Curr Rheumatol Rep. 2013 Nov. Updated review of complementary and alternative medicine treatments for systemic lupus erythematosus. It is estimated that over 50% of patients with SLE have utilized complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) treatments to reduce symptoms and manage their health. This review describes recent studies of vitamins and supplements, acupuncture, and mind-body interventions in SLE patients. The recent trials of CAM treatments for SLE indicate that supplements such as vitamin D, omega 3 fatty acids, N-acetyl cysteine and turmeric show some promise for reducing SLE disease activity.
Supplements that may not be
helpful for lupus patients
There is very little research regarding supplements or herbs that may have a detrimental effect on lupus symptoms. However, echinacea and spirulina should be used with caution until more research is available.
Would it be possible to list supplements on
your lupus web page that are contraindicated for those with lupus? I noticed
that spirulina is elsewhere on your website, but not on the lupus page itself. I
have also heard that alfalfa, golden seal, and echinacea should not be taken if
you have lupus. Listing these and any others would be a great help to those with
I am reluctant to point out any herbs or supplements that may make lupus symptoms worse. There is a potential for spirulina and echinacea to influence this condition, but until full human trials are conducted I do not want to prematurely warn against using goldenseal, alfalfa, or other herbs.
Lupus diet, foods
Substances that may aggravate lupus include excess calories, excess protein, high fat (especially saturated and omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids), and iron. Some people with lupus placed on a food allergy elimination diet report improvement in their lupus symptoms; however, this may be related to a decrease of other substances in the diet. Eat more fish and vegetables while reducing sugar and sweets.
Subscribe to a FREE Supplement Research Update newsletter. Twice a month you will receive an email of several new studies on various supplements and natural medicine topics and their practical interpretation We will discuss natural lupus treatment when more research is published.
Omega 3 fatty acids and systemic
lupus erythematosus - Lupus and Fish Oils
Stephen Wright, MD, Specialist Registrar in Rheumatology, Department of Therapeutics and Musculoskeletal Education and Research Unit, Queen's University Hospital, Belfast, United Kingdom has evaluated the role of dietary supplementation with low-dose omega-3 fish oils in lupus. Results show omega-3 fatty acids improves lupus symptoms and show evidence of a protective cardiovascular effect. .
Stephen Wright, MD, Specialist Registrar in
Rheumatology, Department of Therapeutics and Musculoskeletal Education and
Research Unit, Queen's University Hospital, Belfast, United Kingdom has found
supplementation with low-dose omega-3 fish oils improves lupus symptoms and
shows evidence of a protective cardiovascular effect. Sixty patients
participated in the trial. They received 3 grams of omega-3 fish oils daily, for
24 weeks. The investigators measured disease activity using the revised Systemic
Lupus Activity Measure (SLAM-R) and the British Isles Lupus Assessment Group (BILAG)
index of disease activity for SLE. In the fish oil group, there were
statistically significant improvements at 24 weeks in lupus disease activity
with changes in SLAM-R and BILAG. Stephen Wright, MD concludes, "Low-dose
dietary supplementation with omega-3 fish oils in SLE not only has a therapeutic
effect on disease activity but also improves endothelial function and reduces
oxidative stress and may, therefore, confer cardiovascular benefits." A
Randomised Placebo-Controlled Interventional Trial of Omega-3-Polyunsaturated
Fatty Acids on Disease Activity and Endothelial Function in Systemic Lupus
Erythematosus, presented at the 71st annual meeting of the American College of
Rheumatology on November 9, 2007.
The clinical effect of dietary supplementation with omega-3 fish oils and/or copper in systemic lupus erythematosus.
J Rheumatol. 2004. Northern Ireland Center for Food and Health (NICHE), School of Biomedical Sciences, University of Ulster, Ulster, Northern Ireland, UK.
To determine the effect of dietary supplementation with omega-3 fish oils with or without copper on disease activity in systemic lupus erythematosus. Fish oil supplementation has a beneficial effect on murine models of SLE, while exogenous copper can decrease the formation of lupus erythematosus cells in rats with a hydralazine-induced collagen disease. A double blind, double placebo controlled factorial trial was performed on 52 patients with lupus. Patients were randomly assigned to 4 treatment groups. Physiological doses of omega-3 fish oils and copper readily obtainable by dietary means were used. One group received 3 g MaxEPA and 3 mg copper, another 3 g MaxEPA and placebo copper, another 3 mg copper and placebo fish oil, and the fourth group received both placebo capsules. Serial measurements of disease activity using the revised Systemic Lupus Activity Measure (SLAM-R) and peripheral blood samples for routine hematological, biochemical, and immunological indices were taken at baseline, 6, 12, and 24 weeks. There was a significant decline in SLAM-R score from 6.12 to 4.69 in those subjects taking fish oil compared to placebo. No significant effect on SLAM-R was observed in subjects taking copper. Laboratory variables were unaffected by either intervention. In the management of lupus, dietary supplementation with fish oil may be beneficial in modifying symptomatic disease activity.
