The Mystery of Lupus

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The Mystery of Lupus

So-called auto-immune disease is on the increase.

That name means that a person's defense system does not recognize the difference between a foreign invader and body cells. The antibodies actually attack one's own tissues.

Systemic lupus erythematosis, usually known as "lupus," is one such disease It can attack the joints, skin, heart, lungs, blood, kidneys and nervous system and affects 500,000 to 2,000,000 North Americans Many do not even know it.

Diagnosing lupus is difficult because there are no characteristic symptoms displayed at the onset of illness. At the beginning, only a single organ may be revolved or many systems may be affected simultaneously.

The Silent invader

The first manifestation of lupus is often arthritis, which occurs in 90 per cent of patients. Lupus arthritis differs from rheumatoid arthritis and usually does not lead to severe and progressive joint destruction.

Fatigue, weakness, fever or weight loss may also be early evidence of illness. Another common feature of lupus is a red rash on the face, neck or extremities. Baldness often occurs, as do painful ulcerations of the mouth or vagina. Other symptoms include lung or heart inflammation, retinal lesions, Raynaud's phenomenon (impaired circulation causing the hands or feet to turn white) and nephritis (a serious kidney problem).

The antinuclear antibody (ANA) test and testing tot the LE cell phenomenon are lab tests which can detect the presence of auto-antibodies that attack the patient's own cells. Anemia, a decreased platelet count and increased protein in the urine may appear in certain individuals.

Looking at Your Options

Standard medical care usually revolves using anti-inflammatories, including corticosteroids; or drugs that suppress the immune system (also used in chemotherapy).

Natural treatment for lupus roms to control inflammatory changes and prevent the immune system from attacking tissues By taking a supportive role in assisting the body's own biochemistry.

One of the first things lupus patients should do is have an ELISA food allergy test. See your naturopath for a referral or call the Canadian Naturopathic Association (416-323-1043) for test availability in your area. Food and other allergies are often the problem. By eliminating foods that increase excess levels immune response and positively affects the outcome, onset and seventy of the auto-immune disease.

Supplements

Improvements in lupus arc noted following months of vitamin E at dosages in the range of 800-1,600 IU/day; however, patients with hypertension, coronary heart disease or diabetes mellitus should be started slowly and monitored while increasing at 100 IU increments.

Selenium at 200 mcg/day has been shown to reduce muscular pain, stiffness and aching of long duration.

Many antioxidants such as quercetin, hesperidin, riboflavin and plant-derived compounds found in fresh green tea (anthrocyanidin), ginkgo, grape seed extract, milk thistle seed (silymarin) and Curcuma longa (turmerin) all mediate and decrease inflammation.

Pantothenic acid (vitamin B(5)) and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) help lupus sufferers by supporting the function of the adrenal gland, our natural source of cortisone. After a six-month program of supplementation with 200 mg per day of DHEA, a study in the journal Arthritis and Rheumatism reported that symptoms of lupus were improved and corticosteroid drug requirements were reduced.

Omega-3 and -6 fatty acids reduce inflammation by increasing certain prostaglandins and limiting others. Omega-3 fats are found in seed oils such as flax, sunflower and safflower oils and cold water fish oils such as salmon, halibut, mackeral and tuna. Omega 6 oils are found in evening primrose oil, black current oil and borage oils. Together, these offs help delay disease onset and prevent kidney destruction in lupus.

A group of compounds that help to rebuild cartilage has recently become popular. These compounds -- cysteine, methione, s-adenosylmethione (SAMe), glucosamine sulphate and methylsulphonylmethane (MSM) -- are sulphur or methyl donors. Cartilage and connective tissue require these as part of their formation SAMe an amino acid derivative, helps keep the cartilage in the joints supple.

MSM is a metabolite of DMSO, a smelly but powerful antioxidant. It delivers sulfur to the body and becomes the building block for the amino acids methionine and cysteine. Since these sulfur-containing amino acids form the cross-linkages for connective tissue formation, they decrease damage to arthritic joints, increase mobility and decrease pain.

References
1. Globe and Mail, Aug 24, 1999

Canadian Health Reform Products Ltd.

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By Kelly Farnsworth

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