high doses of vitamins B6 and C. B6 produces stress hormones, thus helping the body cope with illness; vitamin C helps normalize immune function. Pantothenic acid, a B vitamin, is useful in chronic stress situations including chronic illness.
4. Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus) is an adaptogen that aids the adrenal glands’ stress response, boosting the body’s ability to cope with chronic illness.
5. Ayurvedic boswellia cream can be rubbed on skin to reduce joint inflammation.
6. Acupuncture eases arthritis symptoms.
7. The hormone DHEA can convert to stress hormones, helping the body handle chronic illness. Have a doctor measure your body’s DHEA levels before supplementing.
The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases
National Institutes of Health
1 AMS Circle
Bethesda, MD 20892-3675
The Lupus Foundation of America, Inc.
1300 Piccard Drive, Suite 200
Rockville, MD 20850-4303