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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 further explored.

  • Among the claims made for the mineral selenium are that it prevents and treats AIDS-related pathology.

  • 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 for AIDS.

  • 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 AIDS.

  • 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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Copyright © 2000 by Dr. Kenneth R. Pelletier, Inc.
Reprinted by permission of Simon & Schuster, Inc., New York, New York.

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