Holistic Treatments for Lupus in Santa Monica, CA
Your immune system is like an army, protecting your body from foreign pathogen attacks. When there’s a traitor in the ranks, your body turns on itself, stimulating an autoimmune condition.
Lupus —also known as systemic lupus erythematosus—is autoimmune inflammation of organs and tissues. Medications, sunlight, and infections can trigger symptoms like joint pain and a distinguishing butterfly-shaped facial rash.
A variety of holistic autoimmune disease treatments can help you control lupus symptoms by targeting their underlying biochemical cause. To discover more about holistic treatments for lupus in Santa Monica, call (424) 365-1800 or contact Vitality Integrative Medicine online.
Though not diagnostic criteria, the Systemic Lupus International Collaborating Clinics (SLICC) group developed a list of symptoms. It may be lupus if you have at least one clinical and one immunological criterion listed below:1
- acute skin rash characteristic of lupus (such as a butterfly facial rash)
- chronic lupus skin rash
- ulcers on the mouth or nose
- hair loss without scaring
- inflammation in more than two joints and morning stiffness that lasts for more than 30 minutes
- pain from inflammation of the heart or lung membranes that lasts for more than one day
- urine protein/creatinine ratio or 24-hour urine protein greater than 0.5 g
- neurological conditions like seizures, psychosis, or spinal cord inflammation (myelitis)
- anemia due to the abnormal breakdown of red blood cells (hemolytic anemia)
- low white blood cells (leukopenia) or low lymphocyte levels (lymphopenia)
- abnormally low platelets in the blood (thrombocytopenia)
- antinuclear antibody levels that are higher than the laboratory reference range
- the presence of Anti-dsDNA antibodies
- the presence of Anti-Sm antibodies
- the presence of antiphospholipid antibodies
- low complement protein levels
- a positive direct antiglobulin test
- facial rash
- stress, anxiety, and depression
- joint pain or stiffness
- fever and headaches
- hair loss
- upset stomach
- kidney inflammation
Though lab tests alone cannot diagnose lupus, each of these tests detects a specific abnormality:
- antinuclear antibody: detects this antibody that attacks your cell’s nuclei
- anti-dsDNA: this protein attacks double-stranded DNA; about 75-90% of lupus patients have it
- antiphospholipid antibodies: attack your phospholipids; present in about 60% of lupus patients
- anti-Sm: an antibody that attacks Sm, a protein in your cell nucleus; 30% of lupus patients have it
- anti-ro and anti-la: these two antibodies are often found together, and attack RNA proteins; found in up to 60% of lupus patients
- complete blood count: reveals low levels of red or white blood cells, platelets, or serum
- complement protein: low levels of this inflammatory protein indicates lupus
- chemistry panel: this test assesses kidney and liver function and provides info on the electrolyte, blood sugar, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels
- direct antiglobulin test: detects antibodies attached to your red blood cells; done in the absence of hemolytic anemia
As lupus can attack your kidneys, you may also undergo urine testing (sometimes over a 24-hour period) to determine how well your kidneys are filtering your blood and waste products. These tests detect the protein albumin, red or white blood cells, and bits of cells called urinary casts. You may also need a biopsy to assess inflammation damage and detect autoimmune antibodies.
Your results may fluctuate from positive to negative over time.
How can I treat lupus?
As with any medical procedure, results of holistic treatments for lupus will vary from patient to patient depending on age, genetics, general health, condition severity, follow-up care, and environmental factors. The following nutritional, supplemental and botanical treatments may present contraindications with one another, and/or with other medical conditions. Consult your healthcare provider before embarking on your treatment journey.
The health of your intestinal lining influences all autoimmune disorders and lupus is no exception. If your intestinal lining is weakened, small perforations can form that allow undigested food particles and toxins to leak into the bloodstream. Once these particles leak out, the immune system attacks them. This is known as leaky gut.
A healthy diet that provides necessary nutrition while preventing leaky gut and inflammation includes: fruits and raw vegetables, omega-3 fatty acid foods (sardines, tuna, ground flaxseed, and olive oil), whole grains, and moderate amounts of meat – more white than red.
