Why SLE Lupus Sufferers MUST Start Taking Turmeric


Studies PROVE Turmeric Helps Lupus Sufferers





Lupus is a chronic disorder affecting as many as 5 million people in the world. It is an autoimmune disease wherein the immune system starts attacking its own tissue as if it were to attack a pathogen.

Lupus is not confined to a particular organ but the whole immune system  is affected which can cause systemic inflammation. That’s why individuals suffering from lupus need to constantly monitor themselves in case of flare up.

Lupus is not contagious. Around 1.5 million Americans are affected with lupus and mostly women of child bearing age.

There are different kinds of lupus, but we are talking about systemic lupus erythematosus or SLE.


Other types include:


• Discoid lupus- the type of lupus that majorily affects the skin

• Drug induced lupus- certain prescription medications may cause symptoms similar to lupus

• Neonatal lupus- when a mother passes autoantibodies to her child at birth


One of the most crucial problems with lupus is autoantibodies. Antibodies are produced by our immune system to attack infective agents primarily but when they are produced to attack our own tissue, due to some errors in immune function, they are known as autoantibodies.

The most common type of autoantibody produced in lupus is antinuclear antibody which attacks the nucleus (a cell organelle that stores genetic information) and destroys the cell. This can affect any organ during flare up.

No exact cause of lupus has been identified but a combination of factors such as genetics, environmental factors and lifestyle factors have been said to trigger lupus symptoms.


The common symptoms of lupus include:

• Skin rashes

• Pain, specially in the joints

• Fatigue

• Headache

• Chest pain

• Fever

• Confusion





If the inflammation spreads to specific organs then this can lead to complications such as endocarditis, pleuritis, vasculitis, nephritis, (inflammation of heart, lungs, blood vessel and kidney respectively) psychosis, seizures, oral ulcers etc.

Weakened immune function can increase risk of infection.

Treatment generally involves non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, steroids and immunosuppressants. These are directed towards controlling inflammation and maintaining remission.



Here’s Why SLE Lupus Sufferers MUST Start Taking Turmeric


Turmeric Inhibits Activity of Lupus Autoantibodies



Bright JJ, in his paper ‘Curcumin and autoimmune disease’ comments that curcumin ameliorates conditions like multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, inflammatory bowel disease etc. It does so by regulating the activity of inflammatory agents and pathways activated in immune cells.

In their paper ‘Heat-solubilized curry spice curcumin inhibits antibody-antigen interaction in in vitro studies: a possible therapy to alleviate autoimmune disorders’, Kurien et. al demonstrated that heat solubilised curcumin and turmeric attenuated binding of autoantibodies in serum samples of SLE patients by 52% and 70% respectively.

Similar results were also proven in Sjogren’s syndrome.

In other words this experimental study shows that curcumin inhibits autoantibodies produced in lupus from binding to target cells and these findings, if proven in humans, pretty much solves the issue of ‘there is no cure for lupus.

One interesting point the scientists mentioned that the main issue that hinders us from making the most of curcumin is its bioavailability issue. So what they did here was they boiled both curcumin and turmeric in water for 10 minutes before using it in the study.

Curcumin’s solubility was increased by 12 folds and turmeric’s solubility was increased by 3 fold.

Also this study found that turmeric resulted in better inhibition than purified curcumin and researchers stated that this could be possible because some curcuminoid is lost in purification process.

A  rather intriguing thought – it could also be possible that this could be a result of other compounds present in turmeric apart from curcumin.

Kurien et. al recently published a study in Lupus Science & Medicine, 2015 where they used ultrasoluble curcumin and turmeric in animal model of lupus. Here the solubility of curcumin in water was increased by 35 folds using heat and pressure.

Curcumin reduced lesions, production of autoantibodies, prevented increase in lymphocytes (type of white blood cells), reduced kidney damage and protected salivary glands. Curcumin and turmeric increased the survival rate.

However this study did have some limitations which warrant the need for more research in this direction.

These findings need to be further confirmed in more animal models, but till then these results are enough to bind hope for curcumin’s therapeutic potential in SLE.


What does this mean?



Research shows that curcumin and turmeric inhibits binding of autoantibodies in serum samples obtained from SLE patients. Autoantibodies are the main factors causing damage and attacking organs in SLE and these findings suggest that curcumin may help attenuate severity of SLE.





There are plenty of  turmeric curcumin choices available.

