Herbal Therapies Used by People Living With HIV: Sterinols
Part of A Practical Guide to Herbal Therapies for People Living With HIV
In the late nineties there was some interest in the application of sterinols to the treatment of HIV. Mostly this interest was in resource limited settings with no access to antiretroviral drugs. A preliminary study, conducted in South Africa, found some changes in immune system functions as a result of the sterinol beta-sitosterol (sold under the brand name Moducare), although the clinical implications were not clear. Unfortunately, for people with severe immune suppression (fewer than 200 CD4 cells/μl), this sterinol did not improve their health. The South African study was not a controlled clinical trial. Therefore it is not known what role sterinols may have, if any, in the management of HIV infection without further study. Despite the lack of clear clinical evidence, Sterinol products are being widely marketed to PHAs.
Some PHAs are incorporating oils rich in sterinols into their diet, including the oils of sesame and pumpkin seeds that, preferably, are organically grown. In general, high-quality oils are those that are cold-pressed and then packaged in dark containers. Sterinol supplements have been used in Germany for many years for prostate problems and reportedly have no side effects other than an occasional mild irritation of the stomach.
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.