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Re: are there alternatives for anti-virals, something to take totally in place of??
happyhealthygal Views: 7,547
Published: 15 years ago
This is a reply to # 1,186,211

Re: are there alternatives for anti-virals, something to take totally in place of??

The alternative/complimentary health industry is a 4-billion dollar a year industry, hardly a bunch of do-gooder who are only interested in saving lives without making a profit. The pharmaceutical companies may be big pharma, but the those selling alternative remedies are "little pharma". The only difference is that they are not subject to any reguation or quality control (which has both its pluses and minuses for the consumer. It allows for freedom to choose, lower prices, and potentially useful therapies that would otherwise not be available, on the one hand, but also for rampant misrepresentation [which occurs on both sides but appears to me to be far more egregious on the alt side of things] on the other.
As far as HIV/AIDS goes, I don't know how much attention any of you pay to the research that is actually done (I pay quite a bit, having been HIV+ for many years), but there has been quite a bit of research done on potential therapies that are not antiretroviral drugs. I will only bother listing actual clinical trials, rather than laboratory research (in which case the list would go on and on), but they have studied everything from herbs, to nutritional supplements, to cytokine therapies and immune boosters, to serotonin agonists, to what I will broadly categorize as "other". Check it out! Especially those of you who are HIV+. None of the results are earth-shattering incredible (in my opinion, based on a lot of years with this epidemic and having read the results of a lot of clinical trials over those years), but some of them are positive, and you may find some where the results seem good enough to warrant your enthusiasm (which is, after all, the only thing that matters. It's your health, not mine!). The links are mostly to abstracts, but for most of these, you can find the full articles if you look.

I'm personally of the belief that HIV+ individuals are far better off reading research themselves, because there is a tendency to rely on others' representations of what the data actually says (imo, you can't trust very many popular secondary sources on scientific matters, on this site or any other, since so many people will misrepresent what a study says in order to sell you their own theory [People with HIV are not the only people who do this by the way; most people do this]. Whenever a popular media source makes a scientific reference, I track down the original study [well, if I actually care. Most people don't do this, though. Around half the time, I find that the study does not say what they claim that it does. A big danger sign is if they do not give you the reference or link to where you can find the study yourself, or if the link takes you to another secondary source, rather than the actual primary source for the data]). For the reasons just described, I don't really like to summarize evidence for people (unless specifically asked, or to refute the unsupported or misleading assertions of others), because I think it's good for people with HIV to start to read scientific studies and learn to evaluate the evidence rather than rely on secondary sources for advice. There is a lot here, and I know that this can be overwhelming, so if someone wants my take on any of these products, I am willing to give it (since I have read all of this, although in some cases all that is available is just an abstract), but I would still recommend that you read the studies before taking any of the compounds listed here.


St. John’s Wort: (showed an effect in the laboratory, none in live people, very toxic):

Ginseng (research still occurring):

Durant J, Chantre P, Gonzalez G, et al. Efficacy and safety of Buxus sempervirens L. preparations (SPV30) in HIV-infected asymptomatic patients: a multicentre, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Phytomedicine . 1998;5:1-10 (no statistical difference between SPV30 and placebo in new AIDS-defining events, CD4 cell counts, or viral load)
SPV-30 may offer CD4 increase:

SPV-30: an activist initiated, informal study to collect data to determine the efficacy of a natural, alternative therapy for HIV/ AIDS.
Some of the boxwood studies might interest you, as an example of how activists can organize a study without institutional support, although there were also institutionally-funded studies going on at the same time (summary of early evidence:
Early studies were very promising, later ones, not so much. Toxicity was low (side effects such as diarrhea did occur). People lost interest once HAART came out and studies showed that there wasn’t really a long-term benefit, even though the early results had appeared promising. There may be a benefit in the developing world, as it may be effective against TB, and TB is more prevalent there.

(antiviral effect in vitro, no effect in real, live humans).

Aloe Vera Acemannan:
Double-blind placebo-controlled pilot trial of acemannan in advanced human immunodeficiency virus disease:

(peripheral neuropathy study)

lentinan (from mushrooms):
placebo-controlled trial:
(earlier study, which you can link to, seemed to show benefit, but the longer-term follow-up showed no effect; plus, high toxicity)

Andrographolide (Asian medicinal plant):
A phase I trial of andrographolide in HIV positive patients and normal volunteers:

Trichosanthan (from a Chinese root):

(other studies show narrow therapeutic index, high toxicity, so careful!)

Chinese Herb Combinations:
phase I/II study:

Immune Boosters (I would probably prefer the term “modulators”):


16alpha-bromoepiandrosterone (a DHEA analogue) – I’d call this an “immune-modulating hormone’:

Buspirone (a serotonin receptor agonist; St. John’s Wort also agonizes serotonin)


Vitamins/Nutritional Supplements:

(zinc for HIV+ with TB)
(for dementia)
(vit E, C)




(there are so many studies on macronutrients I’m not going to dig them up; needless to say, there is quite a bit on this, probably more than anything else. If there is anything I would recommend for asymptomatic people who are still healthy, it would be a decent multivitamin, of whatever brand. There is really no evidence that I know of that any one brand is better than any other).

Other Non-Antivirals (none of the ones listed are patentable, by the way; none are recommended either, and the latter two listed are far more toxic than most antivirals, but they’ve still been studied as possible therapies or means to “cures”):

Valproic Acid:!&_cdi=4886&view=c&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=ff641216372c11e92517150580d16d2c

Hydroxyurea (HU)
(study to see whether taking HU would allow patients to stop taking antiviral drugs without suffering disease progression);


Cytokine Therapies (hormones your immune system makes naturally):

Interleukin-2: necessary for growth + differentiation of T-cells;

Interferon-alpha (cells produce this cytokine upon viral infection; it alerts nearby cells to arm up, leads to the shutdown of translation and/or the destruction of RNA when signaled by presence of the virus, upregulates MHC-1, attracts NK cells, etc...)

(strangely enough, or actually not so strangely, due to the complexity of the immune dysregulation seen with this virus, and the fact that we’re constantly learning more about it, there has also been some interesting research aimed at counteracting IFN-a overproduction!

Granulocyte-Macrophage Stimulating Factor (stimulates production of polymorphonuclear cells and monocytes in bone marrow):
(tested to see if it would allow patients to have better outcomes during periods off of antiviral drugs)

Interleukin-10 (inhibits Th1 response, TNFa, IFNg, IL2, but can support Th2/Bcell response; I guess it was hoped this would reduce immune activation, but seems like it might also contribute to the Th2/Th1 imbalance that pozitoids suffer from):

Interleukin-12 (supports cell-mediated immunity: Th1/CTLs/m0s, IFNg, TNFa, some support to NK cells):

Interferon-Gamma: (part of Th1 response, activates macrophages, various other functions)

Tumor Necrosis Factor Alpha + Interferon-gamma (Wow, I can’t believe they actually tried this! They tried giving TNFa to people with cancer years ago, when it was first discovered. As you can guess from the name, it does kill tumors. It also has a zillion other effects [fever, inflammation, in large doses, shock + death] so it killed the tumors, then killed the people! They used low doses, here. I doubt anyone would try this today with what’s known now about the role of immune activation in the pathogenesis of AIDS)

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