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Unfortunately there is no cure for HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) at this time. Therefore, the goal of treatment is to slow the progression of HIV to AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). Conventional medicine has come a long way since HIV was first discovered and is recommended by the authors of Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine for all individuals with CD4 counts below 500. Natural treatments are also showing much promise in delaying the progression. Below is information on herbs for HIV that have been studied.
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Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra)
The primary active component in licorice root is glycyrrhizin and glycyrrhetinic acid (glycyrrhizin minus a small sugar molecule). Preparations containing these components are showing promise in the treatment of HIV, as well as AIDS and chronic hepatitis. According to research, both prevent the replication of HIV (which is responsible for the progression of HIV to AIDS).
In one study, ten HIV-positive participants without AIDS received 150 to 225 milligrams of glycyrrhizin a day. After two years, none of these individuals progressed to AIDS. In the control group, three people developed AIDS (two subsequently died during the study).
Large doses of licorice (more than 3 grams) and prolonged use (more than six weeks) may cause water and sodium retention, leading to high blood pressure.
Turmeric (Curcuma longa) and Bromelain
Curcumin, an active ingredient of turmeric, is the key spice in curry. According to researchers at Harvard Medical School, curcumin inhibited the replication of HIV by blocking a specific gene that activates the virus and causes it to spread.
Curcumin is also a powerful antioxidant, about 300 times more powerful than vitamin E. Pure curcumin preparations are available but it is often recommended taking a product that contains both curcumin and bromelain (an enzyme derived from pineapple) to enhance absorption.
Andrographis (Andrographis paniculata)
Andrographolide, the primary chemical constituent of andrographis, has been shown to improve CD4(+) lymphocyte levels in HIV-positive individuals.
Other herbs for HIV that may be helpful in slowing the progression include:
• Cat's claw - For immune and antiviral activity.
• Green tea - In one study, epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), a component of green tea, inhibited HIV infectivity.
• Bitter melon - For antiviral and immune support.
It is important you talk to your health care provider before taking herbs.
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Michael Murray, N.D. and Joseph Pizzorno, N.D. Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine (1998)
University of Maryland Medical Center: HIV and AIDS - http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/hiv-and-000083.htm
Pub Med: A phase I trial of andrographolide in HIV positive patients and normal volunteers - http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10925397
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Image courtesy of http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Koeh-207.jpg
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