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The Naturopaths Approach to Lupus

Immune | April 28, 2017 | Author: Naturopath

autoimmune

The Naturopaths Approach to Lupus

Systemic lupus erythematous, also known simply as lupus, is a chronic autoimmune connective tissue disease. The immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissue in various parts of the body by producing antibodies. Symptoms can range from mild to severe and most commonly include a red facial rash, fatigue and joint pain. Women are ten times more likely to suffer lupus than men, although males and females of any age can be affected. The cause of lupus isn’t entirely clear but it is thought that environmental factors, including microbial antigens, sunlight, smoking, vitamin D deficiency and female hormones are believed to be involved.

Diagnosing lupus

According to the American College of Rheumatology criteria, a person may be classified as having lupus if they have four or more of the following signs/symptoms:

  • Red facial rash on cheeks and nose
  • Discoid rash (a scaly, disc-like plaque that forms a rash on the scalp, face and ears)
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Arthritis involving two or more large joints, i.e. knees, hips or wrists
  • Inflammation of the serous tissues that line the lungs, heart, abdomen and inner abdominal organs
  • Kidney disorders including protein in the urine, kidney impairment and failure
  • Neurological disorders e.g. seizures, migraine, headaches, depression, anxiety and cognitive dysfunction
  • Blood disorders such as anaemia and low platelet and white blood cell counts
  • Immune disorder
  • Presence of antinuclear antibodies (ANA)

What increases your risk?

  • Family history
  • Oestrogen is known to predispose females to lupus
  • Certain medications, including some antidepressants and antibiotics
  • High stress levels
  • Excessive exposure to sunlight
  • Smoking
  • Infections such as cytomegalovirus, parvovirus, hepatitis C and Epstein-Barr virus
  • High toxic load from infection and environmental/chemical toxicity

Naturopathic treatment

Herbal medicines

Astragalus, a herb used in both Western and traditional Chinese medicine, modulates the immune system, improves kidney function and reduces infection. In a randomised trial involving 80 lupus patients, Astragalus, when combined with cyclophosphamide, was found to be more effective than just cyclophosphamide alone in improving immune function, reducing infection rate and urine protein.

Boswellia, turmeric, devil’s claw and liquorice can be used to help reduce pain and inflammation. Rehmannia and hemidesmus are well regarded for autoimmune conditions by suppressing the overactivity of the immune system.

St John’s wort, passionflower, valerian and kava may prove beneficial if there is chronic stress, anxiety and sleep problems.

Other nutrients

Nutrients that have been shown to be helpful in lupus include: 

Antioxidants such as vitamins A, C, D, E and beta carotene; minerals; zinc and selenium and other nutrients; lipoec acid, grapeseed, astaxanthin and pine bark help reduce oxidative stress. Oxidation has been found to be high in people with lupus. 

Minerals. manganese has been found to be low in people with lupus. Zinc and magnesium may be beneficial due to their positive effects on the immune and musculoskeletal systems.

Vitamin D deficiency is found to be extremely common in people with lupus. This essential vitamin is important in regulating the immune system and supplementing is vital in maintaining optimal levels if your levels are low.

Vitamin B complex can help If fatigue and stress are major symptoms. Vitamin B can also help with digestion and many other processes in th body. Choose a good quality B complex or Multi vitamin to reduce these issues.

Fish oil supplements have shown beneficial outcomes for people with lupus.

Three capsules a day of a high strength fish oil supplement significantly decreased the symptoms of lupus after 6 months.

Fish oil is known to reduce inflammation in the body, notably in the joints, making it an ideal supplement, safe for long-term use.

Sam-e is a molecule formed naturally in the body that plays a role in pain, depression, liver disease, and other conditions. It may be helpful for people with lupus by reducing inflammation, providing relief for depression and reducing arthritis-like symptoms.

Glucosamine, chondroitin and green-lipped muscle can be combined with fish oil for joint repair if degeneration is occuring.

A good quality diet

Eating a diet high in fruits and vegetables provides a rich source and variety of antioxidants.

An organic/biodynamic diet, low in pesticides and high in nutrients is certainly an advantage. If this isn’t possible then give your food a good wash before consuming. Eat vegetarian and animal sources of protein such as eggs, nuts, seeds, red-meat, fish and poultry. However, it is important to avoid high-protein diets and shakes which can put additional stress on the kidneys.

Small but frequent, easy to digest meals help to take the burden off the digestive system. Consider slow cooking, soups, broths and steamed foods.

Eating bitter foods like rocket, broccoli, kale, artichokes, dandelion greens or apple cider vinegar can help improve digestion.

Steer clear of foods that increase inflammation in the body such as:

  • sugar,
  • processed foods,
  • white flour,
  • alcohol,
  • coffee and
  • poor quality cooking oils.

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Avocado, coconut and olive oil are all excellent choices for cooking as they provide great health benefits and can withstand high cooking temperatures without being damaged.

Food Allergies

Patients with lupus are also more prone to food allergies, with a number of case studies reporting remission in symptoms following food elimination diets. Food sensitivity testing should also be considered so that offending foods can be avoided.

Avoiding triggers

Staying out of the sun or wearing protective clothing can help lupus sufferers who are sensitive to the light. Quitting smoking is also a must as it increases the risk of vascular complications associated with lupus. Chronic stress is a concern and worsens the quality of life for people with lupus. Stress management techniques can therefore be helpful and includes cognitive behavioural therapy, exercise, meditation and breathing exercises.

References

Hechtman L (2014). Clinical Naturopathic Medicine. Churchill Livingstone, Australia

Pan HF, et al. Radix Astragali: a promising new treatment option for systemic lupus erythematosus. Med Hypotheses. 2008 Aug;71(2):311-2

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18440160

Arriens C, et al. Placebo-controlled randomized clinical trial of fish oil’s impact on fatigue, quality of life, and disease activity in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus. Nutr J. 2015 Aug 18;14:82

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26283629

Robinson AB, et al. Vitamin D deficiency is common and associated with increased C-reactive protein in children and young adults with lupus: an atherosclerosis prevention in pediatric lupus erythematosus substudy. Lupus Sci Med. 2014 Apr 30;1(1):e000011

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25396060

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