SLE is a condition in which auto immune complexes attack many systems of the body, particularly blood vessels, kidneys, skin and nervous system. Antibodies attack the cells causing inflammation and people with SLE often follow a cycle of chronic illness, remission, chronic illness.
Oestrogen inhibits the natural death of auto-immune complexes that are thought to be the cause of SLE. As there are many contributing factors to this condition I chose to focus this blog on the hormonal aspect and have chosen three nutritional herbs that really help get rid of inflammatory, excessive oestrogen.
From a naturopath's perspective we would help clear more inflammatory oestrogens such as 16 hydroxyoestrone which is shown to be greatly increased in women with SLE. By helping liver clearance of this hormone, we should be able to decrease the amount of inflammatory oestrogen and thereby lesson the load of the symptoms of lupus.
What are the best oestrogen clearing nutritional herbs I would use?
Rosemarinus officinalis - enhances liver metabolism of oestrogens, in combination with its anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant actions, makes it a very useful herb in SLE and oestrogen dependent cancers too. I would use this herb in conjunction with other nutrients and anti-inflammatories depending on symptoms (Braun L and Cohen M. Herbs and Natural Supplements: An evidence-based guide. 2nd Ed. Sydney; Elsevier, 2007:pp545-47.)
Brassica oleracea (Broccoli) Isothiocyanates found in broccoli are plant metabolites that help the liver metabolise and clear oestrogen. Young sprouts of broccoli contain more isothiocyanates than in the mature plant, so grow your own broccoli sprouts and pick while young (Fahey JW, Zhang Y, Talalay P. Broccoli sprouts: An exceptionally rich source of inducers of enzymes that protect against chemicalcarcinogens. Proc Natl Acad Sci 1997; 94: 10367-72. ).
Soy - isoflavones in soy act as phytoestrogens. People are generally afraid of the word 'phytoestrogens' in estrogen dominant disorders such as cancer. But the reality is, soy helps to decrease the bad, inflammatory oestrogens by binding to their receptors and having only a weak effect when the body's oestrogen would've had a strong inflammatory and proliferative effect. Soy also stimulates production of certain oestrogen receptors that are anti-inflammatory. This research has just come to light, the ERa (oestrogen receptor alpha) is inflammatory and shown in increased numbers in cancer and endometriosis, whereas ERb (Oestrogen receptor beta) is anti-inflammatory and this is the receptor that soy binds to and stimulates replication. (Banerjee S, Li Y, Wang Z, Sarkar FH. Multi-targeted therapy of cancer by genistein. Cancer Lett. 2008 Oct 8;269(2):226-42)
This blog, as I mentioned is only touching on a very complicated condition that requires a professional team of experts including Doctors, specialists, complementary medicine practitioners and other health carers. But I hope it helps you to have a better understanding of the role oestrogen plays in Lupus and that you know there are herbs to help (there are always herbs to help in every condition!)
Yours in health