Can Lupus Be Treated Naturally?

Evidence is Promising with Lifestyle Changes
Including Diet, Vitamins and Natural Supplements

Lupus is no longer the mystery it once was.

Patients are living longer, healthier lives than ever before. Breakthroughs in research connected to the immune system translate to more knowledge about this autoimmune disease now more than ever.

Improvements in symptom control, medications, diet, natural lifestyle changes including use of natural dietary supplements,including vitamin D (and six others featured at the end of this report), have allowed better management of the condition.

In any assessment of prognosis or disease outcome, promoting the patient’s general health status is a primary consideration. This is why diet, exercise and supplementation are essential elements of the treatment protocol for lupus. Dietary supplements are used as complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) to correct nutritional deficiencies, support health and immune functioning, relieve pain and inflammation.

Lupus is treatable through addressing its symptoms, mainly with corticosteroid and immunosuppressant drugs. Because there’s no cure, the course of the disease is unpredictable, with periods of illness (called flares) alternating with remissions.

In developing a treatment plan, the doctor has several goals: to prevent flares, to treat them when they do occur, and to minimize complications. The doctor and patient should reevaluate the plan regularly to ensure that it is as effective as possible. Working closely with the doctor helps ensure that treatments for lupus are as successful as possible. Because some CAM treatments may cause harmful side effects, it is important to promptly report any new symptoms to the doctor. It is also important not to stop or change treatments without talking to the doctor first

What is lupus?

Lupus (systemic lupus erythematosus or SLE) is a chronic autoimmune connective tissue disease in which the body harms its own tissues and can lead to inflammation and damage to joints, skin, kidneys, liver, heart, lungs, blood vessels, and the nervous system. As in other autoimmune diseases, the immune system attacks the body’s cells and tissue, resulting in inflammation and tissue damage.

Due to lack of definitive epidemiological information, the exact number of people with lupus is currently unknown. According to the National Institute of Arthritis & Musculoskeletal & Skin Diseases (NIAMS), SLE affects a conservatively estimated 322,000 to possibly over a million people in the United States. The disease occurs nine times more often in women than in men, especially between the ages of 15 and 50.

Once a high-mortality disease, SLE is now a chronic disease. In 1954, survival was 50 percent after 4 years. Today, according to the National Women’s Health Information Center (NWHIC), it is approximately 97 percent at 5 years, 90 percent at 10 years and 78% at 20 years.

Cause and diagnosis

The cause of this disease is unknown, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Researchers believe a combination of factors (including genetic heritage, the environment and hormones) leads to its development. While lupus itself is not inherited, it is possible that some combination of genes make a person more likely to develop the condition. A virus or bacterial infection may then cause the disease to develop.

Early diagnosis is often difficult, because symptoms vary from person to person. Many times doctors may not suspect the disease until symptoms become more obvious. Nearly all people with lupus have flares and times when the disease is in remission. Patients sometime refrain from seeing a doctor because their symptoms have subsided.

Early signs of lupus include sunlight sensitivity; unexplained rashes on the hands, face and elsewhere; blood problems such as anemia; arthritis-type symptoms; and signs of immune problems.

To diagnose lupus, doctors use a variety of tests, depending upon the prominent symptoms, including: chest X-rays, ECG, several types of blood tests, urinalysis, tests of antibodies, medical history and physical exams.

Lupus symptoms

Symptoms for SLE vary from person to person and even with the same person from time to time. The most common signs are:

  • A classic butterfly-shaped rash across the bridge of the nose and cheeks appears on 50 per cent of lupus patients; or a scaly, disk-shaped rash on the face, neck, hands or chest.
  • Sensitivity to sunlight. People with lupus often experience severe rashes or sunburns after only a little time in the sun.
  • Skin ulcers, usually painless, on the tongue or inside the mouth or nose
  • Arthritis. Ninety percent of patients experience joint inflammation similar to rheumatoid arthritis. Persons with the condition may experience joint pain, stiffness and swelling.
  • Inflammation of the linings of organs such as the heart and lungs (serositis) that makes breathing painful or causes shortness of breath or chest pain.
  • Kidney problems, such as inflammation, either without symptoms or accompanied by swelling of the legs, and high blood pressure.
  • Brain or spinal cord problems, accompanied by headaches, seizures or mental problems.
  • Mouth and nose sores, or a feeling of debility.

