Systemic lupus erythematosus, also known as SLE or lupus, is a chronic inflammatory condition that can affect almost every organ in the body. Commonly, patients with lupus suffer from fatigue, fever, muscle pains, and fluctuations in weight. Perhaps the most noticeable feature of lupus is a butterfly rash that affects the nose and cheeks. In its most severe form, lupus can be life-threatening. As many as half of all patients with systemic lupus erythematosus experience some sort of kidney involvement. One feared manifestation of lupus is an inflammation of the kidney called lupus nephritis. Patients can also experience blood clots in the arteries and veins, and serious inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract, lungs, and/or heart.
There is no cure for lupus. The goals of treatment are to reduce the severity of lupus symptoms, prevent damage to organs, and improve patient quality of life. Many treatments for lupus are merely preventive. For example, patients with lupus know that staying out of the sun or using sunscreen can help prevent skin rashes that often occur during the disease. Unfortunately, the treatments that are commonly used for SLE cause serious side effects. For example, steroids can help control flares, but they are not suitable for long-term use. Immunosuppressants are sometimes helpful, but they can increase a patient’s risk of infection. Newer biologics such as belimumab and rituximab are more selective treatments, but are not helpful for most patients and remain relatively expensive.
Not surprisingly, many patients with systemic lupus erythematosus are unsatisfied with their current treatments. This is frustrating for patients, families, and doctors. Thus, researchers have started testing stem cell therapy to determine if this novel treatment could be effective for treating lupus.
In one such clinical study, scientists collected mesenchymal stem cells from umbilical cord tissue (the substance that usually gets thrown away as medical waste after a baby is born). They then infused the purified stem cells into patients with SLE who had a difficult-to-treat disease (i.e., patients had failed to find relief of SLE symptoms from standard treatments or had life-threatening complications from the condition). The scientists then followed the patients for about eight months on average, though some patients were followed for as many as 28 months after stem cell treatment.
Patients treated with mesenchymal stem cells showed dramatic improvements in a measure of lupus disease activity called the SLEDAI. In fact, patients enjoyed significant improvements in as little as one month after mesenchymal stem cell treatment. This effect lasted for up to two years in some patients. Moreover, patients treated with umbilical cord-derived stem cells had improvements in kidney function and lost less protein in their urine. Impressively, patients treated with stem cells showed improvements in various markers associated with active lupus including serum antinuclear antibody (ANA), anti-double-stranded DNA (anti‐dsDNA) antibody, serum complement C3 and C4, and albumin levels. Patients with lupus know that these blood markers are used to track the severity of the condition.
While one person had severe nausea during stem cell infusion, this passed quickly, and no other treatment-related side effects occurred. In fact, stem cell treatment was well tolerated by all patients in the study. These remarkable results will, of course, need to be repeated and verified in larger clinical trials. Nevertheless, the dramatic improvements seen with umbilical cord mesenchymal stem cells in patients with difficult-to-treat lupus are impressive. While more work needs to be done, patients and doctors are now looking toward stem cell treatments in the hope that this terrible disease can finally be treated effectively.
Reference: Lingyun, S. et al. (2010). Umbilical cord mesenchymal stem cell transplantation in severe and refractory systemic lupus erythematosus. Wiley Online Library. 2010 https://doi.org/10.1002/art.27548.
Systemic lupus erythematosus or simply “lupus” is a chronic inflammatory disease that can affect almost every organ and tissue in the body. Most people are aware of chronic fatigue, muscle and joint pain, and a characteristic facial skin rash that occurs in people with lupus. However, the disease can affect the gastrointestinal tract, lungs, heart, eyes, lymph nodes, and brain. About half of all people with lupus will develop problems in their kidneys related to the disease. The most common kidney problem caused by lupus is a condition known as lupus nephritis.
Lupus nephritis may not cause any outward symptoms, though some patients report foamy urine. Physicians usually detect lupus nephritis during routine urinalysis. Lupus nephritis causes the kidneys to leak substantial amounts of protein in the urine. Over time, this protein loss can cause swelling in the hands, ankles, and feet, and may interfere with kidney function.
