Natural Remedies for Treating Lupus

Lupus is an autoimmune disease with several types, including systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). It occurs when your immune system turns against tissues and organs throughout your body.

Known to trigger major health problems (including kidney disease, neurological dysfunction, and rheumatoid arthritis), lupus can set off inflammation and can cause damage to the heart, lungs, blood vessels, brain, joints, skin, kidneys, and other parts of the body.

While complications arising from lupus can be fatal, the disease often goes into remission, which can sometimes last for years. Since lupus can be life-threatening, it's crucial to seek medical care rather than attempting to self-treat the disease. However, you can also consult your healthcare provider about reducing your symptoms with the help of various natural remedies.

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Natural Treatments

Keep in mind that so far, scientific support for that claim that any form of alternative medicine can treat lupus is lacking. These are some proposed complementary therapies.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Shown to curb inflammation, omega-3 fatty acids have been found to improve symptoms in lupus patients in several studies. You can increase your omega-3 intake by eating oily fish (such as salmon and sardines) or flaxseeds, or by taking a daily omega-3 supplement.

Herbal Medicine

Though not specifically studied in lupus patients, anti-inflammatory herbs like ginger and turmeric may be especially helpful for lupus patients suffering from arthritic symptoms.

Vitamin and Mineral Supplements

Corticosteroids (inflammation-fighting drugs often used in lupus treatment) may thin your bones and increase your risk of osteoporosis. To keep your bones strong while on corticosteroids, ask your healthcare provider about daily vitamin D and calcium supplements.

Mind-Body Therapies

Using mind-body techniques like hypnotherapy and guided imagery may help you deal with the stress of lupus. For more help in coping and alleviating stress, make sure to get plenty of sleep and exercise regularly. Ask your healthcare provider about the right amount and types of exercise for you.


Research suggests that dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), a steroid hormone essential to the production of estrogen and testosterone) may enhance quality-of-life for people with lupus.

While DHEA shows promise as a complementary treatment for lupus, regular use of DHEA supplements could raise your risk of heart attack and some types of cancer. Therefore, it's critical to use DHEA only under the supervision of your primary care provider.

Lupus Symptoms

Although lupus symptoms vary widely from case to case, they include:

  • Fatigue
  • Skin lesions (typically aggravated by sun exposure)
  • A butterfly-shaped rash on the face (covering the cheeks and bridge of the nose)
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Joint pain and swelling
  • Hair loss
  • Mouth sores
  • Chest pain
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Memory loss

Using Natural Remedies

Due to a lack of supporting research, it's too soon to recommend alternative medicine for the treatment of lupus. Supplements haven't been tested for safety and due to the fact that dietary supplements are largely unregulated, the content of some products may differ from what is specified on the product label.

Also keep in mind that the safety of supplements has not been established in people who are pregnant or nursing, children, and those with medical conditions or who are taking medications.

If you're considering the use of alternative medicine, talk with your primary care provider first. Self-treating a condition and avoiding or delaying standard care may have serious consequences.

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4 Sources
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  1. Greco CM, Nakajima C, Manzi S. Updated review of complementary and alternative medicine treatments for systemic lupus erythematosus. Curr Rheumatol Rep. 2013;15(11):378. doi:10.1007/s11926-013-0378-3

  2. Constantin MM, Nita IE, Olteanu R, et al. Significance and impact of dietary factors on systemic lupus erythematosus pathogenesis. Exp Ther Med. 2019;17(2):1085-1090. doi:10.3892/etm.2018.6986

  3. Yuen HK, Cunningham MA. Optimal management of fatigue in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus: a systematic review. Ther Clin Risk Manag. 2014;10:775-86. doi:10.2147/TCRM.S56063

  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Lupus symptoms.