Complementary Therapies and HIV
These activities enhance the mind's ability to affect bodily functions and symptoms. Mind-body techniques often include patient support groups, prayer, and therapies that use creative methods such as art, music, or dance. Practices such as biofeedback, hypnosis, journaling, and meditation are considered mind-body techniques.
Achieving a deep state of relaxation is one way to help ease stress and renew the body. Techniques for deep relaxation include meditation, mindfulness, guided visualization, progressive muscle relaxation, certain types of yoga, or Chinese exercises such as Qigong (Chi Kung), and Tai Chi. You can also use audiotapes or attend classes/workshops to guide you in accessing deep states of relaxation. Recent studies suggest that mindfulness meditation may prevent CD4 cells from decreasing when an HIV+ person is under stress.
Herbs and Dietary Supplements
These therapies may involve the use of herbs such as echinacea, garlic, goldenseal, chamomile, and Chinese herbs. Health professionals may also prescribe foods and vitamins as part of a biological-based therapy. Multivitamins often contain antioxidants, such as vitamins A, C, and E, which combine with particles called free-radicals to make them inactive and unharmful. Free-radicals are natural by-products of the body's functions that can cause damage to cells and lead to disease.
Because echinacea and other supplements affect the immune system, they may interact with your HIV drugs. St. John's Wort, which is an herbal treatment for depression, has been shown to affect how protease inhibitors and non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors act. As a result, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends that St. John's Wort not be taken by people who also take any types of HIV drugs. It is important for you to discuss any herbs or supplements with your health care provider before taking them. For more details about supplements, please visit our Vitamins and Supplements page.
When recommending complementary therapies, the health care provider makes decisions based on the patient's condition and other factors such as the patient's strengths, lifestyle, medical history, support systems, and all other factors relating to the patient's health and wellness. This enables the provider to knit together a program tailored for each patient and may involve the following:
Remember, since HIV and the drugs used to treat HIV affect the immune system, it is important to talk to your health care provider about any complementary treatments before you use them. This gives your provider a full picture of what you do to manage your health and makes sure the treatments you choose are safe and helpful for you.
More and more, the medical community recommends complementary therapies for many types of conditions. Since complementary treatments have become more common, The National Institutes of Health has developed a department called The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) that is dedicated to the study of these treatments. You can learn more about complementary therapy at the NCCAM website, http://nccam.nih.gov.
This article was provided by The Well Project. Visit The Well Project's Web site to learn more about their resources and initiatives for women living with HIV. The Well Project shares its content with TheBody.com to ensure all people have access to the highest quality treatment information available. The Well Project receives no advertising revenue from TheBody.com or the advertisers on this site. No advertiser on this site has any editorial input into The Well Project's content.
Add Your Comment:
(Please note: Your name and comment will be public, and may even show up in
Internet search results. Be careful when providing personal information! Before
adding your comment, please read TheBody.com's Comment Policy.)