A person's profile of their face is shown with acupuncture needles lining the entire profile, as a complementary therapy for lupus.

Complementary Therapies

During the last 15 years since my lupus diagnosis, I have always remained open-minded when it comes to trying complementary therapies and alternatives. I have tried quite a variety during this period and I wanted to share with you my experiences and how they have helped me - or perhaps not in some cases!

Limitations with lupus

Over the years my rheumatologist has tried me on many different drugs to help keep my lupus under control but sadly I seem to be one of these people that are incredibly sensitive to a lot of medications and it has been quite a tricky job to find a balance of keeping me stable without making me even sicker from the unwanted side effects that these drugs can often cause.

Due to this limitation, I was at a stage where I was pretty desperate to get some relief and it was at this point I felt like I wanted to explore what was out there.

What is complementary medicine?

Complementary medicine can be helpful for both managing the symptoms of lupus and supporting the immune system. I do feel that it is extremely important to stress that before starting any such therapies you must always consult your doctor first and have a chat with them.

I discovered that a friend of mine had some good results from seeing a naturopathic doctor to help her with an autoimmune disease so I decided to take the plunge and make an appointment. A naturopathic doctor specializes in looking at the body's own ability to heal itself with the use of many different non-invasive therapies such as diet and lifestyle changes, looking for food allergies, and treating vitamin and mineral deficiencies. My session was worth it because I discovered that I was deficient in zinc, magnesium, and vitamin D and I also had allergies to gluten and sugar. So I was able to adjust my diet accordingly and I started taking high-quality supplements. I saw positive results after a couple of weeks.

Complementary therapies I have tried

Below I will list some of the other complementary therapies that I have tried and how the results were for me:

  • Acupuncture. I started having treatments over 10 years ago and this has made the most profound difference in managing my lupus symptoms. It is an ancient Chinese practice that dates back thousands of years and it works by inserting micro-fine needles into the skin at certain points in the body and it gently unblocks the chi energy which flows around the body - when our energy gets blocked it can cause an imbalance thus causing disease and illness.
  • Aromatherapy massage. It involves using essential oils that get massaged into the skin. The oils smell amazing and have their own health properties. However, I found this caused me to feel a lot of pain and discomfort due to the massage itself being too harsh.
  • Homeopathy. It is a treatment based on the use of highly diluted substances that practitioners claim can enable the body to self-heal.1 I sadly found that this did nothing for my lupus and there were no changes.
  • Meditation. Meditation has been another hugely beneficial one for me and I try to do at least 10 minutes every day.

Looking at all the options for lupus

In conclusion, I feel that it's been an integrated approach of my lupus drugs and a complementary approach which has helped to keep my lupus stable. We are all different and what may work for one person may not work for another but I'm a big advocate in taking charge of my health by doing research, asking questions, and looking at all of the options, and by doing so I feel more empowered and in control of my health.

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