Lupus is a disease about which you must have heard before. Where? Now let me remind you, last year celebrity Selina Gomez revealed her diagnosis of Lupus through an Instagram post. Yes, this was the disease that led her to kidney transplantation.
Lupus, mostly referred to as SLE (Systemic Lupus erythematosus) is an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation in various organs. It is of 4 types and SLE is one of them. The word ‘Lupus’ denotes ‘wolf’ and was first used by Physician Rogerius. This word was given because of the lesions that appear on the face and resemble the bite of the wolf. This disease affects women more than men. In this article, you will get to know about the disease, causes, the risk factors, types, complications, treatments both Modern as well as Ayurvedic treatment.
What is SLE (Systemic Lupus erythematosus)?
Lupus is an autoimmune disease. In autoimmune diseases body’s own immune system mistakenly attacks its own cells. It is a chronic inflammatory disease which can affect your body’s systems including your:
Cause of Lupus
The underlying cause of this disease is still under research. But some causes can be considered . They are-
Autoimmunity – This is the improper working of the immune system. We all know our body produces certain antibodies to fight against foreign bodies. But in autoimmunity, the body starts producing antibodies against its own cells. So, these antibodies now start fighting against their own antigens. This fight leads to the development of the immune complex, causing inflammation and hindering the blood flow.
Environmental cause – Sunlight may initiate Lupus in some cases. Also Smoking, alcoholism, stress can act as trigger of Lupus.
Hereditary factor-If somebody in your family had faced Lupus then there is a slight. chance that you may get this disease.
Infection- Certain infections like cytomegalovirus may produce early symptoms of Lupus. Infections can worsen the symptoms of those who are already having it.
Certain medications – Medicines including blood pressure, anti seizure, anti biotic may trigger Lupus.
Symptoms of Lupus
The symptoms of Lupus depend on the part of the body it affects. The symptoms can never be the same in any two persons. Its symptoms can be mild in some while others may experience severe symptoms. Symptoms may develop suddenly and develop slowly or they can be temporary or permanent too. It varies from person to person. However common symptoms include –
- High fever
- Chest pain
- Body ache
- Pain, stiffness and swelling in joints
- Dryness in mouth and eyes
- Rashes ( Especially butterfly rash over the face also known as Raynaud’s phenomenon)
- Headache, confusion and memory loss
- Some may experience photosensitivity, that is their skin is sensitive to UV rays. Due to this, symptoms like rash, fatigue, joint pain can aggravate.
- Age – Though lupus can occur at any age. But mostly, it is found in people of age 15- 44years.
- Sex- Women are more prone to Lupus. But this doesn’t mean that men aren’t affected.
- Race- People with origins – American- African, American- Asian, Native American, and Hispanics are more affected by Lupus.
- Family history –If any of your family members is diagnosed with Lupus. Watch out, you too are at a risk.
Complications associated with Lupus
Lupus can cause several complications. These include:
- Increased risk of hypertension (pre-eclampsia) during pregnancy.
- Increased risk of cancer
- Bone tissue death
- Damage to your kidneys, lungs, heart, nervous system and blood.
Types of Lupus
Lupus can be categorized into four different types-
- SLE – It stands for Systemic Lupus Erythematous. This is the most common type. Here the word ‘systemic’ refers to organ systems. SLE affects joints, heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, and skin too. Its symptoms include hair loss, blood clotting problems.
- Cutaneous Lupus- When lesions and rashes are found over the skin then this probably suggests cutaneous lupus.
- Neonatal Lupus- The fetus is dependent on its mother and shares a bond via the placenta. Sometimes in some autoimmune antibodies are transferred from the mother to the child in their gestational age from their mother via the placenta which may develop lupus. Though this is the rarest one. Its symptoms include skin rash and liver problems.
- Drug-induced lupus- As its name suggests, it is caused due to certain medications including antimicrobial, anticonvulsant, and high blood pressure drugs.
Can Lupus be cured?
