Lupus is an autoimmune disease that can impact multiple systems in the body.1 Conventional medicine treats lupus with medications that suppress the immune system. With functional medicine, you can reverse lupus by supporting your immune system and restoring it to its optimal function.
Before I became a physician, functional medicine expert, and two-time New York Times bestselling author, I faced my own struggle with autoimmune disease. Conventional medicine does not view lupus or any autoimmune disease as a disease of the immune system. Instead, they tell you it’s genetics, and the only option is to treat your symptoms for the rest of your life.
There is indeed a genetic component that accounts for part of your risk of developing autoimmune disease. However, the more significant threat comes from your environment, whether due to leaky gut, food sensitivities, toxins, infections, stress, or a combination of these factors.
By getting to the root cause, you can reverse lupus and live a pain-free life. I will share my proven solution to get to the root cause of your chronic illness later. Let’s look more about lupus.
What Causes Lupus?
Lupus occurs when your immune system does not successfully differentiate between the intruder and healthy tissue. Most autoimmune diseases affect one specific system. For example, Rheumatoid Arthritis involves the joints, and multiple sclerosis affects the brain and spinal cord. Lupus, on the other hand, affects more than one system simultaneously.
Regardless of what organ or system gets attacked, all autoimmune diseases are similar in that they are an immune system response caused by systemic inflammation that leads your body to attack itself. So, what causes your immune system to go rogue? There are five underlying causes of lupus.
5 Underlying Root Causes of Lupus
I believe that there are five elements that are at the root cause of autoimmunity, and it begins in your gut. I say it all the time, your gut is the gateway to health. The health of your gut impacts so many aspects of your health, from your skin to your brain health, to your immune system. If your gut isn’t healthy, you cannot have a healthy immune system. After all, 80% of your immune system lives in your gut.
1. Leaky Gut
Leaky gut happens when the tight junctions that hold your intestinal wall together become loose. You can think of your gut lining as a drawbridge. Teeny tiny boats (micronutrients in food) can go under the bridge without a problem. This critical system allows vital nutrients from your food to get absorbed into your bloodstream.
When you have a leaky gut, all of these particles are recognized by your immune system as foreign invaders, sending your immune system on high alert and triggering a massive rise in inflammation to fight off these free radicals. This continual strain on your immune system eventually causes it to go haywire and end up attacking your own tissues by mistake. This makes leaky gut one of the most common causes of autoimmune disease. So in order to reverse lupus, you must repair your leaky gut.
Gluten is a protein found in wheat and certain grains, and it is now found nearly everywhere in our modern world, and is linked to more than 55 diseases.2 It is not only in flour-based foods such as pasta and bread. It is a filler in meat substitutes, medications, and supplements. Additionally, gluten is in body products such as toothpaste, and it can even find its way into “gluten-free” foods through cross-contamination.
Gluten is the number one culprit of leaky gut because it triggers the release of zonulin in your intestines, a chemical that tells your gut lining to “open up.” It is also highly inflammatory, meaning it can cause stress to your immune system.
The gluten protein has a similar chemical structure to some of your body’s tissues (specifically your thyroid), which can lead to molecular mimicry, where your body mistakes your tissues for gluten and attacks them.
I recommend that everyone eliminate gluten from their diet, especially if they have a gluten sensitivity. If you want to find out if you have a gluten sensitivity, I recommend trying an elimination diet.
Toxic molds (mycotoxins) and heavy metals such as mercury are the primary toxins I see in those with autoimmune diseases. Mycotoxins are volatile compounds produced by toxic molds that naturally occur in our food and cleaning products, and they wreak havoc on the immune system.3
The effects of toxins on our bodies are complex. After all, thousands of chemicals are out there, and we’re just beginning to understand how they work on the body–not to mention how they work in conjunction with one another. We know that a heavy toxic burden puts you at greater risk of developing an autoimmune disease, and there are a few theories as to why.
One thought is that certain toxins, especially heavy metals, physically damage your tissues. Your immune system no longer recognizes these damaged cells as part of your body, and attacks them, thinking they’re foreign invaders.
Another theory is that the damage inflicted by toxins elicits an inflammatory response from the immune system. The constant assault of chronic exposure puts the immune system on high alert, and it begins attacking everything–including healthy tissues.
While this can sound overwhelming, it doesn’t have to be. You can tame your toxins through prevention by eating organic foods and using non-toxic cleaning and beauty products and through detoxification. Your body’s biggest detoxifier is glutathione, so I recommend supplementing with extra glutathione.
Scientists have long suspected that infections from bacteria, viruses, and other toxins were likely to blame as causes of autoimmune disease. Several infections have links to autoimmunity, such as Epstein-Barr (the virus that causes mono), Herpes Simplex 1 and 2, and E. coli.
