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Plants That Hurt - For People With AIDS, Avoiding These Herbs Could Prolong Your Life

What Westerners consider to be "alternative" or "complementary" medicine may be considered a medical tradition established for most other countries. The therapeutic value of certain plants in the treatment of human disorders, acquired by the human race, is well known in the developed world. However, it is important to note that herbs are not medicines. This article is for people with HIV or AIDS. It seems that some popular supplements, including some that are recommended by herbalists for HIV treatment, may contain one or more herbs that may interact negatively with conventional retroviral drugs. Long-term use of these herbs by many HIV patients can lead to the development of HIV-resistant strains. Please consider the information below carefully.

Some documented bad interactions:

  • African potatoes (Hypoxis hemerocallidea) : Although widely used in Africa as a traditional remedy for a variety of diseases, several laboratory studies have shown that African potatoes can reduce the effectiveness of HIV retroviral drugs by as much as 80%. This is because ingredients in African potatoes compete metabolic with anti-HIV protease inhibitors.
  • Garlic: Garlic food supplements must be used with care. Studies have documented that garlic may inhibit the processing of optic protease inhibitors and NNRTIs. A study on HIV-negative people taking protease inhibitors found that garlic supplements twice daily lowered blood protease inhibitors. Garlic used for cooking is safe, however.
  • Wort St. John (Hypericum) : This popular herbal anti-depressant has been shown to lower blood indinavir levels, and potentially, all NNRTI protease and efavirenz inhibitors (Sustiva, also in Atripla pill combination) and nevirapine (Viramune).
  • Sutherland (Sutherland frutescens) : Spices used in Africa for the treatment of people with HIV have been shown by laboratory studies to interact negatively with anti-HIV drugs.

Admittedly, some of these findings are considered controversial, as some studies have concluded that certain plants are safe to use when taking anti-virals. Research is underway to find out more about the interaction between HIV and antiretroviral herbs. If you have HIV or AIDS, and are considering using supplements or alternatives to relieve symptoms or stop the onset of illness, please discuss this with your doctor before making a decision on vitamins or herbal supplements. He or she will be able to tell you if there is a risk of interaction between specific herbs and anti-HIV. It is also advisable to consult with a dietitian to analyze your diet and advise you on the best dietary intake so that you can meet your vitamin and mineral needs through both foods and supplements.


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