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Herbal Alternative therapy

Jan 23, 2003

Dear Dr. Wohl,

Please, Please, Please Help! I am confused.

I had started on an alternative therapy (herbal medication) on 23.09.2002 and had CD4 and VL done. Within one week of starting medication, I noticed dramatic improvements to myself. I started gaining weight, had more stamina, increase in appitite, and clearing of complexion amongst other symptoms. I had a CD4 & Viral Load redone on 02.11.2002 showing dramatic improvements, CD4 count doubled, and Viral Load reduced to one third. During this time due to some family problems I underwent a bout of massive depression and stopped taking the medication for approximately 24 days. I went back to drugs IV, drinking booze etc. I restarted medication on 26.11.2002 and managed to control drugs and booze. No medication between 02.11.2002 and 25.11.2002. I had my third CD4 and Viral load done on 13.01.2003 and I was shocked to see the results, my CD4 count reduced drastically, worse than first but CD4 increased slightly, however Viral Load increased Five fold. However my Lymphocyte which was higher than normal in my pervious tests was almost at normal level in the third test.

I am under no other form of medication. I have continued to gain weight, I enjoy eating, I have more stamina than ever before.

Please note that, these tests are not done in my country so samples have to be sent to Mumbai India for analysis in special containers . Takes approximately 3-4 days for samples to reach the lab. The last sample was delayed 2-3 more days as flights were cancelled. Could this delay of samples reaching the lab have anything to do with the results.

Following are my results:

1 2 3

CD4 555 942 444 CD4 18 21.6 21.8 Lymp 3086 4361 2038 Lymp 67.1 62.3 47.4 VL PCR 45,000 14,790 73,500

I eagerly await your analysis on the above.

Response from Dr. Wohl


I am glad you are feeling well as that is of greatest importance. Your numbers seem to indicate that things are going well. Your CD4 cell count remains high by absolute and CD4 percent values. Similarly, your viral load while not very low, is also not very high.

Your 'response' to the herbal medication may have been due to this therapy. It could also be explained by avoidance of alcohol and drugs and starting to eat well.

It is important to point out that the numbers suggest that there have not been great changes. Your absolute CD4 cell count did go up on the second test but the CD4 percent of 21.6 was not tremendously different than the value of 18 previously. As you said, your total lymphocyte count was higher at the time the second test was done and this would explain why the absolute CD4 went up but the proportion of your lymphocytes that are CD4 cells (CD4 percent) remained about the same, albeit a touch higher.

The viral load too is not too different over the 3 tests. The nature of most viral load tests is that there is about a three-fold variability in the results. This means the same sample could be retested and come up with a number that is within three-fold of the first result.

Again, you are doing well. If you stay off the illicit drugs and alcohol and continue to take care of yourself you will increase your odds of staying well. If you have more experiences with the herbal medication please let us know as we would all love to hear about alternative therapies that work. DW

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