A person may also experience:

  • Fatigue along with dizziness, headaches or depression
  • Unexplained fever, which may be an early sign of lupus
  • Raynaud's phenomenon, in which fingers, toes, nose and ears turn pale and numb when exposed to cold. This symptoms appears about 20% of the time in SLE patients.
  • Chest pain that may be accompanied by coughing
  • Swelling of glands, legs or the area around the eyes
  • Digestive problems, including loss of appetite, nausea, diarrhea and weight loss
  • Unusual hair loss.
  • Depression or trouble concentrating. This is either a result of the disease or a reaction to living with a chronic disease.

Without treatment lupus can result in serious health complications

If SLE is not treated or controlled, these complications can result:

  • Inflamed kidneys, which may cause no pain but can be detected with urine and blood tests. A blood test is used to check kidney function.
  • Central nervous system problems, such as headaches, dizziness, difficulty concentrating, mood swings or seizures
  • Blood and blood vessel problems. These include anemia, increased risk of bleeding, increased risk of blood clots or inflamed blood vessels.
  • Inflammation of the lungs and the linings of the chest cavity. This can make breathing painful and increase the risk of a form of pneumonia.
  • Chest pain resulting from inflammation of the heart muscle, arteries or heart membrane. The leading cause of death for people with lupus today is cardiovascular disease, which can lead to heart attacks. It is not clear whether this is because people with lupus are living longer or whether it is a complication of treatment. Exercising, not smoking, controlling high blood pressure and reducing cholesterol levels all help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • Infection, from having the disease and from treatment
  • Tissue death, caused when the blood supply to certain areas is reduced. The hip joint is commonly affected and may result in pain when walking.

For women who are of the age to bear children, lupus creates special risks, including:

  • Difficulty conceiving. Flare-ups of the disease and medications used to treat it can contribute to infertility.
  • Greater risk for miscarriage. The risk is highest early or late in the pregnancy. The risk can be reduced by careful planning and medical care.
  • More risk of complications during pregnancy. Flare-ups are more likely. The risk for high blood pressure, diabetes and kidney problems during pregnancy is also higher.
  • Limited birth control options. Women may not tolerate birth control pills well, and they should not use intrauterine devices because of the risk of infection.

Treating lupus with drugs

People with SLE are generally treated by a rheumatologist, a doctor who specializes in diseases of the joints and muscles. If lupus has caused damage to a particular organ, other specialists will be consulted as well.

There are many categories of drugs for the treatment of lupus. Of all these drugs, only a few are approved specifically for lupus by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA): corticosteroids, including prednisone, prednisolone, methylprednisolone, and hydrocortisone; the antimalarial, hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil®); and aspirin. However, many medications are used to treat the symptoms of lupus.

An array of drug therapies is now available to treat lupus symptoms, and this has increased the potential for effective treatment and excellent patient outcomes. The main categories include the use of Anti- Inflammatories, Corticosteroids, Antimalarials, Immunosuppressives medication and Anticoagulants:

Drug side effects

All drugs have side effects. The question is whether the benefit of the drug outweighs the risk of possible side effects:

  • .

  • Aspirin -- Acetaminophen -- NSAIDs Side Effects: Most people have no side effects when taking acetaminophen, but in rare cases acute liver failure has occurred. It causes less stomach irritation than aspirin, but does not help with inflammation and cannot control any of the disease activity of lupus. Like aspirin, NSAIDs can cause stomach irritation. NSAIDs may also cause serious gastrointestinal (GI) complications, such as a bleeding ulcer. To reduce the chance of these problems, NSAIDs are usually taken with food, milk or antacids, or may be accompanied by other medications such as misoprostol (Cytotec®), omeprazole (Prilosec®), lanzoprazole (Prevacid®), and others. In general, you should always be cautious about taking too much of any NSAID, as excessive amounts can reduce the blood flow to your kidneys and may interfere with their ability to remove waste from your body.

