Alternative medicineBy Mayo Clinic staff
Sometimes alternative or complementary medicine may benefit people with lupus. However, these therapies are usually used with conventional medications. Discuss these treatments with your doctor before initiating them on your own. He or she can help you weigh the benefits and risks and tell you if the treatments will interfere with your current lupus medications.
Complementary and alternative treatments for lupus include:
- Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA). Supplements containing this hormone have been shown to reduce the dose of steroids needed to stabilize symptoms in some people who have lupus.
- Flaxseed. Flaxseed contains a fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid, which may decrease inflammation in the body. Some studies have found that flaxseed may improve kidney function in people who have lupus that affects the kidneys. Side effects of flaxseed include bloating and abdominal pain.
- Fish oil. Fish oil supplements contain omega-3 fatty acids that may be beneficial for people with lupus. Preliminary studies have found some promise, though more study is needed. Side effects of fish oil supplements can include nausea, belching and a fishy taste in the mouth.
- Vitamin D. There is some evidence to suggest that people with lupus may benefit from supplemental vitamin D.
- Handout on Health: Systemic lupus erythematosus. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Lupus/. Accessed Aug. 22, 2011.
- Crow MK. Systemic lupus erythematosus. In: Goldman L, et al. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2011. http://www.mdconsult.com/das/book/body/191371208-2/0/1492/0.html#. Accessed Aug. 22, 2011.
- Systemic lupus erythematosus. In: Ferri FF. Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2011: Instant Diagnosis and Treatment. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2011. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?eid=4-u1.0-B978-0-323-05610-6..C2009-0-38600-6--TOP&isbn=978-0-323-05610-6&about=true&uniqId=230100505-53. Accessed Aug. 22, 2011.
- Schur PH, et al. Diagnosis and differential diagnosis of systemic lupus erythematosus in adults. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Aug. 23, 2011.
- Hahn BH. Systemic lupus erythematosus. In: Longo DL, et al. Harrison's Online. 18th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=4. Accessed Aug. 23, 2011.
- Schur PH, et al. Overview of the therapy and prognosis of systemic lupus erythematosus in adults. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Aug. 23, 2011.
- Moder KG (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Aug. 25, 2011.
- Rohren CH (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Sept. 1, 2011.
- Falk RJ, et al. Indications for renal biopsy in patients with lupus nephritis. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Sept. 1, 2011.
- Whittier WL, et al. Indications for and complications of renal biopsy. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Sept. 1, 2011.
- Haija AJ, et al. The role and effect of complementary and alternative medicine in systemic lupus erythematosus. Rheumatic Disease Clinics of North America. 2011;37:47.
- Systemic lupus erythematosus. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. http://www.naturaldatabase.com. Accessed Aug. 23, 2011.