Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE)

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (commonly known as SLE) is an autoimmune condition. The most common symptom are painful joints, but the whole body can be affected by SLE, including kidneys, spleen and lungs.

Symptoms can arrive slowly or rapidly, gently or savagely. Hair loss frequently occurs during the active phases. A telltale sign is a red rash over the bridge of the nose and both cheeks, known as malar butterfly erythema. (Malar means cheekbones; ‘butterfly’ refers to the shape of the rash; and erythema just means red.)

Why Me?

  • No-one has a good explanation for why nearly 90 per cent of those afflicted with SLE are young women. The condition may be triggered by female hormones, as the disease is more common during pregnancy and the period immediately following childbirth.
  • There is some evidence that certain medications may trigger SLE such as antibiotics, procainamine, blood pressure medication and the oral contraceptive pill.
  • Food or chemical sensitivities may have a role in SLE.
  • A past history of ‘growing pains’ is not uncommon in those diagnosed with SLE.

What To Do

SLE can be extremely debilitating. Many people who have SLE take cortisone to reduce the inflammation and hopefully, to halt the course of the disease. If you wish to try natural therapies along with your prescribed medication, first talk to your doctor. Take natural medicine in small amounts at first and in conjunction with the pharmaceutical medication, then (depending on your doctor’s recommendations) slowly reduce the pharmaceutical medication only when you have stabilised or seen some improvement with the natural remedies.


  • There is much to be gained, and little to be lost by investigating the possibility of food or chemical sensitivities. See Food Allergy.
  • Avoid coffee, margarine and all milk products.
  • Eat organically-grown food wherever possible. The aim here is to avoid any extraneous chemicals.
  • Eat plenty of vegetables (except alfalfa sprouts which may aggravate SLE), all fruit, rice, millet, corn, fish, chicken (free range) and olive oil.
  • SLE, like another autoimmune condition, rheumatoid arthritis, may respond noticeably to therapeutic fasting. Fasting is not to be undertaken lightly and you will need 24-hour supervision. Again, consult your doctor. However, first try a ‘juice fast’ for two or three days. During a holiday, or long weekend (do not try this when you are busy) drink only freshly-made vegetable juices. The best juices would be carrot, celery, green apple, beetroot and raw potato.

Herbs and Supplements

  • The fish oil EPA has a very beneficial effect on inflammatory diseases such as SLE. EPO is also good, and more effective when used in conjunction with EPA. Take 4 g EPO together with 2 g EPA each day.
  • Take a vitamin B complex each day.
  • Take 20 mg betacarotene twice daily.
  • Take 1000 iu of vitamin E each day.
  • The Bach flower remedy rock water is indicated for those with unreasonably high standards, a common trait among SLE sufferers.
  • Echinacea is useful in autoimmune conditions. Also drink herbal tisanes containing echinacea.

Other Steps

  • Stress plays a major role in SLE, so it is very important to learn to relax.
  • If you are on the pill, it might be worth trying alternative contraception.
  • Stay out of the sun; strong sunlight may aggravate the rash.
  • SLE lends itself well to acupuncture.

At a glance

Good food
Organic produce, all fruits and vegetables, vegetable juices.
Food to avoid
Alfalfa, coffee, alcohol.
Remedies to begin
EPA/EPO, juice fast, vitamin E.
Learn how to relax.
Do you have any unrealistic expectations? Let them go.