How Does Plaquenil Help With Lupus? (Effects, Natural Remedies)

Lupus is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system attacks its organs and tissues. This will trigger an inflammation that affects different parts of the body and several organs too.

People with lupus commonly have a facial rash that looks like an unfolded butterfly on both cheeks. While there are a few different types of lupus, Systematic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) is the most common type found and we will be discussing mostly it.

Plaquenil is a medicine brand that has the basic compound of Hydroxychloroquine which is widely prescribed to treat Lupus. Although that compound is primarily an antimalarial drug, it was found to be effective against autoimmune conditions like Lupus. Let us know more about this drug and how it helps with lupus.

How Does Plaquenil Help With Lupus? (Effects, Natural Remedies)

How Does Plaquenil Help With Lupus?

Plaquenil contains Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) which was found during the Second World War to treat malaria in soldiers. But since the drug improved the rashes and other inflammatory conditions like arthritis, in 1955 HCQ was synthesized.

Since then, antimalarials like HCQ are found to have immunomodulatory effects on the human body and it helps in treating conditions like SLE. Several pieces of research were conducted to study the mechanism of HCQ in treating lupus and each one of them suggested the various effects of the compound on the body [1]

As for its treatment of lupus, here are the ways in which the drug helps to manage the condition:

  • HCQ helps in modulating the immune system so that it doesn’t overreact and attack its organs. There is thorough research on the action of HCQ on immune cells which explains how the chemicals interact and inhibit them [2][3].
  • Protects the skin from UV light and helps in treating the rashes caused by occasional flares from lupus [4].
  • HCQ interferes with toll-like receptors which are like soldiers of the innate immune system in the body. Since these receptors can induce the production of interferons causing the system to kill its cells. This is intercepted by the HCQ and prevents the false autoimmune response [5].

These are the ways in which Plaquenil helps in treating lupus. Even though it is a synthetic drug, it works very well in lupus patients by controlling the flares.

Lupus Symptoms treated by Plaquenil

We established the inner workings of the drug with the immune system and externally lupus patients will be able to get relief from the following inflammatory reactions or flares:

  • Skin Rashes
  • Hair loss
  • Sores in the mouth
  • Joint pain
  • Joint swelling
  • Body pain

These are very commonly found in lupus patients. There are other dangerous symptoms of this disease that are successfully combated by the Plaquenil drug:

  • Pericarditis – A condition where the tissue that is present in the lining of the heart gets inflamed.
  • Pleuritis – A condition where the tissue present in the lining of the lungs gets inflamed.
  • Prevents Strokes and Heart Attacks caused by blood clots
  • Prevents the immune system from attacking the brain and spinal cord 

On the whole, the use of Plaquenil treats many symptoms related to SLE, improves their quality of life, and manages to regulate the disease’s activity effectively [6].

What Type of Lupus can be Treated with Plaquenil?

There are four types of lupus and Plaquenil helps in treating them all. Here is an overview of the four types:

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE)

  • It is the most common type
  • Causes inflammation in the joint and skin sensitivities
  • If untreated may affect primary organs like the brain, lungs, heart, and kidneys.

Cutaneous Lupus Erythematosus

  • Mainly affects the skin
  • Causes skin rashes and sensitivity to UV from sun rays
  • Also causes hair loss

Drug-Induced Lupus

  • This is a temporary SLE that is caused due to the usage of certain medications
  • It has all the symptoms of SLE
  • Recognizing the drug and immediately stopping its consumption will cure this Lupus

Neonatal Lupus

  • This is a rare condition found in newborns at birth
  • Same symptoms as SLE
  • Might be passed on from the mother but it is not a condition

For all these types, Plaquenil can be very effective in treating the symptoms and resisting the inflammatory flares from the disease.

Can Plaquenil cure Lupus Completely?

There is no cure for lupus. There are several types of research being performed to find a possible cure but as of now, there aren’t any conclusive medications.

