Lupus is an autoimmune disorder, in which antibodies mistakenly identify the body's tissues as foreign substances and attack them, causing inflammation and pain. The disease most often strikes women in their childbearing years; only 10 percent of people with lupus are men. For reasons that are as yet unknown, African American women are three times more likely to receive a diagnosis than are their Caucasian counterparts, and American women of Asian or Hispanic descent are also more susceptible. Lupus is a rare condition, but, as with other autoimmune disorders, the number of incidents has been on the rise in recent years.
Lupus takes two related but quite distinct forms: discoid lupus erythematosus (DLE) and systematic lupus erythematosus (SLE). In DLE, the only symptom is a scaly red rash that spreads across the cheeks and the nose, and sometimes the forehead and the scalp. We tend to think of this rash as butterfly-shaped, but in a different era, the pattern reminded doctors of a wolf's face-hence the name lupus, which means "wolf" in Latin. The red patches usually come and go in cycles, but sometimes they leave disfiguring scars. Scars that occur on the scalp may prevent hair from growing in the area they cover. DLE can be distressing, but it does not pose a serious health threat. Since the rash is often triggered by exposure to sunlight, the most effective treatment is to remain inside during peak daylight hours and to shade the face and the head when outdoors.
Sufferers of SLE may also experience a rash, and their disease, like DLE, goes through periods of remission and activation, but the similarity between the two disorders stops there. Systemic lupus, as the name implies, affects not just the skin but the entire body. The process that produces the red rash spreads to the joints and the muscles, creating pain and inflammation very similar to that of rheumatoid arthritis. People with SLE suffer from frequent low-grade fevers that may spike when the disease cycle is at its peak. Not surprisingly, the fever and the pain leave their victims exhausted and sometimes depressed. For some people, the symptoms never progress beyond this point. In other cases, the inflammation spreads to the kidneys, the liver, the heart, of the spleen, creating dangerous and even life-threatening problems.
No one knows the exact cause of lupus. Conventional medicine focuses on factors that often trigger flare-ups; certain medications, viral and bacterial illnesses, birth-control pills, pregnancy, and periods of extreme stress are all suspects, but it is likely that there is no single culprit. We take a close look at other factors; when these are addressed, it can be quite helpful to people with this disease. The factors include food allergies, hormone balance, digestive function ("leady gut syndrome") and detoxification, heavy metal toxicity, and nutritional deficiencies.
Earlier in this century, lupus was fatal within a few years of its onset. Now almost all people with lupus live out a normal lifespan, provided that they and their doctors monitor the symptoms and control any threatening developments. Today, quality of life is the most pressing issue for the majority of lupus sufferers. Although some people experience very little inflammation and pain, others are nearly crippled by it. Doctors can help ease the worst flare-ups with medications for pain control and antibody suppression, but it's best to try to avoid the need for aggressive measures. An anti-inflammatory diet, adequate rest and stress control, and specific natural treatments can all help you to reduce the chance of flare-ups and minimize the symptoms when they do occur.
** All of these prescriptions below have been proven effective; level of effectiveness depends on the individual. Please consult your doctor when taking any and all supplements.
Prescription for Natural Cures by: James F. Balch, M.D. & Mark Stengler,
Prescription #1 Omega 3 - LifeSource Products - See All of our Omega 3 – Fish Oil Products.
Take as directed.
High doses of fish oil were shown to be of help in a human study. Super Omega
3, 6, & 9 is also an excellent choice.
Prescription #2 Phyto Greens -
Super Greens - LifeSource
Products - See All of our Phyto
Take as directed
daily on an empty stomach. These naturally occurring plant chemicals were
shown to have a balancing effect on the immune system for people with
Prescription #3 7-Keto DHEA - LifeSource
Take up to 100 mg
daily, under the supervision of a doctor. Studies have shown DHEA to improve
symptoms of systemic lupus in women.
Prescription #4 Gentian root (Gentiana lutea) and herbal bitters
Take 300 mg or 10 to
20 drops five to fifteen minutes before meals. Gentian root and herbal
bitters formulas improve overall digestive function.
Prescription #5 MSM – Methylsulfonylmethane – LifeSource Product
Take 2,000 to 5,000
mg daily. MSM has natural anti-inflammatory benefits and contains the mineral
sulfur, an integral component of cartilage. Reduce the dosage if diarrhea
Prescription #6 Enzymes – Super Enzymes - LifeSource
Take 1 to 2 capsules
of a full-spectrum enzyme product with each meal. Enzymes help you to digest
food more efficiently. Protease enzymes can be taken between meals for an
Prescription #7 Boswellia (Boswellia serrata)
Take 1,200 to 1,500
mg of a standardized extract containing 60 to 65 percent boswellic acids two
to three times daily. This herb has powerful anti-inflammatory effects.
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Symptoms of DLE
- A butterfly-shaped facial rash that may spread to the forehead or the scalp
Symptoms of SLE
- Facial rash
- Fatigue and malaise
- Joint and muscle pain
- Weight loss
- Hair loss
- Sensitivity to the sun
- Mouth sores
- Vulnerability to illness
- Enlarged lymph nodes
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Recurring bladder infections
- Presence of lupus antibodies in the blood
The cause or causes of lupus are unknown. Following are some of the top suspects:
- An allergic reaction to medications or vaccines
- Bacteria, especially streptococcus
- Extreme and prolonged emotional or physical stress
- Estrogen disruption related to pregnancy or birth-control pills
- Use of synthetic hormones
- Deficiency of certain hormones (especially DHEA, progesterone, testosterone, and growth hormone)
- Food allergies
- Poor digestion and detoxification
- Heavy metal toxicity
Give your body optimal support by eating well-rounded, varied meals of whole foods. Buy organic products whenever possible, to reduce your exposure to toxins and pesticides. If you must buy conventional produce, wash it thoroughly in clean water before eating.
