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  • Writer's pictureCat Calhoun

SLE - Systemic Lupus Erythematosis

SLE is an autoimmune disease that can attack the joints, skin, kidneys, heart, lungs, brain and other parts of the body. While no one knows the exact cause, it's currently thought that genetic conditions, environmental exposures, hormonal changes, and medications can trigger it. SLE is more common in women than in men and seems to affect African American and Latino/a populations more than other populations. It can occur at any age, but is most commonly seen between the ages of 15 and 44.

Symptoms vary from person to person, depending upon expression. The most noticeable sign of SLE is what is referred to as a "butterfly rash" across the nose and cheekbones. Most SLE patients also have a sensitivity to light and the sun, which makes the rash worse. Other commonly report s/sx are chest pain when taking a deep breath and unexplained fevers, weight and hair loss, mouth sores, fatigue, painful swollen joints and muscles, swollen lymph nodes, headaches, dizziness, seizures, memory problems, and behavioral changes. Many patients report a general sense of discomfort, unease, or feeling ill (malaise).

You can see other signs and symptoms also, depending on what part of the body the immune system is mistakenly attacking. I can't list all of the s/sx ever, but here is a good starter pack:

  • Brain and nervous system: Headaches, numbness and tingling sensations, seizures, vision problems, changes in personality.

  • Digestive system: Abdominal or lower abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting

  • Heart: Heart valve dysfunctions, inflammation of the heart muscle, deep chest pain.

  • Lung tissue: Dyspnea, buildup of fluid in the pleural spaces causing pain in the chest and dyspnea.

  • Skin: When only the skin is affected this is called discoid lupus. Patchy skin coloration, Raynaud's syndrome (skin changes color when it gets cold).

  • Kidneys: Edema and swelling in the legs

When a patient comes in reporting diagnosis of SLE or any other autoimmune disease, ask for lab work and test results! Some common tests include ANA (antinuclear antibody test), CBC with differential, serum creatinine, urinalysis results, and chest x-rays. There may be other test results as well.

Western medical treatments are largely palliative, offering pharmaceutical remedies for pain, corticosteroids to manage inflammation, and topical steroids to manage rashes and skin affectations.

Chinese medicine offers acupuncture, herbal, and lifestyle changes to address the underlying causes. The basic point prescription below addresses the Spleen and Stomach channels (Earth element) which nourishes and tonifies the Metal element of the Lung and Large Intestine. The Wood points (Liver and Gallbladder) nourish and tonify the Fire element (Shaoyin Heart and Kidney channels). These points also nourish marrow and calm the mind, and sooth sinews.

Add points to the basic prescription below. Choose them intelligently to guide the energy or address any other specific expressions and dysfunctions you see.

Acupuncture basic prescription

Left side:

Right side:

  • Huo Ying, Huo Zhu, Lv 6* *Master Tung's Lv 6 is needled next to the tibia on the Spleen channel rather than on the bone itself. Use your fingernail to palpate and slide the needle right next to the bone.

Herbal basics

I'm not an herbal guru and this isn't an herbal treatment page, but I can tell you this:

  • Detox the body using herbs and food therapy first! See the Food and Drink section in the writeup on Autoimmune Disease.

  • Strengthen the digestion next. Use and modify classic herbal formulas like Shen Ling Bai Zhu San.

  • Next, tonify the Spleen/Stomach and Kidney. Choose from classical formulas like Huang Lian Jie Du Tang, Shen Ling Bai Zhu San, Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang, and Liu Wei Di Huang Wan.

A Liu Wei Di Huang Wan modification from Zhong Shan Hospital to look at: sheng di huang 30 g, nu zhen zi 9 g, huang jin 12 g, xu duan 9 g, xuan shen 30 g, huang bai g, jie geng 4.5 g, xing ren 9 g, mu li 30 g, lian qiao 3 g, lu dou 12 g, hei dou 12 g.

For Kidney Yin and Yang Deficient, add: dang shen 9 g, zhi mu 9 g, wu zhu yu 9 g, du zhong 12 g, suan zao ren 9 g, hong zao 5 pieces.

For a combination of deficiency and excess: add gui zhi 3 g, zhi mu 9g, dan pi 6 g, shan zhi zi 9 g, huang qin 4.5 g, jin yin hua 9 g.

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