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Lupus is a chronic, autoimmune disease that can damage any part of the body (skin, joints, and/or organs inside the body). Chronic means that the signs and symptoms tend to last longer than six weeks and often for many years.
In lupus, something goes wrong with your immune system, which is the part of the body that fights off viruses, bacteria, and germs (“foreign invaders,” like the flu). Normally our immune system produces proteins called antibodies that protect the body from these invaders. Autoimmune means your immune system cannot tell the difference between these foreign invaders and your body’s healthy tissues (“auto” means “self”) and creates autoantibodies that attack and destroy healthy tissue. These autoantibodies cause inflammation, pain, and damage in various parts of the body.
Treating Lupus Naturally
There is no permanent cure for lupus, though this does not mean it cannot be managed well so a person with lupus can lead a full life. The goal of treatment is to relieve symptoms and protect organs by decreasing inflammation and/or the level of autoimmune activity in the body. From a naturopathic point of view, those with lupus usually have a kidney (adrenal) imbalance going on, plus their gut is looked at.
Sorting Out The Gut
At least 70% of immunity is based in the gut. If the gut is not happy, inflammation occurs and this has a run-on effect over the entire immune system. For any inflammatory disorders, we always sort out gut health and inflammation, and this can include detecting any food intolerances which might be present. For more information about our food intolerance testing, click here.
Acupuncture can test for reflex zones indicating if certain areas of your body are imbalanced or weak, like your immune reflex zone, or your adrenal reflex zone – both commonly weak in lupus sufferers. Acupuncture is very beneficial in supporting your immune system and strengthening the underlying weaknesses which may have initially led to the immune dysfunction in the first place.
Herbs and Supplements
There are numerous herbs and supplements which are effective in managing lupus. For example, scientists have found that supplementation with omega-3 fish oils could help patients with lupus by decreasing disease activity and possibly decreasing heart-disease risk. Echinacea is also a great herb for moderating immune function in the body. As always, herbs and supplements are prescribed individually, and assessed on a person-to-person basis, depending on their individual constitution and disease symptoms.
People with lupus need more rest during periods of active disease. Researchers have reported that poor sleep quality was a significant factor in developing fatigue in people with SLE. These reports emphasize the importance for people and health practitioners to address sleep quality and the effect of underlying depression, lack of exercise, and self-care coping strategies on overall health. During these periods, carefully prescribed exercise is still important to maintain muscle tone and range of motion in the joints.