Rajshri had been feeling very fatigued and generally listless, but she attributed it to the searing heat of the Delhi summer. However, when she started to develop joint pains, along with fever she consulted a doctor.  He suspected Rheumatic Fever, but on noticing a rash on a face, he  asked her to do a series of tests that confirmed that she was suffering from Systemic Erythematosus Lupus,  also known as simply SLE or Lupus.  Lupus is an auto-immune disease in which the body’s defense mechanism that was evolved to protect us from infections and diseases, directs its awesome powers against the body it was meant to protect. SLE is a woman- centred disease which can affect all the major organs of the body over a period of time.

In Western Medicine there is no cure for SLE but it can be treated with steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDS that provide relief from the pain associated with the condition. Hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malarial drug has been found to be effective in patients with joint problems, skin disease and fatigue. Immunosuppressive drugs such as methotrexate, azathioprine, cyclophosphamide and cyclosporine are also used to alleviate problems to organs. In some cases high-dose corticosteroids or medications to decrease the immune system response are prescribed  However, all these  drugs  can produce side effects.

Ayurveda Can Help

Rajshri had great faith in Ayurveda, the 5000 year old system of holistic medicine. So she consulted a famous Ayurvedic physician or vaidya from the state of Kerala, renowned for its traditional vaidya families that have been practicing this nature –based therapies for generations.  As SLE is an auto immune disease, the main stress of the Ayurveda is on correcting the balance of the three life energies or doshas – Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Each individual has these three doshas balanced in a unique proportion, and any disturbance of this balance results in ill health.  As far as treatment is concerned Ayurveda’s approach is to maintain the rhythm between all doshas and   to enhance the body’s immunity to cure SLE.  Ayurveda treatment of SLE includes pure herbal extracts, herbal medicines, healthy life style and a healthy diet. .

Ayurveda is highly individualized system of healing, and hence each patient must be approached with a thought process unique to his or her environment. There is no one medicines which may be effective for everyone- rather medicines and protocols have to be personalized.  Broadly speaking, Ayurveda prescribes the use of immunomodulatory medicines present in Withania somnifera, Asparagus racemosus, Tinospora cordifolia, Glycerrizha glabra, Piper longum and Rubea cordifolia. Joint and muscular pain is treated with a mixture of powerful medicinal combinations containing Embelia ribes, Vetiveria zizanoides, Cedrus deodara, Carum roxburghianum, Allium sativum, Tribulus terristeris, Pluchea lanceolata and Zingiber officinale. Similarly, specific plant extracts are distilled and blended into concoctions and pastes to tackle skin rashes, hair fall, nervous dysfunctions and respiratory problems.

More than medicines, lifestyle changes are advised by Ayurveda. Some are simple, like rising before sunrise and going to bed before 10 pm.  Rajshri was advised to avoid sleeping during the day and going out in the sun. She was told to have dinner before sunset, and to avoid  chillies, pickles, peas, peanuts, chana, choley, rajma, mustard, brinjals and  cauliflower. Another precaution she had to take was to stay away from caffeine, and sea food. Home remedies that are easy to follow include drinking rice water and eating medicated garlic.

Today, Rajshri is managing her disease with a judicious combination of Ayurvedic and allopathic medications. Ayurvedic medicines tend to take a longer time to show their effects, for the simple reason that they tend to target the root causes of the disease rather than providing superficial relief… but Rajshri is prepared to be patient, and confident that Ayurveda’s wisdom will ensure that  she will be  well again soon.