I personally use and recommend Schwartz Bioresearch Premium Ultra Pure Turmeric Curcumin.






Lupus has Immunomodulatory Actions



One of the major myths that stops people from using turmeric for lupus is that turmeric and curcumin are immune boosters so they should be avoided in lupus..

It is true that turmeric boosts immunity. Thats the main reason why almost every Indian household consumes Turmeric milk or ‘Haldi doodh’. And even research recommends including turmeric as a part of nutrition to help in cancer induced cachexia.

In cancer, immunity is compromised and if turmeric can help with it, that means that turmeric has immune stimulating properties. So people assume that in lupus one already has a hyperactive immune system whose responses are not regulated, so adding turmeric would fuel it even more.

But that’s not what the studies mentioned in Benefit No 1, show right?! So whats the paradox?

Turmeric and curcumin are immunomodulating agents- they regulate immune responses. ‘”Spicing up” of the immune system by curcumin’ co authored by Jagetia GC and Dr. Bharat Aggarwal throws some more light on this point.

Curcumin as an immunomodulatory agent regulates the activity of various immune cells like T cells, B cells, macrophages, neutrophils, natural killer cells, and dendritic cells. It also reduces production of inflammatory cytokines.

Further, they comment that at low doses curcumin can stimulate immune responses and help in fighting infections by producing antibodies. South et. al in 1997 proved that dietary curcumin enhances antibody response in rats.

In case you are already convinced that turmeric will benefit you in lupus and you are wondering whether what dose you should take, then don’t worry the subsequent dosage section towards the end of the article will help you.

Srivastava et.al comment that this immune modulating property has been found to be useful in many inflammatory and metabolic diseases.

A very interesting point they put forth: ‘During inflammation the functional influence of lymphocytes and the related cross-talk can be modulated by curcumin to achieve the desired immune status against diseases.’

Excuse me for the technical jargon, but what they are trying to say here is that curcumin regulates the activity of WBCs and interacting biochemical pathways to achieve the desired immune response in that particular disease and this immune status could be boosting or suppressing.

So you don’t have to worry  about curcumin and turmeric being immune booster; curcumin is a unique pleiotropic molecule- one molecule that interacts with multiple enzymes, pathways and molecular targets.


What does this mean?



Curcumin and turmeric are immunomodulatory agents- they regulate immune responses. Dose dependently they may stimulate immune response as defence against infection and regulate inappropriate immune responses in case of autoimmune diseases such as lupus.  So you can safely say good bye to the myth that turmeric is an immune booster and hence you can not take it to treat lupus or any autoimmune disease for that matter.



Curcumin Restores Immune Function in SLE  Patients



A very recent concept that is being researched in the field of SLE is the balance between T helper cell 17 (Th17) and regulatory T cells. I won’t get much into the details but these are type of immune cells and there is an imbalance in their populations in SLE.

If this balance can be achieved, then the body would start regulating immune responses and attenuate autoimmune reactions. Currently there is no drug that can help achieve this.

As I discussed previously, curcumin has immunomodulatory responses: it can stimulate as well as suppress immune function depending on the dose and function.

A study published in Central European Journal Of Immunology, 2015 examined whether this immunomodulatory property of curcumin can actually help in achieving balance in immune cell populations in SLE. And guess what!?

It actually did do that at low doses!

All newly diagnosed SLE patients were included in this study with a disease duration of 8-12 months. Their blood samples were collected and their T cells (type of immune system cells) were collected, cultured and treated with low doses of curcumin.

The same thing was done with blood samples of healthy individuals. It was found that curcumin reduced the numbers of Th17 and increased the levels of Treg cells, thereby helping regulate immune responses.

And curcumin did not reproduce these effects in T cells from healthy individuals. Handono et. al commented that curcumin can be used as a novel therapeutic agent for SLE by alleviating immune response and balancing Th17 and Treg cell population.

Now this is the first study to demonstrate this mechanism of action of curcumin in SLE and there should be more study to identify the details as in the pathway involved.


What does this mean?



Curcumin is proven to balance the population of immune cells in samples taken from SLE patients. Also, these findings suggest that Curcumin can help in regulating immune responses and thereby prevent progression of SLE.



Turmeric Has Anti-Inflammatory Action




One of the major medicinal properties of turmeric due to which it has received so much attention in terms of research as well as for therapeutic purposes is its anti-inflammatory action.