But the use of Plaquenil can help people to live longer than other people. Studies have shown that people who take medications for lupus survive like normal people and have a longer life expectancy than people who don’t take the drug.

In a small study conducted by the Cleveland Clinic from the year 2017 – 2020, around 84.1% of the patients were using HCQ drugs and had better outcomes [7].

Therefore, although the drug cannot cure the condition, it has the potential to keep the quality of life better and enables people to survive longer.

Does Plaquenil have any Side Effects?

Even though the drug is the best and potential medication available for Lupus. Most of the side effects from the drug are usually mild and not frequently found in the patients. They were mostly reversible and didn’t have a life-threatening impact on the patients. Even in pregnant women with lupus, it helped the women without harming the baby [8]

But certain studies showed that patients complained of vision impairment due to long time usage of the drug. When explored about the effect, researchers found that the HCQ had damaged the retina. Therefore, ocular toxicity is a major side effect of the long-term usage of HCQ [9]

Other possible side effects of drug usage include [10]:

  • Gastrointestinal Problems
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Hearing Loss
  • Rash
  • Myopathy
  • Retinopathy

All these side effects are not evident in all people and you can avoid these with limited or controlled usage of the drug. 

Also, it is recommended for the patients to consult an ophthalmologist to check on the amount of HCQ deposited on the retina and regulate the dosage.

Can People with Lupus lead a Normal Life?

Lupus is not immediately lethal and the disease is highly manageable with proper lifestyle and medications. Only 10% of people die at a younger age and about 80-90% of patients survive with normal life expectancy.

There is no need to worry about having lupus. There are many effective ways to combat the condition without experiencing the discomfort caused by the disease.

Since lupus can give occasional flares which are very painful and difficult to manage, you need to be precautious and do the necessary steps to manage them.

Here are some of the ways in which you can avoid the discomforts of flares:

Avoid Situations that might Trigger a Flare

  • Since you are living with the condition, you must be aware of when and where flares occur. Although it may get triggered unexpectedly, most of the time it is due to exposing yourself to a certain environment.
  • The trigger may happen due to some allergens, stress, and exposure to UV. There can be other triggers too which you must find out for yourself.
  • You can also consult your physician regarding the allergens which might cause the flare.
  • When you recognize the triggers, try to avoid them as much as possible. For causes like UV exposure, you can use sunscreen and other protective elements to prevent flares.
  • If you observe this properly, you can survive very easily and be comfortable at all times.

Be regular in your medications

  • Since drugs seem to be a better option in managing the condition, it is highly recommended to be observant in taking them regularly.
  • Seek your doctor’s advice and try to keep up the routine daily.
  • If you find something odd or having some side effects, then consult your physician and get treated for the condition immediately.
  • Try to educate yourself on the possible outcomes of the drugs and be strict with yourself in observing them.

While these might help you to avoid unexpected flares, it is important to observe certain natural remedies to maintain a healthy comfortable condition. Let us now discuss some of the most helpful remedies to help yourself manage the condition effectively.

How to Treat Lupus with Natural Home Remedies?

On one hand, medications help your immune system to be in check, and on the other hand, you must observe the following remedies to effectively manage the symptoms and try to comfortably live with the condition. The best remedies for lupus are:

Quit Smoking and Alcohol

Already your body is struggling with a defective immune system that is attacking itself. By adding toxic substances to the system, you are damaging the body further.

Since lupus has the potential for organ damage, you must never go near smoking or alcohol consumption.

Try to avoid secondhand smoke and don’t consume even a small amount of alcohol. It is very important to avoid these and protect your health.

These habits directly affect the organs and may get worse when you experience a flare response from lupus. 

Take a lot of Rest

Your body needs the energy to recover itself. You need to focus your energy on managing the pain and getting well soon from the symptoms.

Therefore, try to take a rest as much as possible. Whenever you feel slight tiredness or fatigue, try to lie down for some time with your eyes closed. 

Try to save energy by talking less and moving around less. It will be better if you observe these two strictly to conserve more energy.