The main way in which lupus nephritis is treated is by using strong immunosuppressants such as glucocorticoids (“steroids”; prednisone), cyclophosphamide or mycophenolate mofetil. These immunosuppressing drugs can cause a number of serious and perhaps permanent side effects. Making matters worse, some people with lupus continue to have worsening lupus nephritis even after using these immunosuppressive drugs. In these cases, there is very little that can be done to treat the disease.
In order to help this group of individuals for whom regular treatments did not stop lupus nephritis from progressing, researchers conducted a clinical trial to test the effect of stem cells on this illness. Researchers collected allogeneic mesenchymal stem cells from bone marrow and umbilical cord tissue. They then infused the stem cells in 81 patients with lupus nephritis and followed them for 12 months. Amazingly, 60.5% of patients enjoyed remission of their kidney disease by the 12-month visit. Kidney function (glomerular filtration rate; GFR) significantly improved in patients treated with mesenchymal stem cells. Likewise, total lupus disease activity (not just lupus nephritis) improved significantly 12 months after treatment. These improvements were so profound that patients were able to reduce their doses of prednisone and other immune-suppressing drugs. Importantly, the stem cells did not cause any apparent adverse effects.
If this work can be confirmed in subsequent clinical trials, it is exciting news for patients with lupus, especially those with lupus nephritis. This work suggests that stem cells may be able to reduce the doses of immunosuppressants currently used to treat lupus nephritis, and it may even stop the progression of this terrible illness in some patients. We eagerly await additional clinical research in this area.
Reference: Gu F et al. (2014). Allogeneic mesenchymal stem cell transplantation for lupus nephritis patients refractory to conventional therapy. Clinical Rheumatology. 2014 Nov;33(11):1611-9.
Colostrum is the milk produced by the mammary glands during pregnancy prior to giving birth. It is rich in antibodies that help prevent the newborn from various conditions. Colostrum as compared to normal milk contains a high amount of nutrients and fat, making it highly beneficial.
The most important thing to know about colostrum is that it is not a medication. It is a naturally designed food that maintains the health and prevents conditions. Colostrum is effective for shutting down the onset of conditions and infections, which helps the body to repair itself and allows the individual to enjoy a healthy and radiant life.
Colostrum is the Key to Gut Health
Colostrum is the source of everything that is required to maintain a healthy gastrointestinal tract. It is known that most of our conditions take birth in the gut and proper absorption of nutrients is the key to great health. It is one of the primary function of colostrum to maintain a healthy gut, which is the basis of the overall healthy body.
When the beneficial bacteria present in our intestine is outnumbered by the harmful bacteria then our gut is said to be out of balance. This imbalance has many consequences, one of which is the leaky gut syndrome.
Leaky gut syndrome is a condition due to which various pathogens and toxins pass through the lining of the gut and move freely in the body, this leads to various conditions. Leaky gut syndrome, if not treated can be a life-threatening condition.
Colostrum is an optimal treatment for treating leaky gut syndrome because it has growth factors that help repair the damage of the intestine to normal. It is also rich in immunoglobulins that control the pestering of fungi and bacteria in the body. In various conducted studies colostrum has successfully increased the surface area of the lining of the intestine, thereby improving the absorption of nutrients.
Colostrum: The Perfect & Functional Food
Looking at all the immune and growth factors that are present in colostrum, it is called the best alternative to pharmaceutical drugs, from steroids and antibiotics. Colostrum is also safe for people suffering from lactose intolerance and has no allergic reactions or side effects.
A functional food is one that has potential health benefits compared to normal food and is high in nutrients. Colostrum is high in nutrients and can be combined with other food products. It is most effective when taken on an empty stomach. Available in the form of capsules, colostrum is more effective and bioavailable.
Colostrum for Autoimmune Conditions:
Autoimmune conditions are those in which the body starts producing antibodies against itself. Colostrum has shown to be highly effective to treat autoimmune conditions like Lupus, Parkinson’s disease, and Multiple Sclerosis. Chemokine receptors have been observed to be the cause of the development of all these conditions. Colostrum produces antagonists of these receptors and has been shown to decrease the symptoms of many common autoimmune conditions.
