Note: Do consult your doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment of this condition. Use home remedies just as an adjunct treatment.
Lupus is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks the body’s tissues as it cannot distinguish its own tissues from foreign invaders. This disease occurs more commonly in women than men.
The most common type of lupus is systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). The exact cause of this disease is not known, but experts believe it is usually a combination of genetics and environmental factors. Plus, chronic infections, stress, certain medications and even sunlight can trigger lupus.
Lupus is an illness with many faces as it can involve all the body’s organs including the heart, lungs, kidneys, blood vessels, brain, joints and skin.
Thus, it can cause a variety of symptoms like fatigue, joint pain, swelling, muscle pain, low-grade fever, enlarged lymph nodes, chest pain, shortness of breath, fluid retention, headaches, photosensitivity and a butterfly-shaped rash across the cheeks and nose.
The symptoms tend to come and go. They can vary from person to person and may even change over time. Lupus can also cause life-threatening complications like cardiovascular disease and kidney problems in some people.
Diagnosing lupus is difficult because no single test can definitively diagnose it. Moreover, there is no cure. Treatment aims to control symptoms like pain and fatigue, reduce inflammation, prevent flare-ups and minimize organ damage.
Most people with lupus can live a normal life. Early diagnosis and prompt treatment are key. Rheumatologists are specifically trained to treat this disease. Plus, you can try some natural remedies to relieve symptoms and reduce the frequency of flare-ups. Most of the remedies can be used as needed.
Here are the top 10 home remedies for lupus.
The active ingredient curcumin in turmeric has been found to be effective in the prevention as well as treatment of inflammatory autoimmune diseases including lupus.
According to a 2012 study published in the Journal of Renal Nutrition, turmeric can help reduce proteinuria, hematuria and systolic blood pressure in patients suffering from relapsing or refractory lupus nephritis.
- Use turmeric in your daily diet. Drinking turmeric milk is a great option. To prepare it, add 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder to 1 cup of milk and boil it. Sweeten it with a little raw honey and drink it once or twice daily.
- Another option is to take this herb in supplement form after consulting your doctor. The general recommendation is 400 to 600 mg, 3 times a day.
Note: Turmeric may not be suitable for those suffering from gallbladder problems. Plus, it may act like a blood-thinner.
Ginger is another wonder spice useful in treating lupus with arthritic symptoms. It has potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that help relieve joint pain and swelling.
- Include ginger in your diet by using it in your cooking. You can also juice a 1-inch piece of fresh ginger root and add it to fresh fruit and vegetable juices.
- Another option is to take ginger supplements. For proper dosage and suitability, consult your doctor.
3. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Some small studies have found that the eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) in omega-3 fatty acids can help improve lupus symptoms, thanks to their anti-inflammatory effects.
A 2008 study published in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases found that study participants who took 3 grams of omega-3 fish oil supplements containing 1,200 mg DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and 1,800 mg EPA daily for six months showed improvement in their lupus symptoms compared to the placebo group.
They also showed improvement in their blood flow and blood vessel function. This indicates that fish oil can also exhibit potential cardioprotective effects.
- Include foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids in your diet. Some such foods are cold-water fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel, tuna and herring; ground flaxseeds; chia seeds; and walnuts.
- You can also take fish oil supplements after consulting your doctor.
Probiotics are beneficial gut bacteria that play an important role in the immune system development. They help extend the length of lupus remission and reduce flare-up frequency.
According to a 2016 study published in the Journal of Cellular Physiology, certain strains of probiotic bacteria, especially Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria strains, can help regulate immune responses responsible for some autoimmune diseases such as systemic lupus erythematosus.
- Eat cultured and fermented foods like yogurt with live cultures, acidophilus milk, kefir, miso, tempeh and sauerkraut as they are rich in probiotics.
- You can also take probiotic supplements after consulting your doctor.
Exercise plays an important role in improving health, especially for lupus patients. Regular moderate exercise helps prevent fatigue and joint stiffness.
