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Your Complete Guide to Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE)


Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune condition in which the immune system attacks its own tissues, causing widespread inflammation and tissue damage in the affected organs. It is the most common variant of lupus. It can affect various body parts/organs such as the joints, skin, brain, lungs, kidneys, and blood vessels. SLE is a complex autoimmune disease with chronic phase of relapsing-remitting course and variable manifestations.


The cause of SLE remains unknown, however it can be triggered by viruses, UV light and drugs or all may play some role.

Symptoms can include:

  • Mouth or nose sores

  • Achy or swollen joints (arthralgia)

  • Swollen joints (arthritis)

  • Prolonged or extreme fatigue.

  • Skin rash (most commonly a butterfly-shaped rash across the cheeks and nose)

  • Prolonged or extreme fatigue.

  • Pain in the chest when breathing deeply (pleurisy)

  • Hair loss

  • Unexplained fever (more than 100° F)

  • Sensitivity to the sun or other light

  • Pale or purple fingers or toes from cold or stress (Raynaud's phenomenon)

Here are five most common Root Causes of Lupus

1. Leaky Gut

The semi-permeable nature of the gut allows very small molecules (micronutrients) to pass through the intestinal wall to absorb the nutrients from your food. The intestinal wall can be damaged by various factors including infections, medications, food intolerances and stress. When this intestinal barrier is damaged intestinal pathobionts, larger food particles and toxins (from the food/ microorganisms) “leak through” your gut and enter your bloodstream, triggering an immune response and leaky gut.

Today there is enough evidence to show that leaky gut is a precursor to autoimmunity. So we know that lupus is associated with a leaky gut and in order to overcome it, you must first repair your gut.


2. Gluten Intolerance

Gluten, a component of commonly consumed grain-wheat, is one of the leading causes of leaky gut and inflammation. Gluten molecules resemble many of our body’s tissues, particularly thyroid tissue. When one has Celiac disease, gluten intolerance or a leaky gut, the immune system releases antibodies every time you eat gluten. These antibodies mistakenly attack other organs, this is called biomimicry, which may precipitate a full-blown autoimmune disease.

Are you suffering from neurological issues such as pain, cognitive impairment, sleep disturbances, behavioral issues, fatigue and depression?

Symptoms of gluten intolerance are not digestive in nature and they can manifest as former mentioned symptoms.


3. Toxins

The two primary toxins related to those with autoimmune conditions are toxic moulds (mycotoxins) and heavy metals.

Unfortunately, conventional environmental mould testing only tests for the levels of mould spores and does not test for mycotoxins. Heavy metal toxicities can be evaluated in the blood (transient) or from your hair samples (more accurate).

The heavy metals like mercury, lead are toxic to our bodies. We’re exposed to mercury water, sea fishes, amalgam fillings, cosmetics, and vaccines. We recommend heavy metal testing to all of our patients with autoimmunity to get a clear picture.

4. Infections

The infections from bacteria, viruses, and other toxins are likely to be blamed for the development of conditions like lupus. And while one single bacteria or virus may not be the single culprit, there are strong correlations with a number of bacteria and viruses. For example, the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is a common trigger for lupus.

5. Stress

Now more than ever, stress-related illnesses are on the rise. Both emotional and physical factors can trigger and intensify autoimmune disorders such as lupus.


Chronic stress suppresses your immune system and leads to chronic inflammation. This can trigger or worsen your autoimmune condition and lead to the reactivation of latent viruses linked to lupus.

A Functional Medicine approach to Lupus treatment is more effective than conventional medicine. It addresses the underlying causes of disease, using a root cause and system oriented approach while engaging the patient and practitioner for a therapeutic partnership.


Here are 5 Steps to Reverse the Symptoms of Lupus

1. Repair Your Gut

The connection between leaky gut and your immune system makes repairing your gut the starting point in reversing an autoimmune condition. We use the 4R approach to repair gut health.

  • Remove- Remove the bad. You can eliminate the factors that negatively affect your GI tract. It includes inflammatory foods such as gluten, dairy, corn, soy and eggs, as well as toxic foods, such as sugar, caffeine and alcohol. Finally, you’ll want to eradicate any kind of bacterial or fungal overgrowth of all sorts (e.g. Candida overgrowth, Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth, and parasites).

  • Replace- Replace what’s missing. Add digestive enzymes to optimise digestion and include nutrient-dense foods.

  • Reinoculate- Restore beneficial bacteria to re-establish a healthy microbial balance in your gut. High-quality probiotics will help repair your gut and support your immune system.

  • Repair- It’s of utmost importance to provide the essential nutrients necessary to help the gut repair itself. Proper nourishment and soothing your gut cells, restores your gut’s natural mucosal lining and maximizes gut-healing.


2. Optimize Your Diet

Gluten is an inflammatory food that wreaks havoc on the gut through the process of biomimicry. It is critical for anyone with any kind of autoimmune condition to eliminate it from their diet. Instead you should include gluten free grains like millets, unpolished rice variants, fresh fruits and vegetables, grass-fed organic meat, organic or free range eggs, wild-caught or deep sea water fish and healthy fats.


3. Find and Treat Infections

Get your organic acid test done to know the kind of bacterial/fungal infections you are suffering from, such as Clostridia Bacterial Overgrowth or Yeast and Fungal infection. Monolaurin from coconut oil can be a very effective treatment, as it has antimicrobial and antifungal properties naturally.


4. Test for Toxins-Heavy Metals and Mycotoxins

Unfortunately testing for mycotoxins is not available in India yet. We recommend having your Hair Mineral Tissue Analysis (HTM) done. It gives us a clear picture of the toxicity of the heavy metals in your body. If either heavy metals or mycotoxins are a concern, work on minimizing your exposure to these toxins, and support your detox pathways while you work to flush them out.


5. Relieve Your Stress

We know that we all need Stress Busters for regular stress relief! Adopt stress-relieving strategies such as exercise, yoga, meditation or performing arts or doing art. Choose something that you will relish and stick with it. Even giving yourself ten minutes of solitude can work wonders for your adrenal glands. Just sit quietly & breathe deeply.


If you are diagnosed with Lupus or any autoimmune condition, a root cause based approach should be taken to identify the triggers of autoimmunity. At the Functional Medicine Clinic, we help in reversing autoimmunity.






References-

  1. Mu, Q., Kirby, J., Reilly, C. M., & Luo, X. M. (2017). Leaky Gut As a Danger Signal for Autoimmune Diseases. Frontiers in Immunology, 8. https://doi.org/10.3389/fimmu.2017.00598

  2. Gergianaki I, Bertsias G. Systemic Lupus Erythematosus in Primary Care: An Update and Practical Messages for the General Practitioner. Front Med (Lausanne). 2018;5:161. Published 2018 May 29. doi:10.3389/fmed.2018.00161

  3. Stojanovich L. Stress and autoimmunity. Autoimmun Rev. 2010;9(5):A271-A276. doi:10.1016/j.autrev.2009.11.014

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