These foods should be avoided:
- garlic: contains joene, thiosulfinates, and allicin can cause lupus flares
- alfalfa: contains L-canavanine, which can cause lupus flares
- saturated fats: raise cholesterol and cause inflammation; avoid fried foods, red meat, and dairies like whole milk, cheeses, butter, and ice cream
- alcohol: stimulates inflammation
- sugar: can painfully overstimulate the immune system
- gluten: triggers inflammation flare-ups; found in wheat, barley, rye
Nutritional and botanical supplements
Can supplements cure lupus? Yes, for some people these supplements address nutritional deficiencies and reduce inflammation:
- turmeric: this supplement can combat inflammation and reduce pain; one study in Iran found that supplementing this reduced blood in the urine, systolic blood pressure, and protein in the blood;2 side effects include nausea, dizziness, or diarrhea
- omega-3 oil: reduces inflammation, especially in your joints; may cause nausea and loose stools
- DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone): lupus patients have extremely low levels of this hormone, so supplementing is can help regulate the immune system
- vitamin D3: studies show that vitamin D deficiency can trigger lupus, so supplementing can improve the immune system, alleviate depression or anxiety, increase bone strength, and balance your hormone levels;1 overdose can cause kidney stones
- MSM (methylsulfonylmethane): reduces inflammation and improves digestive function; side effects may include stomach upset or a headache
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)
Lang Chuang Fang (LCF) is a traditional Chinese medicine that is clinically prescribed to treat lupus. It’s comprised of seven drugs, including Hedyotis diffusa, Scutellaria barbata, and red sage.
A study on mice with lupus proved that LCF helped reduce enlarged spleen and thymus disease, reduced C-reactive protein concentrations, and decreased the amount of anti-dsDNA autoantibody. The study also showed that LCF could improve kidney inflammation (lupus nephritis) by influencing the protein expression of NF-κB, Sirt1, and Nrf2.3
Alpha Lipoic Acid
Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) is a multifunctional antioxidant that combats oxidative stress by scavenging free radicals. ALA can also modify gene expression to reduce inflammation and may be able to restore the function of white blood cell called T cells.
ALA can be taken either orally or intravenously. Excessive amounts may cause nausea or rashes. This supplement is not for children, pregnant women, or patients who’ve recently had surgery.
Low Dose Naltrexone
Low dose naltrexone (LDN) is an opioid antagonist – it blocks the opioid receptors in your brain. These receptors are meant to respond to endorphins – your body’s natural “feel good” chemicals. That’s why the FDA-approved LDN for chronic opioid dependence and drug detoxification.
Lower doses actually increase the level of endorphins in your body by only partially blocking your opioid receptors briefly when your endorphin levels are highest. This signals to your brain that your levels are low, so it ramps up the production of endorphins – which play a role in immune system modulation.
Studies also suggest that LDN may be a viable anti-inflammatory agent and able to modify nervous system cells called glial cells to manage chronic lupus pain.4
Nausea, dizziness, headaches, and insomnia are rare side effects of naltrexone. It’s been shown to induce vivid dreams which can relieve stress for some patients.
As stress triggers flare-ups, lupus patients need to choose a stress relief practice like:
- acupuncture : studies show needling reduces pain and fatigue2
- massage therapy: relieves joint pain and headaches
- regular exercise and yoga: strengthens muscles, relieves stress and boosts the immune system
- breathing techniques: provide stress management and boosts oxygen supply
- good night’s sleep: about 8-9 hours per night reduces fatigue and anxiety
A 2010 study analyzed the effectiveness of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for treating lupus patients with stress against a control group that received usual medical care. After 10 weekly therapy sessions, the lupus patient’s stress, depression, and anxiety were reduced more than the control group.2
When inhaled or rubbed on the skin aromatherapy oils can relieve certain lupus symptoms:
- peppermint: calms your stomach and reduces joint inflammation
- ginger: reduces pain; aids digestion; can irritate some skin types
- lavender: antioxidant improve your sleep and pain (including headaches); may cause skin irritation
- neroli: reduces stress
- geranium: reduces stress and improve your circulation
- frankincense: early research suggests that it may have anti-inflammatory properties, and is used for stress
- jasmine: reduces stress and improves sleep
Some of these oils may cause skin irritation. Do not take these oils if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or have children.
Reserve your appointment
Lupus can give your immune system quite a beating. Holistic treatment can help you handle the disease by reducing your symptoms. If you’re wondering, ‘How can I treat lupus,” find a specialist in Santa Monica by calling (424) 365-1800 or contact Vitality Integrative Medicine online.
1.Kuhn, Annegret, et al. “The Diagnosis and Treatment of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus.” Deutsches Arzteblatt international 112.25 (2015): 423-32. Web. 29 Oct. 2018.
2.Greco, Carol M, et al. “Updated review of complementary and alternative medicine treatments for systemic lupus erythematosus.” Current rheumatology reports 15.11 (2013): 378. Web. 29 Oct. 2018.
3.Huang, Kai-Peng, et al. “The Therapeutic Effects of the Chinese Herbal Medicine, Lang Chuang Fang Granule, on Lupus-Prone MRL/lpr Mice.” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine (2016): n pag. Web. 30 Oct. 2018.
4.Younger, Jarred, et al. “The use of low-dose naltrexone (LDN) as a novel anti-inflammatory treatment for chronic pain.” Clinical rheumatology 33.4 (2014): 451-9. Web. 29 Oct. 2018.
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