Herbal Remedies and Prescribed Medication as Treatment for Lupus

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Lupus patients have a predisposition inheritable trait that can be passed from parent to offspring. Specifically, Cutaneous Lupus Erythematosus (CLE), is a form of lupus that attacks healthy skin cells, contrary, to a healthy immune system that protects its cells and destroys foreign invaders. Thus, this research proposal offers a broad overview of the disease, its signs/ symptoms, diagnoses, treatment and prevention; with a clear emphasis on the effectiveness of alternative natural products versus prescribed medications in any season of the year. In order to test my proposed hypothesis, I have also developed an experimental research objective consisting of qualitive data collection in order to address the possible outcomes and aims in concluding that in treating skin lupus alternative natural treatments are a more effective approach as compared to prescribed medications.

Introduction

Skin lupus is a condition caused by the body reacting poorly to UV light and any types of radiation. It is an autoimmune disease affecting the body’s ability to recognize foreign invaders from its own tissue and this leads to skin lesions. The body normally protects itself from foreign invaders like bacteria and viruses, however; in this case the body mistakenly attacks healthy tissues and organs. As a result, this condition could result in health challenges whereby the disease not only affects skin but can also affect other bodily organs such as the kidneys, blood vessels, and the nervous system (7). There are different types of lupus with the most common type being Systematic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) but Cutaneous Lupus Erythematosus (CLE) is the form for which only affects the skin and is very common among people from different regions of the world. A person can go their entire life without CLE becoming SLE which is the type of lupus that spreads to different bodily organs such as the brain, kidneys, lungs, and arteries (2).

Skin lupus is a condition that affects all age groups, ethnicities, and genders. People with CLE will notice a sun-burn across their face usually in the shape of a butterfly. The butterfly rash is a sign of acute cutaneous lupus (ACLE). The rash takes over the bridge of the nose and creates a wing-like shape around the cheeks. This rash can also emerge on other parts of the body. The initial symptom of skin lupus is the skin rashes which may spread to other organs. The lesions caused by cutaneous lupus are usually red, scaly, and thick but tend to be painless and do not cause itching. Also, the lesions that have persisted for a long time may eventually become cancerous (4).

Subacute cutaneous lupus appears as ring-shaped lesions mainly on the body parts that are exposed to radiation from the sun such as the arms, neck, shoulders, and face. These lesions are not itchy or scaly even though they tend to have a discolored pink-ish pigment. Since the lesions are photosensitive, it is important to avoid too much radiation from the outdoors or fluorescent lights indoors. Moreover, a person can consider using some homemade remedies such as masks made from turmeric, which help in healing the lesions. Many drugs have been used in an attempt to treat this condition but not all individuals experience the same results. For example, corticosteroids are toxic to some people, mainly children. Therefore, when dealing with children with lupus is it crucial to experiment with homemade remedies rather than harmful steroids. However, for adults, the most common treatment methods currently being used are the topical ointments including steroid creams or gels, for which, if not used as instructed, inadequate treatment can lead to permanent scarring (2).

When diagnosing skin lupus, the identification of this condition is not exact. As a result, scientists take a live sample called a biopsy and compare it to that of patients who have the condition in order to conclude that the individual does indeed have lupus. Thus, diagnosing people of this condition by comparing pictures in a lab means possible misdiagnosis. In addition, this condition is named the “the great imitator” due to its vague symptoms. So, prescribing strong medications without a better way to diagnose the condition is hazardous (6). Therefore, there is a need for new alternative treatments by using immunomodulators, a new class of drugs. These new treatment options focus on minimizing the side effects caused by corticosteroids.

Lupus can be prevented through adequate patient education on the effects of heat and sunlight on the skin. Patients should also be enlightened to avoid drug use. The skin lesions formed as a result of skin lupus should also not be manipulated as this can promote formation of new lesions on the skin’s surface. Use of harmless makeup products to conceal lesions is recommended, but, should not be applied to broken skin. The best preventive treatment is avoiding harmful radiations, experimenting with homemade remedies like turmeric masks and using sunscreens to protect oneself from radiation exposure. For those allergic to sunscreen, wearing large brim hats to help shade the entire face so that even without sunscreen the face is protected is useful. Patients should also avoid sunbathing, traveling to destinations near the equator, and tanning of their skin (5).

