Complementary Lupus CareJuly 30, 2012 Written by JP [Font too small?]
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), commonly referred to as lupus, is a chronic autoimmune disease that disproportionately affects younger women. Autoimmune diseases are characterized by an inappropriate response by the immune system which provokes an attack against healthy tissue. In the case of lupus, an inflammatory reaction occurs which can affect numerous sites in the body, including the cardiovascular system, the digestive tract and joints. The conventional management of lupus typically involves the use of anti-inflammatory drugs and corticosteroids that suppress immune function. Unfortunately, both of these pharmaceutically-based approaches carry the risk on unwanted side effects.
Alternative and complementary medicine may or may not provide adequate symptomatic relief for those living with lupus. However, there is enough scientific evidence available to at least consider and, possibly, experiment with the following natural approaches in consultation with a physician.
Five dietary supplements stand out as potentially beneficial options for SLE patients. 1) Higher levels of Vitamin D have been linked to lower disease activity and may likewise reduce bone loss, a common side effect of long term corticosteroid use; 2) Fish oil, in dosages of approximately 3 grams/day, “not only has a therapeutic effect on disease activity, but also improves endothelial function and reduces oxidative stress and may, therefore, confer cardiovascular benefits”; 3) 1,500 mg of turmeric daily was recently shown to protect against SLE-related high blood pressure and kidney damage; 4) Adding a ginseng extract that is standardized for ginsenosides to conventional care (prednisone) significantly improved response rates in a pilot study involving 60 adults with SLE; 5) Pycnogenol, a pine bark extract, may also work in conjunction with standard interventions to improve the efficacy of treatment and protect against various SLE health concerns such as excessive inflammation, kidney damage and oxidative stress.
Maintaining a consistent exercise regimen and managing stress are at least as important as any dietary or supplemental approaches. Although it may seem counterintuitive, exercising actually reduces fatigue in those living with lupus. Combining exercise with stress reduction is of complementary value because lowering stress addresses other key symptoms that are shared by most of those with SLE: pain perception and “psychological dysfunction”. Finally, if additional support is necessary, I would suggest looking into the viability of acupuncture. A preliminary study appearing in the December 2008 issue of Lupus reports that 40% of SLE patients receiving acupuncture, 10 sessions total, exhibited a 30% or greater decline in pain scores. The same was not true of study participants who were administered “usual care”.
Note: Please check out the “Comments & Updates” section of this blog – at the bottom of the page. You can find the latest research about this topic there!
To learn more about the studies referenced in today’s column, please click on the following links:
Study 1 – Vitamin D Levels: Its Relationship to Bone Mineral Density Response … (link)
Study 2 – Serum Concentrations of 25-OH Vitamin D in Patients with Systemic … (link)
Study 3 – A Randomised Interventional Trial of ω-3-Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids … (link)
Study 4 – The Clinical Effect of Dietary Supplementation with Omega-3 Fish Oils … (link)
Study 5 – Oral Supplementation of Turmeric Decreases Proteinuria, Hematuria, … (link)
Study 6 – Efficacy of Ginsenosides Combined with Prednisone in Patients with SLE … (link)
Study 7 – Pycnogenol® Efficacy in the Treatment of Systemic Lupus … (link)
Study 8 – Effects of a Stress-Reduction Program on Psychological Function, Pain, … (link)
Study 9 – Fatigue in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus: A Randomized Controlled … (link)
Study 10 – Acupuncture for Systemic Lupus Erythematosus: A Pilot RCT Feasibility … (link)
Lower Vitamin D Is Linked to Higher Lupus Disease Activity
Source: Int J Rheum Dis. 2012 Feb;15(1):17-24. (link)
Tags: Acupuncture, Fish Oil, Lupus
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Mental Health, Nutritional Supplements