Vitamin D should be
Serum concentrations of 25-OH vitamin D in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) are inversely related to disease activity: is it time to routinely supplement patients with SLE with vitamin D?
Ann Rheum Dis. 2010 . Amital H, Szekanecz Z, Szücs G, Nagy E, Csépány T, Kiss E, Rovensky J, Tuchynova A, Kozakova D, Doria A, Corocher N, Agmon-Levin N, Barak V, Orbach H. Department of Medicine 'B' and Centre for Autoimmune Diseases, Sheba Medical Centre, (Affiliated to Tel-Aviv University) Tel-Hashomer, Israel.
In a cohort of patients with SLE originating from Israel and Europe vitamin D serum concentrations were found to be inversely related to disease activity.
Oral Supplementation of Turmeric Decreases Proteinuria, Hematuria, and Systolic Blood Pressure in Patients Suffering from Relapsing or Refractory Lupus Nephritis: A Randomized and Placebo-controlled Study. J Ren Nutrition. 2011.
In this study we investigated effects of oral curcumin supplementation on patients suffering from relapsing or refractory lupus nephritis. The present study was conducted in Lupus clinic of Hafez Hospital, Out-Patient Department of Shiraz University of Medical Sciences. With each meal, each patient in the trial group received 1 capsule for 3 months, which contained 500 mg turmeric, of which 22 mg was the active ingredient curcumin (3 capsules daily). The control group received 3 capsules (1 with each meal) for the same period, which contained starch and were identical in color and size to capsules given to patients in the trial group. A significant decrease in proteinuria was found. Also, systolic blood pressure and hematuria were found to decrease significantly. Short-term turmeric supplementation can decrease proteinuria, hematuria, and systolic blood pressure in patients suffering from relapsing or refractory lupus nephritis and can be used as an adjuvant safe therapy for such patients.
DHEA hormone supplementation
I read that you were concerned that people are
overdosing themselves on DHEA. You recommend 1 to 5 mg. However I have lupus and
I heard 200 milligrams of DHEA can possibly help. I also have hair loss which I
am trying to improve. What do you suggest?
I can't make a specific recommendation since that is the role of your health care provider, but DHEA is known to increase hair loss. I don't think this hormone is safe to use for prolonged periods in high dosages.
Pycnogenol and lupus
Birth control pills may
Certain women may be prone to develop lupus when they start taking combined oral contraceptives. Dr. Samy Suissa found out that the increased risk of developing lupus in connection with starting on the pill appears to be greatest in the first 3 months of use, and with first- and second-generation contraceptives containing higher doses of estrogen. This suggests "an acute effect in susceptible women and possibly a dose-response effect of estrogen on SLE onset," she and her colleagues report in the April 15, 2009 issue of Arthritis and Rheumatism scientific magazine.
Each person with lupus has different symptoms that can range from mild to severe. Lupus symptoms are not consistent, but may come and go over time depending on a number of factors including stress, sleep patterns, diet, et.. However, some of the most common symptoms of lupus include painful or swollen joints, fatigue, and unexplained fever A characteristic lupus skin sign is a red skin rash. This is the so-called butterfly or malar rash. This lupus skin sign may appear across the nose and cheeks. Lupus rashes may also occur on the face and ears, upper arms, shoulders, chest, and hands. Because many people with lupus are sensitive to sunlight (called photosensitivity), skin rashes often first develop or worsen after sun exposure. Another lupus symptom may be cold hands similar to Raynaud's phenomenon. However, the most common lupus symptom is fatigue.
Arthritis and skin manifestations are most common lupus signs, but kidney, hematologic and neurologic manifestations contribute largely to illness and mortality. Lupus often gets worse during pregnancy and with oral contraceptives.
Before a patient can be classified with systemic lupus erythematosus, at least four of the following 11 disorders must be present: Malar rash, discoid rash, photosensitivity, oral ulcers, arthritis, serositis, renal disorder, neurologic disorder, hematologic disorder, immunologic disorder, antinuclear antibodies.