  • Corticosteroids Side Effects: Steroids can produce a variety of side effects, the most common are change in appearance, fluid retention, swollen face and abdomen (but thin arms, legs), fragile skin, irritability, agitation, insomnia, depression, osteoporosis, muscle weakness, cataracts, necrosis of bone (especially hip). Increased risk of infections poses the most danger; infections (such as from an open wound) are one of the leading causes of death in people with lupus.

  • Antimalarial Side Effects: Side effects from antimalarials are rare and usually mild; they include upset stomach and changes in skin color. These side effects usually go away after the body adjusts to the medication. In high doses certain antimalarial drugs may damage the retina of the eye, causing vision problems. As a precaution, people treated with antimalarials should see an eye doctor (ophthalmologist) regularly.

  • Immunosuppressives Side Effects: Immunosuppressive drugs reduce your body’s ability to fight off infections, and increase the chances that you could develop viral infections such as shingles (chicken pox, or herpes zoster). It is extremely important that you pay attention to even the smallest cut or wound, and let your doctor know if any sign of infection begins, such as redness, swelling, tenderness, or pain. These drugs may also increase your risk for developing cancer. Each immunosuppressive drug has unique side effects. Therefore it is important that immunosuppressive drugs be given only by physicians who are experienced with the use of these medications.

  • Anticoagulants Side Effects: The most common side effects associated with anticoagulant therapy are itching, rashes, easy bruising, increased bleeding from injuries and purplish spots on the skin. Purplish skin spots are caused by small amounts of bleeding under the skin. Bruising tends to be more severe when taking anticoagulants, and bleeding from wounds can be difficult to stop. As previously noted, infections (such as from an open wound) are one of the leading causes of death in people with lupus.

Treating lupus with complementary and alternative medicines (CAM) and therapies

“In addition to medications and other medical care from doctors, a large and growing number of people turn to other healing practices to try to improve their health,” according to a statement from the Lupus Foundation of America, Inc.: “These diverse therapies -- used either with conventional medicine (complementary) or instead of conventional medicine (alternative) -- include homeopathy, chiropractic, traditional Chinese medicine (such as acupuncture and Tai Chi), Ayurveda, naturopathy, massage therapy, meditation, biofeedback, herbs or other supplements, and more.”

Except for dietary supplements, most CAM practices have not been through the scientific testing and clinical research that all conventional medicines undergo. It is difficult to know their effectiveness in treating lupus.

It is very important for people with lupus who use CAM (especially herbs or supplements) to discuss these practices with their doctors. SLE is a complex disease and no patient should rely on complementary or alternative practices instead of the medication they have been prescribed.

Dietary supplements are the most studied and commonly used form of CAM

Nearly 40% of adults use CAM therapy (not counting multivitamins/minerals). The most commonly used therapy is nutritional supplements. A National Institutes of Health (NIH) publication Dec. 10, 2008 in a report entitled Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) Use Among Adults and Children, U.S., 2007 using data from the 2007 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) revealed that nearly 4 out of 10 adults had used CAM therapy in the past 12 months. These statistics show increasing numbers using CAM from the 33% from surveys in 2002. The two surveys did not include multivitamins/multiminerals as CAM.

The most common forms of CAM therapy include natural products; deep breathing exercises; meditation; chiropractic care; yoga; massage; and diet-based therapies. CAM was most often used to treat back pain or back problems, head or chest colds, neck pain or neck problems, joint pain or stiffness, and anxiety or depression. Although less prevalent, strong associations were still seen for individuals using CAM approaches to treat or provide symptom relief for cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and lung diseases. CAM use was more prevalent among women, among adults who had higher educational attainment or who engaged in leisure-time physical activity, as well as among adults who had one or more existing health conditions or who made frequent medical visits in the prior year.

During my research, the predominance of clinical studies among CAM therapies exist on ingredients found in natural products (dietary supplements) and it is these herbal and natural products around which this Arthritis-Relief-Naturally website is built.

Be a good patient -- precautions and natural lifestyle changes

Perhaps the single-most important thing you can do in trying to manage lupus is to be a good patient. Lifestyle changes can have a dramatic effect on lengthening periods of remission and shortening flares.

