Natural Treatments for HSP

Natural Treatments for HSP

Henoch Schonlein Purpura, otherwise known as HSP, is a type of vasculitis that occurs largely in the pediatric population. In fact, HSP is the most common type of childhood vasculitis, and it often occurs following an upper respiratory infection. Like all vasculitis syndromes, HSP is characterized by inflammation in the walls of the blood vessels. Some physicians may not recommend treatment, as this condition tends to go away on its own in 6-8 weeks. However, other physicians may prescribe steroids to reduce severe inflammation.

Parents of children with HSP may not be satisfied with waiting for the condition to resolve itself when the case is not severe enough to require steroid therapy. Luckily, research shows that some natural treatments can be used to reduce the blood vessel inflammation that occurs in HSP. One study from 2011 shows that oxidation may play a role in the development of HSP, and another study indicates that oxidation of fats in the body is an important step in the development of HSP.

Given this information, the use of healthy antioxidants may help slow the development of HSP and reduce inflammation. Antioxidants are found in dark colored berries, dark leafy vegetables, and can be obtained through vitamin supplements such as vitamins A, C, and E. Another very useful antioxidant for HSP is coQ10, which can directly reduce the inflammation of the endothelial lining of the blood vessel wall.  Click here for more information.

A major class of antioxidant compounds are flavonoids, which are found in berries, green tea, and citrus fruits. A 2012 study demonstrated that flavonoids isolated from a Chinese herbal medicine Bidens bipinnata reduced inflammatory messengers in the serum of HSP patients, including interleukin-8, tumor necrosis factor-alpha, and nitric oxide. These inflammatory messengers are usually high in the blood of HSP patients. The flavonoids from this plant also reduced the expression of NF-kB, which is an upstream regulator of many inflammatory messengers. Click here for more information.

Another very useful natural medicine for HSP is fish oil. Fish oil is high in omega-3 fatty acids which have been shown to reduce inflammatory cytokines in the body by enhancing the production of anti-inflammatory prostaglandins. A 2004 study showed that fish oil supplementation combined with an ACEI hypertensive medication helped protect the kidneys of children with HSP by reducing the amount of protein lost in the urine. Click here for more information.

HSP is a condition that usually resolves spontaneously, but may still lead to serious complications. While many cases may require steroid intervention, other cases can enter a “watch and wait” period. During this period, parents have the option to be proactive about their child’s condition using safe and effective natural therapies. The safest way to obtain the nutrients mentioned in these studies is to eat a diet loaded with dark colored fruits and vegetables. In
addition, a good quality multivitamin and omega-3 supplement may also help reduce inflammation for HSP.

Please consult with your rheumatologist before starting any supplementation protocol.

January 2014
Source:  By Kimberly M. Sanders, ND Resident Physician
University of Bridgeport College of Naturopathic Medicine 203.806.5138