Updated: Jul 6
Of all of the autoimmune diseases, lupus can be the most confusing.
I've had a handful of women I know who have been diagnosed with lupus and then undiagnosed with lupus.
I've had a friend who was diagnosed with pre-lupus.
What is lupus anyway?
It is an an autoimmune disease that hits mostly women- 10 times as many women as men. It consists of a constellation of symptoms that include the following:
Joint pain, stiffness and swelling
Butterfly-shaped rash on the face that covers the cheeks and bridge of the nose or rashes elsewhere on the body
Skin lesions that appear or worsen with sun exposure (photosensitivity)
Fingers and toes that turn white or blue when exposed to cold or during stressful periods (Raynaud's phenomenon)
Shortness of breath
Headaches, confusion and memory loss
But here's the thing: according to the Mayo Clinic,
"no two cases of lupus are exactly alike".
"Lupus can be difficult to diagnose because its signs and symptoms often mimic those of other ailments."
The characteristic butterfly shaped rash that covers the nose and cheeks won't even present in many cases of lupus.
You can confirm (sort of!) if you have lupus by getting an Anti-Nuclear Antibody test. This is a lab test that uses different cells and dyes to see if your own blood reacts with the compounds to show up as florescent. If you have lupus, you'll likely be positive for ANA antibodies, as 98% of those with lupus present with a positive test.
As a classic autoimmune disease, lupus means that the body is attacking itself. But why?
Why are all of our bodies attacking themselves?
Some of the theories include:
Viruses can cause Lupus
I keep seeing Epstein Barr pop up in the research as a causative factor in chronic disease. Since nearly all of my clients have positive antibodies for Epstein Barr, and nearly all of them suffer from some form of autoimmune disease, I see the research backed up clinically. I postulate that more and more research will come out in the next few years linking viruses to more and more chronic and degenerative diseases.
EBV is implicated in Lupus. Have you been infected with mono in the past? Have you ever had chronic ear infections or tonsillitis? These can be a sign of an EBV infection, and as a virus, EBV never actually leave the body. It lies dormant in various parts of your endocrine system until you experience a stressful event or pattern of events that coaxes it out of your thyroid or adrenal glands or pancreas or brain. As your body releases stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, EBV will be released as well. There is a correlation between elevated stress hormones and reactivated Epstein Barr.
All forms of the herpes virus can be linked to chronic illnesses. Herpes viruses are even linked to cancer. And 95% of us are infected. This is a huge problem.
You already know that I think that low thyroid function is a causative factor in 95% of us having a latent herpes infection. You've got to get your thyroid function optimized if you are suffering from lupus.
Medications can cause Lupus
Sometimes, lupus symptoms can be brought on by certain medications, like blood pressure meds, anti-seizure meds, and antibiotics.
Since we know that antibiotics are overused, try to take an antibiotic only if you have a confirmed bacterial infection. This lessens your chances of having a lupus reaction.
Sun Exposure can cause Lupus
This is a problem for me, and I'll tell you why.
We are supposed to be in the sun. Humans have always enjoyed plenty of sunlight. It helps synthesize the useful form of Vitamin D in the body, which will lead to protection against autoimmune disease and bolster immune function in general.
Lupus sufferers unequivocally have low Vitamin D levels. I see it clinically all of the time.
So, WTF, medical establishment?
You really can't get your D levels up optimally without some natural sunlight exposure. Synthetic D can be difficult to titrate and can also be harmful to the body.
Your body has a much harder time telling you that you have overdosed on Vitamin D than it does telling you that you have had enough sun.
Plants need water and sun to generate energy. Why would humans be different? I can't find any research showing that the sun is an electron donor for humans but we know that oxygen is the final electron acceptor in aerobic respiration. Humans need true atmospheric oxygen to create ATP, and it just makes sense that sunlight would be part of this beautifully designed process.
If you are currently experiencing a lupus flare, by all means, stay out of the sun.
But if you are not, proceed daily with caution to soak in some rays. Ten to fifteen minutes should suffice. You can always work up to longer.
I have my lupus girls spend time outside daily. This does not exacerbate symptoms, but actually works to relieve them when paired with a synergistic, holistic healing program.
How else do we bring down Lupus symptoms?
I thought you would never ask!
Let's filter it through the tried and trusted Functional Diagnostic Nutrition framework, shall we?
It will keep you sick. You should be angry that this sort of diet is propagated for healing from autoimmune disease. Low fat. Grains. Sugar.
These crappy foods will keep you experiencing all of the symptoms listed above. It's not your fault- you are just doing what you have been told to do.
But I will tell you a secret- it's all wrong.
Stop eating sugar.
Stop eating grains.
Stop eating low fat.
Start eating plenty of nourishing fats like butter and bacon and avocados. With every meal. Start eating copious amounts of meat, the food you were seriously designed to eat. Did you know your stomach acid is stronger than that of a lion? A freaking lion. The king #carnivore?! Start eating vegetables if you want to, and fruit if you like it.
With a breakfast of bacon and avocado and berries, and a lunch of chicken thighs and butter sauce and mixed greens and pears, and a dinner of rib eye and acorn squash and butter, and a dessert of frozen cherries dusted with cocoa powder, you'll have no room for the crappy foods propagated by Big Food.
Go vegan if that's your thing, but it's not mine and healing will be more difficult without the addition of the essential fatty acids and amino acids.
Do you even know gluconeogenesis, bro?!
Sleep is so important. Naps are so important. Sitting with your feet up is so important. Laying with the kids and watching a funny movie is so important. Saying no to stuff you don't want to do is so important.
I had one dear client who could not even cook dinner or clean her house after work without experiencing a lupus episode. A few months after working together, she not only has energy to do these things, but also go for walks and go on vacations and spend all day outside without a flare. It is amazing what the body can do with proper care.
You know what rest looks like for you. Please do it, guilt free. Build up your body so you can take great care of those who depend on you.
Exercise is always a double-edged sword for autoimmune sufferers. Your body is basically attacking itself. You are fighting a literal war within your person. Why would you strip away supplies from the troops on the good side? Don't overexercise. But try to move when you can.
Yoga, Pilates, walking, stretching, gentle swimming, and playing with your kids outside are excellent ways to move the body.
Put on some great music or an awesome TV show and bounce or walk for a few minutes once or twice a day. You will start feeling stronger as you implement all of these healing processes.
Enough has been said on this subject to where I don't have to expound on it more.
You've just got to reduce your stress, period.
I often use the analogy of a baby or a puppy with clients.
What do you do if your little one is tired?
You let her rest.
What do you do if your little one is overstimulated?
You give him a bath, feed him, cuddle him, and put him to bed.
What do you do if your little one is hungry?
You feed her.
What do you do if your little one is stressed?
You remove the stressors from the environment.
Why do we stop doing these things? No one will do them for you. It's not fair to refuse to take care of yourself and then get mad when your body shuts down. Be proactive.
You're not a bad person if you do these things. Well, you suck if you're doing it just for you. But that's not the case with moms. We are all just doing the best we can, trying to take the best care of our family.
And if mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy.
Boost happiness by removing unnecessary stressors.
The exhaustion that comes with lupus can be mitigated by some D-ribose powder. Ribose is a necessary part of the creation of ATP, which is how your body literally makes energy.
PS- you also need purines, which you can only get from meat.
Eat meat. Supplement with ribose.
5000 mg, 2-3x/ day in water or a smoothie or tea should suffice.
I pray this guide helps you. Please feel free to pass it along to a fellow lupus sufferer in your life.
Let me know if you have any questions!