Viruses like Epstein-Barr and herpes simplex never leave your system. However, you can suppress them by ensuring your immune system is healthy. When your immune system is suppressed by stress or illness, the infection can become active again.4
Once the virus is active, the inflammatory immune response damages tissue, which then causes more inflammation and a more significant response from the immune system. An autoimmune disease develops from that chronic state of inflammation. Healing your infections is necessary to reverse your autoimmunity.
By design, our bodies can handle acute stress. This is stress caused by a long meeting, phone call with an ex-spouse, sitting in traffic, etc. Once the stressor is gone, you no longer feel the effects of stress. However, your immune system stays on high alert if your stress response is always on, and this will cause it to go rogue and begin attacking everything in sight.
Taking adaptogens to support a healthy stress response is crucial in managing stress. Moreover, learning natural ways to relieve stress is essential for an optimal stress response.
Here are a few of my favorites:
- Breathing: Meditation and breathing exercises will help calm your anxiety and stress. I recommend the app HeartMath.
- Dance: Moving your body can help you “shake off” your stress. In the words of Taylor Swift, shake it off!
- Listen to music: Amazingly, half an hour of listening to music can reduce your cortisol levels. Cortisol is the stress hormone.
- Gentle exercise: I always enjoy walking with my family and our dogs. A long walk in a natural setting–changing your environment can help you get away from your stress.
Addressing your stress is just part of getting to the root cause of autoimmune disease. Let me tell you about my proven method to get to the root cause so that you can reverse lupus and get off harsh medications and live pain-free. I call it The Myers Way®.
Reverse Lupus with The Myers Way®
The Myers Way® is a proven approach to chronic illness that gets to the root of symptoms. This lifestyle rests on four pillars to get to the root cause of autoimmune disease so you can reverse your condition and live a vibrant, symptom-free life.
Pillar I: Heal Your Gut
You begin by healing the gut. In functional medicine, we use the proven 4R approach:
- Remove the bad – Get rid of things that negatively impact the environment of your gastrointestinal tracts, such as toxins and inflammatory foods, as well as intestinal infections such as SIBO and yeast overgrowth.
- Restore what’s missing — Add Gut Restore with Betaine and HCL and digestive enzymes to your daily regimen to help support digestion and nutrient absorption.
- Reinoculate with healthy bacteria — Restore beneficial bacteria with a probiotic supplement to re-establish a healthy balance of bacteria to heal your gut.
- Repair the gut — Provide the necessary nutrients to help the gut repair itself. Leaky Gut Revive® Max supports your immune system and gut lining. It now comes in three different flavors to satisfy different taste buds. Adding collagen protein or drinking bone broth will also help to heal your gut.
Pillar II: Get Rid of Gluten, Grains, and Legumes
Once you’ve healed your gut, it’s time to make diet changes. Start by eliminating foods such as gluten, grains, and legumes that cause damage to your intestinal tract and inflammation. I also recommend that those with autoimmune diseases avoid vegetables in the nightshade family, which includes peppers, tomatoes, and potatoes. These plants are very high in lectins that damage the gut lining, quickly enter the bloodstream, and do not break down in cooking.
Pillar III: Tame the Toxins
Many patients notice improvement after addressing the first two pillars. You may expose yourself to too many toxins if you do not see progress. We are exposed to thousands of toxins every day. They are in the water you drink, the air you breathe, the food you eat, and the cookware, cleaning products, and cosmetics you use.
Unfortunately, we cannot avoid toxins altogether. As such, the solution is to reduce your body’s toxic burden by:
- Buying clean skincare and body products
- Cleaning your air by getting a HEPA filter for your home. I use AIRDoctor® air filters in my home.
- Buy clean food and eat organic whenever possible. It can be expensive, so buy free-range chicken, grass-fed beef, and wild-caught seafood at the very least.
- Clean your water by installing water filters on your shower taps and sinks. I have a complete filtration system from Aquasana.
Pillar IV: Heal Your Infections and Relieve Your Stress
If your symptoms haven’t cleared up after addressing the first three pillars, it’s time to dig deeper. The fourth pillar of The Myers Way® focuses on healing your infections and relieving your stress.
To relieve stress, I suggest adopting daily stress-relieving strategies. A few of my favorites include breathing exercises, listening to music, dancing, taking a long walk, or practicing yoga.
To support optimal adrenal gland health and healthy energy levels, I recommend adding Adrenal Support. Adrenal Support promotes a more balanced physical and emotional stress response using a cutting-edge blend of adaptogenic herbs.
