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Many people will experience long periods of time with few or no symptoms before suddenly experiencing a sudden flare-up where their symptoms are particularly severe.

However, even mild cases of SLE can have a considerable impact on a person’s quality of life because many of the symptoms, particularly chronic fatigue, can be distressing and cause feelings of depression and anxiety.

SLE can sometimes cause a range of serious complications, such as kidney and heart disease, and the treatment may make a person vulnerable to serious infections.

The symptoms of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) can vary from person to person. Some people with the condition may only experience a few mild symptoms, whereas others may be more severely affected.

Primary symptoms

The three primary symptoms of SLE are:

  • fatigue – one of the most common symptoms of SLE. You may feel very tired even though you get plenty of sleep. Carrying out everyday tasks, such as household chores or office work, can leave you feeling exhausted. Many people with SLE have reported that fatigue is the most distressing and disruptive aspect of SLE because it has a negative impact on their work and social life.
  • joint pain – If you have SLE, you are most likely to experience joint pain in your hands and feet. You may find that the pain changes from one set of joints to another quite quickly. However, unlike some other conditions that affect the joints, SLE is unlikely to cause your joints to become permanently damaged or deformed.
  • skin rashes – In people with SLE, skin rashes most commonly develop on the face, wrists and hands. A rash over the cheeks and the bridge of the nose is particularly common and is known as a “butterfly rash”. Skin rashes that are caused by SLE may be permanent and can be made worse with exposure to sunlight. This is known as photosensitivity.

As well as the primary symptoms, SLE can also cause a number of other symptoms. However, if you have SLE it is unlikely that you will have all of the symptoms listed below, and many people with the condition will only experience the primary symptoms.

Other symptoms of SLE may include:

  • high temperature (fever) of 38C (100.4F) or above
  • swollen lymph glands (small, bean-shaped glands that are found throughout your body, including in your neck, armpits and groin)
  • recurring mouth ulcers
  • hair loss (alopecia)
  • high blood pressure (hypertension)
  • depression
  • dry eyes
  • memory loss
  • migraine
  • anaemia – a condition where a lack of red, oxygen-carrying blood cells can cause fatigue and shortness of breath
  • Raynaud’s phenomenon – a condition that limits the blood supply to your hands and feet when it is cold

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune condition, which means it is caused by problems with the immune system.

The immune system is the body’s natural defence against illness and infection. When the immune system detects the presence of an infectious agent, such as a virus or bacteria, it sends specialist cells called antibodies to kill the agent.

However, in cases of SLE, antibodies released by the immune system start to attack healthy tissue, cells and organs.

Most experts think that SLE does not have just one cause. They argue that there may be a number of genetic factors that make people more susceptible to developing SLE. However, it also takes one or more environmental factors to trigger the onset of SLE in people with an existing genetic susceptibility.

Possible genetic and environmental factors are discussed in more detail below.

Genetic factors

It is believed that the genes that you inherit from your parents make you more susceptible to SLE for two main reasons:

  • If you have an identical twin with SLE you have an estimated one-in-four chance of developing the condition yourself.
  • Rates of SLE vary widely among different ethnic groups.

Researchers have identified a number of different genetic mutations that seem to make people more susceptible to developing SLE.

A genetic mutation occurs when the normal instructions that are carried in certain genes become “scrambled”, resulting in the body’s processes not working normally.

Most of the mutated genes are associated with regulating certain functions of the immune system, which may explain why the immune system in people with SLE starts to malfunction.

Also, some of the mutated genes are contained in the X chromosome. Chromosomes are large blocks of genetic information. Men only have one X chromosome (and one Y chromosome) whereas women have a pair of X chromosomes.

Therefore, women are twice as likely to receive one of the mutated genes. Along with hormonal factors, this may partly explain why SLE is much more common in women than men.

Environmental factors

A number of environmental factors may be responsible for triggering the onset of SLE in vulnerable individuals.