SLE may not be a major illness, or it can be a serious, life-threatening one. The following precautions should be followed:

  • Know the symptoms. Recognize when they are worse, and treat them.
  • Work with the doctor, and take medications only as directed
  • Avoid exposure to the sun, especially 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Use sunscreens with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15. Wear hats, long-sleeved shirts and long pants to avoid being in ultraviolet light.
  • Avoid breathing the fumes of household cleaning products.
  • Avoid tartrazine chemicals fond as preservatives in food dyes such as FD&C yellow.
  • Avoid known or suspected allergens.
  • Avoid industrial chemicals, and toxic chemical cleaning agents by contact with the skin.
  • Avoid processed foods (see the section below on diet)

Taking care of oneself is one of the best ways patients can manage the disease. Lupus is a systemic problem; to improve the function of the immune system, patients need to:

  • Get enough rest, preferably 8-9 hours per night.
  • Exercise regularly, but avoid extreme fatigue. Too much is as bad as too little.
  • Don’t smoke. Smoking increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and makes the effects of lupus worse on the heart and blood vessels...
  • Limit alcohol use, which can affect the liver, kidneys, heart and muscles. and interact with medications.
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet (see the section below on diet)
  • Seek medical counseling when considering getting pregnant.
  • Reduce stress and use relaxation methods, such as meditation or yoga
  • Build a support network through family, friends or an organized support group

Diet for lupus

There is no special diet for SLE, according to the Lupus Foundation of America, Inc (LFA), despite the numerous claims, books and publications to the contrary. The LFA suggests that in general, a lupus patient should try to eat a nutritious, well-balanced and varied diet that contains plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, moderate amounts of meats, poultry and oily fish.. The LFA website comments: ”Fish oil has been found to help reduce inflammation, and omega-3 fatty acids found in oily fish appear to decrease the risk of coronary artery disease and may also protect against irregular heartbeats and help lower blood pressure. For these reasons, omega-3 fatty acids are important for women with lupus, who are at a 5-10-fold higher risk for heart disease than the general population,” reports the LFA.

The Mayo Clinic website also suggests a healthy diet that “emphasizes fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Sometimes you may have dietary restrictions, especially if you have high blood pressure, kidney damage or gastrointestinal problems. And although no specific foods have been shown to cause or worsen lupus, it's best to avoid any food that seems to make your symptoms worse.”

The consensus opinion of medical professionals regarding a lupus diet is summed up by Laura Coleman, Ph.D., R.D., a registered dietitian and member of the advisory board for the Lupus Foundation of America:

  • “There are no definitive dietary recommendations for patients with lupus. The most prudent approach is to include a well-balanced diet, with a variety of foods including fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and moderate amounts of lean meat, poultry, and an emphasis on fish, especially marine fish high in omega-3 fatty acids. Avoid excessive intake of caffeine-containing foods (coffee, cola, etc.) and foods high in processed sugars, which may give you a short term energy boost, but can be followed by a feeling of lethargy.”

Once again, the emphasis is on being a good patient through awareness of what foods you’re eating and how your body reacts. Dr. Coleman says, “Some foods may trigger a flare for some people but not others, and some people may not have problems with any foods at all.” She adds, “That being said, patients can pay attention to their diet, and if a specific food is suspected of triggering a flare, they should require that a pattern of ingestion followed by worsening occurs at least 3 times before eliminating a food from the diet.

“Even if it appears that a food is causing some trouble, it could be that another factor, such as the source of the food, use of chemicals or other preservatives, or even the interaction of several foods is the problem,” she concluded.

American diets are deficient in important vitamins and minerals

American diets are full of highly processed foods that are deficient in important vitamins and minerals. Less than 25% of adults eat the recommended five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables per day. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans has been published jointly every 5 years since 1980 by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Department of Agriculture (USDA). The Guidelines provide authoritative advice for people two years and older about how good dietary habits can promote health and reduce risk for major chronic diseases. They serve as the basis for Federal food and nutrition education programs.

According to the USDA, almost 90% of Americans have diets that are poor or need improvement. Busy schedules cause many to rely on fatty junk foods or skip meals altogether. Poor soil quality and modern processing methods also affect the nutrient quality of today’s food.

To help maintain good health, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), recommends that every adult should supplement their diet with a daily multivitamin.

Who’s testing your supplements?