Since you will be relying on medications, you have to conserve a lot of energy for the organs to effectively use them as well as remove any potential toxins from them.

Observe Fasting

Fasting is the best way to improve your health and decrease the recurrence of flares. When you observe fasting, it will increase the alkalinity of the body. 

Fasting can provide the same positive influence benefited from the HCQ. Lysosomes attack their cells by increasing acidity. So, when fasting increases the alkalinity of the body, the autoimmune response is reduced.

There are three different types of fasting you can observe:

  • Fruit Fasting
  • Water Fasting
  • Dry Fasting

Fruit fasting involves the consumption of only organic fruits for a day whenever you are hungry from sunrise to sunset.

This is the best type of fasting you can observe. You can even observe this fasting when you have unexpected flares and difficult situations.

Water fasting involves only the consumption of water from sunrise to sunset. This can be done once or twice per week.

Water is the best detoxifying agent and it has the highest ability to balance the acidity by increasing the alkalinity.

Water fasting enables your organs to rejuvenate and become healthier to perform all the necessary activities without any issues.

Dry fasting involves complete abstinence from food and drinks including water from sunrise to sunset.

This fasting might be hard but you can observe this once or twice every two weeks. It helps in replenishing the energy to primary organs.

Dry fasting also increases the alkalinity and balances the pH level. It revives the organ’s energy and capacity to operate with full functionality. 

This aids the body to face any kind of autoimmune response and the organs can keep up with the inflammation effectively.

Therefore, observe whichever fasting is suitable for your condition and combat lupus easily. At least try to observe fruit fasting.

Get Treated with Acupuncture

Acupuncture can be one of the best ways to manage pain from lupus. It involves channelizing the energy by stimulating the meridian points.

You can seek an acupuncturist once a week or whenever you have pain. When you have inflammation in the joints, you can perform acupuncture at certain meridian points and easily get rid of the pain. 

Similarly, you can use acupuncture for managing your pain more effectively. Apart from this, you can perform this alternative medicine for different types of inflammatory responses from the disease.

Other Beauty Care Home Remedies:

Conclusion

Plaquenil is popularly used in the treatment of lupus and we have clearly understood now its potential benefits. But depending only on HCQ drugs cannot completely help you to manage the condition. Therefore, you need to observe the recommended management techniques and home remedies to keep yourself comfortable during the worst scenarios.

References:

1. Hydroxychloroquine: From Malaria to Autoimmunityhttps://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12016-010-8243-x

2. Decrease in macrophage antigen catabolism caused by ammonia and chloroquine is associated with inhibition of antigen presentation to T cells. https://www.pnas.org/doi/abs/10.1073/pnas.79.1.175

3. Hydroxychloroquine inhibits calcium signals in T cells: a new mechanism to explain its immunomodulatory properties – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10828029/

4. Immunologic Concepts of Light Reactions in Lupus Erythematosus and Polymorphous Light Eruptions I. The Mechanism of Action of Hydroxychloroquine https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamadermatology/article-abstract/530304

5. Hydroxychloroquine in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27927040/

6. Does hydroxychloroquine improve patient reported outcomes in patients with lupus? – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34304629/

7. Percentage of Patients with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Who Are Treated with Hydroxychloroquine (2017-2020) – https://my.clevelandclinic.org/departments/orthopaedics-rheumatology/outcomes/999-percentage-of-patients-with-systemic-lupus-erythematosus-who-are-treated-with-hydroxychloroquine-2017-2020

8. Clinical efficacy and side effects of antimalarials in systemic lupus erythematosus: a systematic review – https://ard.bmj.com/content/69/01/20.short

9. TD-04 Plaquenil discontinuation is associated with increased damage accumulation in SLE – https://lupus.bmj.com/content/5/Suppl_2/A73.1.abstract

10. Discontinuation of antimalarial drugs in systemic lupus erythematosus. – https://europepmc.org/article/med/10229401

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