Apr 20, 2004
Response from Dr. Frascino
I get lots of questions about safety and/or efficacy of lots of different supplements. My response is always the same. These products have not been reviewed by the FDA to see if they work, how well they work, if they are safe, and if they interact with other medications. In fact, if you visit the Altovis website, you see teeny tiny print at the bottom of the page stating that Altovis's claims to fight fatigue "have not been reviewed by the Food and Drug Administration, and individual results may vary." Equally revealing is the statement, "Altovis . . . is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease." OK, so if this stuff is "not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease," what the hell is it supposed to do??? Well, for one thing, it's designed to make the parent company richer. I should point out the Altovis money-back guarantee is not an unconditional guarantee. There are lots of strings attached, the most egregious of which is that you do not get any money back until you have taken the stuff for a full year! Yep, that's right. If you want your money back, you must have taken the stuff for an entire year, and even then you don't get the shipping and handling costs back! If you accept a free 30-day supply offer from the company's 1-800 number, you get something else as well -- automatically entered into a program where your credit card is billed every other month.
OK, so the pricing structure is complex, confusing, and, in my opinion, less than forthright. Now, what about the product itself? Altovis has lots of "stuff" in it various vitamins, green tea leafs (providing caffeine), cordyceps extract (also called mycelium, a Chinese herb that has "cure-all" and "anti-aging" properties), eleutherococcus senticosus/panax ginseng (a root that claims many benefits, including those for enhanced sexual performance), Vinpocetine (vocanga tree seeds, which claim to improve brain function, but which can interact with blood thinners and also raise blood pressure), octacosanol (derived from wax on green blades of wheat, it claims to improve strength).
Jay, you mention you are on blood pressure meds. It's important for you to know that at least one ingredient in Altovis could raise blood pressure. Does any of this stuff interact with HIV meds? No one knows. It's never been studied. Is it possible? Yes, it is.
Does this gamish work to battle fatigue? Well, it does contain green tea leaves, which are a source of caffeine. Caffeine, whether in a fine demitasse of espresso or in a couple of No-doze pills, will indeed tend to perk you up. As for the other ingredients, there are no scientific studies that prove any of it is the least bit helpful.
Personally, I would not take it. There are enough pills I have to take without adding others that have no proven beneficial effect and that have a potential risk of drug-drug interactions and other unwarranted negative side effects. Should you take it? Only you can decide that, Jay. But I did want to point out that potential blood pressure problem.
HIV-ers (and even HIV-neggies) should realize that all drugs (prescription and non-prescription), dietary supplements, vitamins, and other products can be dangerous. Make sure your HIV specialist knows everything that you are taking (or considering taking).
Regarding Altovis, the manufactures have a new pill called Avlimil that is supposed to make women want to have sex. Their "guarantee" is just as tricky as the one for Altovis and the efficacy for this new product is, shall we say, "questionable," to be polite.
Gosh if these products really worked don't you think someone would have insisted Bush use it to "improve brain function" and maybe even Condie Rice to make her want to have sex?
Jay, my personal opinion would be to use the money you are currently wasting (I mean spending) on this caffeine supplement to purchase a good espresso machine. Or better yet, come visit me at the coffee shop.
Hope that helps.
You're the greatest Dr. Bob!
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