Inflammation is a result as well as trigger of incorrect immune responses in lupus. Since the immune system can’t differentiate between foreign bodies and host tissue, a number of functions are hampered such as high rate of cell death, reduced clearance of such dead cells from the body etc.



Accumulation of such damaged cells creates an environment favourable for inflammation and production of autoantibodies.

Curcumin as well as curcumin free turmeric, has anti-inflammatory properties. Unlike regular non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs which inhibit only COX enzyme, curcumin inhibits both COX and LOX, two important enzymes that participate in inflammation.

It also acts on other inflammatory agents like prostaglandins, interleukins etc. and even inhibits activity major molecular targets in inflammation like tumor necrosis factor-alpha and nuclear factor kappa B.

These properties combined with curcumin’s immunomodulatory properties can help control and prevent spread of inflammation to other organs in lupus. An edge curcumin and turmeric have over other NSAIDs is that they do not cause side effects like gastric erosion.


What does this mean?



Turmeric’s anti-inflammatory property can help in controlling as well as preventing spread of inflammation to other organs in lupus.



Turmeric Protects Skin From Eczema


70-80% of the individuals suffering from lupus present with skin lesions or rashes. These can be painful, itchy and photosensitive. Topical immunomodulators or steroids are prescribed to treat such rashes.

Turmeric is traditionally used to treat skin diseases including inflammation and research suggests that curcumin can be a novel treatment in skin disorders. In fact it does remedy eczema and itching.

Curcumin is  identified as a topical immunomodulator.


Curcumin is found to be as effective as steroids or immunomodulators in autoimmune skin conditions like psoriasis.

Tacrolimus is a common topical steroid prescribed for lupus and psoriasis; studies show that curcumin may have synergistic action with tacrolimus. More studies should be focused on the aspect of using curcumin and turmeric as topical agents in skin related symptoms of lupus.




What does this mean?



Curcumin’s anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory and skin protective properties make it a potential therapeutic compound for skin related symptoms of lupus.




Turmeric Helps Arthritis-Like Symptoms




Arthritis in lupus is a very common symptom and can affect any joint including hands, knee, hip and cause pain and disability.

Turmeric is a very popular alternative treatment for arthritis. Apart from its anti-inflammatory and painkilling properties, it has a unique ‘chemopreventive action’ in rheumatoid arthritis.



The damaged cells in arthritis are resistant to cell death and thereby provoke inflammation.

Curcumin kills such cells and prevents progression of the disease. It also has anti-arthritic properties, prevents bone loss, affects genetic expressions of proteins involved in arthritis and also protects from side effects of medications taken in arthritis.

These properties make turmeric a viable therapeutic aid in attenuating arthritis symptoms in lupus.



What does this mean?



Curcumin and turmeric have a number of pharmacological properties that make it a safe anti-arthritic agent.





There are plenty of  turmeric curcumin choices available.

I personally use and recommend Schwartz Bioresearch Premium Ultra Pure Turmeric Curcumin.







Turmeric Reduces Pain Better than NSAIDs


Curcumin works as a natural painkiller- it attenuates various kinds of pain.  Curcumin’s analgesic or pain killing effect has been proven in experimental model of postoperative pain.


2g of Meriva (400 mg curcumin) is found to have analgesic activity comparable to 1g (100 mg) of paracetamol and it has lesser side effects than painkillers like nimesulide and paracetamol.

Curcumin has synergistic activity with painkiller like diclofenac. Curcumin derivatives are found to have better analgesic activity than aspirin.




In treatment of osteoarthritis, curcumin is found to be as effective as the painkiller ibuprofen and also has reduced side effects on stomach.

In fact recent research shows that turmeric could possibly be better than opioid painkillers and protect from their side effects.



What does this mean? 

Curcumin found in turmeric is proven to have natural pain killing properties and in many studies it has been proven to outperform conventional painkillers. Also it does not cause any side effects such as gastric erosion like NSAIDs.




Turmeric Fights Fatigue




Systemic inflammation, joint pain, blood and bone related abnormalities contribute to negative effects on health in lupus thus paving the way for fatigue and sleep disturbances.




Turmeric’s anti-inflammatory and analgesic action help reduce pain in arthritis. Additionally animal studies show that by virtue of its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity curcumin reduces chronic fatigue.

Curcumin may even protect from side effects of sleep deprivation and reduce sleep disturbances.


What does this mean?