To your dismay, lupus can’t be cured. But the elating thing is there are many medications including Modern and Ayurvedic that effectively manage its symptoms.
What not to eat in lupus?
One should strictly follow doctor’s advice in terms of food. Doctor may suggest you to avoid the following things-
- Excessive of salt and cholesterol intake
- Food rich in alfalfa like sprouts.
In accordance with the symptoms and severity of the disease, many treatments are available. Though lupus is incurable, treatment is there to help you cope up with the symptoms and to prevent lupus flare (when lupus symptoms get worse).
One thing you should note here that this disease requires regular checkups and medication. You should always see the doctor on a regular basis. Why? Because, in lupus, symptoms might change over time. Also, by your visit doctor can conclude if medicines are helping you or not. In both conditions, he may change your treatment plan or may change the dose of prescription.
Common medications are
- Immunosuppressive drugs: These drugs work on your immunity. The drug suppresses the immune system and is only used when lupus starts damaging other body systems and is severe. As these drugs weaken your immunity so they should be taken cautiously and only when it is extremely needed to reduce its autoimmune response.
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs- This medication helps to cope with pain and inflammation.
- Corticosteroids- These also help in reducing pain and inflammation and they suppress the immune system. They are available in the form of cream, tablets as well as injections. They should never be used for a long time as they can cause many infections. Thus corticosteroid should be used for the minimum amount and duration.
- Antimalarial drugs- These drugs can help in coping with fatigue, rashes, joint pain and can curb the spread of lupus. These are used extensively while pregnancy.
- Biologics- These medication compromises of antibiotics which are of natural origin.
Ayurvedic treatment of lupus
The holistic pathy of Ayurveda revolves around doshas and Prakriti of both the patient and the disease. Lupus is a chronic disease that drastically affects the joints, muscles, and all other systems of the body including the immune system. This means that the toxins (present as the result of lupus) have already spread across your body including the doshas, dhatu, and agni. Vitiation of all three doshas (Vata, Pitta, Kapha) and the spread of toxins are the cause of this disease.
In Lupus, Vata is responsible for the symptoms like joint pain, body ache, dryness in mouth and eyes. Pitta is responsible for fever, rashes, and burning sensation. Swelling suggests the involvement of Kapha. So it suggests that although all the doshas are involved but Vata and Pitta are dominant.
Treatment in Ayurveda involves the stabilization of these doshas, removing toxins, and nidanparivarjan (that is to remove the cause).
Following treatment can help in Lupus symptoms
- Nidanparivarjan- This includes a change in diet and environment as well. For example, Vaidya (doctor) will suggest you reduce the intake of cold things as this will trigger vata. He may also tell you to protect yourself from sunlight.
- Removal of toxins- This includes Panchkarma therapy that is already described in Psoriasis. Some oral medication can also be prescribed for the same. For example Arogyavardhnai Vati (an Ayurveda Medicine)
- Lepa- Lepa (paste) of licorice root along with milk over rashes can be effective as it posses cooling property. Because of some reason, it acts against irritation, swelling, redness, and itching. For butterfly rash dashanglepa with pinda tail shows effective results. One case study of a PG Scholar from Bengaluru, Karnataka proves this.
- Yoga and meditation– Stress is a Lupus trigger. Yoga and meditation are the best therapies for stress. In Lupus pranayam, uttanasana, Tadasana, anulom-vilom can give good results in coping with stress. Yoga also improves blood circulation.
- Use of herbs such as Tinospora Cordifolia (Giloy), Aloe Vera juice, turmeric can benefit in reducing symptoms such as inflammation. There are many other herbs like turmeric and neem that can be used for the same.
So, in conclusion
There is no doubt that lupus affects health severely. But with proper medications, it can be managed. Following your treatment strictly can give you good health. And to prevent the spread of lupus you can avoid sunlight and eat healthily. As stress triggers Lupus, do yoga, exercise, and take rest. All this will lessen the effects and symptoms of this serious disease.