A small pilot study published in 2000 in the journal Arthritis Care and Research found that aerobics and gentle range-of-motion exercises help improve fatigue, muscle strength and cardiovascular health in people suffering from lupus without worsening their condition.
Exercise also helps reduce the negative effects of steroids and other medications prescribed to treat lupus. Plus, it has a positive impact on your mood and improves overall quality of life.
- Do low-impact exercises like walking, swimming, cycling, gentle range-of-motion exercises, stretching, low-impact aerobics or water aerobics daily. They are not likely to put pressure on your joints.
- You can also try tai chi.
Note: Start slowly and pay attention to your body’s response to exercise so that you do not over-exert yourself. It is best to plan your exercise routine with your physician or physical therapist.
6. Vitamin D
Low levels of vitamin D3 have been associated with autoimmune diseases including rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and lupus.
Preliminary research presented at the American College of Rheumatology annual meeting in 2011 suggests that vitamin D supplementation can play a beneficial role in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) as it helps modulate the immune system.
- Eat foods rich in vitamin D like fortified milk and cereals, salmon and other fatty fish, cheese, egg yolks, mushrooms and tofu.
- Take vitamin D3 supplements. Consult your doctor for the correct dosage.
Note: Soaking in the sun to get the sunshine vitamin is good for many conditions, but it is advised against for this population because almost two out of three people suffering from lupus are ultraviolet light sensitive.
7. Apple Cider Vinegar
Natural health practitioners suspect that those suffering from lupus tend to have a deficiency of hydrochloric acid. Apple cider vinegar helps increase hydrochloric acid production in the body. Plus, it aids detoxification and improves nutrient absorption.
- Add 1 teaspoon of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar to a glass of warm water.
- Squeeze in the juice from ½ lemon to increase the effectiveness of this remedy.
- Drink this 2 or 3 times daily, about 20 minutes before eating your meals.
8. Coconut Oil
The medium-chain fatty acids present in coconut oil can help balance the immune system and reduce negative immune response. Plus, coconut oil offers numerous health benefits like lowering cholesterol, controlling blood sugar, improving digestion and treating candida infection.
Eat 2 tablespoons of virgin coconut oil daily. The best way to incorporate it in your diet is to add it to your smoothies and beverages. You can also use it in your cooking. Remember, moderation is key.
9. Epsom Salt
An Epsom salt bath can be beneficial in relieving fatigue, a common symptom of lupus. It can also help reduce joint pain and inflammation. Plus, Epsom salt helps absorb magnesium and aids in removing toxins from the body.
- Stir 1 cup of Epsom salt into a bathtub filled with warm water.
- Soak in it for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Do this a few times a week.
Note: Epsom salt baths may not be suitable for those who have kidney problems or diabetes.
10. Holy Basil
Holy basil, also known as tulsi, is an adaptogenic herb that helps modulate your response to stress (stress is a primary cause of lupus flare-ups), promotes a sense of well-being, regulates organ function and relieves fatigue. Plus, it offers antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits.
- Steep 1 teaspoon of dried basil or a few fresh basil leaves in a cup of hot water for 5 to 10 minutes. Strain it and sweeten with a little raw honey. Drink 2 or 3 cups of this herbal tea daily.
- Simply chewing a few basil leaves daily will also help.
- Get regular checkups and maintain a diary of your symptoms so that you can keep your doctor updated on your condition.
- Avoid physical and mental stress.
- Try restorative yoga, acupuncture, meditation and guided imagery to help control symptoms and ease stress.
- Get plenty of rest and sleep.
- If you are photosensitive, protect your skin from sun exposure by applying sunscreen and covering up your skin.
- Try to identify and eliminate food allergies.
- Eat a diet low in fat and protein, especially animal protein. To make up for vitamin B12 that comes from animal sources, take this nutrient in supplement form.
- Some small studies have found that DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) supplements, even in small doses of 20 to 30 mg, along with other medications may help reduce the frequency of lupus flare-ups and improve overall well-being. Further research, however, is still needed to determine if it is safe and effective for lupus patients.
- Quit smoking. It can worsen the effect of this disease on heart and blood vessels.