Lupus

Lupus

 

Lupus is an autoimmune disorder, in which antibodies mistakenly identify the bodys tissues as foreign substances and attack them, causing inflammation and pain. The dis- ease 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 counter- parts, 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 inci- dents has been on the rise in recent years.

Lupus takes two related but quite distinct forms: discoid lupus erythematosus (DLE) and systemic 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 buttery-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 dis- orders 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 dis- ease 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, or 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. Holistic doctors such as ourselves 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 (“leaky 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 peo- ple experience very little inflammation and pain, others are nearly crippled by it. Doc- tors can help ease the worst flare-ups with medications for pain control and antibody suppression, but its 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.

 

 

SYMPTOMS OF DLE

 

A buttery-shaped facial rash that may spread to the forehead or the scalp

 

 



SYMPTOMS OF SLE

 

Facial rash

Fever

Fatigue and malaise

Joint and muscle pain

Weight loss

Hair loss

Sensitivity to the sun

Mouth sores

 

 

Vulnerability to illness

Enlarged lymph nodes

Nausea

Constipation or diarrhea

Recurring bladder infections

Presence of lupus antibodies in the blood

 

 

ROOT CAUSES

 

The cause or causes of lupus are unknown. Following are some of the top suspects:



 

An allergic reaction to medications or vaccines

Viruses

Bacteria, especially streptococcus

Extreme and prolonged emotional

or physical stress

Estrogen disruption related to preg- nancy 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



 

Testing Techniques

 

The following tests help assess possible causes of lupus:

Hormone testing (thyroid, DHEA, cortisol, testosterone, IGF-1, estrogen, progesterone)—saliva, blood,  or urine

Intestinal permeability—urine

Detoxification profile—urine

Vitamin and mineral analysis—blood

Essential fatty acid balance—blood or urine

Digestive function and microbe/parasite/candida testing—stool  analysis Food and environmental allergies/sensitivities—blood, electrodermal Heavy metal toxicity—hair  or urine

 

 

 

TREATMENT Diet

Recommended Food

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.



Five Ways to Use Wheat Germ

 

Wheat germ may sound like a avorless holdover  from the hippie  era, but it actually has a mild, nutty taste thats quite pleasant. Nevertheless, most people  prefer not to eat wheat germ straight out of the jar. Here are some tips for incorporating it into your meals:

1. Add a few tablespoons to muffin batter or dough before baking.

2. Stir some into oatmeal  or another  hot cereal.

3. Use it as a topping for yogurt. Add some berries, and you have a healthful break- fast or a luncheon side dish.

4. When youre making juice, smoothies, or other drinks, add some wheat germ before you blend.

5. A tablespoon of wheat germ adds a light crunch  and depth  of avor to salads.

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 or 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 youre prone to bladder infections, drink unsweet- ened 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. Youll also keep your joints

lubricated: water makes their cartilage soft and exible and maintains proper levels of joint fluid.



Food 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 elim- inate 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 youll 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 infec- tion and illness.

Food allergies can mimic lupus symptoms or make them worse. Try the elimina- tion diet on page 253 to determine whether theres 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.

 

 

Detoxification

 

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 sup- port the fast with plenty of green drinks and cleansing herbal teas.

 

 



Super Seven Prescriptions—Lupus

 

Super Prescription #1    Fish oil

Take up to 20 grams of fish oil daily and a minimum of 8 grams. High doses of fish oil were shown to be of help in a human study. Note: High-potency fish oil for-

    mulas are available, so that less capsules will need to be taken.

Super Prescription #2    Plant sterols and sterolins

Take 20 mg three times daily on an empty stomach. These naturally occurring plant chemicals were shown to have a balancing effect on the immune system for peo- ple with autoimmune diseases.

Super Prescription #3    DHEA

Take up to 200 mg daily, under the supervision of a doctor. Studies have shown

DHEA to improve symptoms of systemic lupus in women.

Super Prescription #4    Gentian root (Gentiana lutea) and herbal bitters

Take 300 mg or 10 to 20 drops ve to fifteen minutes before meals. Gentian root and herbal bitters formulas improve overall digestive function.

Super Prescription #5    Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM)

Take 2,000 to 8,000 mg daily. MSM has natural anti-inflammatory benefits and con- tains the mineral sulfur, an integral component of cartilage. Reduce the dosage if diarrhea occurs.

Super Prescription #6    Enzymes

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 anti-inflammatory effect.

 

 

 

 

n a double-blind trial, the combina-

Text Box: I

tion of 20 grams of fish oil daily and a low-fat diet led to improvement in 14 of

17 people  with sys- temic lupus in 12 weeks.



Super Prescription #7    Bowsellia (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.

