Lupus is a chronic, autoimmune disease that can damage any part of the body (skin, joints, and/or organs inside the body). Normally our immune system should produce antibodies that protect the body from “invaders” (viruses, bacteria, and germs).
“Autoimmune” means your immune system cannot tell the difference between foreign invaders and your body’s healthy tissues and creates antibodies that attack and destroy those healthy tissues in your body. These antibodies cause inflammation, pain and damage in various parts of your body.
Read on to learn about the various ways for treating lupus.
Medications for Treating Lupus
The medications most commonly used to control lupus include:
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Over-the-counter NSAIDs, such as naproxen sodium (Aleve) and ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others), may be used to treat pain, swelling and fever associated with lupus. Stronger NSAIDs are available by prescription. Side effects of NSAIDs include stomach bleeding, kidney problems and an increased risk of heart problems.
- Antimalarial drugs. Medications commonly used to treat malaria, such as hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil), affect the immune system and can help decrease the risk of lupus flares. Side effects can include stomach upset and, very rarely, damage to the retina of the eye. Regular eye exams are recommended when taking these medications.
- Corticosteroids. Prednisone and other types of corticosteroids can counter the inflammation of lupus. High doses of steroids such as methylprednisolone (A-Methapred, Medrol) are often used to control serious disease that involves the kidneys and brain. Side effects include weight gain, easy bruising, thinning bones (osteoporosis), high blood pressure, diabetes and increased risk of infection. The risk of side effects increases with higher doses and longer term therapy.
- Immunosuppressants. Drugs that suppress the immune system may be helpful in serious cases of lupus. Examples include azathioprine (Imuran, Azasan), mycophenolate mofetil (CellCept) and methotrexate (Trexall). Potential side effects may include an increased risk of infection, liver damage, decreased fertility and an increased risk of cancer.
- Biologics. A different type of medication, belimumab (Benlysta) administered intravenously, also reduces lupus symptoms in some people. Side effects include nausea, diarrhea and infections. Rarely, worsening of depression can occur.
- Rituximab (Rituxan) can be beneficial in cases of resistant lupus. Side effects include allergic reaction to the intravenous infusion and infections.
Treating Lupus Naturally
Treating lupus naturally is not something that any patient should take lightly. Even with natural forms of treatment such as herbs and nutritional supplements, there are such things as side effects and interactions to worry about. Doctors and pharmacists are in the best position to talk to patients about the pros and cons of using these substances to treat their lupus symptoms.
Some popular medicinal herbs are ginger and turmeric, which can simply be used in cooking. Not only do they enhance the flavor of the patient’s food, but they also have anti-inflammatory properties. Hence, they can help minimize inflammation and related symptoms, including lupus arthritis.
Some patients who have tried herbs have indicated that their need for anti-inflammatory drugs such as prednisone has gone down as a consequence. Hence, by using them, they have succeeded in minimizing the likelihood that they will develop adverse side effects or complications.
It is important to note that, while a given herb may be highly effective in treating a lupus patient’s symptoms, it may exacerbate another medical condition that he or she suffers from. This is another reason why patients should not assume that treating lupus naturally can be managed without medical support. Medical professionals spend years in school acquiring much specialized knowledge.
Furthermore, they amass years of experience through their work. Lupus patients should make use of this knowledge and experience. They make a wonderful resource. There is no need to put themselves at risk when a conversation with a medical professional would help them tremendously.
Some approaches to treating lupus naturally do not involve the ingestion of materials by mouth or the injection of chemicals into the body. Thus, they do not present the risk of drug interactions. They include such practices as guided imagery and hypnotherapy, which are calculated to minimize stress and to help lupus patients cope with the disease. Acupuncture is an approach that can help relieve chronic pain. It has the capacity to minimize the stress and emotional anguish that come with the pain.
Alternative Method for Treating Lupus – Reiki
Various non-conventional medical approaches have been used in the treatment of lupus. Reiki, one of them, is promoted by some as a complementary form of treatment: one that is intended to be used in tandem with conventional medication and treatment plans.
Reiki is a Japanese treatment to minimize stress and pain, and to facilitate relaxation. It could be described as a form of spiritual healing as it comes out of a philosophy that emphasizes the existence of a higher power and human possession of life-force energy.
Not surprisingly, this has led practitioners of some religious traditions to question Reiki. They believe that they cannot practice it as doing so would contradict their own religions.
