Using Herbs for Lupus Symptoms
Living with lupus comes with a long list of medications and harsh side effects, often worse than the symptoms themselves. The use of herbs is on the rise as people find themselves dissatisfied with modern healthcare.
History of Herbal Medicine
Ancient cultures around the world used plant seeds, berries, roots, leaves, bark, or flowers to treat and prevent disease. Herbal medicine, also known as botanical medicine, has been traced as far back as ancient China, 3000 B.C.
Herbal medicine has informed many of the medical breakthroughs of modern medicine. According to the World Health Organization, 25 percent of prescribed drugs are derived from plant compounds.
Who Has Herb Knowledge?
Using herbs for healing is a practice found in all kinds of alternative medicine.
Here are five types of practitioners who have expertise in herbs:
A herbalist is specially trained in the field of herbal medicine. Herbalists have a very focused practice consisting of plant-based modes of healing and prevention, whereas other kinds of alternative practitioners use other treatments as well.
Traditional Chinese Medicine
The National Centre for Complementary and Integrative Health states that Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) “encompasses many different practices, including acupuncture, moxibustion (burning an herb above the skin to apply heat to acupuncture points), Chinese herbal medicine, tui na (Chinese therapeutic massage), dietary therapy, and tai chi and qi gong (practices that combine specific movements or postures, coordinated breathing, and mental focus).”
TCM is a holistic approach to health and healing, tending to the mind, body, and spirit.
Homeopaths use remedies made from natural sources such as plants and minerals. According to the National Centre for Homeopathy, “it is its own unique therapeutic system… and should not be confused with herbal medicine, Chinese medicine, or other types of natural medicines.”
Originating in ancient India, Ayurvedic medicine is one of the oldest systems of medicine in the world. The National Centre for Complementary and Integrative Health describes Ayurvedic practices as follows:
“Ayurvedic physicians prescribe individualized treatments, including compounds of herbs or proprietary ingredients, and diet, exercise, and lifestyle recommendations.”
Naturopathic doctors have a minimum of seven years of post-secondary education and prescribe natural therapies that include: botanical medicine, clinical nutrition, hydrotherapy, homeopathy, naturopathic manipulation, traditional Chinese medicine/acupuncture, lifestyle counseling, health promotion, and disease prevention.
Checking a practitioner’s credentials is critical to your safety. Make sure they are registered practitioners and have recognized certification.
Pros and Cons of Herbs for Lupus
The safe use of herbs has been known to minimize and prevent symptoms in some individuals. Herbs could provide support while weaning off medications and possibly limit the need for additional medications.
Some common herbs are affordable, can be grown at home, and are easily found in grocery or drug stores.
The cost of some herbs can be high and coverage of alternative practitioner visits are limited and not universal.
According to the University of Maryland Medical Centre, herbal supplements, unlike prescription drugs, can be sold without being tested. Therefore, they have not been proven safe and effective.
Many herbs have healing attributes, but there is also potential for dangerous drug reactions. It is important to let your physician/rheumatologist know of your plans before starting a herbal treatment.
Next page: Red flags when using herbs for lupus.