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A Case Study on Systemic Lupus Erythematosus

by June Butlin(more info)

listed in medical conditions, originally published in issue 51 - April 2000

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) takes its name from the Latin for wolf (Lupus), as the disease can characteristically create severe rashes on the cheeks and nose resembling a wolf's face. It is an auto-immune disease causing the body's immune system to over-produce antibodies, which attack the organs and tissues such as the skin, hair, lungs, brain, kidneys and heart. In particular, it damages the connective tissue around the joints, resulting in pain, swelling and inflammation. Other symptoms include tiredness, psychosis, depression and Raynaud's disease. Its progression varies for each individual with symptoms ranging from slight to extreme, and may in some cases be life threatening. It affects approximately one in a thousand patients, mainly young females, but recent research published in the Lancet shows that it is underdiagnosed, and that the numbers may be doubled.

There is no one cause of SLE and as with many 20th century diseases, attacks appear to be due to a combination of factors, including medications and particularly antibiotics, environmental pollution, food allergies, Candida albicans, hormonal imbalances, oral contraceptives, stress, viruses and bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus.

The main criterion for diagnosing lupus is the measurement of the level of anti nuclear antibodies (ANA), as they are raised in 95% of lupus sufferers. Blood tests assess the activity of the immune system and check the bone marrow and kidney function.

According to allopathic medicine, lupus can't be cured; it is controlled through immune suppressing medications such as steroids, anti-cancer and anti-malaria drugs, which all have quite severe side effects. Alternative treatments offer some hope, but not a definitive cure, and a combination of allopathic medicine and alternative therapies may produce less than optimal results. Fiona, my client, followed allopathic treatment for a year, but felt that she was not improving and courageously took an alternative path to healing, despite much opposition from family and medical practitioners. She stopped taking all her medications except voltarol for the inflammation and pain.

I took a thorough case history. Fiona's main presenting symptoms were SLE and rheumatoid arthritis affecting the joints in the hands, shoulders, knees and neck, with corresponding constant pain and inflammation, dry skin, facial rashes, lack of energy to the point of exhaustion, headaches, poor sleep pattern, depression and Raynaud's disease. The questionnaire showed pre-menstrual syndrome, low immunity, calcium magnesium imbalance and a biochemical test from Great Smokies Diagnostic laboratory revealed Candida albicans (yeast infection) and a leaky gut.

Fiona's goals were to avoid taking stronger and stronger immunosuppressants, to stop the pain and drugs, and to go into remission.

The first priority was to support the immune system through foods and supplements. Fiona followed a quality high fibre, low protein, low fat, wholefood diet with grains, vegetables, non-acidic fresh fruits, oily and white fish plus a little chicken, juices of carrots and greens, and lots of filtered water. She avoided the foods to which she was sensitive as diagnosed by kinesiology and the diet for blood type 'O'. These foods included coffee, tea, wheat, peppers, dairy products, red meat, mushrooms, sugar, tomatoes, alcohol, brazil nuts, prawns, citrus fruit, rhubarb and eggs. Alfalfa containing canavain, a toxic substance, was also avoided as it can aggravate SLE.

Supplements taken to support the immune system and to help with the Raynaud's disease were a special organic drink supplying the body with natural sources of amino acids, vitamins and minerals and one antioxidant containing the following: vitamins A,C,E, pygnogenol, grape seed extract, ginkgo biloba, curcuminoids and Vitamin C.

We then focused on the candida and leaky gut using a specific diet and supplements. The anti-candida diet is also beneficial to lupus as it helps to clear the body of toxic products and helps to reduce the level of anti-nuclear antibodies.

For the pain and inflammation we concentrated on reducing the production of histamine and prostaglandins with supplements of a multi-vitamin and mineral, essential fatty acids, B complex and quercetin, a bioflavonoid. A small glass of diluted pineapple juice containing bromelain was taken daily for its excellent ability to reduce inflammation.

Strategies to help the joints were walking, exercises for the shoulders, neck, knees and wrists, aromatherapy massages and a calcium/magnesium supplement. To the diet we added sulphur foods: asparagus, garlic and onions to help calcium absorption and to aid the repair and building of bone, cartilage and connective tissue.

Other recommendations were swimming, T'ai Chi, meditation, reading, counselling, time management, lots of rest and just listening to the body. Strong sunlight and stress were avoided as far as possible to prevent flare ups.

Fiona has progressed steadily for nine months now, and once she has shaken off her early morning stiffness she feels mobile and energetic throughout the day. She has conquered the pre-menstrual syndrome, candida and leaky gut, sleeps well, has no headaches or depression, and her skin is glowing, healthy and soft. The inflammation and pain have disappeared from her shoulders, knees, neck and hands, and unbelievably in the last month the swelling in her hands, which prevented her from wearing her rings or being able to grip anything, has gone. The Raynaud's has improved slightly and she has reduced the dosage of her voltarol.

Fiona is on an incredible healing journey and through the months of working together we have not only focused on the body, but also the mind and the spirit. We have learnt that in time of stress the lupus flares up and we both know that Fiona will not get full remission of all her symptoms until she unravels, confronts, accepts and resolves her own spiritual issues. She desperately wants to help other sufferers and give them hope, and would like to share her healing journey with you next month.

Books and References

1. Benefits of a low protein, low fat diet in SLE. Lancet 339. May 1992.
2. Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients on Lupus. 171: 74-75. 31 October 1997.
3. Lupus Erythematosus The Food Factor. WDDTY. 7 (9): 2-4. 31 December 1997.
4. Report on Rheumatic Diseases. Arthritis and Rheumatism Council for Research. No 2. May 1994. St Thomas' Lupus Trust, The Rayne Institute, St Thomas' Hospital, London SE1 7EH. Tel 020-7922 8197.
5. Lupus Handbook for Patients. ARC Cards Ltd. Brunel Drive, Northern Road Industrial Estate, Newark NG24 2DE.
6. Prescriptions for Nutritional Healing. James F Balch MD and Phyllis A Balch CNC. Avery Publishing Group. 1997. ISBN 0-89529727-2.

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About June Butlin

June M Butlin PhD is a trained teacher, nutritionist, kinesiologist, aromatherapist, fitness trainer and sports therapist. She is a writer, health researcher and lecturer and is committed to helping people achieve their optimum level of health and runs a private practice in Wiltshire. June can be contacted on 01225 869 284;  junebutlin@btinternet.com

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