Herbs That Fight Hiv

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Nine randomized placebo‐controlled trials involving 499 individuals with HIV infection and AIDS met the inclusion criteria. Methodological quality of trials was assessed as adequate in five full publications and unclear in other trials. Eight different herbal medicines were tested.

Alternative treatments for HIV

Many people with HIV or AIDS use complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) in combination with traditional medical treatments to improve their health and well-being. There is some evidence that CAM treatments can relieve some symptoms of HIV infection or AIDS. However, there is no evidence that these treatments can treat or cure these conditions. And there’s also little information regarding the side effects of these treatments.

And just because a treatment is natural does not mean it’s safe. Some of these treatments can interact with certain medications. People with HIV or AIDS should tell their healthcare provider if they’re interested in using CAM to help manage their symptoms. Read on to learn about which options may be safe and which ones to avoid.

Alternative therapy for HIV symptoms

There is relatively little research on the use of CAM treatments for relieving symptoms of HIV or AIDS. However, some common CAM treatments have been shown to improve the symptoms of other illnesses. In some cases, these treatments might be worth a try for someone with HIV infection or AIDS.

Herbal medicine

Herbal medications should be used with caution. There isn’t enough evidence to support the use of these drugs for relieving HIV symptoms.

However, a brief course of certain herbs may support immunity in people with HIV. Research has shown that milk thistle is one example. Milk thistle is a common herb used in people to improve liver function and does not interact significantly with antivirals. Keep in mind though that other herbs may interact with conventional HIV treatments.

People with HIV should tell their healthcare provider before using any herbal treatments. This allows their provider to monitor for any drug interactions or side effects.

5 HIV cure myths exposed

There is no cure or vaccine for HIV – we debunk myths and rumors which suggest there are.

Although cure and vaccine research is developing rapidly and advances in antiretroviral treatment mean people living with HIV have near-normal life expectancy, we are still waiting on a cure for HIV to be found.

Despite this, stories continue to circulate online and within communities suggesting that there are alternative ways of getting rid of the virus for good. Here we debunk some common HIV cure myths to make sure you know that treatment is the only way to keep yourself healthy when living with HIV…

1: Alternative medicines and therapies can cure HIV

Some people choose to take alternative forms of medicine, such as herbal remedies, as a natural way of treating HIV. However, there is no evidence that these medicines work.

Taking herbal medicines can be dangerous as they will not protect your immune system from infection and may interact poorly with ARVs if you are taking them alongside treatment. The only way you can stay healthy when living with HIV is to take antiretroviral treatment as prescribed by your doctor or healthcare worker, and to attend viral load monitoring appointments to make sure they are working for you. 

2: I’m undetectable and can’t pass on HIV – does this mean I’m cured?

Some people who adhere to treatment well are able to achieve a viral load so low that it is classed as ‘undetectable’. This also means they can’t pass HIV on to others. This is great progress, however, if you’ve recently been given an undetectable diagnosis this doesn’t mean that you’re cured, as HIV is still present in your body.

This means that if you stop taking treatment then your viral load can increase – affecting your long-term health and making HIV transmittable again. You can read more about what it means to be undetectable here.

3: Having no symptoms means you’re cured of HIV

HIV can exist in the body without displaying any symptoms sometimes for up to 10 or 15 years – so you may be living with the virus for some time and feel absolutely fine. Even though you may feel psychically well, without treatment the virus can seriously compromise the immune system over time leaving you vulnerable to harmful and life-threatening illnesses.

If you’ve been diagnosed with HIV, are on treatment and aren’t experiencing any symptoms of illness then this means that your treatment is working at keeping your immune system strong.  

4: A higher power can cure HIV 

Across the globe there is a strong belief that prayer can be healing. Although many people find that their faith helps them to deal with some of the difficulties of living with HIV, the only way that you can ensure that you stay healthy is by taking antiretroviral treatment. Unfortunately, there is still no cure for HIV, so that includes religious practices too. 

Religion can be really good for providing supportive community networks, but you should also continue to visit your healthcare worker for treatment and medical advice.

5: Having sex with a virgin will cleanse HIV  

The ‘virgin cleansing’ myth is the belief sex with a virgin girl can cure men of HIV or other sexually transmitted infections. The myth is old and completely untrue – it is believed to have begun circulating in 16th century Europe, when people were first starting to get syphilis and gonorrhea, but it is now a popular HIV-cure-myth in sub-Saharan Africa. 

Having sex with a virgin will not cure HIV, it will just put them at risk of being infected with the virus if protection isn’t used. For those under the age of consent, or those who have not consented to sex, this is also a form of sexual violence and is a criminal offense.  

Herbal medicine use is becoming very popular in many countries especially in the western world, where public health safety has become a concern, especially its concomitant use with orthodox medicine. The devastating impact of HIV/AIDS pandemic coupled with the severe shortage of health personnel has compelled patients to develop coping mechanisms by adopting alternative sources of primary health care, one of which has been the use of herbal therapies. An integration of herbal medicine into the current medical curriculum will enable future physicians to communicate better with their patients on this evolving healthcare system. This review briefly examines the role of herbal medicine in HIV/AIDS treatment and management. It is hoped that this review will provide important and relevant information that will help policy makers to put in place control measures against the abuse of herbal therapy.

Herbal treatments and remedies

The advice presented here is based on knowledge gained from people living with HIV/AIDS about useful herbal treatments and remedies. It does not claim that all herbs and remedies have the same effect on all people.

Many communities have their own knowledge of health and nutrition, based on local traditions and culture. It is important to understand and be sensitive to these traditional beliefs and the many kinds of traditional care available. They represent alternatives to formal general medicine and for many people will be the only options they have. Any external medical recommendations that people receive will be compared with their cultural practices and the recommendations of their traditional healers. People will only take action if the recommendations they receive appear to make sense and provide some benefit.

Some traditional beliefs and food practices may not be useful. It will be important to find out about local practices and explain both to people with HIV/AIDS and to traditional healers whenever and why such practices should not be followed. However, beneficial traditional practices that provide readily accessible, effective and low-cost remedies should be identified and promoted.

TRADITIONAL TREATMENTS: LOCALLY PROMOTED APPROACHES

Traditional treatments differ greatly from region to region and are often very specific to a location. Therefore, locally known and available treatments need to be included here and their advantages and disadvantages discussed. Information can be obtained from clinics, health offices and local HIV/AIDS information and support organizations. In some countries, associations of traditional healers may also have additional information.

People with HIV/AIDS often become frustrated with management of the disease. Many are willing to try anything in the hope of staying healthy and living longer.

HIV/AIDS is not a traditional illness and so far there is no hard evidence to believe that traditional medicines can treat HIV and cure AIDS. However, certain traditional medicines may help to treat many of the symptoms of opportunistic infections that are part of AIDS. While some of these medicines may be undoubtedly helpful, others may be dangerous because they may do more harm than good, they are expensive and therefore reduce money available for buying food, and they may require avoidance of certain foods. It is therefore recommended always to discuss treatments with a health worker or nutritionist and avoid any treatment or practice, such as fasting, that could possibly reduce food intake and cause weight loss.

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