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How Do I Choose the Best Herbal Treatment for Lupus?

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  • Written By: Jennifer Voight
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 24 November 2016
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The most reliable way to choose an herbal treatment for lupus is to weigh the scientifically proven benefits against side effects and cost of treatment. There are several herbal treatments for lupus that have passed preliminary studies, yet all need more research before conclusive results can be reached. Herbal treatment for lupus may be advised under the advice of a physician because many, like cordyceps, turmeric, or pycnogenol, are relatively safe and unlikely to exacerbate the disease. There are other herbal treatments that stimulate the immune system and are best avoided by lupus patients.

When considering an herbal treatment for lupus, some are likely safe and effective even if they have not yet been thoroughly researched specifically for treatment of lupus symptoms. One such remedy is green tea containing epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). Preliminary studies show that it may benefit lupus sufferers, and it is relatively inexpensive and easy to obtain. It is unlikely to be harmful and might help lupus symptoms. Green tea has many ingredients that have been scientifically proved to benefit many conditions and improve overall health.

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Turmeric is another possible herbal treatment for lupus that is easy to obtain and available in most spice cabinets. The active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin and has been shown to ease lupus symptoms in human patients. Like green tea, curcumin should be researched more thoroughly regarding its specific effects on lupus symptoms, but preliminary research is promising. Again, turmeric is unlikely to be harmful and may help lupus patients.

Pycnogenol is a pine bark extract from trees that grow near the Bordeaux region in France. This substance has been researched as a possible herbal treatment for lupus, especially as an anti-inflammatory agent. Pycnogenol is less well known than green tea or turmeric and has been shown to be relatively safe with only mild side effects.

There are other herbal treatments for lupus that have shown promise yet may be more difficult or expensive to obtain. One of these is thunder god vine (Tripterygium wilfordii), a traditional Chinese herbal treatment for lupus and other conditions. A 2008 study of thunder god vine showed very promising results believed to be due to its active ingredient, celastrol. This herbal treatment for lupus does have some severe side effects. In addition, parts of the plant not used in the preparation of tripterygium are poisonous, and if improperly extracted, these poisonous compounds can contaminate the extract.

Cordyceps is a fungus that grows on a specific species of caterpillar. The active ingredients in cordyceps have been extensively studied for effectiveness for other conditions, but have only recently been studied for their efficacy against symptoms of lupus. As an herbal treatment for lupus, cordyceps has shown promise in both mice and human subjects. It is also fairly safe with only minor side effects. This herbal remedy is more difficult to find, although online sources should be easily secured.

It’s important to remember that herbal supplements are not regulated by the US Food and Drug Administration. Supplements may not be appropriate for all patients, especially women who are nursing or pregnant. Lupus is a serious medical condition and herbal supplements should be taken only under a physician’s advice. Some herbs can be harmful for lupus patients and should be avoided. These include herbs that may stimulate the immune system, like astragalus and echinacea.

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