By Dr Harsh Sharma, DHMS, BHMS
Published September 15, 2017, Last updated May 29, 2019
What is SLE
SLE or Systemic Lupus Erythematosus is a chronic autoimmune disease. Another name for it is Lupus. An autoimmune disease is one in which the natural immunity of the body starts attacking one’s body instead of defending it. SLE is an inflammatory disease and causes inflammation of various systems and tissues in the body. It may not follow a straight course and often has a lot of remissions and recurrences.
Who is affected by SLE
SLE or Lupus is often called the women’s disease. That is because its incidence is mostly in women with 90 % of the cases being females. It most commonly starts in young women who are of child bearing age. It does affect men, older women and children also. In ages below 18 and above 50, the incidence of Lupus is almost equal in males and females. Also, it is more common in African American and Asian women as compared to European women.
What causes SLE or Lupus
Modern science has not been able to pinpoint any one particular reason for the incidence of SLE. Although there are stronger chances of having lupus if one of your family members is affected, it is not at all a hereditary disease. It just means that the chances of having lupus increases if one of your immediate family members has it.
Some environmental factors could also be possible offenders. These include childhood exposure to agricultural pesticides, silica dust, smoke and UV rays. Having birth weight less than 2500 gm or being more than 1 month preterm may also be a contributing factor. Deficiency of vitamin D has also been implicated in a lot of autoimmune diseases.
Diagnosing SLE or Lupus
It is quite difficult to diagnose Lupus or SLE as there is no specific test that can diagnose it. The symptoms are quite vague and generalized making it difficult even for a clinical diagnosis. All the same, a few tests are helpful in making the right diagnosis. These are ANA, presence of more than 0.5g protein or casts in urine, low Haemoglobin, low WBC, low platelet count and low lymphocyte count.
Symptoms of SLE or Lupus
Symptoms of SLE or Lupus vary from patient to patient. Often the symptoms are quite vague and doctors tend to mistake them for many other diseases. It can attack a number of systems of the human body including the kidneys, heart, lungs, joints, bones and skin. The disease tends to attack one or more of the systems in each individual patient. Depending upon the systems that SLE affects in an individual, the symptoms can vary quite widely. It is unlikely that 2 cases of SLE will be similar. The usual symptoms of lupus in various body systems are as follows-
- Fever- There is chronic fever. The usual causes of fever are ruled out but the fever persists. It is often low grade fever.
- Skin – There is often rash on the skin, more so on the face. It is quite often a characteristic butterfly shaped rash on the face. This rash is present in about 30-60% of the affected patients. There may be hair loss and ulcers in the mouth or on the skin.
- Photosensitivity- The skin is quite sensitive to sun and exposure to sun can cause itching, redness and eruptions on the exposed area.
- Joints- It affects the joints quite often and may have arthritis. Pain and swelling of the joints are often the first symptoms for which patients seek medical opinion. Arthritis may involve small joints of the hands, wrist and knees. The arthritis is often asymmetrical which means that it does not involve same joints of both sides. The pain is often much more as compared to the swelling of the joint.
- Kidneys-Kidneys are the most common internal organs involved, with almost half of SLE patients having kidney involvement. The kidneys get inflamed and this affects their ability to filter. This often results in excessive protein loss in urine. There may also be blood in the urine. In most of the cases, there is no pain in the kidneys.
- Heart- Pericarditis is the most common manifestation of heart involvement in SLE patients. This is often presented as chest pain that improves on leaning forwards. Heart failure may also result in some cases of lupus.
- Lungs-Inflammation of the pleurae of the lungs can cause many symptoms associated with the respiratory system. Pulmonary hypertension, pulmonary haemorrhage and interstitial lung disease may occur.
Treatment of SLE in the conventional system of medicine or Allopathy
There is hardly any treatment available in allopathic system of medicine that can cure lupus or SLE. Doctors devote all the energy to treating and managing the predominant symptoms of SLE. The inflammatory process of the disease damages various body systems and one can observe corresponding symptoms in each patient.
NSAIDs are the first line of treatment. In severe cases, steroids and immune-suppressants are often given for prolonged periods to control this inflammation. This prolonged use of steroids often has severe side effects. It becomes a challenge to use steroids judiciously so as to minimize their side effects and keeping the inflammation under control.
Homeopathic treatment of SLE or Lupus
As SLE is an autoimmune disease, Homeopathy is a much better option to treat it. The homeopathic medicines are able to reform and reset the immune system which has gone amok. Although it is a time taking process and shows results over a period of time, it is the best possible alternative for treatment of SLE.
5 best Homeopathic medicines for SLE or Lupus
The following medicines are the best suited for the treatment of Lupus or SLE based on the symptoms of each individual patient and those of the medicines-
Sepia- Best Homeopathic medicine for SLE starting around menopause
Apis – Best Homeopathic medicine for SLE with kidney disease
Arsenic- Best Homeopathic remedy for SLE with respiratory symptoms
Belladonna – Best Homeopathy medicine for SLE with fever
Hydrocotyle- Best Homeopathic medicine for Lupus with skin symptoms
I am giving a few indicative details of all medicines below to give an idea about the scope of these medicines. This does not in any way mean that one should start taking these medicines with limited knowledge and understanding of the disease and these medicines. It is best to stay under the treatment of a qualified and an experienced homeopathic doctor for the treatment of Lupus.
Sepia- One of the best Homeopathic medicines for SLE starting around menopause
In cases where lupus begins around or just after menopause, Sepia is one of the best homeopathic medicines for SLE. There are hot flashes with weakness and increased sweating. The patient may tend to faint easily. The mental picture is such that the patient is irritable and is indifferent to her close family members too.
Apis – Best homeopathic medicine for SLE or Lupus with kidney disease
When there is involvement of the kidneys, Apis is one of the best homeopathic medicines for Lupus or SLE. There are casts in the urine. It causes inflammation of the kidneys and the urine is scanty. Burning and stinging pain while urinating is often present. Oedema of various body parts results with puffiness of eyes being a common symptom. The patient is usually thirstless and drinks little water.
Arsenic Alb- One of the best homeopathic medicines for SLE with respiratory symptoms
When there is interstitial disease of the lungs or any other involvement of the lungs, Arsenic is one of the best homeopathic medicines for SLE. There is cough which is worse after midnight and on lying on back. Expectoration is white, frothy and scanty. Anxiety and restlessness are common accompanying symptoms. There is intense thirst though the patient only takes one sip at a time.
Belladonna – One of the best homeopathic medicines for SLE with fever
When intense fever is present, Belladonna is one of the best homeopathic medicines for SLE or lupus. The skin is red, hot and flushed. There is throbbing pain in the carotid arteries. Mouth and throat are dry but still there is aversion to water. There is violent palpitation and throbbing. One can feel it in the heart and sometimes in the whole of the body.
Hydrocotyle- Best homeopathic remedy for SLE with skin symptoms
When there is extensive involvement of skin, Hydrocotyle is one of the best homeopathic remedies for SLE. There is dryness of the skin and even the eruptions on the skin are dry in nature. There are scaly eruptions on the body. Exfoliation of skin is common. The skin becomes thick and dry. There is intolerable itching, more so in the soles of feet.