Colostrum Used as a Topical Application:
Colostrum, if applied externally can help heal the burns, acne, cuts and various abrasions and even surgical cuts. If applied orally, it can help deal with sensitive teeth relieve canker sores and gingivitis.
Some Overall Benefits of Colostrum are:
Below is a list of some common conditions for which colostrum can be effective:
Bone marrow transplant
Intestinal bowel syndrome
Where Can I Find Colostrum?
If you have any symptoms suggestive of gastro-intestinal dysbiosis (diarrhea, constipation, bloating, reflux, stomach discomfort or pain) then you should seek further work-up by your physician or a Functional Medicine Doctor.
In the meantime, it is recommended to start using Bovine Colostrum which can be found at Sovereign Laboratories at www.mysovlabs.com. Simply mix 2 tablespoons in 6oz of water and consume twice per day on an empty stomach. This product is full of gut healing immunoglobulins. Use for 2-3 months should result in significant improvement.
In addition, it is also recommended to take a good probiotic while using your bovine colostrum. Vitamin D levels should be optimized to levels between 80-100.
Lupus is a chronic inflammatory disorder in which a person’s immune system attacks otherwise healthy tissue and organs. Its symptoms can be tremendously painful, and because there is still a great deal of mystery surrounding the disorder, further research is needed to help experts find a cure. May is Lupus Awareness Month and we’re here to raise awareness with a few lupus facts. By becoming an informed lupus advocate, you can join the global movement to fight this chronic disease.
A Closer Look at Lupus
Lupus impairs the immune system’s ability to differentiate among healthy tissues and foreign invaders, such as viruses, bacteria, and germs. As a result, healthy tissue is attacked, which causes widespread pain and damage throughout the body.
Women of childbearing age comprise the largest population of individuals living with lupus, but men, teenagers, and children can also develop the illness. It is often developed between the ages of 15 and 44, and although no studies have been conducted to determine the precise number of affected individuals, research from the Lupus Foundation of America indicates at least 1.5 million Americans have the disease.
What Are the Symptoms of Lupus?
Since the impact of lupus is not concentrated to a specific area or functionality of the body, it can produce a broad range of symptoms, many of which can be mistakenly attributed to other conditions. In fact, the disease is often called the “great imitator,” since it produces symptoms similar to fibromyalgia, Lyme disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and hypothyroidism.
Headaches, pain or swelling in the joints, extreme fatigue, and fever are just a few of the most common symptoms associated with lupus. Individuals may also experience what’s known as the “lupus rash,” which often manifests in a butterfly-like pattern across the face. Sensitivity to sunlight, hair loss, swelling in the extremities, anemia, abnormal blood clotting, and mouth ulcers are additional symptoms to watch for.
How is Lupus Diagnosed?
In addition to its broad set of symptoms, another barrier to diagnosing lupus is the fact that there is not yet a single diagnostic test for detecting the disease. Antinuclear antibody (ANA) tests are the most common methods used to test for lupus, but this is not a disease-specific analysis. Oftentimes, many tests must be performed to help doctors assess whether an individual has lupus, and even then, establishing a definitive diagnosis is challenging. Other symptoms must be assessed to help doctors ascertain whether an individual has lupus versus one of the conditions it is known to imitate.
While researchers still have yet to pinpoint a specific cause for the disease, it is speculated that it results from a combination of factors, including a person’s environment and genetics. In fact, there are more than 50 genes associated with lupus, and while these genes alone are not thought to be responsible for causing lupus, it is likely they are contributing risk factors.
What Are Some Available Treatments?
Despite the lack of a cure, the symptoms of lupus can be managed by avoiding known triggers, working with specialists including rheumatologists, and taking certain medications. Supplemental therapies may also be used to treat the conditions associated with the disease, such as diuretics to alleviate fluid retention and blood pressure medications to treat hypertension. Stem cell therapy is also an available alternative option for those with lupus. Because the condition affects each person differently, many individuals find treating their specific set of symptoms is the most effective way to manage lupus.