You’re shopping in your favorite health store, drug store, nutrition store or discount store and you see the supplement you need for just a few dollars. You can’t help thinking…”Wow! Here’s the same stuff I’ve been taking for a lot less money”…”Why not save my money?”…”They must have run some quality control tests on their products.”…”After all, how bad can they be?”

The answer is – pretty bad!

On March 2, 2010 the makers and sellers of fish oil supplements were sued by the Mateel Environmental Justice Foundation in California under California Proposition 65 for not telling consumers that their products contained toxic levels of PCBs on the labels.

Who forced this action? The Food and Drug Administration (FDA)? No, the FDA did not initiate this action and force the manufacturers to take their contaminated products off the shelves. Instead, an environmental consumers group had to sue the prominent manufacturer.

The defendants in this lawsuit were Omega Protein, a Houston-based company that is the world’s largest producer of omega-3 fish oil, and the many companies that they produced fish oil for – companies like Rite Aid, CVS, GNC, Now Health Group, Pharmavite, Solgar and Twinlab. And those aren’t the only ones. Mateel only tested 10 omega-3 supplements manufactured by Omega Protein to date and have found PCBs in all of them. They plan to continue testing and to add other companies to the lawsuit if their products are also contaminated.

Of more alarm is that many of the labels on these products said that the omega-3 supplement was treated to reduce or remove PCBs. Consumers were led to believe that they were safe! The bottom line is that the manufacturer probably didn’t test for PCBs (testing is an expensive process when done well) and neither did the companies selling their omega-3 supplements to the consumer.

Only one dietary supplement company has a 20-year landmark study

When investing in dietary supplements, consider it first as an investment in your health. This way, you won’t want to waste your money on poorly or non-tested, inadequately formulated natural or synthetic supplements containing artificial colors, sweeteners, binders, fillers, etc. that will not be readily absorbed into your bloodstream.

Instead, you’ll want a high quality dietary supplement with ingredient purity, potency, and guaranteed efficacy that your body’s cells will happily absorb.

To help me find a top-tier manufacturer, I devised a list of 30 questions concerning standards of excellence that led my husband and I to the company referenced in the Landmark Study below. It’s the only one that we trust for nutritional supplementation.

There’s only one natural nutrition company that can claim a 20-year clinical landmark study on its consumers that verifies from blood samples that its supplement users retained normal levels of blood pressure, HDL cholesterol, triglycerides, C-reactive protein and homocysteine.

The 2006 study was conducted in collaboration with researchers from the U.C. Berkeley School of Public Health comparing one company's supplement users to people who took either no supplements or other brands of multivitamins from different companies. For details, go to:

Seven featured natural dietary supplements for lupus

Disease states such as lupus place increased nutrient demands on the body, even with good nutrition. It’s difficult to obtain the proper nutritional balance from a regular diet particularly during flares. Maintaining nutrient density is of equal importance when in remission. Seven supplements essential for patients with lupus include:

  • fish oil
  • probiotics
  • antioxidants
  • GLA
  • alfalfa (one brand only!)
  • multivitamin
  • vitamin D supplement

The seven supplements are further explained below. The bold link for each one will take you to the featured manufacturer’s product pages for prices; the ingredient links below provide additional background information on the natural ingredients:

  1. Fish Oil--Omega-3 Fatty Acids from cold water fish (tuna, mackerel, halibut, cod, salmon) are anti- inflammatory for arthritis relief. Fish oil is also effective in autoimmune diseases (e.g., lupus, rheumatoid arthritis). Good dietary fish oil supplements contain all seven fatty acids, and guarantee the removal of all contaminants such as lead, mercury, arsenic, cadmium, dioxins and PCBs

    My husband and I use one of the world’s finest fish oil supplements. It’s a pharmaceutical-grade omega-3 supplement that features a state-of-the-art, proprietary, triple molecular distillation process that concentrates natural beneficial omega-3 fatty acids and removes all impurities. It contains a full spectrum of seven omega-3’s DHA, EPA, and more. Supportive but not conclusive research shows that consumption of EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, which is a risk of lupus and other inflammatory diseases. Numerous studies have shown the benefits of omega-3’s (EPA in particular) which helps the body tip the balance towards an anti-inflammatory state. To get sufficient omega-3’s in the amounts used in studies, you’d have to eat three servings of fish daily. Fatty acids must be consumed as the body cannot make them for itself. Top notch fish oil supplements, free of impurities, helps your cells stop inflammation—a root symptom of lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and, to a lesser degree, osteoarthritis. If you’re on blood-thinners, including aspirin, you should always check first with your doctor before starting a supplement program. Click here for more information on fish oil.