 

 

General Recommendations

 

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 contain- ing 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 probiotic is a supplement that contains friendly bacteria, such as Lactobacillus acidophilus and bifidus, that aid in digestion and detoxification. Take a product con- taining 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 avone glycosides.

You can often avoid harsh conventional painkillers by using analgesic herbs. White willow bark (Salix alba) will soothe joint pain. Find a white 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.

Devils 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 devils 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 youve 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).

 

Homeopathy

 

Pick the remedy that best matches your symptoms in this section. Take a 6x, 12x, 6C,

12C, or 30C potency twice daily for two weeks to see if there are any positive results. After you notice improvement, stop taking the remedy, unless symptoms return. Con- sultation with a homeopathic practitioner is advised.



Arsenicum Album will relieve burning joints that feel better with warm applica- tions. The person tends to feel anxious and restless.

Belladonna (Atropa belladonna) works on joints that are hot, red, and burning and that feel worse with motion. Pain and swelling may come on suddenly.

Sepia is for women with lupus, who find that their symptoms flare up near their menstrual cycles. There are usually signs of hormone imbalance, such as PMS or extreme menopausal symptoms. There is a craving for sweet, salty, and sour foods. The person tends to be chilly, irritable, and depressed.

Pulsatilla (Pulsatilla pratensis) is helpful if your pains wander from joint to joint and if your symptoms improve in fresh, cool air or with cool applications.

Rhus Toxicodendron relieves lupus symptoms that are worse in the cold and the damp or with long periods of inactivity. Stiffness of the joints is the main symptom, which improves with some movement and warmth.

Sulphur is for burning pains that are better with cold applications. The person tends to get overheated easily and prefers a cool environment. There is a strong craving for spicy foods and ice-cold drinks.

 

Acupressure

 

Acupressure works wonders on rheumatic pains. As the following points are proba- bly quite tender, dont massage them. Instead, use firm pressure. Plan to work the appropriate points two or three times a day for several months before you see results; it may take six months for the pain to subside completely. Once the pain has been sig- nificantly reduced, you can reduce your sessions to one a day. For more information about pressure points and administering treatment, see pages 668–675.

Large Intestine 4 is used for relief of pain anywhere on the body, but it is espe- cially effective for pain in the hands, the wrists, the elbows, the shoulders, or the neck.

For elbow and shoulder pain, use Large Intestine 11.

If your ankles are affected, work Spleen 5 and Kidney 3.

To relieve stress, work Lung 1 on a regular basis.

For acute anxiety and nervousness, add Pericardium 6 to your daily practice or

use as needed.

 

Bodywork

 

Acupuncture is worth trying for people with this condition, to reduce inflammation and pain.

 

Reflexology

See pages 686–687 for information about reflexology areas and how to work them.

Lupus is a systemic disorder, so if you have time, its best to work the whole foot. If thats not possible, concentrate on the adrenals to reduce swelling and on any spe- cific areas that are causing you pain.

To relieve tension, also work the area corresponding to the solar plexus.

 

Hydrotherapy

A hot bath with Epsom salts will temporarily reduce pain and draw toxins away from your joints and muscles.

Constitutional hydrotherapy is an excellent long-term therapy to minimize lupus symptoms. See pages 676–677 for directions.



Aromatherapy

Find a few relaxing oils that you like and use them regularly in a bath or a room dif- fuser. Some good choices to start with are lavender, rose, jasmine, and geranium.

Black pepper and ginger encourage blood ow and will help revive tired joints and muscles. If youre constipated, you can add a few drops of either essence to a carrier oil and rub it onto your abdomen.

If you want to detoxify your body, use lemon balm or juniper in a hot bath.

 

 

Stress Reduction

 

General Stress-Reduction Therapies

It doesnt matter how you reduce stress—just find a technique that you like and use it regularly—on a daily basis, if possible. If youre not sure where to start, a basic yoga class will help you relax and will give you the gentle exercise you need.

If your pain is intense, consider thermal biofeedback. This therapy will teach you to send warming, nourishing blood to your joints.

Many people with lupus find that support groups are as essential to their health as regular check-ups are. Ask your doctor or local hospital for information about groups in your area.

 

 

Bach Flower Remedies

 

Consult the chart on pages 648–650 to determine the best remedy for your particu- lar needs. Following are some suggestions. Once youve chosen a remedy, place 10 drops of the liquid under your tongue. Hold the drops in place for thirty seconds and swallow. Use as often as needed.

For deep fatigue, take Hornbeam, Olive, or a combination of both. If youre convinced that youll never feel better, use Gorse.

A diagnosis of lupus can be difficult to handle; if you feel great distress and can- not be consoled, Star of Bethlehem will help you feel better.

 

 

Other Recommendations

 

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 a nonirritating prescription sunblock.

Although you may not feel like exercising, gentle movement is highly recom-

mended 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 its 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, its

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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