Raw vegetables and citrus fruits will help return your body to an alkaline state. These foods are also high in fiber, which relieves digestive problems, and in antioxidants, which counteract inflammation.
For extra antioxidant protection, eat wheat germ and cold-pressed oils (like olive oil) for vitamin E.
Essential fatty acids are the "good" fats that actually help reduce inflammation. Eat cold-water fish from a clean water source several times a week, and add 1 to 2 tablespoons of ground flaxseeds flaxseed oil to a daily salad.
During a flare-up of lupus, antibodies will attack your own joint cartilage. You can repair some of the damage by eating foods that are high in sulfur. Good sources include onions, garlic, and asparagus.
If you're prone to bladder infections, drink unsweetened natural cranberry juice every day.
Corticosteroid use is associated with bone loss and osteoporosis. If you must take these drugs, increase your intake of calcium by eating plenty of green leafy vegetables and soy products.
For good general health, drink a glass of clean water every two waking hours. You'll also keep your joints lubricated: water makes their cartilage soft and flexible and maintains proper levels of joint fluid.
Foods to Avoid
Saturated fats, hydrogenated fats, and partially hydrogenated fats make inflammation worse; in fact, some people find that their pain goes away completely when they eliminate animal meats and fried or greasy foods from their diet.
An internal acidic environmental also promotes inflammation and pain. You already know to avoid saturated fats, but you'll also need to radically restrict your intake of eggs, sugar, refined carbohydrates, alcohol, and caffeine.
If you need another reason to avoid sugar and refined carbohydrates, here it is: these products damage the immune system and leave you even more susceptible to infection and illness.
Food allergies can mimic lupus symptoms or make them worse. Try to determine whether there's a food or foods that you should avoid. Wheat, in particular, tends to cause problems in people with lupus.
You are highly vulnerable to microorganisms and toxins, so never drink tap water.
Be kind to your kidneys. Along with avoiding saturated fats and animal meats, restrict your salt intake.
Anyone with an autoimmune disorder should practice regular juice fasts to keep the body functioning at its peak. Try a three-day juice fast once a month. You can support the fast with plenty of green drinks and cleansing herbal teas.
- Vitamin E may be helpful for people with discoid lupus. Take 800 to 2,000 IU daily.
- Turmeric (Curcuma longa) has anti-inflammatory benefits. Take a product containing 450 mg of curcumin twice daily.
- Take a super green food supplement, such as chlorella or spirulina, or a mixture of super green foods, each day. Take as directed on the container.
- A high-potency multivitamin contains a strong base of the antioxidants and other nutrients that protect against tissue damage. Take as directed on the container.
- A probiotics is a supplement that contains friendly bacteria, such as Lactobacillus acidophilus and bifidus, that aid in digestion and detoxification. Take a product containing at least 4 billion active organisms daily.
- Evening primrose oil, black currant, or borage oil contain the essential fatty acid GLA, which reduces joint inflammation. Take up to 2.8 grams of GLA daily.
- Green tea (Camellia sinensis) contains a rich source of antioxidants and substances that assist detoxification. Drink the organic tea regularly (2 cups or more daily) or take 500 to 1,500 mg of the capsule form.
- Milk thistle (Silybum marianum) improves liver function and protects against the potential damage of pharmaceutical medications. Take 250 mg of a standardized extract of 80 to 85 percent silymarin three times daily.
- Ginkgo biloba improves circulation through the kidneys and has anti-inflammatory benefits. Take 60 to 120 mg twice daily of a product standardized to 24 percent flavone glycosides.
- You can often avoid harsh conventional painkillers by using analgesic herbs. White willow bark (Salix alba) will soothe join pain. Find a while willow extract that is standardized for salicin content, and take 30 to 60 mg twice daily. A lotion or a cream made with capsicum will also reduce the pain.
- Devil's claw (Harpagophytum procumbens) root is a potent herb that will control inflammation. Take 2.5 to 5.0 grams twice a day, or use 1 to 2 cc of a tincture three times a day. Expect to take devil's claw root at least two months before you see results.
- Teas made with burdock root (Articum lappa) or red clover (Trifolium pratense) have a detoxifying effect. Drink them during a fast or any time you want a little extra housecleaning.
- Lupus can send stress levels soaring. If you've lost weight and are very slender, however, a very strong relaxant might be too much for you. Instead, try tea made with a moderately potent herb, like skullcap or hops. If neither of these herbs works, or if you have a larger frame, move on to valerian (Valeriana officinalis) or kava kava (Piper methysticum).
- Avoid the bright sunlight, especially in the warm months or when snow (which reflects the sun) is on the ground. When you do go outside, always wear a hat and protective clothing. Your skin may be sensitive to some sunscreens; if so, talk to your doctor about nonirritating prescription sun block.
- Although you may not feel like exercising, gentle movement is highly recommended to reduce pain and promote good general health. A daily walk in the early morning sunlight is an excellent idea.
- Birth-control pills and synthetic hormones may trigger flare-ups, so it's wise to avoid them.
- Women with lupus were once counseled to avoid pregnancy, but pregnancy can sometimes actually lead to a remission of the disease. For many women, it's the stressful months after the baby is born that cause a flare up. The decision regarding the safety of pregnancy must be made on a case-by-case basis, so talk to your doctor.
- Chinese herbal therapy can be helpful. See a qualified practitioner.
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