  2. Probiotics. Interest in probiotic supplements and probiotics in general has mushroomed into the latest craze in modern health: Some research shows these supplemental populations of “friendly bacteria” residing in the colon help to improve diverse health issues from simple diarrhea to complex lupus. Probiotics are dietary supplements of live bacteria or yeasts thought to be healthy for the digestive tract.

    One clinical study of mice published in The Journal of Immunology (Archived April 1, 2009, 182, 50.30) as Probiotics control lupus progression via induction of regulatory cells and IL-10 production concluded that the use of probiotics may be a viable strategy for controlling disease development and progression in patients with lupus, i.e., extending the length of remission and reducing flare frequency.

    A quality probiotic supplement delivers guaranteed live probiotics through the stomach into the intestine where they promote colon health by supporting the growth of healthy microflora naturally found in the colon. To supply live probiotics to their intended target, the supplement must be uniquely designed in a capsule that is guaranteed to withstand the acidic environment of the stomach.

    Advanced supplement designs often use patented or exclusive technology, such as triple encapsulation using only natural ingredients to protect microflora against stomach acid in a seamless outer shell. Middle layer protects against oxygen and moisture and inner layer or core hold and protects microflora until released in the intestine.

    Probiotics help to maintain healthy intestinal microbial balance. The term literally means “healthful for life,” and today, probiotics has a broader definition: a live microbial supplement which beneficially affects the host by improving its microbial balance. Click here for more information on probiotic supplements.

  3. Antioxidants. When the body is in a state of inflammation due to lupus, more free radicals will be produced that are destructive to cells. To counteract these free radicals, antioxidants are needed. Some of the best antioxidants are vitamin E, vitamin C, flavonoids and beta-carotene. In natural auto-immune disease treatment, dietary supplements are a must. A sustained release Vitamin C supplement is very important in sweeping the body of free radicals The American Heart Association (AHA) has recently focused on how antioxidant vitamin supplements may reduce potential cardiovascular disease risk of lupus patients..

    The clinically proven delivery system used in the all natural sustained release 500 mg vitamin C supplement my husband and I use has been shown to maintain vitamin C levels for 12 hours. The Framingham osteoarthritis study found that people whose diets routinely included high amounts of vitamin C had significantly less risk of their joint inflammation progressing.

    Vitamin E is an antioxidant (like Vitamin C) that protects the body and its joints from free radicals. There are no conclusive studies showing that Vitamin E is markedly effective protection against arthritis. However, its properties indicate that it can help prevent or slow joints from becoming progressively worse.

    When choosing a top quality Vitamin E supplement with 400 I.U, be sure it has d-alpha tocopherol concentrate and mixed tocopherols concentrate. Look for it in combination with at least 65 mcg of selenium and 38 mg of grapeseed extract as these three components combined deliver potent antioxidant protection from free radical cell damage. Also look for natural Vitamin E as it is more biologically active than the synthetic form and is better retained by the body for more effective antioxidant protection. Click here for more information on antioxidants.

  4. GLA (gamma-linolenic acid) from Borage oil. GLA (gamma-linolenic-acid) is considered to be one of the “good fats”. It fights inflammation and may be beneficial for health conditions ranging from menstrual problems and skin rashes to rheumatoid arthritis and autoimmune diseases like lupus. Borage seed oil is naturally extracted from the flower Borago officinalis or Starflower found in Europe, North Africa, Asia Minor and North America. It is the richest known natural source of GLA (20-23%), which doubles the amount available in other sources (such as Evening primrose and Black Currant) and is more efficient with lower dosages. Several studies show GLA is an effective natural treatment with few side effects.

    Some preliminary studies indicate that GLA may benefit lupus and Huntington's chorea. One study found evidence that GLA boosts the effectiveness of tamoxifen, a hormone used to treat breast cancer; When combined with fish oils, GLA may even boost the benefits of calcium in promoting bone health and preventing osteoporosis.

