AIDS: CAM Therapies for Specific Conditions
- One published study focused on relaxation
combined with imagery to
affect immune system function, with potential applications in the treatment of
cancer and AIDS.
- Imagery has important potential in multifactorial
therapies for cancer, AIDS, and autoimmune diseases. This potential needs to be
- Among the claims made for the mineral selenium are that it prevents and treats
- Claims made for the hormone DHEA include that it combats AIDS, but that
remains unproven. More than ten thousand scientific papers have been written
about DHEA, and two international conferences have been held on DHEA research.
- Astragalus, which normalizes immune functions, is
probably the most commonly used herb in China today, and has been used in the
treatment of AIDS although its effectiveness is inconclusive.
- When used in conjunction with Western
medicine, traditional Chinese herbal medicine (TCM) has become a popular, although
unproven, approach in the United States for addressing certain life-threatening
diseases, particularly cancer and AIDS.
- Among people with HIV and AIDS, acupuncture
and Chinese herbs as
adjuncts to conventional care, such as protease inhibitors, are considered the
most promising alternative approaches. TCM reduces side effects of conventional
medications and increases their efficacy.
- Controlled clinical trials of Chinese
herbs need to be
increased. Particular emphasis needs to be placed on testing herbs for
conditions that often resist conventional treatment, such as AIDS.
- Acupuncture is a very popular complementary therapy
- In the treatment of HIV and AIDS, acupuncture has been demonstrated to increase total
white blood cells and T-cell production. In a controversial program in Miami,
acupuncture is purportedly increasing life span of AIDS patients and improving
quality of life.
- St. John's wort is an herb that is currently of interest
to AIDS researchers, who are analyzing the possible antiviral activity of one
of its primary active compounds, hypericum.
- In a 1993 study in India, 129
asymptomatic HIV carriers were treated with individualized constitutional homeopathic
remedies, and 12 became
HIV-negative after three to sixteen months. A 1994 study in the Netherlands of
homeopathic treatment of HIV and AIDS patients showed an improvement in CD4+
cells in 23 of 34 cases.
- Researchers are currently examining naturopathic
treatments in people
infected with HIV, and have found that herbal and nutritional therapies have produced
improvement in some measures of immune functioning and slowed progression of
- Significant work is being conducted to
evaluate combination therapies (which is the use of alternative therapies in conjunction with conventional
therapies) for AIDS.
- Therapeutic cocktails of protease
inhibitors are now
available that reduce HIV virus to zero and in some cases actually arrest AIDS.
Caution: Echinacea is an
inappropriate herb for HIV and AIDS, since echinacea may promote the
replication of T-cells, which is where the HIV virus resides.
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BEST ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE: WHAT WORKS? WHAT DOES NOT? by Dr. Kenneth R.
Copyright © 2000 by Dr. Kenneth R. Pelletier,
Reprinted by permission of Simon &
Schuster, Inc., New York, New York.
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