Herbal treatment for HIV/AIDS not recommended

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Evidence is lacking about the effectiveness of herbal medicines for the treatment of individuals with HIV/AIDS, a new review reveals. “Because the trials reviewed had small sample sizes and did not have enough treatment follow-up, we cannot reach any firm conclusions. We suggest that these compounds be studied further in large, well-designed trials”, explains Jianping Liu (University of Tromso, Tromso, Norway). Liu and colleagues selected nine clinical trials that had compared the effects of eight different herbal drugs with placebo, no intervention, or anti- HIV/AIDS drugs in 499 individuals with HIV/AIDS. The drugs had either been extracted from a single herb or multiple herbs—sometimes as many as 35 different herbs. The trials had looked at diverse outcomes such as mortality, disease progression, viral load, CD4 cell counts, adverse effects, quality of life, and psychological status. Four trials had inadequate methodological quality. Only three herbs tested had some positive effect. For example, a popular Chinese herbal drug, IGM-1, compared with placebo was associated with better quality of life. Liu believes that herbal medicines are more likely to improve quality of life measures than they would antiviral activity


Lancet Infectious Diseases