There are two main types of lupus, the first being systemic lupus erythematosus (or SLE), which is a systemic, multi organ autoimmune condition where the body’s own immune system mistakenly attacks cells of different tissues of the body.
The second generally milder type of lupus is discoid lupus (or chronic cutaneous lupus erythematosus), which presents as a scaly rash on areas of sun exposed skin. A few people with discoid lupus may develop SLE.
Other forms are subacute cutaneous lupus, which presents as milder skin rashes and joint aches; drug induced lupus, which is transient and occurs in reaction to medications; and a rare condition called neonatal lupus affecting babies born to mothers with lupus.
In lupus, the immune system attacks at a cellular level, affecting any tissue or organ in the body. Each person's experience of lupus is different, as different parts of the body may be affected. Episodes generally subside after the initial attack, however, some people undergo brief flares during longer periods of remission.
Symptoms can include:
Lupus occurs predominantly in women, however, 1 in 10 diagnosed with lupus are men, and while they can experience all of the above symptoms, they are more likely to develop:
Diagnosis of lupus can be difficult, as symptoms mimic a range of conditions and there is no definitive test. Some immune system markers are common to people with lupus, such as Type 1 interferon, complement proteins C3 and C4 dysregulation, in addition to the presence of antinuclear antibodies (ANA) common to autoimmune conditions and anti-Smith antibodies found in 70% of people with lupus. However, the presence or absence of these markers does not definitively diagnose or exclude lupus but may support diagnosis.
Like other autoimmune conditions, the definitive cause/s of systemic lupus erythematosus have not been established. However, current research is demonstrating that a complex interaction between genetic susceptibility and environmental triggers are heavily implicated in all autoimmune conditions. Known as epigenetics, this process explains how in susceptible individuals, triggers such as those listed below can provoke the mistaken attack on ‘self’ cells that defines autoimmune diseases.
The most common risk factors in lupus include:
Research has found people with the ‘atopic triad’ have a defective barrier of the skin and upper and lower respiratory tracts.
These genetic alterations cause a loss of function of filaggrin (filament aggregating protein), which is a protein in the skin that normally breaks down to create natural moisturisation and protect the skin from penetration by pathogens and allergens.
Filaggrin mutations are found in approximately 30 percent of people with atopic dermatitis, and also predispose people to asthma, allergic rhinitis (hayfever), keratosis pilaris (dry rough patches and bumps on the skin), and ichthyosis vulgaris (a chronic condition which causes thick, dry, scaly skin.)If one parent carries this genetic alteration, there is a 50 percent chance their child will develop atopic symptoms. And that risk increases to 80 percent if both parents are affected.
The connection between the gut microbiome and skin health is complex, however, research has found the microbiota contributes to the development, persistence, and severity of atopic dermatitis through immunologic, metabolic and neuroendocrine pathways.
Deficiency of Omega-6 essential fatty acids (EFA) has been linked with the increased incidence of atopic dermatitis, along with the inability for the body to efficiently metabolise EFA’s to gamma linoleic acids (GLA) and arachidonic acids (AA).
Changing weather conditions can certainly aggravate eczema symptoms, but the triggers are subject to change among individuals.
Mould exposure and susceptibility to mould can cause Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS), of which dermatitis is a manifestation.
There is no medical cure for lupus to date. Systemic lupus erythematosus conventional treatment by an SLE specialist includes medications to control symptoms and help manage the condition. Medications are often given in addition to exercise recommendations and lifestyle changes, such as stopping smoking, avoiding sun exposure and stress management. A new classification criteria based on the signs and symptoms can aid in directing treatment strategies.
Your SLE specialist may prescribe medications such as:
All medications have side effects, with some of these drugs requiring close monitoring by the specialists due to the significance of side effects. Some immune suppressing drugs can also impair the body’s ability to fight off infections.
Conventional treatments do not address the underlying causes or factors contributing to lupus, and along with some very uncomfortable side effects, is why people with lupus often seek natural ways to improve their health after a lupus diagnosis. Alternative treatment options can include the functional medicine approach that supports each person with lupus holistically and naturally.
From a functional medicine standpoint, natural treatment for people with lupus starts with an in depth history taking, which will look at medical history, genetic predispositions, environmental exposures, diet, medications and more to determine what the root cause triggers may be, and what other contributing factors may be exacerbating symptoms and disease progression.
