Lupus erythematosus is an umbrella term for a collection of autoimmune conditions. Lupus is one of the chronic inflammatory diseases caused by a faulty immune response, characterized by immune dysfunction and hyperactivity. This hyperactivity of the immune system leads to the attack of normal tissue, including tissues of the joints, kidneys, blood, heart and lungs. A healthy immune system can distinguish between healthy tissue and foreign invaders, but in lupus – the body signals immune responses that cause swelling, pain and tissue damage even in the absence of foreign invaders.
Lupus is primarily a female disease, with women being diagnosed nine times more than their male counterparts. An estimated 2 million people in the U.S. alone suffer from some form of lupus. Types of lupus include:
-Discoid lupus: This form of lupus only affects the skin; causing rashes that are typically found on the face, neck and scalp.
-Drug-induced lupus: As the name suggests, lupus may become present with the use of certain medicines. Drug-induced lupus symptoms are similar to systemic lupus, but usually disappear with discontinued use of the aggravating medicine.
-Neonatal lupus: Although it is rare, the newborn of a mom with lupus may be born with neonatal lupus. The condition can cause external rashes, anemia, and liver complications. Because the symptoms are temporary, neonatal lupus does not typically cause permanent damage to the baby’s delicate tissues.
The causes of lupus are still widely theorized, as its exact mechanisms are still unknown. Like other autoimmune disorders, it’s widely believed that lupus has both genetic and environmental components. Genetic predisposition is most likely found on the X chromosome, which would explain its prevalence among the female population. Hormonal theories also circulate, as some researchers believe that lupus can be triggered by female hormones like estrogen. This theory is strengthened by the observation of worsening symptoms during menstrual periods or pregnancy.
While researchers are still searching for the exact genetic links in lupus and other autoimmune conditions, environmental factors are not so elusive. The following factors are known to trigger symptoms in patients with genetic predisposition:
Exposure to ultraviolet light (usually sunlight)
The use of certain medications (even antibiotics)
Chemical exposure to certain compounds
Perhaps one of the most varying aspects in lupus is the range of symptoms. Symptoms can be mild to severe, can present slowly or rapidly, and can be temporary or permanent. Lupus flares commonly include:
Arthritic-like symptoms: achy/swollen joints
Swelling of the hands and feet due to kidney problems
Chronic fatigue syndrome
Skin lesions or rashes
Pain in the chest and shortness of breath
Mouth and nose ulcers
Weight loss or gain
Psychological symptoms like depression and memory loss
Inflammation and Lupus
Inflammation is one of the most common ways the immune system reacts to any bodily injury or threat. All autoimmune diseases involve inflammation, whether inflammation initiates, progresses, or ameliorates symptoms – it is the crux of all autoimmune disorders. In lupus patients, this response is exaggerated significantly, and is similar to reactions we see in other autoimmune diseases (like rheumatoid arthritis). For this very reason, lupus has several associated secondary diseases. In other words, it’s rare to have lupus in the absence of any other autoimmune conditions. Because inflammation plays such a significant role in autoimmune conditions, many standard and alternative routes of therapy address and attempt to control the inflammatory response.
Serrapeptase and Lupus
Serrapeptase is a systemic enzyme that exerts its effects throughout the circulatory system and in areas of localized inflammation. Serrapeptase can assist the body in clearing circulating immune debris that causes inflammation. Although there are currently no cures for autoimmune conditions like lupus, therapies that control the symptoms are of great benefit to the lupus patient. The pain from lupus can be debilitating, so decreasing inflammation and swelling, while increasing range of movement is a promising component in systemic enzyme therapy. Clinical studies are also available to back the use of systemic enzymes in conditions like arthritis. Measurements of inflammatory markers are significantly reduced after the use of serrapeptase in patients suffering from osteoarthritis of the knee. Serrapeptase is a great option for patients who currently use NSAID pain relievers; as serrapeptase has similar effects – but without adverse side effects or risks.