Definition: Lupus is a chronic, inflammatory, autoimmune disease that affects the blood and connective tissue.
Types: There are two main types of lupus. Discoid lupus erythematosus (DLE) affects the exposed areas of the skin and sometimes the joints. Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is more serious and potentially fatal condition that affects the body's organs in addition to the blood and connective tissues.
Symptoms: Lupus symptoms vary according to the severity of the illness and the affected organs. SLE can strike abruptly, accompanied by fever and mimicking an acute infection. But it can also occur slowly over months, even years, exhibiting only sporadic episodes of fever and fatigue. Most people with SLE complain of pain in various joints that mimics arthritis, or in children it simulates growing pains. In adults, there is often a history of growing pains. Over time, muscular contraction may deform the joints.
Many patients also manifest rashes on their face, neck, upper chest, and/or elbows. In DLE, the rash starts as red, circular thickened areas that leave scars, most often affecting the face and scalp, and can also cause permanent hair loss. In SLE, there is a characteristic "butterfly-shaped" rash that occurs on the cheeks and over the bridge of the nose. Rashes in SLE patients do not scar and do not cause permanent hair loss.
Ulcers on mucous membranes such as the mouth and nose are also common. Swelling of the hands and fingers can occur, as well, as can sensitivity to light, kidney disorders, pleurisy (inflammation of lining of the lungs), pericarditis (inflammation of the membrane surrounding the heart), iron deficiency, anemia, and high blood pressure. Swelling of lymph nodes is also common, especially in children.
SLE is considered as mild if the symptoms are mainly fever, joint pain, rash, headaches, pleurisy, and pericarditis. It is considered severe if it is associated with life-threatening diseases. Severe SLE requires immediate corticosteroid therapy, which can only be administered under a doctor's care. Since SLE is often chronic, with periods of improvement and relapse over many years, years of remission can occur in between periods of symptoms. This does not necessarily mean that the disease is gone. To be sure, you may need blood tests for antinuclear antibodies (ANA) and sometimes skin biopsies.
Note: According to the American Rheumatoid Association, four of the following eight symptoms must be present for a diagnosis of lupus: ANA antibodies in the blood, low white blood cell or platelet count or hemolytic anemia, joint pain in a number of joints (arthritis), butterfly rash on cheeks, abnormal cells in the urine, light sensitivity, mouth sores, and seizure or psychosis.
Cause: Food allergies (there is a 100 percent correlation between lupus and food allergies), rheumatoid arthritis, other connective tissue diseases, parasites, candidiasis, bowel problems, and digestive enzyme deficiencies can create symptoms that mimic or exacerbate SLE. Migraines, epilepsy, and psychoses must also be ruled out before a proper course of treatment can be decided upon.
Both forms of lupus primarily strike young women (90% of cases) and young children.
The drugs hydralazine, procainamide, and beta blockers can cause false-positive readings of SLE, and can also produce a lupus-like condition that disappears when the drugs are no longer taken. Birth control pills and environmental stresses can also exacerbate lupus symptoms.
Diet: Eat an organic, whole foods diet. Also avoid overeating and limit your intake of dairy, beef products, and polyunsaturated oils. Also screen for food allergies and avoid all foods to which you are allergic or sensitive. Increase your intake of vegetables, especially green, yellow, and orange, and consume non-farm-raised fish several times a week.
Herbs: Supplementation with Swedish bitters with each meal can increase hydrochloric acid production. Also drink an infusion of nettle twice a day. Other useful herbs include echinacea, goldenseal, licorice, pau d'arco, and red clover
Hydrotherapy: Contrast hydrotherapy (alternating cold and hot water baths and/or packs) can help alleviate symptoms.
Juice Therapy: Drink the juice of carrot, celery, flaxseed oil, black currant oil, and garlic.
Nutritional Supplementation: Hydrochloric acid (HCL) deficiency is common in people with lupus, therefore HCL supplements with each meal is advised. Other useful nutrients include vitamin A with beta carotene, vitamin C and bioflavonoids, vitamin B complex, vitamin B5, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, calcium, magnesium, selenium, zinc, essential fatty acids, proteolytic enzymes taken away from meals, digestive enzymes taken with meals, and the amino acids L-cysteine, L-methionine, and L-cystine.
Topical Treatment: PABA cream applied topically can help ease symptoms.
Alternative Professional Care If your symptoms persist despite the above measures, seek the help of a qualified health professional. The following professional care therapies have all been shown to be useful for treating Lupus: Acupuncture, Biofeedback Training, Bodywork, Cell Therapy, Chelation Therapy, Detoxification Therapy(LINK to Cleansing and Detoxification section), Environmental Medicine, Enzyme Therapy, Guided Imagery, Homeopathy, Juice Therapy, Light Therapy, Magnetic Field Therapy, Natural Hormone Replacement Therapy, Naturopathic Medicine, Oxygen Therapy, Qigong, Rolfing, and Traditional Chinese Medicine.