HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus)/AIDS

HIV is a virus that attacks the body’s immune system. HIV infection occurs after exposure to the virus through either blood-to-blood or sexual contact. Millions of people worldwide now carry this virus. It usually takes 2 to 5 years or more for symptoms to appear. Typically the actual HIV infection causes non-specific symptoms such as fatigue, malaise, anorexia, and nausea. As the disease progresses and the body’s immune system becomes more impaired, secondary infections may occur. Secondary conditions associated with HIV include AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome), ARC (AIDS Related Complex), and many opportunistic infections (such as Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia and intestinal parasites). The goal of treatment is to slow the progression of the disease, and minimize the impact of secondary conditions. HIV infection is managed with several strong antiviral drugs which, in themselves, have many undesirable side effects, such as nausea, diarrhea, loss of appetite and malnutrition.

 

Standard medical treatments:

Anti-viral medicines

Treatment of secondary conditions

Limitation of spread of the virus

Exercise

Psychological counseling

 

Supportive and alternative treatments:

Nutritional support –

Nnutritional testing for vitamins and minerals and replacement

Oregano oil – antibacterial and antifungal

Garlic– prevents cell to cell transmission of HIV through blood

Curcumin – helps to deactivate HIV

Vitamin C – immune support

Probiotics – restore intestinal bacteria

Blue green algae – superfood, helps correct nutritional deficiencies

Herbal –

Echinacea – helps the immune system deal with infections

Astralagus – stimulates T-helper ells

Licorice – increases T cell counts

Rooibos – prevents HIV from binding to T cells

Pau d’Arco – antifungal and immune support

Acupuncture

 

HIV and Cannabis

Research published in 2004 found that nearly one-quarter of AIDS patients were using cannabis. A majority reported relief of anxiety and/or depression and improved appetite, while nearly a third said it also increased pleasure and provided relief of pain. The effectiveness of cannabis for treating symptoms related to HIV/AIDS is widely recognized. Its value as an anti-emetic and analgesic has been proven in numerous studies and has been recognized by several comprehensive, government- sponsored reviews.  A review by the Institute of Medicine concluded, “For patients such as those with AIDS or who are undergoing chemotherapy and who suffer simultaneously from severe pain, nausea, and appetite loss, cannabinoid drugs might offer broad-spectrum relief not found in any other single medication.”

Over 30% of patients with HIV/AIDS suffer from excruciating pain in the nerve endings (polyneuropathies), many in response to the antiretroviral therapies that constitute the first line of treatment for HIV/AIDS. But, there is no approved treatment for such pain that is satisfactory for a majority of patients. As a result, some patients must reduce or discontinue their HIV/AIDS therapy because they can neither tolerate nor eliminate the debilitating side effects of the antiretroviral first-line medications. In a 2007 study done at UCSF, cannabis was found to be effective to treat HIV neuropathy, and is being offered as an option increasingly.