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RE: Echinacea - info to avoid if HIV+
Nov 29, 1999

The HIV+ should be wary of herbal and other supplements

that say the "boost" or "activate" the immune system.

One problem with HIV, and one of the ways it creates the

conditions needed for continued replication are

precisely to put the immune system into a state of

hyperactivation that is actually harmfull.

As reguards Echinacea specifically, it has been shown

to increase Tumor Necrosis Factor, (TNF) and IL-6 which I

believe are pro-inflamatory cytokines that may be associated

with accelerated HIV replication. Many alternative-medicine

HIV proponents recommend against the use of this herb by the

HIV positive for more than a 2 week period during colds,

etc.

See the following:

Int J Immunopharmacol 1997 Jul;19(7):371-9

Echinacea-induced cytokine production by human macrophages.

Burger RA, Torres AR, Warren RP, Caldwell VD, Hughes BG

...Cytokine production was measured by ELISA after

18 h of incubation for IL-1 and 36 and 72 h for TNF-alpha,

IL-6, and IL-10. Macrophages cultured in concentrations of

echinacea as low as 0.012 microgram/ml produced

significantly higher levels of IL-1, TNF-alpha, IL-6 and

IL-10 (P < 0.05) than unstimulated cells....

Things like Astragalus and Ligustrum in small amounts

however seem to just stimulate the PRODUCTION of more

immune progenitor cells and their maturation. So they

are helpful used sparingly and in an on/off cycle.

But avoid things that put the immune system into a

"state of activation".

Response from Dr. Dieterich

Dear Echinacea,

Thank you for that enlightening message. Immune activation like with IL 2 is also not advisable unless the HIV is under total control. Douglas T. Dieterich, M.D.


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