Lupus — My Recommended Treatment

woman exercising in park
August 20, 2014 (Updated: August 16, 2018)
Lily Moran

It starts with a butterfly-shaped rash on the face. Then comes the fatigue, joint pain, fever, weight loss, headaches, swelling, and sensitivity to light.

The diagnosis: systemic lupus erythematosus, better known as lupus. This autoimmune disease tricks the body into attacking itself, as if your own body were a dangerous enemy.

Lupus can cause painful inflammation and damage to the brain, kidneys, blood, lungs, heart, skin, and joints. The majority – 9 out of 10 – of the 1.5 million lupus sufferers in this country are women.

The disease hits women of color especially hard. African-American women are three times more likely to develop lupus than Caucasians. It is also more common in women of Latina, Asian, and Native American heritage.

Symptoms vary from person to person. For some individuals, the symptoms are extremely painful, while others may barely notice them.

The disease tends to “flare,” meaning symptoms get worse temporarily, and then go into remission. For some people, remission can last for years.

Not long ago, lupus was diagnosed by excluding other possible disorders. Today, we begin with the antinuclear antibody (ANA) test. If that’s positive, then we follow up with an autoimmune specific test to confirm the diagnosis.

No one knows exactly what causes lupus. Stress, hormones, medication, viruses, genetics, and a malfunctioning immune system are all likely suspects.

In mainstream medicine, lupus is treated with steroids, an antiquated form of treatment that masks the symptoms and creates a whole new set of problems, including serious heart, bone, and liver problems.

As an integrative physician, I’ve found the following six steps far more useful in treating lupus than prescription medications.

Improve your digestion: Don’t rush through meals. Make certain you’re chewing every bite thoroughly. If necessary, take digestive enzymes, such as bromelain and papain. Aloe vera in liquid form also promotes healthy digestion.

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Many health experts, including me, see a connection between autoimmune disorders like lupus and a condition known as leaky gut, which allows undigested food to enter the bloodstream, triggering the immune system.

Change your diet: Eliminate foods that cause allergies, like dairy, wheat, and sugar. Replace those with fresh, raw, unprocessed foods, especially fruits and vegetables, since they are rich sources of antioxidants that support good health.

Avoid food made with GMOs (genetically modified organisms). The easiest way to do that is by putting organic foods, which do not contain GMOs, at the top of your list.

Detox: Detoxification eases the burden on your liver, so it can be more efficient at removing toxic materials from your body. I suggest eating organic food as often as possible, drinking lots of fresh, filtered water, and getting at least eight hours of deep, restful sleep each night, so your cells can do some serious repair work. Exercising to the point of breaking a sweat is another good way to flush unwanted toxins from your body. Avoid harsh commercial cleansers and cosmetics, like nail polish, too.

Lower your C-reactive protein (CRP) score: Elevated levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), which are measured in standard blood tests, mean your body is suffering from inflammation. Chronic, low-grade inflammation sets the stage for a host of ailments, including diabetes, cancer, and painful joint problems, like arthritis. That’s why I like to see CRP scores below one in my patients.

Curcumin, an extract of the spice turmeric, has proven its inflammation-fighting abilities in hundreds of studies. Take 500 mg of a product with enhanced bio-availability up to three times daily.

The good fats known as essential fatty acids (EFAs) are another way to reduce inflammation. I used to recommend eating more fish, because they are rich in omega-3s. But since I’ve learned more about the toxins polluting our oceans and the fish who live there, I now recommend that you get your omega-3s from a daily dose of purified marine oil.

Take at least 1,500 mg of EFAs daily. Be aware that these nutrients thin the blood. For most people, that’s a good thing. But if you take blood thinners (Plavix, Coumadin, warfarin), talk with your physician about adding omega-3 EFAs to your daily regimen.

Exercise: Two recent studies show that lupus patients who exercise regularly enjoy significant benefits in terms of reduced inflammation. A brisk walk for 30 to 40 minutes each day is all you need to do.

Get more vitamin D3: This superstar nutrient is one of my favorites. Now some health authorities say it’s the key to preventing autoimmune disorders, like lupus. Most people are deficient in D3, so I recommend supplementing with at least 1,500 IUs daily.

I’ve had quite a few lupus patients recover their health by following these recommendations. So if you’re dealing with lupus or another chronic autoimmune ailment, remember this – it is possible to cure yourself by yourself. You can restore your health by giving your body the tools it needs to heal.

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