19 Ways to Heal Systemic Lupus Naturally
The inflammatory autoimmune disease that affects multiple organs and connective tissue in the body including the heart, brain, lungs, joints, blood vessels, skin and kidneys among others is called Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE). Conventional medical treatment for lupus involves high dose corticosteroids which suppress the immune system and presents numerous other side effects.
This article will provide you with information on how to treat the inflammatory effects of autoimmune diseases such as lupus naturally. In addition, you will learn why it is important to avoid the dangers of immunosuppressant drug treatments, if possible, and address the root causes of the disorder. At the bottom of this article you will discover 19 strategies to use in order to heal systemic lupus naturally.
Symptoms of Lupus:
Skin lesions afflict 90% of individuals with lupus such as is evident by the butterfly-shaped rash present on an afflicted individual’s face (24). The rash covers the cheeks and the bridge of the nose. Common signs of lupus include arthritic changes, chronic fatigue, joint pain, headaches, mouth sores and reduced white blood cell count. (2)
Advanced neurodegenerative symptoms of the disease include memory loss, confusion, anxiety and depression. Lupus patients are also prone to cardiodegenerative symptoms including anemia, high blood pressure, heart disease, shortness of breath, seizures and stroke. (21)
SLE carries a wide range of clinical symptoms which can be mild or life threatening making diagnosis often a complicated and prolonged process.
Who Is Affected by Lupus?
Sex matters in the risk of developing lupus as this chronic autoimmune disorder affects 9 women for every 1 man. Individuals at an increased risk for lupus also include individuals of Asian or African descent, individuals at reproductive ages between the late teens to early 40s and has the highest prevalence in Italy, Martinique, Spain and the British African-Caribbean population. (22)
Researchers hypothesize that factors which trigger the worsening effects of lupus are predominantly characterized by women’s hormones like estrogen and hormonal fluctuations caused from stress and pregnancy affecting the immune system (15). Individuals with a family history of an autoimmune disease have an increased risk of developing the disorder.
Environmental risk factors include those with increased exposure to toxins and poor diets. For example, a diet high in processed foods increases the inflammatory state of the body, increasing risk for autoimmune complications such as food allergies and gastrointestinal disturbances.
Boost Your Body’s Immunity:
Restoring your body’s natural defenses to properly respond to a threat is crucial to overcoming chronic inflammatory disorders. People with such disorders have immune systems that are in a constant and overwhelming state of heightened reactivity which triggers inflammation. Here are 12 factors that you can address to better regulate immune function.
- Gut Dysbiosis: This condition of the digestive tract is characterized by an imbalance of microbes, commonly an overgrowth of pathogenic bacteria. This imbalance results in chronic inflammation and can lead to leaky gut syndrome (5). In order to heal the immune system, optimizing gut health is key.
- Methylation: Methylation is an important biological process in epigenetics. Methylation protects DNA, signals genes on and off and aids to detoxify cells of hazardous chemicals. Many people lack proper methylating abilities because of a specific genetic mutation that inhibits this function. Methylation is critical in boosting your body’s natural immune defenses because it also is used in regulating T cell function (6).
- EMF Exposure: EMF exposure, or electromagnetic frequency, has been found to create immune system dysfunction. Exposure to EMF is thus associated with a higher risk of developing an autoimmune condition (7).
- Poor Blood Sugar Regulation: Balancing blood sugar is essential for a healthy immune system. Unstable blood sugar levels promotes an increased response by the immune system working overtime to support the body’s energy needs causing altered signaling pathways and dysfunction.
- Mitochondrial Dysfunction: Mitochondria are energy producing “powerhouses” for each cell in the human body which are susceptible to high levels of oxidative stress daily. Abnormal mitochondria function is associated with increased free radical damage and oxidative stress. This problem leads to an abnormal immune response. Most researchers agree that mitochondrial dysfunction is an abnormality that characterizes autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis (8).
