Some therapies that focus on relaxation can help you cope with having a
long-lasting (chronic) disease and may significantly improve your quality of
life. These relaxation therapies include yoga,
guided imagery, and massage.
About 1.5 million Americans have lupus (systemic lupus erythematosus, or SLE), the most common form), according to the Lupus Foundation of America. The majority, 90%, are women, who usually develop the disease between ages 15 and 44. African-American, Hispanic, and Asian women have a higher risk. Eliza Chakravarty, MD, assistant professor of medicine in the division of immunology and rheumatology at Stanford University School of Medicine, sheds light on a disease you might not know much about.
therapies now being studied are meant to change how the
immune system works so that they can keep the disease
from progressing. These newer treatments include stem cell transplantation and
Immunoablation with or without stem cell transplantationstem cell transplantation is
being studied as a treatment for severe lupus that has not been controlled with all other treatments. Immunoablation uses powerful
drugs to wipe out the damaged immune system. After immunoablation, either the
bone marrow is allowed to replace itself, or it is partially replaced through a
stem cell transplant. The transplant replaces damaged or destroyed bone marrow
cells with healthy cells, or stem cells. Stem cells are immature cells that are
produced in the bone marrow. They can divide to produce more stem cells. Or they can
mature into red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. More study of
these treatments for lupus is needed.
Biologic treatment blocks specific steps in the
autoimmune process without suppressing the entire
immune system. Researchers are currently experimenting with very specific
substances, such as antibodies and nucleotides, that block certain steps
of the autoimmune process. Rituximab is an antibody directed against
certain immune cells that may have a role in lupus. It is approved for treating
rheumatoid arthritis. Studies are looking at the use of rituximab for lupus. It
is beginning to be used for lupus flares that have not responded to other
immunosuppressive therapies. In some cases, rituximab has been associated with
serious side effects such as breathing difficulty, heart problems, or severe
infection. So the use of rituximab is closely watched.
called prasterone in the United States) is an androgenic dietary supplement
that is derived from the wild yam. Experts suggest only using
pharmaceutical-grade (versus "natural") DHEA. Results of research are mixed. But most studies show the drug has no more impact on the lupus itself than a placebo.2 The most common side effects of DHEA are acne and facial hair
growth in women and hair loss in men. Because this supplement is a hormonal
substance, talk to your doctor before using it. And have your DHEA blood levels
checked every 6 months. Long-term effects are not known.