Lupus: Understanding The Invisible Disease

On the 10th of May, people all over the globe celebrate the 15th annual observance of World Lupus Day. This is a disease which affects approximately 5 million people worldwide. The majority of people, however, are unaware of its existence and the impact it has on those who suffer from it. The World Lupus Federation illustrates that, while 1.7 million people suffer from meningitis in comparison, 30% of people believe that meningitis is more common than lupus.

We spoke to Dr Sly Nedic, a WOSAAM (World Organization Society of Anti-Aging Medicine) board-certified anti-aging physician and a certified preventive genetics diplomat, to explain this condition from an integrative medical perspective.

Understanding Lupus – what is it exactly?

“Lupus is a systemic autoimmune disease that happens when your body’s overstimulated immune system attacks your own tissues and organs,” explains Dr Nedic. “Organs that are usually affected are the skin, joints, kidney, blood cells, brain, heart, lungs, etc. and it can lead to serious results. The patient can have vague symptoms even ten years before the disorder becomes apparent. This could be anything from malaise, fatigue, headache, joint pain, dry eyes, pain, and aches, etc. During that period it is crucial to confirm the diagnosis in order to prevent severe organ damage.”

How does it develop?

“Lupus, like all other autoimmune conditions, is formed by the combination of genetic predisposition and environmental factors. After studies showed that, in identical twins, there is a 25% chance of developing lupus in a second twin, the spotlight was on environmental factors. Moreover, autoimmunity is now the leading disorder worldwide, before cancers and cardiovascular disorders. From a functional medicine point of view, these environmental factors are major triggers for over-activity of immune systems: toxins, infections, stress, food and nutrients depletion and certain medications. This is a very simplified description of underlying factors, but in essence, compromised detoxification with leaky gut are two major reasons for perpetuating this process. The fact that it is more common in women, heighten the importance of estrogen as a contributing factor. That is why eliminating toxic estrogen metabolites is one of the supporting treatments for controlling lupus.”

What does lupus treatment generally entail?

“From Functional and Integrative medicine perspective, treatment is focused on addressing the cause and preventing further development of a disorder. An integrative approach is dedicated to primarily changing the lifestyle that made this immune system overtaxed in the first place. However, the tools used are evidence-based and dedicated to eradicating diseases, whilst not suppressing the immune system.”

How can lupus be prevented?

“Generally, if there is a family history of lupus, there is a chance of developing it, especially if environmental circumstances and lifestyle are the same. This awareness is important. Since it could be years before lupus becomes apparent, any vague symptoms should be investigated and not brushed off as psychological or stress-related symptoms.”

What advice do you have for someone living with lupus?

“Our body can go into the state of having immune system confused about which target should be attacked. That does not mean that there are no ways of removing initial triggers and re-setting the immune system. Unfortunately patients need to be extremely compliant to change these environmental factors, and that is often not the case. Living WITHOUT (not with) this disease should be a goal, and that is why early diagnose, integrative approach and dedicated patients, participation is essential.”

Want to know more?

To access the Lupus Knows No Boundaries E-Report, click here.

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