Article

Herbal medicines for treating HIV infection and AIDS

National Research Center in Complementary and Alternative Medicine, University of Tromso, Tromso, Norway, N-9037.
Cochrane database of systematic reviews (Online) (Impact Factor: 5.94). 02/2005; 3(3):CD003937. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD003937.pub2
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT People with HIV infection or AIDS frequently seek alternative or 'complementary' therapies for their illness. Although many trials of these therapies exist, very few meet the scientific standards necessary to support the claims of beneficial effects in the therapies studied. This review identified nine randomized clinical trials, which tested eight different herbal medicines, compared with placebo, in HIV-infected individuals or AIDS patients with diarrhoea. The results showed that a preparation called SPV30 may be helpful in delaying the progression of HIV disease in HIV-infected people who do not have any symptoms of this infection. A Chinese herbal medicine, IGM-1, seems to improve the quality of life in HIV-infected people who do have symptoms. Another herbal compound ,SH, showed an increase of antiviral benefit when combined with antiretroviral agents. A South American herb preparation, SP-303, may reduce the frequency of abnormal stools in AIDS patients with diarrhoea. Other herbs tested were no better than placebo; however, the beneficial effects need to be considered with caution because the number of patients in these trials was small and the size of the effects quite moderate. In one trial the use of medicinal herbs was related to adverse effects such as gastrointestinal discomfort. Conclusion: No compelling evidence exists to support the use of the herbal medicines identified in this review for treatment of HIV infection and AIDS. To ensure that evidence is reliable, there need to be larger and more rigorously-designed trials.

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    • "Compared to a previous paper [10], we identified 6 new RCTs and successfully updated the evidence. The results of our paper are similar to that of the previous paper [10], which also expressed concern regarding the beneficial effects need to be considered with caution because the number of patients in these trials was small and the size of the effects quite moderate. "
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