Natural Treatment for Lupus

Natural treatments for lupus are often used alongside conventional medical treatment. They may be used to help reduce symptoms, which can include fatigue, joint pain, and hair loss.

Lupus is an autoimmune disease that can damage the heart, lungs, blood vessels, brain, joints, skin, kidneys, and other parts of the body.

Natural lupus treatments include:

  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Anti-inflammatory herbs
  • DHEA supplements
  • Mind-body therapies

This article lists natural remedies for lupus and how they might help manage symptoms. It also covers what research has found and when to check with a healthcare provider.

Natural Treatment for Lupus Symptoms

Some natural lupus treatments have been researched, but evidence should be considered preliminary at best. However, some people find complementary therapies beneficial for controlling symptoms, which may include:

  • Fatigue
  • Skin lesions and/or a butterfly-shaped rash on the face
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Joint pain and swelling
  • Hair loss
  • Mouth sores
  • Chest pain
  • Depression and/or anxiety
  • Memory loss

Be sure you talk to your healthcare provider about any natural remedies you'd like to try. Some may not be safe for you or may interfere with the medications you take. Remember that even natural treatments can cause side effects.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids can curb inflammation. In addition, several studies have also found that they improve lupus symptoms.

You can increase your omega-3 intake by:

  • Eating oily fish such as salmon and sardines
  • Adding flaxseeds to foods, such as cereals, yogurts, salads, or soups
  • Taking a daily omega-3 supplement

Omega-3 fatty acids have the added benefit of improving heart health.

Fresh salmon
Claudia Totir / Getty Images

Herbal Medicine

Small but growing lines of research have found that some medicinal herbs may help curb inflammation and the lupus symptoms that come with it.

Anti-inflammatory herbs include:

You can add these herbs to food or tea/herbal infusions, or you can take them in supplement form.

Steroids and Vitamin D

Corticosteroids are powerful anti-inflammatories often used to treat lupus. They can thin your bones and raise your osteoporosis risk. Daily vitamin D and calcium supplements may help prevent this. Ask your healthcare provider whether these supplements are right for you.

DHEA

Research suggests that dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) supplements may enhance quality-of-life for people with lupus. DHEA is a steroid hormone your body needs for making estrogen and testosterone.

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. It's critical to only use DHEA under the supervision of a healthcare provider.

Mind-Body Therapies

According to early research, certain mind-body therapies may help you deal with the stress of lupus and lessen some symptoms. These therapies include:

  • Hypnotherapy
  • Guided imagery
  • Mindfulness practices
  • Electro-acupuncture and standard acupuncture
  • Yoga

To further alleviate stress, make sure to get plenty of sleep and exercise regularly. Ask a healthcare provider about the amount and types of exercise that are right for you.

Using Natural Remedies

Due to a lack of supporting research, it's too soon to recommend alternative medicine to treat lupus. In addition, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not test or regulate supplements. Therefore, 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 higher-risk populations, including:

  • People who are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • Children
  • People with medical conditions or who take medications

If you're considering alternative medicine, talk with a healthcare provider first. Self-treating a condition in lieu of standard care may have serious consequences.

Summary

Lupus is an autoimmune condition with many possible symptoms. In addition to standard medical care, some people use natural remedies, including supplements, herbs, and mind-body therapies.

It's essential to work with a healthcare provider before incorporating alternative or complementary remedies into your treatment plan.

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Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Cathy Wong
Cathy Wong is a nutritionist and wellness expert. Her work is regularly featured in media such as First For Women, Woman's World, and Natural Health.