Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) can cause damage to various parts of the body including skin, joints, and organs. As an autoimmune disease, the body cannot tell the difference between foreign invaders (like viruses or bacteria) and healthy tissues. The antibodies will attack and destroy healthy tissues, which can lead to inflammation, pain, and organ damage. Typical treatment of such disorders includes medications that can have harmful side effects such as anti-inflammatories, chemotherapeutics, and immunosuppressive agents. These treatments can provide relief for patients, but they’re only treating the symptoms of a disorder and not truly getting at the heart of the condition and it’s roots.
Lupus is a chronic disease that can wreak havoc on the daily lives of those who suffer from it, but this doesn’t have to be the case any longer.
Lactobacillus Probiotic Lupus Treatment
Researchers have been focused on studying healthy gut bacteria and probiotics in their treatment of various autoimmune disorders, including lupus. Significant results have been found that could change the treatment of these disorders. Studies published in the Applied and Environmental Microbiology journals report that gut bacteria, specifically Lactobacillus species, reduced symptoms of lupus significantly; while other strains of gut bacteria, such as Lachnospiraceae, worsened symptoms.
By studying the various bacteria present in the gut of mice, these studies showed that the gut bacteria played a highly important role in the presence of lupus within the different mice. These results suggest that altering the type of gut bacteria present can help reduce symptoms of lupus and ultimately place the disease in remission.
Probiotic Supplements Can Reduce Symptoms
In my opinion patients, with lupus should consume Lactobacillus-containing probiotics to increase the healthy gut bacteria and help fight symptoms of lupus. It’s best to take a probiotic supplement rather than attempt to get enough of the needed Lacotobacillus from food sources such as yogurt, as BILLIONS daily are recommended for maximum results.
Most yogurt products contain about ONE MILLION bacteria, although the exact amount is not stated on the label.
For initial probiotic support, I recommend Diamond Nutritionals’ Ultra Probiotic Formula (225 billion CFU), one packet a day for two months. This may be taken longer, if needed. This is followed by Diamond Nutritionals’ Probiotic Formula (20 billion CFU), one capsule daily (for maintenance) to support healthy flora balance in the gastrointestinal tract. Not only do these supplements not need refrigeration (thanks to BioShield technology) like many probiotic products, these special probiotic blends are completely free of dairy, gluten, and soy. They are also designed to pass through stomach acid unharmed to be delivered to the intestinal tract (again due to very advanced BioShield technology). Just one dose a day will promote healthy bacteria in the gut and help to keep lupus symptoms at bay. These probiotic supplements are not only beneficial for lupus, they also help treat allergies and eczema, symptoms many lupus patients also have.
How do the right probiotics help?
I am glad you asked that question! Remember, 80% of our immune system resides in our gastrointestinal tract. When inflammation is present, the tight junctions and intestinal barrier become damaged, causing gaps in the lining of the GI tract. Then, the molecules of foods and toxins are able to pass through these gaps ( the tight junctions are not so tight anymore!) where they are absorbed into the bloodstream and transported throughout the body. (Think of a window screen with holes in it. The holes would allow flies, and other tiny critters, to come right in). These byproducts were never meant to be absorbed into the body. This is known as leaky gut syndrome. These tiny molecules cause a big reaction in the body. The result often includes joint inflammation, autoimmune disorders, food sensitivities, skin disorders, fatigue, and depression. The right probiotics, along with proper diet and lifestyle, help make both the tight junctions and mucosal barrier function again.
All of this is easily measured on a test I frequently recommend. It is the Doctor’s Data Comprehensive Stool Analysis x 3. This convenient test kit is sent to your home, and you simply send it back in the prepaid mailer to Doctor’s Data Laboratory. No doctor’s order is needed for this test. The results may be securely accessed by you and any doctor you designate.
Nothing Beats A Nutritious Diet
While probiotics need to be added to the diet, also make sure that other factors are not negatively contributing to the lupus symptoms. Diet is especially important to stave off the recurrence of lupus episodes. A well-balanced, nutritious diet that contains plenty of fresh organic fruits and vegetables, along with moderate amounts of organic fish, meats, and poultry is a great start. It is also important to drink at least eight glasses of pure water daily. It is important to avoid processed foods as much as possible.
Omega-3 fatty acids found in wild-caught salmon have been proven to decrease coronary artery disease and lower blood pressure, along with decreasing inflammation resulting from autoimmune disease. Eating plenty of these types of foods rich in nutrients can help to counteract the autoimmune disease symptoms greatly. No specific food groups have been shown to worsen lupus symptoms in all patients. However, foods that an individual believes have shown to worsen symptoms should be avoided.
It is very difficult to get a therapeutic amount of omega-3 fatty acids (DHA and EPA) each day without taking a supplement. For my patients, I recommend a combined DHA/EPA of 2,000-4,000 mgs. per day. Be sure to look at the back of the bottle, not the front, to get an accurate count of DHA and EPA. Also, look for triple distillation (to eliminate heavy metals such as mercury), and short catch-to-capsule time. Fish oil quickly oxidizes and becomes rancid. This can create problems rather than help them. Diamond Nutritional’s Balanced Omega Formula meets, and exceeds, these requirements. I recommend four a day. They may be taken at once, or taken two twice a day.
In my patients dealing with any autoimmune disease, I also recommend completely eliminating gluten-containing products for sixty days to see if symptoms improve. Symptoms often improve greatly, and I then recommend eliminating them from the diet permanently.
Other Recommendations To Help Lupus
- Get enough rest! At least 8-9 hours of sleep a night
- Exercise regularly, but avoid extreme fatigue
- Do not smoke- this increases cardiovascular disease and worsens the effects of lupus on blood vessels
- Limit alcohol use
- Seek medical counseling when considering getting pregnant
- Reduce stress and use relaxation methods
- Build a support network of friends and family
- In addition to a well-rounded, high quality vitamin and mineral supplement, I also recommend Vitamin D3 5,000 IU once daily. The ideal target is to keep blood levels in the 70-100 ng./ml. range for optimal benefits. Be sure to have your doctor check your level. Some patients need more than 5,000 IU daily.
For more information about lupus and probiotics, send me a message to discuss your supplement and/or health questions. I will be glad to speak with you.