Herbal Therapies Used by People Living With HIV: Aloe Vera
Part of A Practical Guide to Herbal Therapies for People Living With HIV
The bitter substance found in the leaves of the aloe vera plant, often called bitter aloe, has been approved as a laxative in several European countries.
Acemannan is a complex sugar extracted from the aloe vera plant. It is approved for veterinary use in the United States, particularly for feline leukemia, which is caused by a retrovirus, as is HIV. Some people with HIV have tried using acemannan and other concentrated aloe products to manage HIV infection. In the test tube, some studies have shown that acemannan inhibits the HIV virus and makes some immune cells function more effectively. But a small British Columbia study of people with HIV showed no benefit to acemannan treatment. Some herbalists feel using the whole plant may be a more useful approach, but there are no studies using the whole herb to treat HIV.
Aloe vera is available in capsules and in liquid and powdered forms. More than 30 grams (one ounce) per day will likely cause diarrhea, especially if the product contains anthroquinone glucosides. To reduce the risk of diarrhea, avoid products sold as laxatives or liver stimulants.
This article was provided by Canadian AIDS Treatment Information Exchange. Visit CATIE's Web site to find out more about their activities, publications and services.