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early treatment/ antioxidants and herbs

May 19, 2000

May taking of antioxidants and/or immuno-stimulating herbs be helpful in early stages of the HIV infection? Thank you very much.

Response from Dr. Cohen

Tough question, because there is little information about this topic. One answer: there isn't any convincing evidence that I've heard or seen that antioxidants/herbs have any significant impact on the progression of HIV. We certainly need to be looking at the role of antioxidants and immuno-modulators more closely, but it isn't an easy task. The chemistry of these compounds in the body is very complicated, and we have a poor understanding of their function in healthy people. With HIV infection, or other diseases, it gets even more complicated.

Some herbs, and antioxidants in high doses, could be a problem for someone with HIV. Especially true if you try to mix them with conventional antivirals. For instance, St. Johns' wort can dramatically lower the blood level of protease inhibitors. There are almost certainly many interactions of this type that we just haven't studied yet.

If you decide to use this kind of treatment, consult with your physician to lower the risks. Best of Luck...

Sustiva and upset stomach
Healthy as a Horse: HIV since 1982

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