- Glutathione Deficiency: Glutathione is a master antioxidant present within every cell in the human body. Glutathione is needed to support white blood cell (WBC) function. WBCs are susceptible to high amounts of oxidative stress resulting from free radical damage every single second. A glutathione deficiency can exacerbate inflammatory levels and potentially lead to autoimmune conditions (9).
- Environmental Toxins: Environmental toxins upset the gut microflora, reduce glutathione levels and trigger inflammatory activity in the body (10, 11, 12). The human body is regularly exposed to such toxic agents found in pesticides, herbicides, plasticizers, personal care products, and heavy metals as well as infectious microbes and biotoxins like mold which deplete glutathione levels.
- High Stress and Poor Breathing Habits: Mental and emotional stress elevates the production of stress hormones in the body. These hormones produce inflammatory effects. Coupled with short and shallow breathing habits throughout the day, these stressors induce mental and emotion stress at the physiological level (13).
- High Omega 6:3 Ratio: The ratio of omega 6 fatty acids to omega 3 fatty acids is critical in understanding chronic inflammation and autoimmunity (14). On average, most people have a higher concentration of omega 6 fats compared to omega 3 fats. The higher the concentration of omega 6 to omega 3 fats, the increased release of pro-inflammatory mediating prostaglandin molecules.
- Sleep Deprivation: Up to 80% of lupus patients are not receiving enough sleep and suffer from chronic fatigue (23). Poor sleeping habits promotes immune dysfunction and chronic inflammation. Adequate sleeping habits are essential to melatonin secretion responsible for reducing inflammation and tissue repair (15).
- Vitamin D Deficiency: People who are deficient in vitamin D (have levels lower than 40 ng/ml) are significantly more likely to develop chronic inflammation and autoimmunity (16).
- Upper Cervical Subluxation: The occiput which is the bottom of the skull and the atlas, the first bone, both play a key role in the information coordinated between the brain and immune system. Subluxation at this joint creates a rotation to the top of the spinal cord resulting in compression and increased inflammation in the body (17).
The Microbiome and Lupus:
The gut plays a major role in the health of the immune system because it supports nutrient absorption and detoxification. More than 1000 unique species of bacteria make up the gut microbiome. An overgrowth and depletion of certain bacteria is evident in individuals with lupus. Researchers have found that individuals with low levels of beneficial Lactobacilli and bifidobacterium and increased levels of the butyrate producing Lachnospiraceae were present in the early onset of lupus development (4).
Individuals with lupus are recommended to take a daily probiotic and consume probiotic rich foods. Adding healthy probiotics rich in Lactobacillaceae bacteria can exhibit anti-inflammatory effects by suppressing pro-inflammatory T cells and interleukins and stimulating Treg cells to regulate immune cell homeostasis. (4)
Raw and organic vegetables are also an excellent choice to heal gut issues. Avoiding unnecessary toxins is required to balance gut flora, improve digestive motility, remove toxins and reduce inflammation. Raw vegetables improves homeostasis by promoting an alkaline environment that is not susceptible to disease.
Prescription Drugs Influence Microbiome:
Unfortunately, many prescription medications used to manage lupus symptoms include immunosuppressive drugs which can increase the microbial imbalance in the gut. Drugs like Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide) and Rheumatrex (methotrexate) suppress inflammation by reducing the body’s own ability to fight off infection.
Steroidal drugs cause a variety of side effects which can also upset the microbiome and have damaging effects comparable to antibiotics. In fact, researchers have found that certain drugs promote a bacterial environment within the gut that despite not being classified as pathogenic, can still promote arthritic symptoms in autoimmune diseases (3). Individuals genetically predisposed to lupus are also more likely to harbor commensal gut bacteria which promote autoimmunity (19).
Anti-Inflammatory Diet and Lifestyle:
A lifestyle supplemented with anti-inflammatory foods and exercise can help to naturally treat lupus. Poor digestion resulting from a diet with reactive and inflammatory foods puts the body in a hyperimmune state that is highly reactive. Such a disruption can further create hormonal upset, toxicity and essentially a weakened immune system.
