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Collected Wisdom:

"Home Therapies" That Some People With AIDS Have Tried

Summer 1995

A note from The field of medicine is constantly evolving. As a result, parts of this article may be outdated. Please keep this in mind, and be sure to visit other parts of our site for more recent information!

In response to a request for "home remedies" from women at the PWA Conference in South Africa, "Women Alive" is happy to print the following article. Although the products mentioned here are readily available in the United States, we are not sure of their relevancy to women with HIV in South Africa. Please accept our apologies for any cultural ignorance.

Everybody is different. You may have to try a variety or a combination of things to find out what works for you.

  • Avoid foods which cause gas or cramps: broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, corn, cucumbers, dried beans, onions, beer, green peppers, apples (peeled apples are OK).
  • Avoid caffeine: alcohol, coffee, regular teas, some sodas, and chocolate.
  • Avoid milk or milk products.
  • Avoid tap water at all costs, if your water is not already purified, you can purify it yourself by boiling it for at least 1 minute.
  • Reduce fat intake: butter, fried foods, red meats, salad dressings, pastries.
  • Reduce fiber: whole grain cereals & breads, popcorn, nuts, raw vegetables.

Things To Try For Diarrhea

  • Drink 8 to 10 glasses of fluids each day. Try liquids that are warm or at room temperature. Cold or hot foods can increase intestinal muscle contractions and aggravate diarrhea.
  • Try bananas, apple sauce, mashed potatoes, steamed rice, dry toast, and crackers. Orange juice, apricot & peach nectar, bananas and asparagus can replace the potassium lost from diarrhea.
  • Try eating two buttons of garlic with your meals for three or four days. Crunch the garlic in your teeth.
  • To replace the fluids, sugar and salt, try drinking the following mixture: 1 quart of water, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon baking soda, and 4 teaspoons of sugar. Or try Pedalyte/Infalyte found in the baby food section of stores.
  • Try drinking rice water ("Orchata") or boil white rice in extra water and drink the water at room temperature.
  • Try barley soup: canned "beef and barley" or packaged "pearl" barley, which is near the pasta and rice in markets.

Weight Loss

Eat more often, include snacks. Have ready to eat snacks and pre-prepared foods on hand. To add extra calories and protein to your food: Add milk-powder to milk, hot cereals, scrambled eggs, meat loaf, mashed potatoes, soups, gravies, pudding, etc.

Use peanut butter as a spread for celery, apples, crackers, or cookies. Add cheese to sauces, vegetables, soups, eggs, casseroles, or beans. Add meat to soups, casseroles, vegetables, rice, noodle dishes, and gravies. Use half and half or evaporated milk instead of regular milk as beverages or in recipes.

Use a high butter fat ice cream for milk shakes and sundaes. Include high fat foods in your diet such as, butter, margarine, oil, mayonnaise, sour cream, whipping cream, gravies, & avocados.

A liquid or powder nutritional supplement may be necessary. They can be used alone or as a milk shake base with fruit, ice cream, or yogurt.

If you are experiencing weight loss and diarrhea at the same time it may be more difficult to choose an appropriate strategy.


Garlic is a source of natural antimicrobia, antibacteria, antifungal, antiviral, and antitumor.

  • Sinus problems: try liquid "kyloic" garlic, put 5 drops in each nostril, keep your head tilted back for about 5 minutes. In 1/2 an hour you should experience some relief.
  • Open sores: liquid or fresh garlic applied directly to the sores will help them to heal. It may sting a whole lot.
  • Ear aches: peal a garlic button, make a slice in it and put it in your ear. Put a bandage over it so it won't fall out. The garlic piece should be large enough that it won't get stuck in your ear.

More Tips

  • Urinary tract infection: Drink a lot of cranberry juice and plenty of other fluids. Garlic is also good for this.
  • Fungal infections on the feet or skin: rub garlic directly on the skin or use over-the-counter vaginal creams (fem care, gynelotrimin, etc.), apply the cream directly on the skin. Foot powder can be used on fungal infections that are not necessarily on the feet.
  • Vaginal yeast infection: douche with a mixture of plain yogurt and acidophilus. After showering, dry the vaginal area with a hair dryer. Eat yogurt with acidophilus in it.
  • Itchy bumpy syndrome (a skin manifestation), use the aloe vera plant. Peel it and rub on affected areas.
  • When taking pain pills or medications that may upset your stomach, eat a couple spoonfuls of yogurt immediately before and after taking the pill.


Chicken Soup is good for that general yucky feeling & flu-like symptoms. It has natural antibacterial qualities.

If you can't eat dairy products, buy a product called "Lact-aide" from your local drug store. Take one pill one half hour before you eat any dairy products, such as milk, cheese, eggs, or ice cream. This product provides the enzyme needed to digest dairy products.

Acidophilus is nondairy and good for the upper and lower intestines. It can be a great substitute for milk.

Any symptoms that you are having should not be treated at home. You should always consult a doctor about your condition. We offer these suggestions as a way to be a little more comfortable until you can get to your doctor's appointment. We are not suggesting that women stop taking prescription drugs. You can do these things in combination with traditional anti-virals and other medications.

Some of the symptoms described in this article could either lead to or be an indication of something more serious. We urge you to consult your physicians even if the symptoms are temporarily relieved through these techniques.

A note from The field of medicine is constantly evolving. As a result, parts of this article may be outdated. Please keep this in mind, and be sure to visit other parts of our site for more recent information!

This article was provided by Women Alive. It is a part of the publication Women Alive Newsletter.
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