Lupus and I
Why do I have lupus? You probably already asked yourself that question …
In my case, NO ONE in my family has lupus; I didn’t even know what lupus was. That part always confused me as we know lupus is a genetic disorder.
Today, I can see I could not set boundaries when I was diagnosed with the condition, and every time I get a flare-up, the cause is the same – I crossed the line.
In 2013 when I heard the diagnosis for the first time, I was working about 60 hours a week in a very stressful job in the IT space. My career success was more important than my health—silly me. I was living the career of my dreams and completely forgot to care for my body and mind—Net-net: poor psychological, emotional, and physical boundaries.
At this point, you probably know from your doctor that autoimmune conditions happen when our bodies respond abnormally to a normal body part, in other words, attacking a tissue or an organ of our bodies.
In my case, my enemies are the liver, skin, and lungs. These are the areas I fell the most during a flare-up.
The body attacks itself when exposed to something the immune system does not recognize – like a strawberry- the body creates antibodies for the strawberry’s protein and may think that another body protein (thyroid, for example) is similar and decides to attach it, too. When out of balance, the immune system sees body parts as threats.
Modern medicine has been extending the number of autoimmune diseases, and now more than 80 different ones fall on the list.
Thinking Out of the Box
Ayurveda ( Science of Life ) is inseparable from Yoga ( Divine Union ). One complements the other as yoga connects us with the Divine; Ayurveda focuses on keeping our bodies healthy. When our minds are in balance, our bodies are happy campers.
Born 5,000 years ago, Ayurveda is the mother of western, Roman, Greek, and eastern medicine. Today about 2 billion people are treated with Ayurveda. Yep, 2 billion people.
Ayurveda sees the human being by understanding each unique Dosha or metabolic forces regulating our bodies – Vata, Pitta, Kapha, that tend to unbalance due to everyday stressors – diet, stress, lack of sleep, etc. The secret of health is to keep all three doshas in balance.
Have you heard of Vata, Pitta, and Kapha?
- Vata Dosha regulates all the movement in our body, including respiration, circulation, and excretion. It’s the master commander of the nervous system.
- Pitta Dosha is responsible for all metabolic systems, assimilation, and digestive juices, and it is the only source of body heat in our bodies. Pitta is also responsible for uncontrolled inflammation, such as in autoimmune conditions. Yep, autoimmune disorders are Pitta types of disease.
- Kapha Dosha is the one that builds and repairs the tissue, as well as lubricates the body.
When these three doshas are balanced in each person’s unique way, we are healthy.
Ayurveda also organizes these three doshas around three energetics – temperature, moisture, and weight.
- Temperature: Having a hot metabolism means that we have some inflammatory process.
- Weight: A giant hamburger is heavy in comparison to a salad.
- Moisture: When deficient (dry), we feel cracking joints. In a simplified form, Vata is primarily dry, Pitta is hot, and Kapha is heavy.
What About Lupus?
Autoimmune disorders happen when our Pitta dosha is not in balance. Note that any treatment in Ayurveda is very customized to each person; it is not a one size fits all approach.
When I met for the first time with my doctor, I had to complete a very long questionnaire and talk to him a lot.
The treatment depends on age, the disease cycle, and the Dosha type. That said, one characteristic of a person with autoimmune disorders is that since birth, that person used to have some inflammation.
Pitta people are usually very productive, active, and intense. The small intestine is the fragile part of the body when inflamed.
Mind the Gut
In Ayurveda, diseases come from the gut ( like a leaky gut ), and Pitta diseases usually come between 20-60 years of age at a high level. As the qualities of Pitta are hot and wet, to help heal Pitta disorders, we need to use the opposite energetics – cold and dry. Pitta diseases include psoriasis, RA, lupus, rosacea, etc…
Ayurveda considers the whole aspect of a person: mind and body. A Pitta person usually has difficulty setting psychological, emotional, and physical boundaries.
Ojas is another Ayurvedic concept; it is the “charge” in our bodies (our reserve energy like the battery ). Ojas come from the food we eat. It is the vital energy in the body. That is why it is so important to be mindful of the food we choose to eat and the effectiveness of the digestive tract in our bodies.
Ayurveda says that 100 bites of food become one drop of blood, and 100 drops of blood become one drop of Ojas. There is a chronological transformation of the nutrients inside our bodies; when we eat poorly, we don’t have enough ojas to function well.
Pitta gets out of balance when:
- We make poor lifestyle choices, losing the focus on our needs;
- Our digestion is weak, and we can absorb critical nutrients;
- We overeat hot and spicy foods, do not manage our mood, and have hot emotions like anger.
Pitta symptoms target a part of the body that was weak, previously traumatized, or damaged. I used to have respiratory issues when younger, and my family has a history of liver and skin cancer. That’s my weakness. Maybe it was an inherited health condition too, but I am unaware.
My condition worsens whenever I make a poor choice for my mind and body – sleep, diet, and emotions. That’s why I don’t like to curse lupus or blame it for all my frustration or the things I cannot do. I know many times I am responsible for inviting it into my life.
Putting It All Together
Things make so much sense to me now. Learning these facts has been a liberation for me – I can be mindful and own my choices can influence the reality of lupus.
What about you? Have you ever thought about how you lived your life and your choices when you had a flare-up?
Ayurveda can help control autoimmune conditions. I am the proof of it. I cannot say I found the cure, but I have a better quality of life today than in the past. When I follow what I have been learning in yoga and Ayurveda with Ann Wagoner, I feel better and live happier.
One can look at it and think I am walking on eggshells. I see it differently – as intelligent living, as the parameters, Ayurveda suggests actionable ideas to follow and make me feel better inside and out.
In my upcoming blog, I will talk about some foods and herbs that can help people with an autoimmune diagnosis. Stay tuned!
Shanti. Shanti, Shanti.