Reduce Stress to Avoid Flare-Ups
Recent clinical trials show that increased stress can really worsen the symptoms. Effectively managing the stress is highly beneficial to manage with lupus in daily life. One big way to start is by identifying the cause of stress.
Some recommendations to deal with stress are:
- Don’t hesitate to ask for help when your symptoms get worse
- Take up activities that help you stay relaxed and calm
- Take out time for yourself more often during the week
Maintain a Healthy Diet for Your Heart
Research shows that lupus leads to a risk of heart disease. It is important to maintain a diet that is heart healthy. Your diet should incorporate more of:
- Protein like fish and poultry
- Whole grains
Getting plenty of calcium and limiting sodium intake in diet is also very beneficial.
Improve Your Sleep
One of the most common symptoms of lupus is chronic fatigue and the worsening of symptoms can really make it hard to fall sleep. It is recommended to get a minimum of 7 hours of sleep and also rest from time to time during the day.
Avoid Too Much Sunlight
Majority of lupus patients have high sensitivity to ultraviolet light. Spending too much time out in the sun can give rise to a flare-up. It is also observed that lupus medications can heighten the body’s sensitivity UV light. It is essential to wear a sunblock when going out in the sun.
Lupus affects the joints of the body and exercising on a regular basis is a great way to keep the joints healthy, promote stronger muscles, avoid stiffness, control weight and also help control fatigue.
Make sure to consult with a doctor prior to any exercise routines as some specific exercises can cause swollen joints and pain.
Exercise also improves your mental health. Dealing with a condition like lupus often leads to clinical depression. Exercise can help improve the symptoms. Research shows that people who engaged in any kind of simple kind of physical activity had lower levels of depression.
Almost 90% of studies suggest that exercise can reduce fatigue, including exercise in your daily routine can really help with the symptoms of lupus like feeling run-down and sluggish by increasing the body’s energy levels.
Another benefit for increased exercise is improving the side effects caused by medications. Lupus medications have various side effects, most common of which is weight gain. They can also increase your blood pressure, sugar and cholesterol. Taking steroids also increases the appetite.
Below are some tips to exercise safely and under medical advice.
- Take it slow
- Talk to your doctor
- Participate in low impact exercise
- Keep an exercise journal
A recent study published in Clinical and Experimental Medicine provides new evidence that mesenchymal stem cell transplantation may be a safe treatment option for patients who suffer from systemic lupus erythematosus and who do not respond to conventional treatments like immunosuppressive drugs and steroids. Previous studies that have examined the efficacy and safety of mesenchymal stem cell therapy for lupus patients have suggested that the procedure is safe. In those studies, few if any adverse side effects have been observed.
Given the promise of mesenchymal stem cells for treating systemic lupus erythematosus, the scientists conducting the current study wanted to more comprehensively evaluate the technique’s safety. They studied 9 patients with systemic lupus erythematosus who were not responding to immunosuppressive drugs or steroids. The patients underwent umbilical cord mesenchymal stem cell transplantation and were evaluated immediately following the procedure and again 6 years earlier.
To evaluate safety, the researchers performed tests of the blood, urine, and liver. They also checked the heart with electrocardiograms, did chest radiography, looked at white blood cell and platelet counts, and checked for markers of cancer. None of the tests the researchers performed demonstrated adverse side effects of the umbilical cord mesenchymal stem cell transplantation either immediately after or 6 years after the procedure. One patient experienced a warm sensation with dizziness following the transplantation, but no patients experienced headaches, nausea, or vomiting.
These results help to bolster the idea that mesenchymal stem cells may provide a safe therapeutic option for systemic lupus erythematosus patients who do not respond to conventional therapies. Studies that evaluate both longer-term safety of the procedure as well as its efficacy in improving the symptoms and progression of lupus will help scientists and clinicians better understand how stem cell regiments can be used to help lupus patients.
To learn more about stem cell therapy for lupus patients, click here.