Reversing Systemic Lupus: Yes, It is Possible
Does this sound familiar? You have recently been diagnosed with Systemic Lupus Erythematous (SLE) and are now taking a bunch of pills, most of which you can’t pronounce. On your follow-up visits you report that you still aren’t feeling like yourself. You complain of more or new pain, painful rashes, feelings of depression and anxiety, stomach issues, and severe debilitating fatigue. You leave your doctor’s appointment with more pills and a little less hope. This continues for years until one day you look in the mirror and don’t recognize the person staring back at you.
If your life with lupus is defined by having multiple doctors, taking lots of prescription medication and never really feeling well, then reading this article is important for your health! In my article Environmental Influences and Autoimmune Disease, I discuss what autoimmune diseases like lupus are and how our environment can impact them. So please the article for a nice overview. In this offering, I’d like to focus on some easy, natural and holistic ways that you can take your life back, begin to reverse your lupus and feel better.
1. Change what you put into your body
This is by far the easiest thing you can begin today at your next meal to help decrease the roaring fire of inflammation that fuels your lupus. Cutting out gluten (yes, that means wheat, breads, pastas, pizza and pie), grains (even gluten-free grains like corn, rice and quinoa), night shade vegetables (these include tomatoes, peppers, potatoes and eggplant), sugar and anything processed can neutralize lupus flares. Significantly increasing your water intake, while ditching soda, caffeine and alcohol is also a really wonderful step in the right direction. Also consider having your integrative medicine physician test you for food allergies, so that you are avoiding those foods that may instigate lupus flares.
2. Use nature’s anti-inflammatories
Vitamin D, turmeric and omega-3 fatty acids are three very potent and powerful anti-inflammatory nutrients that will do Kung-Fu all over the inflammation that perpetuates and exacerbates lupus.
3. Heal your gut
It is becoming widely accepted that intestinal permeability (AKA Leaky Gut Syndrome) is a huge underlying reason for autoimmune disease. The single cell layer of your gut lining is meant to be tightly closed (or impermeable) to only allow passage of necessary nutrients. When this lining is compromised (due to stress, medications, infection, poor diet, excessive alcohol intake etc.), it becomes loose (or permeable) and can allow unrestricted passage across the gut lining, inevitably leading to increased inflammation and potentially autoimmunity.
It is actually quite simple to heal Leaky Gut Syndrome with a ‘4-R program’ as follows:
a. Remove- remove food allergens (that means, change your diet), infections and other pathogens that might have taken refuge in your body.
b. Replace- replace low stomach acid and digestive enzymes, both of which become depleted as we age with medications, poor dieting and disease.
c. Reinoculate- reinoculate the gut flora with probiotics and prebiotics. That means give your gut some of the good bacteria that it needs to help keep the gut environment happy and healthy.
d. Repair- repair the leaky gut lining with nutrients like L-glutamine, aloe vera, omega-3 fatty acids, N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) and deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL).
4. Chill Out
Stress is akin to taking a canister of lighter fluid and pouring it on the fire of inflammation in your autoimmune body. Weather it is the stress of your disease, physical stress like over-exercising or emotional stress like a toxic relationship or annoying bosses, it needs to be managed. Learn to relax. Teach yourself to relax. Taking up meditation, regular deep breathing, tai chi or qui gong are all wonderful ways to create meaningful responses to stressors.
These steps are a great place to start on your healing journey with lupus. Other important steps to keep the reversal process going include regular and gentle detoxification, improving your antioxidant status, correcting nutrient deficiencies, maximizing your sleep and finding true happiness. This is best done under the care of your integrative medicine physician, but nothings stopping you from making better food choices right now!