At some point, over 90 percent of patients have polyarthralgias or polyarthritis because of the disease. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) remain the mainstay of treatment in these patients, especially those who have mild polyarthralgias or polyarthritis. NSAIDs may adversely affect renal function, a special concern because 50 percent of patients with systemic lupus erythematosus develop associated nephritis.
The most common initial lupus symptom is fatigue. Other lupus symptoms include fever, and muscle and joint pain. This is called a "flulike syndrome." Fatigue is the most common and bothersome complaint. It is also often the only symptom that remains after treatment of acute flares. A flare in lupus is an acute increase in symptoms. Fever during lupus flares is usually low-grade, rarely exceeding 102°F. A temperature greater than this should stimulate a search for an infection as the source of the fever. However, any fever in lupus should be considered an infection until proven otherwise. Muscle pain (myalgia) and joint pain (arthralgia) without or with joint swelling (arthritis) are very common with the new onset of lupus and with subsequent flares.
Lupus nephritis, one of the most serious manifestations of systemic lupus
erythematosus, usually arises within 5 years of diagnosis.
Discoid lupus -- (Cutaneous Lupus Erythematosus
Discoid lupus is a chronic and recurrent disorder primarily affecting the skin and characterized by sharply circumscribed macules and plaques displaying erythema, follicular plugging, scales, telangiectasia, and atrophy. The cause of discoid lupus erythematosus (DLE) is unknown. The disorder is more common in females, most often in those in their 30s, but the age range is far wider than that of SLE.
Lupus risk factors - research
Lupus and exercise
and answers by
Ray Sahelian, M.D.
Q. Is the use of
krill oil contraindicated
in those with lupus?
A. I have not seen any studies that would make me think that krill oil would have harmful effects in those with lupus. Perhaps it may even help?
My 21 yr. old daughter has systemic lupus erythematosus.
Her exhaustion is extreme. If she takes Plaquenil or Chloroquine, she then has
'Lupus Psychosis'. Do you know anything about Kalawalla, from Organic Hope (organichope.com).
We have not heard of kalawalla. We looked on the internet and found Kalawalla to be listed as Polypodium Leucontomos on one website. There's a company selling kalawalla 300 mg 50.1 Standardised extract. We searched Medline and found no listing for kalawalla. Another search on Medline revealed no listing for Polypodium Leucontomos, but there were listings for Polypodium Leucotomos. Kalawalla and Rapuani are apparently brand names for Polypodium Leucotomos.
I have been diagnosed with lupus for several years. My condition was getting worse. My cousin introduced me to Dr. Sahelian and I had the fortune of having lunch with him one day. He asked me about my diet. I was drinking several glasses of milk a day. He said I should reduce the milk and add salmon and cold water fish to my diet. Within several weeks my lupus symptoms were reduced and my fatigue was much better. I think in my case diet had something to do with the severity of my lupus condition.
I just wanted to say thank you for your webpage on lupus that is supported by research papers. I truly appreciate research-based discussions.
I have SLE for almost 20 years. My latest blood test for
the DNA or anti nuclear came back at 58. My question is How can I get this
number to be normal. My doctor said that less than 5 is the normal range, when I
asked him what can I do, he said I would die. Is this true? What can you tell me
about getting better? I have fibromyalgia and taking tramadole and flexiril and
trazadone and plaquinil lyrica lortab I take other medication for high blood
pressure also Inspra and Diovan. And for pre-diabetes I take metformin.
I can't provide specific advice but you may benefit from reading about the different medical conditions on this web site and natural ways to treat them and review the options with your doctors.
My wife has diagnosed lupus before a year and still today we are struggling a lot with disease. Is there any way to treat a patient with the drugs without any side effects. Now she is on steroid and immunosuppressive medicines but still struggling with the many flares. If you have any clinic in Ahmedabad, India please send me the contact detail so that I can take an appointment.
My resent blood test showed ANA 1:1000. That result, along
with my chronic fatigue symptoms, butterfly face rash and sun induced skin
flareups, and kidney inflamation is starting to point me to a Systemic Lupus
diagnosise direction - further test will no doubt tell me more. Have you any
thoughts or experience on using CMOT (cerasomal-cis-9-cetylmyristoleate) as an
autoimmune modulator ? I have read about this relating to Dr Len Sands of the
San Diego Immunological Center, information of which seems to relate to
Arthritis, but wondered if it has been found successful for Lupus?
A Medline search in 2010 did not reveal any such studies.