In addition to relieving symptoms of lupus, turmeric may also help in alleviating chronic fatigue in lupus.



Turmeric Alleviates Depression


The link between SLE and depression is controversial. Some state that as a result of disease activity as well as treatment outcomes, depression is an outcome of the disease and there is no need for psychiatric help while some state that only treating the disease will not treat depression.

Studies show that curcumin is as good as Prozac when it comes to serving as anti-depressant and many researchers agree that it can be an adjuvant therapy in depression.

Its ability to modulate neurotransmitters as well as its anti-inflammatory action, contribute to its therapeutic action in depression and anxiety.

In the past 2 years, several randomized controlled trials have found support for the efficacy of curcumin in the treatment of Major Depressive Disorder (MDD). Though it is too soon to explicitly recommend it as a treatment for depression, “curcumin does have an effect on several physiological systems that are implicated in the causes of depression,” Roger S. McIntyre, MD, a professor of psychiatry and pharmacology and head of the Mood Disorders Psychopharmacology Unit at the University of Toronto, told Psychiatry Advisor. “It certainly would be a reasonable hypothesis that it could be in possession of antidepressant properties.”

Lupus fog is a term used to describe a state of confusion occurring as a symptom in lupus. If suffering from such symptoms it is best to consult a doctor about it.


What does this mean?


Curcumin will help regulate immune responses, reduce pain and inflammation in lupus and thereby contribute to better health but interesting enough it can also specifically alleviate depressive symptoms occurring in lupus.




Turmeric Treats Lupus-Related Kidney Damage




Lee et. al demonstrated that curcumin treats lupus nephritis by interacting with T reg cells. In this animal study it was observed that curcumin reduced proteinuria (excess of proteins in urine occurring as a result of damaged kidney function) and reduced inflammation in the kidney.



A very popular study highlighted when talking about turmeric’s utility in lupus is ‘Oral supplementation of turmeric decreases proteinuria, hematuria, and systolic blood pressure in patients suffering from relapsing or refractory lupus nephritis: a randomized and placebo-controlled study’.

In this study 24 individuals with relapsing or treatment resistant lupus nephritis were enrolled. 12 were treated with 500mg turmeric (22.1mg curcumin) thrice a day while 12 were treated with placebo.

A significant decrease in proteinuria (excess protein in urine) was seen and reduction in blood in urine and systolic blood pressure (minimum blood pressure your heart experiences when filling with blood) was observed.

Researchers stated that short term turmeric supplementation can attenuate symptoms of lupus nephritis and aid as a safe adjuvant therapy.


What does this mean? 


Whole turmeric powder supplementation can reduce kidney damage in lupus nephritis.




Turmeric Acts at Genetic Levels


Lupus could manifest as a result of genetic errors and one such genetic error is DNA methylation. For simplicity sake I would say that DNA methylation is a process that controls gene expression or activates your gene and error in that mechanism results in abnormalities.

Curcumin is found to have the ability to regulate such epigenetic processes. It can regulate the activity of enzymes involved in gene expression.

Though not assessed in relation with lupus, this property of curcumin is found to be beneficial in cancer , neurodegenerative and inflammatory disorders.


What does this mean?


Further research can throw some light on the ability of curcumin to alter genetic expressions and thus alleviate severity of disease in lupus.




Turmeric Protects from Lupus Medication Side Effects




Curcumin is proven to protect the body from side effects of many drugs.

Cyclophosphamide is a drug prescribed in lupus to reduce activity of immune system. Curcumin can protect from side effects of cyclophosphamide such as damage to reproductive system and urinary system, DNA mutation, lung injury etc.





Methotrexate is another immune suppressing drug prescribed in lupus and arthritis.

Research shows that curcumin can protect from side effects of methotrexate that affect heart ,kidney , intestine and liver.






What does this mean?


Curcumin exerts a protective effect on almost all systems in the body and thereby can help reduce the side effects and toxicity posed by medications prescribed in lupus.



Ideal Turmeric Dosage


According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, the following are standard doses for adults:

  • 5—3 g fresh cut root, daily
  • 1—3 g dried powdered root, daily
  • (1:1) 30—90 drops fluid extract, daily
  • (1:2): 15—30 drops, tincture, 4 times, daily



There are plenty of  turmeric curcumin choices available.

I personally use and recommend Schwartz Bioresearch Premium Ultra Pure Turmeric Curcumin.

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Thoughts, questions, tips?  Feel free to comment below.






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