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Learning More

Part of A Practical Guide to Herbal Therapies for People Living With HIV


There are generally three kinds of information people need to collect when learning about a treatment they wish to take, whether that treatment is an herb or a drug. Each category of information is listed below in the form of a question, below which you will find additional questions you might choose to ask.

What is known about this treatment?

  • Is this therapy used by other PHAs?


  • Am I able to talk to any of them about their experience?

  • What research has been done on this therapy?

  • What anecdotal or traditional knowledge is available?
What could be the downside of this treatment ?

  • What are the side effects of the therapy, if any?

  • How much of this treatment is too much, and what are the early signs of taking too much?

  • Does it interact with anything else I'm taking?
What practical, common sense things do I need to know to take the treatment?

  • What am I hoping to get out of this therapy?

  • What sort of commitment do I need to make before using this treatment?

  • Where can I get it, and will it be available on a regular basis?

  • How much does it cost, and can I afford to take it regularly?
Try to collect information from as many sources as possible. If you visit an herbalist, a naturopath or another type of herbal practitioner, she or he should be able to answer your questions. As we have suggested, you can also ask questions where you buy the herb. In some cases, you may be able to call and ask for information from the people who manufacture the product.

A number of good reference books on herbal therapies have been written by knowledgeable practitioners. The Healing Power of Herbs by naturopath Michael T. Murray is an example of one such book and was used extensively in the preparation of this guide. Public libraries often have a selection of books on herbal therapies. There are also several good herbal directories available on the Internet, as well as lots of information on specific herbs. Pay attention to the source of information offered on the Web. If you're unsure, check with your herbalist, practitioner or doctor. Some useful books and Web sites are listed under Resources. Call CATIE at 1-800-263-1638 if you can't find them on the Internet or in your local library or bookstore. CATIE and other local AIDS treatment agencies can also help you find answers to other treatment questions.

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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.