Lupus (Erythematosus)

This is a chronic, inflammatory, autoimmune (the body is attacking itself) disease that affects connective tissue (tissue that binds and supports various structures of the body and also includes the blood). Discoid lupus erythematosus (DLE) is a less serious type, affecting exposed areas of the skin and sometimes the joints. Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is more serious, potentially fatal, and affects more organs of the body. Symptoms vary according to the severity of the illness and which organs are affected. SLE may occur very abruptly with a fever and mimic an acute infection or it may occur very slowly over months and years with only several episodes of fever and fatigue. Most people with SLE complain of pain in various joints that mimics arthritis, or in children simulates growing pains. In adults, there is often a history of growing pains. Over time, muscular contraction may deform the joints. Many patients have rashes on the face or other areas, such as the neck, upper chest, and elbows. In DLE, the rash starts as red, circular, thickened areas that leave scars, most often affect the face and scalp, and may 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 common. Rashes and swelling of the hands and fingers may occur. Sensitivity to light (photophobia) occurs in 40 percent of people with SLE. Other problems may be kidney disorders, repetitive episodes of pleurisy (inflammation of lining of the lungs), pericarditis (inflammation of the membrane surround the heart), iron deficiency, anemia, and pulmonary hypertension (high blood pressure). Swelling of several or more lymph nodes is common especially in children. SLE is classified 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. SLE occurs mostly in young women (90 percent of cases) and in young children.

Naturopathic Approach

A naturopathic approach to treating someone with SLE would start with ruling out other conditions that may mimic or share a lot of the same signs and symptoms as SLE does. Things like food sensitivities, rheumatoid arthritis, other connective tissue diseases, Lyme disease, parasites, candidiasis. Specific labs would be ordered to rule in/out all of the above and SLE.

For example blood tests for antinuclear antibodies (ANA) and sometimes skin biopsies are diagnostic for this condition. According to the American Rheumatoid Association there must be four of the following eight symptoms present for lupus to be diagnosed: ANA antibodies in the blood, low white blood cell or platelet count or hemolytic anemia, joint pain in the number of joints (arthritis), butterfly rash on cheeks, abnormal cells in the urine, light sensitivity, mouth sores, seizure or psychosis. Since Lupus is an immune condition (autoimmune), and 60%-70% of the immune system is in the gut, a gut restoration program is often prescribed along with aggressive detox support and support for the organs and tissues most effected like kidneys, liver and digestive system.