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Vitamins, Herbs, & Lupus

Vitamins, minerals, herbs and other supplements can be a great component of your Lupus treatment, but there are a few things you need to be very aware of first! 

Vitamins, minerals and herbs are medicine!  You can have allergic reactions, overdoses, and interactions with other medications.

ALWAYS, consult your doctor before taking ANY vitamin, mineral, supplement, or herb.  Always inform all treating medical professionals of all medications you are taking including non-prescription medications.

There is a lot of anecdotal stories of different herbs, vitamins and supplements helping ease Lupus symptoms or disease activity.  Much more scientific research needs to be done in this area.  Be skeptical of unproven claims!

Be very careful about proper dosing and only buy these medications from reputable sources that you can be confident of the purity and accuracy of what you are buying.

Some possible beneficial effects:

B Complex - Can bolster metabolism, help prevent anemia, can help treat stress, depression and cardiovascular disease

Calcium - Prevents osteoporosis (bone thinning).

Copper - Involved in the production of hemoglobin and collagen.

DHEA - May reduce SLE disease activity.

Folic Acid - Recommended for patients taking methotrexate.

Garlic - May reduce cholesterol, prevent clotting in the arteries, have antibacterial, and antifungal effects.

Iron - Used to treat or prevent anemia.

Magnesium - Has sedative effects.  May be recommended for diabetics, patients w/ malabsorptive problems and those on diuretics.  Helps prevents osteoporosis.

Multi-vitamin - May help keep vitamin and mineral levels balanced.

Omega 3 Fatty Acids (Fish Oil, Flax Seed Oil, etc.) - May reduce risk of coronary artery disease, and cancer.  May have anti-inflammatory effects.  May lower LDL and triglycerides and raise HDL.

Potassium - May be recommended to patients on Diuretics.

St. John's Wort - Most commonly used for depression and anxiety.

Vitamin D - Aids in the absorption of calcium.

Some possible interactions:

Beans  - Contain hydrazines and amines.  In large amounts can aggravate Lupus symptoms.

Bromelain (Pineapple enzyme) - Possible interaction w/ blood-thinning drugs.

Canavanine - Found in alfalfa sprouts, tablets and tea.  In large amounts this can cause immune problems.

Cat's Claw - Possible interaction w/ blood-thinning drugs.

Cayenne Pepper - Possible interaction with MAO inhibitors and anti-hypertensives. In large quantities, may cause damage to the liver or kidneys.

Chamomile - Possible interaction w/ blood-thinning drugs.

Devil's Claw - Possible interaction w/ antacids, cardiac or diabetic medications. Use with caution if taking NSAIDs, which can irritate the stomach, as it can stimulate stomach acids.

DHEA - May cause liver damage if taking azathioprine or methotrexate. Can increase insulin resistance or sensitivity in diabetics.

Dong Quai - Possible interaction w/ blood-thinning drugs.  May increase sun sensitivity.

Echinacea - May be toxic to the liver if used for more than eight weeks. Should not be used with drugs that can cause liver problems, such as anabolic steroids, amiodarone, methotrexate and ketoconazole. Should not be given with immunosuppressants such as corticosteroids and cyclosporine because it can stimulate the immune system.

Evening primrose oil and borage (GLA) - Should not be used with anticonvulsants because they may lower the seizure threshold.  Not recommended for patients diagnosed with schizophrenia.  Possible interaction w/ blood-thinning drugs.

Feverfew - Effect on migraine headaches may be compromised by non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as aspirin and ibuprofen.  Not to be used if pregnant, as it may cause miscarriage.  Possible interaction w/ blood-thinning drugs.

Fish Oil (Omega-3 fatty acids) - Possible interaction w/ blood-thinning drugs.

Garlic - Possible interaction w/ blood-thinning drugs.  May also interact with hypoglycemic medications, and anti-inflammatory drugs.

Ginger - Possible interaction w/ blood-thinning drugs.  Do not use if you have gallstones. Large quantities may interfere with cardiac, or anti-diabetic medications.

Gingko - Possible interaction w/ blood-thinning drugs.  Also should not be used in conjunction with anticonvulsant drugs used by epileptics, such as carbamazepine, phenytoin and Phenobarbital, or with tricyclic antidepressants.

Ginseng - Possible interaction w/ blood-thinning drugs.  Also may cause headache, tremulousness and manic episodes in patients treated with phenelzine sulfate.  Should not be used with estrogens or corticosteroids because it may add to those drugs' side effects.  May also interfere with the heart drug digoxin or with digoxin monitoring.  Should not be used by diabetics because it can affect blood glucose levels.

Goldenseal - Should be avoided by people with high blood pressure.  Possible interaction w/ blood-thinning drugs.

Karela - Should not be used by patients with diabetes because it can affect blood glucose levels.

Kava - Should not be used with the tranquillizer alprazolam because it may result in coma.  Do not take with sleeping medications or tranquilizers.

Kelp - May interfere with thyroid replacement therapies.

Liquorice - Can offset the effect of the diuretic drug spironolactone.  May also interfere with heart drug digoxin or with digoxin monitoring.  Potassium loss due to other drugs, e.g., thiazide diuretics, can be increased.

Magnesium - Diuretics such as Lasix and hydrochlorothiazide can deplete magnesium.

Melatonin - Appears to boost the immune system, so should be avoided by people with autoimmune diseases including Lupus.

Mushrooms  - Contain hydrazines and amines.  In large amounts can aggravate Lupus symptoms

Potassium - Diuretics such as Lasix and hydrochlorothiazide can deplete potassium.

Salt - Can cause water retention and increase edema.

St. John's Wort - Can produce skin reactions to light so fair-skinned users may wish to take care and anyone taking other drugs that cause light sensitivity, such as piroxicam or tetracycline, may want to avoid this herb.  The active ingredient in St. John's Wort is uncertain, so it should not be used with two common types of psychiatric drugs called monoamine oxidase inhibitors and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors.  Tannic acid in the herb may inhibit absorption of iron.  Can block the effects of drugs, including oral contraceptives, tricyclic antidepressants, cyclosporine, and several heart drugs.  Possible interaction w/ blood-thinning drugs.

Stinging Nettle - May increase the effects of tranquilizers and sedative drugs. May decrease the effect of certain cardiac and diabetic drugs.

Valerian - Should not be used with barbiturates, such as thiopental and pentobarbital can cause excessive sedation. Do not use if taking tranquilizers or sleep medications, as it increases the effect.

White willow bark - Aspirin is made from the drug salaicin, which is contained in White Willow Bark.  Possible interaction w/ blood-thinning drugs.

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