Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) or Lupus affects around five million people worldwide. It affects women more than men and affects females between the age group five to fifteen. It is an autoimmune disease since the system which evolved to protect us from infections and conditions like cancer directs its awesome powers against the body it was meant to protect. SLE affects all the major organs of the body like heart, skin, lung, joints, blood vessels, kidney, liver and the nervous system.
Signs, symptoms and causes
Initial symptoms include fever, malaise, joint pains and fatigue. Many patients exhibit the typical “butterfly rash” on their faces. Other dermatological manifestations include mouth, nasal and vaginal ulcers. Anemia and low hemoglobin may develop in many patients. Other symptoms pertaining to the heart, kidney and liver also manifest as the disease progresses. No specific cause has been identified till date. It is assumed that certain genetic susceptibilities and environmental factors play a role in triggering SLE.
Current Treatment Regimes
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are used to provide relief from pain associated with the various symptoms of SLE. Hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malarial drug has been found to be effective in patients with joint problems, skin disease and fatigue. Immunosuppressive drugs such as methotrexate, azathioprine, cyclophosphamide, cyclosporine etc are used to alleviate problems to organs in cases of severe SLE. All these medications bring along with them various side effects.
Since lupus is an autoimmune disease, Ayurveda prescribes the use of immunomodulatory medicines present in Withania somnifera, Asparagus racemosus, Tinospora cordifolia, Glycerrizha glabra, Piper longum and Rubea cordifolia. Joint and muscular pain is treated with a mixture of powerful medicinal combinations containing Embelia ribes, Vetiveria zizanoides, Cedrus deodara, Carum roxburghianum, Allium sativum, Tribulus terristeris, Pluchea lanceolata and Zingiber officinale. Skin rashes can be treated with local ointments and oral medications containing black bitumen, Balsamodendron mukul, Terminalia chebula, Phyllanthus emblica, Plumbago zeylanica and Picrorhiza kurroa.
Hair fall is often associated with SLE which can be treated using oils and oral medications like Cocculus lack and Cissus quadrangularis. SLE can also cause nervous dysfunctions like convulsions, paralysis, depression and psychosis. These may be treated by medicines like Bacopa monnieri, Nardostachys jatamansi and Raulwofia serpentina. When lungs are involved, the condition can be treated with herbs like Inula racemosa. Terminalia arjuna and Embelica officinalis are important in the treatment of Reynaud’s phenomenon in many patients with SLE. Kidney dysfunctions are treated with a medicine prepared by macerating paste of Terminalia chebula in cow’s urine.
Messua ferrea and Aegle marmelos are used for the treatment of problems associated with blood and lymphatic system. It is observed that the condition can easily be managed with a judicious combination of Ayurvedic and allopathic medications. Ayurvedic medicines tend to take a longer time to show their effects for the reason that they tend to target the root causes of the disease rather than providing superficial relief.