Article written by Dr. Michelle Strydom MD
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune disease. In other words it is caused by the immune system attacking and destroying its own body tissue. Therefore to understand the physical and spiritual dynamics behind SLE, you need to first read through the chapter on autoimmune diseases on page 200 which has essential background information.
In SLE, there are more than 50 different parts of the body cells that are targeted and destroyed by the immune system. SLE affects nearly every system in the body:
• The antibodies of the immune system often target the DNA inside the body cells – these are called anti-DNA antibodies.
• There are also anti-phospholipid antibodies that destroy the cell membranes. One of these antiphospholipid antibodies, which are called anti-cardiolipin antibodies cause blood clots to form. These clots tend to block the blood vessels, which then cuts off the blood supply to the tissues. In SLE the blood clots commonly block the blood vessels that supply blood to the brain – this causes a stroke. The blood clots also block the blood vessels supplying blood through the placenta to a baby in a pregnant woman. Because the baby does not get enough blood, it dies (natural abortion).
• There are antibodies that attack and destroy the red blood cells, resulting in anemia. The white blood cells can also be destroyed leading to what is called leucopenia. The white blood cells are the cells of the immune system. When you have a deficiency of white blood cells, you are very vulnerable to infections. The platelets in the blood can be destroyed leading to thrombocytopenia (which means a deficiency of platelets). When you do not have enough platelets the blood cannot clot effectively which means that you bleed or bruise easily. The lymph cells can also be destroyed leading to lymphopenia.
• There are even anti-bodies called Rheumatoid factors that attack other anti-bodies. These antibodies play a role in the development of Rheumatoid arthritis which is explained in detail on page 378. In the chapter on autoimmune diseases you learnt about a type III hypersensitivity reaction where immune complexes are formed. The Rheumatoid factors attack and bind to other antibodies (IgG) to form immune complexes. These immune complexes are deposited in the joints causing irritation, inflammation and pain in the joints, especially in the hands, knees and ankles.
• There is also pain in the muscles.
• There can be inflammation and damage to the kidneys.
• Sometimes there is inflammation of the heart (pericarditis, myocarditis or endocarditis) and lungs (pleurisy) which causes chest pain.
• 20 to 30% of people with SLE have a raised, painful, itchy rash on their face that is the shape of
a butterfly and hence is called a “butterfly rash”. Their skin is abnormally sensitive to sunlight and patches of hair may fall out. Other less common features on the skin include Raynaud’s phenomenon, urticaria (an eruption of itchy wheals on the skin), increased pigmentation of the skin and ulcers on the skin. The person can also develop ulcers in their mouth.
• Some people with SLE can develop severe headaches and even convulsions due to inflammation and damage to the arteries and structures in the brain. They also suffer from fatigue, fevers, weight loss and have difficulty concentrating.
• Up to 80% of people with SLE also get fibromyalgia which is wide spread pain all over the body. Fibromyalgia is explained in detail on page 389. Interestingly 90% of people with SLE are women. The reason for this is the same reason why nearly 100% of people with fibromyalgia are women. This is explained in the section on fibromyalgia.
As you can see from the list of the symptoms of SLE above – the body is in a state of total self destruction. You learnt in the chapter on autoimmune diseases that when you are attacking yourself spiritually with thoughts of self-hatred, self-rejection, self disapproval, guilt, shame and condemnation – your thoughts will be converted into a physical reaction and your body will begin to attack and destroy itself physically. The result in this case is SLE. People with SLE often die prematurely because of a massive infection, organ failure and heart disease. This is also partly caused by the steroid drugs that are used to treat SLE by suppressing the immune system. There is a way to be totally set free from this miserable disease without drugs. This disease is not incurable with God when His conditions for healing are met. I have read case studies of people who have been totally healed of SLE and this was documented by doctors in official medical records. These people who were healed simply renewed their minds and changed their way of thinking concerning how they see themselves. I encourage you to do the same. Building a healthy self-esteem starts with knowing who you are in Christ and placing your sense of self worth and identity in Him. You need to learn to see yourself as God sees you. Turn to the chapter on page 498 which will help you with this.
There may be organs and tissue that are irreversibly damaged by the SLE. In this case you need to operate in the gift of miracles. This is explained on page 123 under the heading “You Can’t Always Do It Alone.”
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