There is limited to moderate evidence to suggest that the following factors may be responsible:

  • exposure to sunlight
  • hormonal changes that occur during a woman’s lifetime, such as during puberty or pregnancy
  • medications can trigger drug-induced lupus

The Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) has also been suggested as a possible cause of SLE. However, EBV is a common viral infection that does not usually cause any symptoms at all and in some people can cause glandular fever.

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Eat an organic, whole foods diet and avoid potentially allergy-causing foods, especially sugar, wheat, milk, and dairy products, including yogurt. Also avoid excess consumption of fruit, especially citrus and sour, as these foods may aggravate symptoms.

Other things to consider:

  • Do not consume any artificial sweeteners, such as Splenda, NutraSweet or Aspartame
  • Do not consume high fructose corn syrup or mono-sodium glutamate.
  • Do not drink any carbonated beverages.
  • Avoid all fast food restaurants.
  • Avoid all canned food.
  • Eliminate conventional dairy products.  The best dairy products are raw, unpasteurised and homogenised dairy from grass fed cows.  If this is unavailable, then buy organic dairy.
  • Avoid conventional beef.  The best beef is organic grass fed beef. The second best is organic meat; this includes beef, veal, lamb, chicken and turkey. Check out

Whole foods are beneficial and vegetables should be increased, especially those which are green, yellow and orange. Try and consume fish several times a week. Avoid over-eating (more frequent but smaller meals are recommended.)


According to Leon Chaltow ND, OD, hydrochloric acid deficiency is common in people with lupus. Supplementation with meals can help or stimulation of natural production can be achieved by careful use of specific herbs such as the “Swedish Bitters” combination –

Other supplements known to help are:

  • Vitamin A with beta carotene
  • Vitamin C and bioflavonoids
  • Vitamin B complex
  • Vitamin B5
  • Vitamin B6
  • Vitamin B12
  • Calcium
  • Magnesium
  • Selenium
  • Zinc
  • Essential fatty acids such as Omega 3s: Krill oil – ; Fish oil ; Cod liver oil –
  • Proteolytic enzymes taken away from meals
  • Digestive enzymes taken with meals
  • Amino acids L-cysteine, L-methionine, and L-cystine.

Prescription and non-prescription medication:

What non-prescription and prescription drugs are you taking?  Your non-prescription and prescription are partially the reason that you have this illness or disease – you need to get off these medications, but do so only under the guidance of a licensed health care practitioner.

We know that when the body is out of balance, energy doesn’t flow, leading blockages and eventually disease. Here are some things you can do to combat stress and restore balance:

  • Go to a Dr. Morter BEST (Bio-Energetic Synchronisation Technique) Practitioner.
  • Sign up for Energetic Re-Balancing: 2 practitioners to consider are:

Stephen Lewis, founder of the Aim Program. Find out more by clicking here.

. Find out more by clicking here.


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Lupus and Homeopathy:

Complementary and Alternative Therapies for Lupus:

Treating lupus naturally:

Home remedies for lupus:

Natural therapies for lupus:


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Further Information (links and books)

The Lupus Recovery Diet: A Natural Approach to Autoimmune Disease by Jill HarringtonLupus: Alternative Therapies That Work by Sharon Moore; Connective Tissue Diseases: Holistic Therapy Options by  Hannelore Helbing-Sheafe Ph.D;

Andrea Butje | Aromahead [email protected] – Aromatherapy

Carrie Vitt [email protected] – Organic food recipes.

David Spector-NSR/USA [email protected] – Meditation, stress

Judith Hoad [email protected] – Herbalist.

Kath May [email protected] – Reiki, tai chi.

Lillian Bridges [email protected] – Chinese medicine, living naturally.

Monika [email protected] – Aromatherapy.

Rakesh  [email protected] – Ayurvedic practitioner.

Joanne Callaghan – [email protected] – Thought Field Therapy (TF): releasing unresolved emotions, stress and illness.

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