Your functional medicine specialist will design a detailed, personalised treatment strategy with targeted herbal, lifestyle, and supplemental medicine and dietary changes to address specific symptoms, support organ function, reduce inflammation and modulate the immune system to reduce attacks on the body. They will also factor in maintaining robust immune function for fighting off the usual colds, flu and other viral and bacterial infections.
Depending on the patient and their health picture, these strategies may include:
In addition, your functional medicine specialist will be mindful of optimising immune resilience, for reducing the reactivation of Epstein Barr virus, and for reducing the risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection and long COVID symptoms.
If you’re looking for holistic, personalised and supportive healthcare that gets results, we’d love to help. One of our functional medicine practitioners at Melbourne Functional Medicine will guide you towards better health in our unique 6-month program. Working alongside your practitioner and your health coach, you’ll have all the support, health breakthroughs and direction you need to meet your health goals and get back to living life.
Are you ready for a personalised, natural functional medicine treatment? Our unique model of care was designed with you in mind. Find out how below, then book a call today!
Like all autoimmune conditions, people with a family history of autoimmune conditions may develop systemic lupus erythematosus, also known as lupus or SLE. So, yes a genetic predisposition underlies lupus / SLE.
However, having a genetic predisposition does not guarantee you will develop the disease, as a complex interplay between genetics and environmental triggers is thought to be the cause.
Infections, environmental toxins, such as heavy metals, pesticides, exhaust fumes, smoking, medications and a host of others may be the triggers that turn the genes ‘on’ and start the progression of lupus.
Treating and removing these triggers can provide a significant reduction of symptoms and in some cases remission from the condition, with the guidance of a lupus specialist alongside a functional medicine practitioner who can identify the root cause and contributing factors in your case.
No one can claim to cure any disease.
Functional medicine is a system of holistic, and evidence based medicine that is natural, effective and can be long lasting for as long as the treatment strategy is followed. Functional medicine autoimmune specialists use a range of treatments such as diet and nutrition, supplemental medicine, herbal medicine and lifestyle interventions that can be very effective at treating chronic conditions.
Natural treatment options for people with lupus, or systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is best done under the care of a lupus specialist alongside a functional medicine practitioner.
A functional medicine practitioner can work with lupus specialists in Melbourne, Australia, and will assess your whole life's medical history, family history, environmental exposures, medications and a variety of other factors to determine the likely root cause, or causes, of your condition and address these rather than simply suppressing symptoms with medications.
Your healthcare team will provide a natural treatment plan to give your body what it needs to heal, and recover wherever it can. This plan can also be used to support you when taking prescribed medications to reduce the side effects of the medications.
Yes, it is a condition where the body's own immune system attacks certain parts of itself, mistakenly believing it to be an intruder.
There are a number of theories, with the main one being a process called ‘molecular mimicry’, where a molecule that enters the body is very similar in structure to the tissue that ends up being attacked, or is confused with a pathogen - such as a virus, toxin, bacteria or chemical.
The immune system, already in a heightened state, mistakes a particular cell thinking it is attacking the intruder, then continues to attack it as it has remembered incorrectly what this intruder looks like.
Seeking the help of autoimmune lupus specialists who can work alongside your Melbourne functional medicine practitioner will help you assess your overall health, and create a personalised plan to target the cause. This includes helping to regulate the immune system and remove the triggers that cause the immune system to be confused.
No one can guarantee to reverse any autoimmune condition, however, in some circumstances with a carefully targeted, holistic strategy it may be possible to go into remission.
An integrative approach to lupus will give you the best of care to improve your chances of improving your health. The integrative approach includes working with an SLE specialist or lupus specialists alongside a holistic healthcare practitioner like a functional medicine practitioner at Melbourne Functional Medicine.
Lupus is also known as systemic lupus erythematosus or SLE and it is called a systemic or multi-organ autoimmune condition as it can affect any part of the body.
Like all autoimmune conditions, it develops when an individual with a genetic predisposition is triggered and the disease progression is started. In lupus, the particular parts of the cell that are targeted can be anywhere in the body, and therefore it can have a host of symptoms. Every person’s experience of lupus is different as a result.
In addition to the more common SLE, there is a milder, less common form called discoid lupus which generally only affects sun exposed skin as a scaly rash. Some people with discoid lupus may go on to develop systemic lupus.
Other forms are subacute cutaneous lupus, with milder skin rashes and joint aches and drug induced lupus which is transient and in reaction to medications and a rare condition called neonatal lupus affecting babies born to mothers with lupus.
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