Life With Lupus: Home remedies to try for symptoms and co-morbidities
A good day to write this article!
Woke up this morning with immense leg pain and weakness after sleeping a total of 16 hours. No changes to my medications or activity.
I've had more good days than bad recently after increasing my daily Prednisone dosage. So it will be a day for some home remedies.
Goes without saying I am not an expert or a Doctor. My articles are written based on my experiences with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) and a laundry list of comorbidities (see the end of the article for "About The Author"). I'm not here to sell you a miracle home remedy cure (I wish I had one for all of us). And to be honest I am wary of the various books for purchase and programs out there touting things like "I cured Lupus with smoothies". I hope it's true, but I remain wary.
The following home remedies are things I've tried, I've read, or were things recommended to me by others. Via trial and experimentation, these are the ones that seem to bring me some additional relief. I say "seem" because I admit it could be more of a placebo effect than relief, but heck I'll take it.
So of course check with your medical professional before trying these things. And of course, your results may vary.
I utilize 3 types of compression...
- Joint Sleeves
Compression socks were originally "prescribed" to me by a Vascular Surgeon because of poor blood flow in my legs and severe venous insufficiency in my right leg. "Prescribed" in quotes because you don't need a true prescription to buy them. Don't fall for that as I did please. My first pair cost me $75 at a Surgical Supply Store. Amazon and Walmart sell similar types for less than $15. After my Lupus diagnosis with Anti-Phospholipid Antibodies indicated a severe risk for Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT), my doctors reinforced the need to keep wearing them. I wear my compression socks daily and I find they do help the discomfort my failing veins cause and also with leg tiredness and fatigue.
I bought a low-cost pair of compression gloves (less than $7) on Amazon many years ago to try for typing and driving. Typing did not work out for me as they interfered, but for driving the gloves are an immense help. I find I have less pain in my fingers, knuckles, and palm when gripping the steering wheel. In the colder months, I find they also help reduce the severity of Raynaud's in my fingers. If you should try this, you may consider compression gloves with grip padding for driving versus smooth material.
I also bought low-cost compression knee pads (less than $10) on Amazon. I find the spandex type material helps trap in warmth around my knees when they are hurting badly from either Lupus or Osteo-arthritis. I'm wearing them right now because my knees feel like someone is drilling for oil within them. Many times I put my pain cream on, then the compression knee pads, and then I help keep the knee compression in place and from sliding with the knee-high compression socks.
This was recommended to me by another person with Lupus on a blog site, so I tried it. Soaked my legs in a warm water bathtub with the package recommended amount of salts (I tried Dr. Teal's from Walmart). Whether it's the warm water, the Epsom salts, or both, I have to say it seems to give about 6 hours of relief. As a result, I do the bath before bed to get a longer period of sleep without pain. Since I can't find the time for a relaxing bath each evening, the person on the blog also recommended purchasing the Epsom salts bubble bath liquid version and use it as a body wash in the shower. So I do that daily too. Does not seem to remotely have the same effect as the bath, but still makes for a sudsy way to get clean.
One warning - with the warm or hot water bath, be careful if you have blood pressure issues, medications that cause you to be lightheaded, balance issues, etc. I can say that when I come out of the hot or warm bath I tend to be woozy and need to lay down.
I've eaten more Ginger in the last 5 years than in my entire life. For me, it works magic with nausea and upset stomach issues. When any medications like Azathioprine or Prednisone make me queasy, I either drink Ginger tea or eat Ginger chews to alleviate nausea. Your average grocery store Ginger Ale is okay, but nothing like the tea or chews. I brew a Ginger Tea in a 64 oz. Mason type jar and keep it chilled (I prefer iced over hot beverages due to inflammation in the throat) so it's ready and on hand at all times. I usually throw in a slice of lemon too. The chews are great for travel also. I also tried crystallized ginger but found it too sharp.
As far as Ginger reducing inflammation, your experience and guess are as good as mine. Whether I consume a lot of Ginger or no Ginger, I can't tell you I feel any different from the inflammation and pain perspective.
Low Residue Diet
Credit for this one belongs to a Nutrionionist I spoke with many years ago. She taught me that when my body is in distress with inflammation in the digestive tract, the best thing I can do is stop making it work so hard and allow it time to heal. Getting my gastrointestinal tract to stop working so hard involves adopting a low residue diet. For me, that's lots and lots of Cream of Rice among other low residue foods. I find her guidance still works for me today and I've adopted it again after a recent diagnosis of gastroparesis.
For an example of a low residue diet, see this WebMD article
And finally, focus on distractions. Try to do it whatever it is that will take your mind off of your fatigue and/or pain. And that's whatever you feel up to of course. For example, if bedridden you might try losing yourself in some music, a movie, or something you can do from a phone or tablet. If you are up, but sedentary, then maybe a favorite hobby. Once again, whatever you can handle to refocus your mind on something else. I enjoy playing video games as a method of losing myself in something else. However, most days my hands hurt too much to grip the controller for long periods. On those days, playing games on a lightweight tablet (iPad for example) is preferable from a pain standpoint. If you are mobile, then chores, exercise, or puttering. Puttering being my favorite. Puttering can include rearranging things, getting organized, or fiddling with hobby-related things. Whatever you can do to stop thinking about your pain, fatigue, and situation for a short time is always welcome.
Next Week - Life With Lupus: Relating To Others
More "Life With Lupus" articles by this author...
- The Wolf Within Me
- When The Wolf Escapes
- Perhaps I'm A Better Man...Make That Wolfman?
- The Life I Lost
- Everything Hurts
- Coping At Work
- Dealing With Doctors
And related articles by this author...
- Working With Serious Or Deadly Illness?
- Biggest Surprise Working With Serious Illness
- Lupus And Raynaud's Disease
- No One Gives A Fork How Many Spoons I Have
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About The Author
I have the deadly disease known as Lupus. The version of Lupus I have is the most common, Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE). True to its name, SLE is a systemic condition throughout the body. In addition, I have Lupus Anti-Coagulant and Lupus Anti-Phospholipid which causes my Lupus to impact my blood.
So What Exactly Is Lupus?
In short and perhaps unscientific terms, SLE is my immune system betraying me and deciding to wage war upon various systems in my body. My immune system incorrectly targets these systems as enemies and marks them as invaders. Then it targets my cells, tissues, and organs in those systems for destruction. This destruction begins with the inflammation and its other biochemical weapons and agents to kill cells and shut down organs. My Lupus likes to focus on vanquishing its own perceived axis of evil in the form of my circulatory, nervous, digestive, and musculoskeletal systems.
The Wolf Within Me
Lupus is currently not curable. My Rheumatologist uses the analogy that my immune system is a wild animal that we attempt to keep caged in remission with powerful and yet toxic medications. So of course given its “Lupus”, I associate a wolf as the wild animal within me. Frequently the caged wolf is still able to take a swipe at me from within the bars of a cage. And many times the wolf breaks free to wreak havoc on me until medications are increased or added to suppress it again. These events occur despite me taking all my medications daily as instructed. My wolf has its plans for me it seems. And surprisingly enough, those plans may include me becoming a better person.