Now that you understand the causes of lupus and how The Myers Way® can help you reverse lupus naturally, let’s talk about the symptoms and how lupus is diagnosed.
Signs and Symptoms of Lupus
As I mentioned, lupus, also known as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), can affect various parts of the body. Its signs and symptoms can vary from person to person and are different in women and men. Here are the signs of lupus in both men and women.5
Lupus Symptoms in Women
Lupus is more common in women than men, particularly in women of childbearing age. In fact, 9 out of 10 people with lupus are women. Here are the most common symptoms of lupus in women:
- Fatigue: A feeling of extreme tiredness that does not go away with rest.
- Joint pain and stiffness: Pain and stiffness in the joints, especially in the morning.
- Skin rashes: A butterfly-shaped rash across the cheeks and nose or other skin rashes that worsen with sun exposure.
- Fever: A fever higher than 100.5°F that occurs without an apparent cause.
- Raynaud’s phenomenon: Fingers or toes that turn white or blue in response to cold or stress.
- Shortness of breath: Difficulty breathing, chest pain, or a cough.
- Kidney problems: Blood or protein in the urine or swelling in the legs.
- Mouth sores: Sores in the mouth or nose that last more than a week.
- Hair loss: Hair that falls out in patches or clumps.
- Headaches: Persistent headaches, often with sensitivity to light or noise.
In addition to these symptoms, women with lupus may experience menstrual irregularities, such as heavier or more painful periods or periods that stop altogether. Pregnant women with lupus are at an increased risk of complications, such as preeclampsia and preterm delivery.
It is important to note that not all women with lupus will experience all of these symptoms, and some may have symptoms different from those listed above.
Lupus Symptoms in Men
Lupus is less common in men. The signs of lupus are similar to women, yet men with lupus may also experience symptoms such as erectile dysfunction and reduced sex drive. In addition, men with lupus may be more likely to develop certain complications, such as cardiovascular disease and kidney disease.
It’s challenging to get a lupus diagnosis because it’s often overlooked or misdiagnosed. There’s several tests your functional medicine doctor can order to determine if you have lupus.
How Is Lupus Diagnosed?
Usually, a doctor will review your medical history and your family history and look for signs of inflammation. There is no one test for lupus — many different aspects must fit together, and it can take years to diagnose. This is one of the greatest frustrations most people have dealing with lupus.
The most common tests include looking at medical history, urine tests to detect protein or blood in your urine, and a physical examination to look for skin rashes, and joint tenderness.
Blood tests can help detect specific antibodies and other inflammation markers often present in people with lupus, such as antinuclear antibodies (ANA), anti-dsDNA antibodies, and anti-Smith antibodies.
Imaging studies, such as X-rays, ultrasound, or CT scans, may be ordered to check for organ damage, such as in the lungs or heart, caused by lupus.
A person must have at least four symptoms to be diagnosed with lupus. These symptoms must also be present for an extended period and not explained by another medical condition.
My Solution to Reverse Lupus
Whether you’re dealing with lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, Hashimoto’s, or another autoimmune condition, you can beat your symptoms, regain energy, and feel like yourself again. For total support, The Myers Way® Autoimmune Kit combines four of the most important nutritional supplements for anyone concerned with autoimmunity.
Let me introduce you to the four supplements:
- Resveratrol: Each lozenge packs the health benefits of 2-4 glasses of red wine without the alcohol, sugar, or risk of yeast overgrowth. Resveratrol is an extremely powerful free radical fighter and also helps support inflammation levels.
- L-Glutamine: L-Glutamine is an essential amino acid that helps maintain a healthy intestinal barrier and beat sugar cravings.
- Glutathione: The body’s most potent free radical fighter and detoxifier; critical for a strong immune system and clearing toxins from your body.
- Curcumin Super Soluble: My doctor-designed fat-soluble formula supports a healthy inflammation response and immune system function.
The Final Word on How to Reverse Lupus
I have seen thousands of patients reverse lupus using my proven approach. I created The Myers Way® to empower you to regain your health by getting to the root cause of lupus so you can live a normal life. The Myers Way® Autoimmune Kit will give you the support you need to take back your health.
- The Effects of Lupus on the Body. Rena Goldman. Healthline. 2018.
- Celiac Sprue. Richard J Farrell, MD and Ciarán P Kelly, MD. The New England Journal of Medicine. 2002.
- Mycotoxin: Its Impact on Gut Health and Microbiota. Winnie-Pui-Pui Liew and Sabran Mohd-Redzwan. Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology. 2018.
- Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (Lupus). National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. 2023.
- Lupus Symptoms. The Lupus Research Alliance. 2023.