However, Reiki is not attached to a specific religious dogma: Patients do not have to adopt a new set of beliefs in order to benefit from it. They may choose to view its healing capacity as coming from whichever deity they believe in. And if they do not believe in anything, that has no bearing in their capacity to be healed through Reiki. Ultimately, the question of whether to accept Reiki treatment is a matter that individuals should decide for themselves.
Treating Lupus: Reiki Therapy
Reiki has been popularized in a variety of contexts worldwide. It is not an invasive procedure, nor does it involve the ingestion of medication. Reiki involves what some might describe as the “laying on of hands,” it can also involve light tapping, looking, and breathing practices.
In some forms of reiki, there is no touching involved. Instead, the hands are held some distance above the body. In all of these cases, universal energy is understood to be transferred from the palms of the Reiki practitioner to the patient’s body, facilitating healing. Because this seems harmless to casual observers, many are open to trying it out. Even for many of those suffering from lupus, reiki seems to be an option worth considering.
According to those who recommend it as a treatment for lupus, reiki is effective in minimizing pain, anxiety, depression and insomnia. If treatment is successful, then it should minimize lupus patients’ need for high doses of pain medication. It should also improve their quality of life.
There is some controversy over the value of using this technique to treat lupus. Reiki is considered advantageous because it does not involve invasive procedures or pharmaceutical drugs.
However, it is for precisely this reason that people question its value. They may wonder whether any apparent healing due to reiki is actually the result of the placebo effect or of some other factor that has not been controlled for.
Other Alternative Ways for Treating Lupus
Complementary and alternative treatments for lupus include:
- Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA). Supplements containing this hormone may help fatigue and muscle pain. It may lead to acne in women.
- Fish oil. Fish oil supplements contain omega-3 fatty acids that may be beneficial for people with lupus. Preliminary studies have found some promise, though more study is needed. Side effects of fish oil supplements can include nausea, belching and a fishy taste in the mouth.
- Acupuncture. This therapy uses tiny needles inserted just under the skin. It may help ease the muscle pain associated with lupus.
Chiropractic Care for Treating Lupus
For patients with lupus, chiropractic care is one of the complementary and alternative medical practices that they can turn to for relief from some of their symptoms.
If you are living with lupus, chiropractic care may offer some answers to your struggles with joint pain, joint stiffness, muscular pain, and fatigue.
Chiropractic is a field of medical practice that focuses on the neuromusculoskeletal system. The idea is that disorders affecting this bodily system have the capacity, not only to cause much pain and discomfort to patients, but also to trigger broader health issues. Thus, chiropractic treatment seeks to correct these disorders and to thereby minimize the patients’ symptoms and improve their overall health.
Chiropractic medicine is not just sought after as a treatment option by lupus patients. It is actually a popular medical approach: third in popularity after conventional medicine and dentistry.
Even though there is some controversy among conventional medical practitioners as to the effectiveness of this alternative medical approach, the patients who seek it out tend to come away with smiles on their faces.
Not surprisingly, whether or not patients are suffering from lupus, chiropractic medicine is high on the list of options they are willing to consider for the treatment of their neuromusculoskeletal issues.
Treating Lupus- Chiropractic Care Works in the Following Instances
Chiropractic therapy involves the manual manipulation of the spine, the joints, and soft tissues (such as muscles, synovial membranes, tendons, and ligaments). It is important to note that there are two main forms of chiropractic practice.
The first, which is the traditional approach, is based on a philosophy that rejects science’s inferential reasoning and materialism. It owes something to vitalism and includes some metaphysical features.
The second approach is more open to mainstream medicine. It even includes conventional medical diagnostics and borrows insights and techniques from conventional medical practices like physical therapy. The second approach is the more dominant approach in chiropractic practice today.
There is independent evidence suggesting that chiropractic therapy is useful in the treatment of back pain, particularly lower back pain. This indicates that, for those who experience lower back pain as a symptom of lupus, chiropractic therapy can offer considerable relief.
Chiropractors often incorporate techniques from conventional medicine and other forms of alternative medicine in their practice. Thus, it is not unheard of for one to encounter a chiropractor who recommends yoga and dance exercises for his or her patients.
These adopted techniques have an independent track record of success in the treatment of lupus symptoms. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that, under the umbrella of chiropractic practice, they can facilitate joint mobility, minimize stiffness, improve muscle strength and provide relief from pain.
Watch this video – Advances in Treating Lupus
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