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Waiting in vain:
Dec 18, 2001

Hey Doc,

I'll try yet again, although it seems that you're avoiding the question because you can't answer it!

In a recent post titled "options", you stated that herbal medications haven't been shown to cause inhibition of HIV replication, improvement in immune function, or improvement in survival in patients. Would you please quote the study you are referencing. Besides that, I am sure your ancestors would be shocked to hear you say that herbs are useless with the immune system! But nonetheless, please inform me of the study, it may convince me to go on the meds!

Another question, since you claim that the vast majority of persons with HIV infection, untreated will have progressive immune depletion and progression to AIDS and death, where are the long-term studies? The CDC says that about 800,000 ca. people are infected with the virus in this country, 450,000 ca. of which are already dead and less than 20on antiretroviral meds today, shouldn't we have seen a rise in the number of AIDS cases long ago? But we haven't! How mysterious! AIDS has been on a steady decline since the early 1990s. This may explain why the latency period is now upwards of 15 years! Move the goal post out further, in order to salvage the theory. Since you live and breathe this epidemic everyday, I'm sure you can quote these studies blind, or?

-Waiting for your answer, although probably in vain.

Response from Dr. Young

Dear waiting in vain- It is always fair to question the source of information, whether medical or otherwise. Doing so faciliates the careful evaluation of effectiveness.

I dare say that the burden of proof in treatments is not to prove that something does not work, but to show that something works. It is my understanding of the literature that no such data exists for the vast majority of the so-called herbal medications. This is not to say that there may not be botanical products that may have antiretroviral activity, merely that such activity has not been demonstrated in carefully designed, scientifically valididated studies. It is important to remember, even for the orthodox medical community that you are quick to dismiss, that many of our contemporary medications had a historical root, so to speak, in botanical sources (e.g., aspirin, vinca-alkaloid cancer drugs).

More to the point, though, is the fact that currently FDA-approved medications have been shown both in the test tube and in living human beings to have antieretroviral activity. We know that compared with no therapy, HAART improves immune function and life expectancy; that the rate of opportunistic infections is dramatically down since the advent of HAART, despite no change in the treatment or prevention of opportunistic infections (see the results of the HOPS study, Pallela, CROI 2001, for example)

If you want to take herbs that's fine with me, but understand there have been no studies that have proven that any herb is very powerful. For a couple of references, see: http://www.thebody.com/treat/altern.html#basics

We have a huge section on complementary medications: http://www.thebody.com/treat/altern.html

Good luck, BY



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