Systemic lupus erythematosus, also known as lupus or SLE, is an autoimmune disease in which a person’s immune system attacks various organs or cells of the body causing damage and dysfunction. This condition is more common in women than men, is a multisystem disease, and is characterized by relapses and remissions. Genetics and environmental factors play a major role in the occurrence of this disease.
The Ayurvedic treatment of lupus depends upon the presentation of symptoms and the involvement of different systems and organs. This being an autoimmune disease, first and foremost, it is important to try and restore the immune function of the body. Immunomodulatory treatment can be given using medicines like Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), Shatavari (Asparagus racemosus), Guduchi (Tinospora cordifolia), Yashtimadhuk (Glycerrhiza glabra), Pippali (Piper longum), Rasna (Pluchea lanceolata) and Manjishtha (Rubia cordifolia).
According to Ayurveda, the body is made up of seven “Dhatus” or tissues. It is important to see which of the body tissues are affected most, in a patient with lupus. These tissues can then be treated with the appropriate medicines so as to repair the damage done, and to restore optimum function of the body.
Specific Ayurvedic treatment can also be given according to the affected system or organ.
Involvement of the musculoskeletal system causing joint and muscular pain, and avascular necrosis (specially of the hip and knee joints) can be treated using medicines like Yograj Guggulu, Trayodashang Guggulu, Maharasnadi Qadha, Laxadi Guggulu and Vishtinduk Vati. Skin rashes can be treated using appropriate local ointments, and oral medications like Mahamanjishthadi Qadha, Arogya Vardhini and Saarivasava. Hair fall too can be treated with ointments and oral medications like Laxadi Guggulu, Praval Panchamrut and Rasayan Vati.
Kidney involvement is very common in lupus, and should be aggressively treated with medicines like Punarnavadi Qadha, Chandraprabha Vati, Gokshuradi Guggulu and Gomutra Haritaki. Involvement of the heart and blood vessels, including the condition called Reynaud’s Syndrome, can be treated using medicines like Tapyadi Loha, Laxmi Vilas, Brihat Vata Chintamani, Arogya Vardhini, Medohar Guggulu, Laxadi Guggulu, Shrung Bhasma, Arjuna (Terminalia arjuna) and Amalaki (Emblica officinalis). Involvement of the nervous system can cause conditions like convulsions, paralysis, depression and psychosis; and may be treated with medicines like Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri), Jatamansi (Nardostachys jatamansi) and Sarpagandha (Raulwofia serpentina).
Involvement of the lungs can be treated using medicines like Yashtimadhuk, Pippali, Pushkarmool (Inula racemosa) and Sitopaadi Churna. Involvement of the blood and lymphatic system can be treated with Kanchnaar Guggulu, Punarnava Mandoor, Medohar Guggulu, Mahamanjishthadi Qadha, Naagkeshar (Mesua ferrea) and Bilva (Aegle marmelos). Involvement of the stomach and intestines may be treated using medicines like Kamdudha Vati, Sutshekhar Rasa, Agnitundi Vati, Triphala (Three fruits) and Kutki (Picrorrhiza kurroa). Though the eyes are rarely involved, the retina may be affected, specially in patients taking antimalarial drugs. Retinal involvement may be treated using Triphala, Shatavari and Punarnava (Boerhaavia diffusa).
Overall, most patients with lupus can be managed quite well with a judicious combination of modern and Ayurvedic medicines. It is important to note that all such patients should be under the regular supervision and care of a qualified and experienced Rheumatologist.