Alternative Treatment Methods for Lupus

May 7th 2016

Alternative treatments for lupus typically seek to manage symptoms rather than to cure the disease. Before seeking out any alternative or complementary treatment of lupus, a patient should always consult with her doctor. In particular, many herbal supplements touted as providing relief for lupus symptoms are untested and unproven. They may have limited effectiveness, and they could interact with other treatments and drugs to cause even greater problems.


Some lupus patients find that when they take supplements containing dehydroepiandrosterone, commonly known as DHEA, they're able to cut back on the steroids controlling their symptoms. The omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil supplements also show promise in treating lupus, as does vitamin D. Primrose oil, S-adenosylmethionine and flaxseed oil may also have anti-inflammatory properties that help relieve lupus symptoms.

However, some herbal supplements can make lupus symptoms worse. For instance, lupus patients, who have overactive immune systems already, should avoid taking echinacea, an herbal supplement that provides an unneeded boost to the immune system. Because of the danger of creating new problems, a lupus patient should only begin treatment with supplements after discussing her own case with her doctor. In addition, some supplements may interfere with the proper working of prescribed medications. Don't stop taking prescribed traditional medicine in favor of supplements.

Pain Relief

Most doctors recommend a traditional course of non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen or aspirin to treat the inflammation and pain of lupus. However, because these drugs can have unwanted side effects, often lupus patients turn to alternative methods of pain control, such as acupuncture, which shows some signs of efficacy in treating lupus pain. Meditation and biofeedback also some show value in pain management. In addition, the time-tested pain relief methods of hot and cold compresses can often provide immediate pain relief to lupus patients.

Body Work and Exercise

A massage by a licensed massage therapist can help ease the swelling and joint pain sometimes associated with lupus. If you have a version of lupus that affects the skin, however, you should avoid massage therapy, as it can cause severe bruising. While some recommend chiropractic work to aid lupus patients, its use is controversial and its efficacy is unproven. Beginner yoga classes prove effective for many lupus patients seeking to loosen up their joints.


Lupus is an autoimmune disease that has no cure. While traditional medicines can try to control lupus, they do not always provide complete relief from the pain and joint swelling that the disease often causes. While some alternative treatment methods for lupus are unproven and others may even be dangerous, there are several options for lupus patients seeking some unconventional relief.

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