Medically Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD on September 07, 2022
Consider Your Alternatives

Consider Your Alternatives

1/12

Many people with lupus try complementary or alternative ways to manage the disease and its symptoms. Studies show half of people with lupus have tried some form of complementary medicine.

Ask Your Doctor First

Ask Your Doctor First

2/12

Vitamins, supplements, or various mind-body approaches might help you feel better or boost your mood. But keep in mind there’s not much evidence to show how well or whether they work for lupus. Plus, it’s always a good idea to check with your doctor first before trying something new.

Acupuncture

Acupuncture

3/12

Acupuncture could help with pain. Some studies tested the treatment against a fake procedure meant to mimic it and found the real thing did provide some relief. That means might help with achy muscles and joints when you have lupus. One small study suggested it could be useful and safe. But there’s not much evidence about how well it works.

Tai Chi

Tai Chi

4/12

Tai chi involves slow, gentle movements and postures. It keeps your body moving while you meditate. The practice may improve your general well-being. A small study in people with lupus suggested it might help with stress and inflammation. But we need more research to know how much it helps.

Meditation

Meditation

5/12

Meditation has been shown to help people with chronic pain and illness. You may consider signing up for training in mindfulness-based stress reduction. This program focuses on meditation and can help with feelings of distress and pain when you have a chronic condition like lupus. One study showed it helped with quality of life in people with lupus and kidney disease.

Biofeedback

Biofeedback

6/12

Another study tested a stress-reduction program involving cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and biofeedback. Biofeedback is a way to increase your body awareness and help you relax. The study showed that the biofeedback and CBT improved pain and mental health for some people with lupus. It also made them feel as though they could function better.

Vitamins and Supplements

Vitamins and Supplements

7/12

There’s some evidence that vitamins and other supplements might help with lupus disease activity and conditions that sometimes come along with it, like osteoporosis and heart disease. Keep in mind that over-the-counter products aren’t regulated in the same way as medicines. So it’s best to get vitamins from the food you eat.

  • Vitamin D: May help prevent osteoporosis, improve heart health, and boost immune system. Get it from fortified cereals, milk, or fatty fish.
  • Vitamin C: Might help prevent cell damage and lower heart disease risk. You’ll find it in citrus fruits, spinach, broccoli, bell peppers, strawberries, and tomatoes.
  • Vitamin B6: Can lower lupus disease activity. You can find it in meat, fish, and legumes.
  • Vitamin E: Could tamp down inflammation. It’s found in leafy greens and nuts.
  • Fish oil: Anti-inflammatory; helps ward off heart disease. Look for cold-water fish like herring, mackerel, and salmon.
Probiotics

Probiotics

8/12

Probiotics are healthy bacteria, yeast, or other microbes. They can help you break down food and protect your gut health. But do they help with lupus? The health of your gut can influence your immune system and may play a role in autoimmune diseases including lupus. There’s some limited evidence in animals and people suggesting that probiotics might help, but talk to your doctor to make sure it’s OK to try.

Yoga

Yoga

9/12

Studies have shown yoga can improve quality of life and fatigue in people with various conditions. For instance, there’s growing evidence for yoga’s benefits in people with arthritis. One small study found that it would be feasible to study yoga for people with lupus. It’s likely safe enough to try yoga and see how it makes you feel. But so far, it’s ability to help manage lupus and related symptoms hasn’t been proven.

Massage

Massage

10/12

Massage therapists use their fingers, hands, and elbows to press and move your muscle and soft tissue. There haven’t been any studies looking at how helpful massage is when you have lupus. But it might still be OK to try and see if it feels good to you. One case report of a 41-year-old woman with lupus showed that a combination of acupuncture and massage helped with pain, sleepiness, and sleep quality.

Guided Imagery

Guided Imagery

11/12

In guided imagery, you’ll use your mind and imagination to visualize healing images. The images can focus on an activity, a part of your body, or your general well-being. You might also focus on your breath and scan your body to release tension. There’s some evidence this practice can help people cope with illnesses. While guided imagery probably won’t change your lupus, it may help you relax and feel more at ease. Some case studies in people with autoimmune disorders also suggest imagery and hypnosis may even influence the immune system.

Chiropractic Medicine

Chiropractic Medicine

12/12

Chiropractic medicine relies on your body’s own ability to heal. A licensed professional will use different methods to stretch and move your spine or other joints. The goal is to improve your ability to move and function. Chiropractic medicine is a popular form of complementary medicine and it may be safe for you to try. It might help you feel better, but it hasn’t been studied in people with lupus. 

Show Sources

IMAGES PROVIDED BY:

1) Delmaine Donson / Getty Images

2) rubberball / Getty Images

3) doglikehorse / Getty Images

4) Ulza / Getty Images

5) Alejandra de la Fuente / Getty Images

6) Will & Deni McIntyre / Science Source

7) Akaradech Pramoonsin / Getty Images

8) ARTUR PLAWGO / Science Source

9) Antonio_Diaz / Getty Images

10) Maria Chichina / EyeEm / Getty Images

11) Pheelings Media / Getty Images

12) Shestock / Getty Images

 

SOURCES:

Current Rheumatology Reports: “Updated Review of Complementary and Alternative Medicine Treatments for Systemic Lupus Erythematosus.”

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health: “Chiropractic: In Depth.”

Kaleidoscope Fighting Lupus: “Lupus and Chiropractic Care.”

Lupus: “Acupuncture for systemic lupus erythematosus: a pilot RCT feasibility and safety study.”

Lupus Foundation of America: “Introduction to yoga, tai chi, and pilates for lupus,” “Lupus nutrition FAQs.”

Lupus UK: “Complementary and Alternative (CAM) Treatments of Lupus.”

Journal of the Medical Association of Thailand: “Role of meditation in reducing sympathetic hyperactivity and improving quality of life in lupus nephritis patients with chronic kidney disease."

Arthritis and Rheumatism (Arthritis Care & Research): “Effects of Stress-Reduction Program on Psychological Function, Pain, and Physical Function of Systemic Lupus Erythmatosus Patients: A Randomized Controlled Trial.”

FDA: “Dietary Supplements.”

Cleveland Clinic: “Probiotics.”

Immunology: “Intestinal dysbiosis and probiotic applications in autoimmune diseases.”

Complementary Therapies in Medicine: “Yoga for systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE): Clinician experiences and qualitative perspectives from students and yoga instructors living with SLE.”

Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine: “Effects of acupuncture and massage on pain, quality of sleep and health related quality of life in patient with systemic lupus erythematosus.”

Hospital for Special Surgery: “Relaxation Imagery and Lupus: How It Can Help.”

American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis: “Mind-body hypnotic imagery in the treatment of auto-immune disorders.”

Journal of Reviews in Clinical Medicine: “Vitamin E and Autoimmune Diseases: A Narrative Review.”

U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: “Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025.”

Harvard Health Publishing: “The best foods for vitamins and minerals.”

Cleveland Clinic: “The Best Sources of Omega-3 Fatty Acids.”