Some of the risk factors for lupus include a diet limited in adequate nutrients, food allergies and sensitivities, and gastrointestinal disturbances which may manifest as leaky gut syndrome. Individuals with lupus should consider regular low-intensity exercise to reduce symptoms such as depression, fatigue and improve cardiovascular fitness and overall health.
Treat lupus symptoms naturally by consuming a diet full of anti-inflammatory foods such as coconut oil, avocados, olives, vegetables, herbs and wild caught fish like salmon and sardines. Supplements to consider in the treatment of lupus include vitamin D, fish oil, b vitamins and probiotics. (1)
One of the best approaches for individuals with lupus is to follow an elimination diet where you eliminate the most common food irritants and any other suspicious foods for a few weeks and then slowly and intentionally add them back in in order to see if they trigger an inflammatory reaction. This article goes into more detail on this.
Foods and Activities to Avoid:
People with lupus should avoid foods hard to digest such as gluten and legumes. Foods which can increase inflammation in the body such as sugar, trans-fat, alcohol and caffeine should also be limited if not avoided. To reduce symptoms of lupus it is beneficial to consume 1 to 2 cups of bone broth daily.
Individuals with lupus should limit exposure to the sun as ultraviolet rays can trigger an autoimmune reaction. They should still aim to get 15 minutes of quality sunshine daily as that level is very beneficial for the immune system. However, try to avoid more than 30 minutes of direct sunshine as this can cause skin inflammation and a butterfly rash reaction for individuals with lupus.
Incorporating certain foods into your diet is an excellent way to improve the moisture of your skin. Healing foods that provide relief from dry and irritated skin from the inside out include coconut oil, avocado, green tea, cucumbers and omega 3 rich walnuts, almonds and flaxseeds. Patients who smoke are strongly advised to quit as this habit increases the strain on the cardiovascular system and can exacerbate symptoms of lupus. (1)
One supplement that can be very helpful for individuals with lupus is organic bone broth collagen protein which provides key amino acids that support the gut and the tissues that are most commonly affected by lupus. I recommend doing 1-2 scoops in water or in a protein shake with berries and coconut milk daily.
Mitochondrial Dysfunction and Lupus:
Mitochondria are present within each cell to supply the body’s energy demand. These powerhouse organelles are major sites of oxidative stress due to the high production of reactive oxygen species ROS (reactive oxygen species) and RNS (reactive nitrogen species). Each promotes free radical damage and further oxidative damage to cells and tissue resulting in chronic inflammation and autoimmune symptoms.
Prolonged increased stress to cells depletes the body’s biological abilities to protect against oxidative damage. Mitochondrial dysfunction in lupus patients is associated with reduced glutathione and SOD (superoxide dismutase) levels as well as abnormal energy production. (20)
19 Ways to Beat Lupus:
- Test for Food Sensitivities/Allergies: Complete a biofeedback test to determine what food sensitivities or allergies you may have. These foods create stress in your body and can lead to flare ups. Observe how your body responds to eliminating certain foods for specific periods of time using an elimination diet.
- Change Your Diet: Follow an anti-inflammatory nutrition program here. Also consider habits you will find here using the low-oxalate diet or auto-immune diet.
- Improve Sleeping Habits: 8 to 9 hours of high quality sleep is essential to the total healing and function of the brain. Learn how to improve your sleep by reading this article here.
- Reduce Stress: Enjoy more peace and calmness in your life by limiting stressful activities. You can learn how to thrive under stress here.
- Add Magnesium and Vitamin B Richs Foods into your Diet: Magnesium has incredible mind and body healing benefits. It helps regulate blood sugar signaling patterns and it also protects the blood-brain barrier. Some of the richest magnesium and vitamin B rich foods include grass-fed dairy, pumpkin seeds, raw cacao and dark leafy green vegetables. Consume the foods you tolerate best. Also consider increasing your magnesium levels by relaxing in an Epsom salt bath.
- Consume Herbs High in Antioxidants: Adding herbs to boost the antioxidant power of your meals such as ginger, oregano, garlic, turmeric, basil, thyme and rosemary. You can also drink these herbs in teas regularly for optimal benefits.
