Food can be our medicine! Eating to fight any disease can help the body in so many ways. I would like to focus on a disease that has grown substantially in the last decade and that is “Lupus”. Lupus can be life threatening and it is important that you find treatment. There is increasing evidence that how you eat can give you an edge in battling it. Alternative and natural remedies have shown much promise in treating Lupus symptom and can sometimes be a better option than toxic drugs that can have many dangerous side affects.
Some Important Facts About Lupus:
- Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease, a form of arthritis. It causes the body’s protective forces to turn into traitors. Lupus erythematosus or lupus for short, occurs when the immune system, which usually protects the body, instead turns against it, attacking and damaging healthy tissues. Sadly it is misdiagnosed because it mimics many other illnesses.
- Its believed that genetics and environment play a role in Lupus. Environmental factors might include exposure to ultraviolet light (photosensitivity), smoking and exposure to smoking, stress, and exposure to toxins such as trichloroethylene in well water and silica dust.
- Some medications have been linked to lupus and are suspected triggers of lupus and flares. Drug-induced lupus have been linked to 3 drugs:
1) Procainamide (brand name Pronestyl, used to treat heart arrythmias)
2) Hydralazine (brand name Apresoline, used to tread hypertension
3) Quinidine (brand name Quinaglute, used to treat heart arrythmias
- It strikes around 1.5 million Americans – 90 percent are women according to data from the Lupus Foundation of America, Inc., probably due to the effects of female hormones on the immune system. Lupus usually first affects people 15 – 45 years old. Lupus is more common in black women and women of Hispanic, Asian, and Native American descent than in white women.
- Lupus is known to trigger some major health problems and causing inflammation throughout the body. Although it is not understood why many people with lupus also have some types of allergy including food allergies. According to Dr. Daniel Wallace, clinical professor of medicine at UCLA and contributing author in “Dubois’ Lupus Erythematosus” it is not known whether there is any relationship to Lupus and food allergies due to conflicting results on studies. People diagnosed with lupus usually have elevated levels of allergen-producing substances (immunoglobin E antibodies), but there is not sufficient evidence that they are more likely to suffer from allergies.
- Common symptoms of Lupus according to the Mayo Clinic although they vary for each person with this disease are: fatigue and fever, joint pain, stiffness and swelling, butterfly-shaped rash on the face that covers the cheeks and bridge of the nose, skin lesions that appear or worsen with sun exposure, fingers and toes that turn white or blue when exposed to cold or during stressful periods (Raynaud’s phenomenon), shortness of breath, chest pain, dry eyes, headaches, confusion, and memory loss.
The symptoms tend to come and go but its a long-lasting disease.
Conventional Medicine Treatment For Lupus:
- Corticosteroids (such as prednisone). Side effects from long-term use include increased risk of osteoporosis.
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Can cause stomach and intestinal problems.
Eating to Heal:
- Cut back on Saturated Fats — Saturated fats are essential for a healthy diet, but cutting back on foods such as meats and dairy products is particularly important for people with lupus. “Lupus patients get more artery-clogging heart disease that people in the general population, and they also get it at a younger age,” says Michelle Perit, M.D., director of the Lupus Center at Johns Hopkins University School of medicine in Baltimore. Reducing fat in the diet is one of the best ways to reduce risk. Avoid partially-hydrogenated oils, they contain trans-fats.
- Cut back on fatty meats – Limit yourself to 2-3 ounce servings of baked, broiled or grilled meat. Make sure it is organic and if you eat beef make sure it is grass-fed beef.
- More Vegetables — Fill you plate with fresh organic or local harvest vegetables and legumes. Try to substitute at least twice a week a total vegetarian meal for a meat meal.
- More Antioxidants Foods In Your Diet — Eat more antioxidant-rich foods – green, leafy vegetable. Fruits such as blueberries, pomegranates, and cherries.
- Add healthy spices — For seasoning use fresh herbs, a splash of lemon or flavored vinegar instead of margarine or butter.
Add healthy fats — Alpla-linolenic acid (ALA) helps reduce and stop inflammation. Omega-3 fatty acid is known to curb inflammation and is found naturally in certain foods. Some nuts such as walnuts are a very good source of Omega-3, some vegetable oils such as olive oil and flaxseed are also a great source, and fish such as salmon and mackerel contain the omega-3’s. Omega-s 3 is also widely available in dietary supplement. Flaxseed is high in lignans, compounds that help prevent clots from forming in the bloodstream. These clots can damage and clog the tiny blood vessels of the kidneys (which is a common problem in Lupus). Flaxseed is also known to improve the immune system!
- Avoid sugar and Processed Foods – Eliminate white breads, pastas, sugar, and any processed foods from your diet. Sugar feeds inflammation.
- Drink Plenty of Water – Stay away from sugary caffeine beverage such as soda. Try herbal teas.
- Avoid Fluoride – Avoid fluoridated water. Make sure you use a natural or organic non fluoride toothpaste.
Other Supplements that can help symptoms and keep you Healthy:
- Hydrochloric acid and vitamin B complex can bring about improvement.
- Omega-6 fatty acids, found in evening primrose oil, borage oil or blackcurrent seed oil — all have been used with some success.
- Vitamin D — plays and important role in calcium balance, for skeletal growth and bone strength. Since sunlight exposure is the main source of D, lupus patients are at risk of a deficiency due to UV light sensitivity.
- Alpha Lipoic Acid — is a powerful natural antioxidant that can help reduce many symptoms of lupus.
- Magnesium – Has sedative effects and calming to the muscles.
- B Complex – Help to treat stress, depression and can bolster metabolism, help prevent, and cardiovascular disease that can be associated with lupus.
- MSM Methylsulfonylmethane – May help prevent joint and connective tissue breakdown.
Herbal Remedies For Lupus:
- Turmeric is a first rate natural anti-inflammatory herb. It has at least two chemicals, curcumin and curcuminoids, that act to decrease inflammation much like NSAID COX-2 that inhibit the production of prostaglandins which are linked to arthritic inflammation.
- Ginger another natural anti-inflammatory that can be effective to help joint pain for lupus patients. It can also reduce nausea.
- Garlic not only has anti-Inflammatory properties, but it also possesses anti-thrombotic, and vasodilating properties to help improve cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, and decrease clot formation.
- St. John’s Wort – Taking St. John’s Wort supplement can be beneficial to help calm nerves and to help with depression and anxiety that is associated with lupus.
- Astragalus is known to stimulate the immune system to support healing and normal functions.
Homepathic remedies have been recommended and shown promise in treating the symptoms of lupus.
According to Dr Weils some mind/body therapy, such as hypnosis or interactive guided imagery can be of great benefit to patients to help promote healing. The mind/body connection is often obvious in the ups and downs of lupus.
Regular exercise is recommended for lupus patients.
To treat and keep lupus or any chronic disease under control it takes working at it every day and be conscious of your lifestyle to return to good health. A good healthy diet, living a green lifestyle and finding the right treatment for your individual needs. I recommend that before using any treatment to talk it over with your health care provider.
Other Sources: The Doctors Book of Food Remedies Author: Selene Yeager and the Editors of Prevention