    GLA helps our bodies form prostaglandins that help regulate many bodily functions, such as healthy blood flow and the protection of arterial walls. Borage oil also helps women to maintain well-being during the menstrual cycle.

    The featured borage oil supplement my husband and I use contains a mixture of GLA, Vitamin E, and Sunfower seed oil. It has no artificial flavors, sweeteners, colors, or preservatives added. Its label recommends using two or three capsules daily. Each capsule contains 90 mg of gamma-linolenic acid from borage seed oil, 215 mg of linoleic acid from a combination of borage seed /sunflower seed oil.

    The human body produces its own GLA from linoleic acid (LA) however, lack of GLA occurs when people grow older, are in disease states such as lupus, or have specific dietary deficiencies. Click here for more information on borage oil GLA.

  5. Alfalfa Tablets (but only this one brand!). Reaching as deep as 20 feet into the soil, the roots of the alfalfa plant, A.K.A. the "father of all foods," brings forth minerals in their most natural form. Alfalfa has a centuries-old history of health benefits, including: lowering cholesterol; digestive aid, helps heal peptic ulcers, aid kidneys in ridding body of excess fluid, regulates bowels, and fights infection. Recognized for centuries for its healing properties, alfalfa offers a wide range of nutrients: calcium, phosphorus, iron, magnesium, chlorophyll, bioflavonoids, trace minerals, and vitamins.

    Alfalfa can be safe for autoimmune diseases, including lupus, but we recommend it from only this company that we know you can trust. You may have read where people with rheumatoid arthritis or other autoimmune diseases, such as lupus, should not take alfalfa alfalfa supplements because of the amino acid L-canavanine found in alfalfa seeds and sprouts.

    L-canavanine is found only in alfalfa seeds and young plants to nurture the plant as it grows. When the plant reaches maturity and is ready for harvest, this amino acid is no longer present. The featured supplement used by my husband and I for more than twenty years is made from mature plant cuttings (alfalfa leaf, Medicago sativa) and does not include seeds or sprouts. This supplement has been independently tested in the laboratory and found to be essentially free of this L-canavanine compound with a limit of detection of just a few parts per million. These findings were published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition Nov 1995; 62: 1025 – 1026, J Whittam, C Jensen, and T Hudson as Alfalfa, vitamin E, and autoimmune disorders. Alfalfa meal (as opposed to the seeds) has not been found to contain L-canavanine and has not been reported to be associated with autoimmune disease.

    Developed in the 1950s, it’s one of the company’s original formulations and half a century later continues to be among its top sellers. It contains California-grown alfalfa with no fungicides, bacteriocides, synthetic hormones, growth regulators, or chemicals. Special harvesting equipment insures the greatest concentration of nutrients.

    There are no side effects from alfalfa reported in healthy people using alfalfa in its recommended dosages. There are also no studies of interactions of alfalfa and traditional pharmaceuticals. Occasionally, any herb at the prescribed dose causes stomach upset or a headache. This may reflect the purity of the preparation or added ingredients, such as synthetic fillers or binders. For this reason, it is recommended that only the highest-quality alfalfa products be used. You must be careful when purchasing alfalfa tablets--you'll get what you pay for! Click here for more information on alfalfa.

  6. Multivitamin/multimineral. When it comes to vitamin supplements, we’ve been there, done that. After years of experimenting and “trying them all”, we settled on the multivitamin my husband and I have both been taking for the past 20 years. Why? It’s the only one we took that we could feel the difference! Later, we found that it has great science behind it. It’s the best multivitamin because it’s a comprehensive natural vitamin supplement and has 349 controlled tests for quality to guarantee purity and potency and it has been clinically proven (Effect of Long-Term Vitamin Supplements on Immune Response in Older Healthy Adults. Spiller, Whittam, Bruce, Morse, Chernoff, Jensen. Journal of the American College of Nutrition 1998; 17:511).

    We believe we’re taking the best multivitamin that can be found anywhere. It’s not a secret. It has been used by millions of people for decades. It’s a balanced multivitamin/multimineral that provides 23 essential nutrients at clinically proven levels and addresses the four key health concerns for people over 50 — longevity, bone health, vision and energy.