- Supplement with Omega 3’s: Omega 3 fatty acids as well as long chain EPA and DHA are necessary to maintain healthy blood sugar levels as well as reduce pain and inflammation. Add more of these healthy fatty acids into your diet by consuming grass-fed butter, meat, wild caught fish and spirulina. Consider supplementing with 2-5 grams of EPA/DHA and 200 mg of GLA.
- Juice Your Vegetables: A powerful way to boost the antioxidants and phytonutrients in your body is to juice your veggies. Learn the best juicing strategies in my article here.
- Practice Deep Breathing Techniques: You can improve your breathing patterns by participating in simple practices. See a high quality chiropractor, pay attention to your posture throughout the day and follow other tips on improving your breathing patterns here.
- Practice Grounding: We are surrounded in this world by electromagnetic frequencies (EMFs). EMFs promote neurotransmitter dysfunction and produce stress within our body. Practice grounding by walking barefoot on the dirt, grass or sand regularly to balance electrical pulses. The ground contains EMFs which your body naturally absorbs. Read this article here on steps to ground your body.
- Improve the Health of Your Mitochondria: Mitochondria are energy powerhouses found within every cell. Individuals with autoimmune diseases such as lupus are likely to have mitochondrial dysfunction taking place. Supplement the function of your mitochondria with clinical doses of these specific nutrients including N-acetyl cysteine, Lipoic acid, CoQ10, and L-carnitine.
- Receive Chiropractic Care: Receiving regular adjustments from a chiropractor can alleviate the stress on the nervous system and improve your overall wellbeing.
- Intermittent Fasting: One of the best ways to optimize mitochondrial function is to go at least 16 hours between breakfast and dinner without eating. Periods of intermittent fasting strengthens mitochondrial function by improving energy efficiency. Intermittent fasting is also a great way to limit oxidative stress and inflammation. The body responds with an anti-inflammatory response during periods of intermittent fasting, including those with autoimmune diseases (18). As this healing activity is lost when food is regularly consumed again, try consuming your meals during an 8 hour period such as from 11am to 7 pm. For more information on fasting read this article.
- Use a Home Water Filtration System: Tap water is highly concentrated with pesticides, heavy metals, fluoride, chloride and other harmful toxins. Install a complete home water filtration unit to avoid these dangers. Read this article here for more information.
- Receive Adequate Amounts of Vitamin D: Individuals with lupus may experience skin sensitivity when exposed to the sun’s ultraviolet rays which can trigger a flare up. If photosensitivity has your skin covered up when outside it is crucial to consume a high quality vitamin D3/K2 supplement to improve your vitamin D levels.
- Improve Your GI Tract Motility: Consuming an anti-inflammatory diet loaded with healthy fiber sources like flaxseed, chia seeds, fermented foods, bone broths and probiotic rich fermented foods improves bowel motility. Healthy gastrointestinal tract motility is key in detoxifying harmful agents from the body and increasing the absorption of nutrients.
- Practice Oil Pulling: Oil pulling is a traditional technique that drastically inhibits microbial build up in your mouth. Practicing this technique using antimicrobial oils like coconut oil reduces the stress on the immune system and inflammation in the body. Practice oil pulling twice daily and read more in this article.
- Use Essential Oils: Essential oils promote oxygenation throughout the body and weakens the effects of oxidative stress using powerful antioxidant aromatherapy. Experiment with the healing benefits of peppermint, chamomile, sweet orange and lavender.Place a drop or two of your favorite oil in the palm of your hands and then rub the liquid together. Lift and cover your hands over your nose and slowly and deeply inhale the essential oil vapors. This action will stimulate blood flow to your brain.
- Low Intensity Exercise: Frequently moving throughout the day can increase the flow of synovial fluid in the joints and reduce oxidative stress in the body. Avoid a sedentary lifestyle by participating in low intensity exercise such as Pilates, water aerobics, playing, light cycling, swimming or brisk walking. Movement will limit inflammation, improve joint health and boost the production of brain neurons.
You can learn more about how to apply all of these principles in my FREE AutoImmune Elimination webinar.