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Skin lupus can either be treated using prescription drugs such as corticosteroids, calcineurin inhibitors, steroids, or using alternative herbal medication. Physical treatments such as cryosurgery, laser ablation and skin abrasion have also been found to be efficient. The advantage of using this treatment is that it is readily available however; it can become very expensive. Presently, no drug has been approved for use in the treatment of skin lupus which is a limitation to the treatment approach. Most of the drugs currently used are part of a regimen in an attempt to treat the underlying cause of the illness which is an aspect that scientists are greatly interested. They include the topical corticosteroids e.g. methylprednisolone (used on the face and head), triamcinolone acetonide, betamethasone valerate (used on the back, belly and extremities), and clobetasol (used on the palmar surface and plantar surface of the hands and feet respectively); Calcineurin inhibitors such as tacrolimus and pimecrolimus have also been used and Salbutamol have displayed some success in the treatment of skin lupus (8).

Experiment

The following section addresses what my proposed study will investigate.

Objective

General objective - to establish the effectiveness of alternative treatment and prescribed medications for skin lupus in any season of the year.

Specific objectives:

  1. To determine resistance development for lupus prescription medication in various seasons of the year.
  2. To establish the response of skin lupus to various medications that may be offered.
  3. To establish alternative medication to prescription drugs for skin lupus to determine their effectiveness.

Methods and Materials

To achieve the objective of this study, this research will be conducted for a duration of 1 year whereby it will comprise of 100 participants with cutaneous lupus who will be selected from a diverse range of ethnicities. Notably, there is no specific race or gender specified. To determine the resistance development for lupus prescription in various seasons of the year, the participants of the study will be divided into two groups at random, Group A and Group B. For the individuals in group A, the cutaneous lupus will be managed using prescription medications.

To investigate the effectiveness of alternative medication, the group will be further sub classified into two; in one subgroup, pills will be used to manage the skin lupus, and creams will be used for treatment in the second subgroup. For the individuals in group B, everyone will be treated using homemade herbal alternative remedies. To establish the response of skin lupus to various medications that may be offered, the treatment regimens for the two groups of people will continue for over a year, without them using supplementary treatment methods from elsewhere. This is to ensure that the results and observations are not tainted. After every three months, the progress of the patients will be recorded. The objective will include checking for recovery, compliance to medication, resistance to medication, adverse effects, and relapse after initial recovery. The study will observe the results throughout the four seasons of spring, summer, autumn, and winter. Notably, before engaging a patient in my experiment, it is important to obtain a signed consent from the patient or legal guardian, and explain every step of the experiment. Most importantly, in the case of any adverse effects during the experiment one will need to stop immediately and seek medical treatment (3).

Possible Outcomes

Upon a successful study, a faster response is expected to be seen in the group on prescribed medications. However, after sometime, the response is expected to decrease hence resulting to the lapse of lupus. Also, of importance is the fact that plaquenil, hydrocortisone cream, and desonide gel will be expected to act faster during the fall, winter and early spring. Notably, for individuals in group B, it will take longer for the medications to exert effects. However, it is expected that there will be no point when the response to treatment declines.

Conclusion

Prescribed medications i.e. pills and creams act faster than herbal remedies for treatment of skin lupus (Reich et al., 2016). This is evidenced by faster advancement of resolution of lesions as compared to those using herbal remedies. This is because the prescribed medications are more potent, with an efficient vehicle to transport them to the tissue. They are also prepared to appropriately bind to their receptors at the target cells. However, Plaquenil, Hydrocortisone cream, and Desonide gels only work faster during fall, winter and early spring with increased resistance during late spring through to the summer where more resistance develops towards the drugs and there is increased formation of lesions due to UV exposure (Mazurek & Szostak, 2016). Developed resistance could be due to impeded drug entry into the cells, production of lytic enzymes which destroy the drugs before they can have an effect, alteration of the binding sites of the drugs at the cells, downregulation of the receptors and competitive antagonisms. Also, the resistance could be a result of mutations. The occurrence of resistance prevents the drugs from acting on their respective cells; therefore the lesions cannot be completed. This leads to the reoccurrence of the disease, otherwise known as relapse (7).

Herbal remedies and homemade regimen tend to have a slower response during treatment but produce more promising results as compared to prescribed medication. This is because the substances are natural products that are not adapted to acting on the body’s cells. They act by increasing the rigidity and tension of the epidermis. This will not only prevent lesions on the skin as a result of cutaneous lupus but also eliminate pimples, scars, and blackheads ultimately promoting self-confidence and high self-esteem. There is little relapse, since the chances of resistance is limited with the use of herbal medication. The herbal medication does not penetrate into the body to promote resistance (1). The graph below compares the two treatment approaches and how they respond in different seasons of the year (9).

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