    It’s the only multi vitamin supplement for people 50+ that gives a choice of formulas: with vitamin K for its bone-building benefits and without vitamin K for those taking a blood-thinning medication (anticoagulant).

    It also has 100% of the RDA in biotin, a catalyst for energy production and the most expensive vitamin component of the B-complex. It’s scientifically balanced to support long-term colon, heart, eye and overall health and has a patented bio-absorption delivery.

    For a complete daily 6-tablet system (based on 12 clinical studies and a delivery system protected by 12 U.S. patents) born from the results of the that provides the best spectrum of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, anti-aging phytonutrients, omega-3 fatty acids, and probiotics for a longer, healthier life, I also recommend this daily system.

  7. Vitamin D3 Supplement. Vitamin D has been all over the news lately. Americans aren’t getting enough of the sunshine vitamin. In fact, recent research studies suggest that up to 80% of people in the U.S. have insufficient levels of this essential nutrient, which offers a multitude of health benefits, one of which may be for lupus. The RDA for vitamin D was increased on Nov. 30, 2010, but many experts and researchers believe the RDA is still too low.

    Once known only for its bone-building properties, researchers in recent years now cite vitamin D as much more than simply that. New evidence ties sub optimal blood levels of the “sunshine vitamin” as contributing to autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus.

    There is a growing interest in the contribution of vitamin D deficiency to autoimmunity. Prospective studies of vitamin D in SLE are limited, but most cross-sectional studies show an inverse relationship between levels of vitamin D and disease activity, suggesting that bringing vitamin D to optimal levels may have benefits beyond just bone health for patients with SLE.

    The clinical study, Vitamin D in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, in the journal Current Opinion in Rheumatology posted Oct. 6, 2008 on Medscape, the authors (Kamen, D and Aranow, C) report that “A number of recent studies have highlighted the association between systemic lupus erythematosus and vitamin D deficiency.” The study concluded that “there is optimism that correcting vitamin D deficiency will lead to better outcomes for patients with SLE. The full effects of repleting deficient vitamin D levels to 'sufficiency', the 25D level necessary for immunologic homeostasis and what dose of vitamin D this might require are not known.” Click here for more information on vitamin D supplements.

The featured vitamin D supplement is a new product from an old company. Their Vitamin D3 supplement contains cutting-edge nutrition science. It’s new from this 50+-year-old company and is the culmination of recent scientific research, including two of their own industry-leading vitamin D studies. It comes in a 90-tablet size, each tablet contains 1,000 IU of Vitamin D3 (as cholecalciferol, which is preferred). Taken at one tablet daily, it’s a three-month supply for less than $10.00.

There you have it. Seven supplements for lupus.

Lupus Page Disclaimer: Health statements on this lupus page have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease

Vitamin D Supplements. Add some sunshine to your day with a vitamin D3 supplement. Arthritis patients may be even more likely than the general population to have low levels of vitamin D. Recent research shows that vitamin D—the "sunshine vitamin"—offers a multitude of benefits including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and bone/ joint health. But, up to 80% of Americans may have insufficient levels of this essential nutrient. Click here for more information

Rheumatoid Arthritis Relief. Many of the natural or herbal supplements for osteoarthritis are also recommended for rheumatoid arthritis. Click here for RA natural treatment options.

Vitamin Supplements There are no vitamin supplements proven to reduce symptoms of arthritis, a debilitating disease. A natural multivitamin can improve overall health and vitality. Click here for recommended multivitamin.

Borage oil. Several studies confirm borage oil GLA, an omega 6 fatty acid, as an effective treatment for joint pain, stiffness and grip strength in RA patients, with few side effects. Click here for details

Alfalfa. Known as the “father of all foods,” the alfalfa leaf contains a wide range of healing properties that help reduce arthritic pain, swelling and stiffness in joints. Click here for more on alfalfa’s benefits

Fish Oil. Studies validate that fish oil supplements reduce joint inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis and other arthritis types. Fish oil contains omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA. Click here for more information

Valerian. Sleep well tonight with this safe herbal choice as a natural dietary supplement for insomnia relief, restlessness and anxiety. Click here for more information