Although the world of modern medicine is quite amazing, I feel that our focus can sometimes rely too much on what our doctors can administer. It seems we may have fallen out of touch with what nature can already prescribe us. After all, surely our civilization would have been completely wiped out if we were not already provided with natural medicinal resources on this earth?
Eat great, feel great...
By no means am I suggesting medication be swapped in favour of natural remedies, and whenever incorporating a supplement or out of the ordinary addition to your diet, you should always seek medical advice in the first instance.
After recently being diagnosed HIV myself, and try as I might, as I'm sure some HIV positive people may be able to relate to when they first found out, I could not find the wonder drug online to cure me! I'm assuming this was my denial stage. After re-assessing and implementing a new diet, I started delving into plants and herbs that had undergone testing and scientific research that provided some promising results.
The more I looked, the more evidence I came across not only from clinical trials but professional herbalists, ancient practices of medicine, even biblical references. It would seem that the plant world does have some interesting attributes in helping to strengthen our immune system, and dis-encouraging the growth of the HIV-1 virus within the body. A lot of the evidence found to support anti-HIV activity also shows anti-cancer activity too.
The following plants/herbs/spices are readily available and would not only benefit people that are HIV positive, but could be used within any diet/regime for general and specific health issues. It is not suggested that you take it upon yourself to incorporate any of the following before seeking advice / approval from your GP / Nurse / or nutritionist (especially if you are on any medication as certain plants have been known to interfere or react with meds). Some of the studies carried out have been done so via test tube so it is unclear how reactive the plant is on the human body.
If you are considering discussing the possibility of incorporating supplements with a professional, then it's best to ensure you initially bring it back to basics and ensure you have a healthy diet and are eating the right foods for your body. Spirulina and pomegranates will do nothing for you if your a chicken nugget and chocolate fiend.
Herbalists can help treat a huge range of health issues; immune system issues, allergies, autoimmune conditions, energy, stamina, fatigue, emotional health, hormonal health, fertility, digestion, nutrition, skin, heart & circulation, and joints & bones. To find a herbalist near you, click here.
MANGOSTEEN (Queen of the tropical fruits)
Historically used in folk medicine, this fruit is thought to have come from South East Asia. The entire fruit (rind, flesh, leaves, bark) contain Xanthones, which have; anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-tumor, antibacterial, and antifungal properties, to name a few. A study which took place showed that xanthone mangostin, derived from the mangosteen inhibted the replication cycle of HIV. (SOURCE http://www.gayprideband.com/Mangosteen%20Studies%20PDF.pdf
BITTER MELON (wild cucumber)
An unusual vegetable-fruit used as a healing aid for intestinal or stomach disorders (ulcers, colitis, constipation, worms). Bitter melon has also proved successful for people suffering with; psoriasis, liver disease, kidney stones, and diabetes. MAP-30, a plant protein within the veggie-fruit has been found to fight against the HIV virus. (SOURCE: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7665070
In Greek this word means 'Holy Herb'. In fact, it is so holy it's mentioned ten times in the Old Testament, being used to purify sacred areas and cleanse leprosy sufferers. Hyssop is an immune system strengthener and blood nourisher. The crude extracts of dried out Hyssop officinalis leaves showed potent antiviral qualities and anti-HIV activity.
OLIVE LEAF EXTRACT
Olive leaf is simply the leaves from an olive tree. With an antioxidant level doubling that of green tea extract, and 400% higher than vitamin C, no wonder the olive tree was referred to as “the tree of life” in the Bible. The real treasure within the extract lies within it's Oleuropein, that contains; anti-fungal, antibacterial, and antiviral properties. The extract is used for blood pressure, cholesterol, heart disease, ulcers, diabetes, cancer, HIV, and many more. Studies found that the Oleuropein prevents acute infection and replication of the HIV virus.
BLACK SEED EXTRACT (Nigella Sativa)
I recognised this immediately as an avid Nigella Lawson fan, she uses these seeds in one of her recipes. The seed has been used in medicines for thousands of years, and was also reported to have been found in King Tut's tomb. Used to encourage healing headaches, toothaches, digestive issues, haemorrhoids, respitorary issues, lowering blood pressure, treating cancer, and boosting the immune system. I read somewhere that the only thing black seeds cannot cure, is death.
Interestingly, one of the studies that was carried out on an HIV patient induced a sero-reversion (tested negative for HIV), and remained at healthy CD4 counts 24 months after the experiment.
For some reason I don't have the capacity to say this word correctly the first time I go to say it. Spirulina is a high-protein “super food” which is formed from a blue-green algae. Rich in vitamins; A, B1, B6, B12, C, along with proteins and minerals. Spirulina has been found to inhibit the replication of HIV in the blood. Available in most health food stores, I have personally started to incorporate this in my diet.
NEEM LEAF EXTRACT
The neem plant is native to India and it's surrounding regions. The entire plant can be used in medicine and has been done so, especially within traditional medicines such as Ayurveda, to treat malaria, cancer, skin diseases, and diabetes to name a few. With research into it's benefits to people with HIV, the results concluded a significant influence on CD4 cells.
No introduction necessary. Personally I cannot stand the stuff! However, as a supplement for someone with HIV it could potentially slow the activation of any dormant immune cells, which would prevent the virus from replicating within the blood. Liquorice root contains the compound glycyrrhizin, which is the part that helps prevent replication. Liquorice root is also full of many anti-depressant qualities and could be used as an alternative to St. John's Wort. Large quantites are not advised (no more than 7g a day) as it may have implications with testosterone in the body.
SUMAC (Rhus chinensis)
Sumac fruits are ground into a red powder, used widely to spice dishes in the Middle East. It has a lemony flavour to it and is often used in hummus. Research has shown that compounds within sumac have anti-HIV activity and would be a useful medicinal plant for HIV patients. Sumac is also a wonderful antioxidant.
From East Asia this “five flavour fruit”, would traditionally be used in Chinese medicine to fight infection, help sufferers of insomnia, and promote healthy skin. Schisandra contains anti-aging properties and has also been used to normalize blood sugar/pressure, whilst boosting your immune system. The fruit has had great results for treating liver disease / hepatitis. China developed a liver-protecting drug titled DBD which is made from compounds within the fruit. The fruit contains lingnans, and it is these that have demonstrated anti-HIV virus activity.
ROOIBOIS LEAVES (redbush)
I love this tea. I probably drink about 10 cups a day. A study shows a polysaccharide within rooibois leaves has strong anti-HIV properties. They concluded the polysaccharide plays a big part in the mechanism for the virus binding itself to T Cells, and the prevention of that. It is unclear whether this can be achieved by just drinking the tea, however. On the plus side the polyphenols within the tea help to ease headaches, allergies, bone weakness, asthma, eczema, stomach cramps, and also boost your immune system!
Massive antioxidant qualities within the elderberry. It's juice was actually used to combat a flu epidemic in Panama, 1995. Elderberries help the immune system's response to when it is under attack or low, and is also rich in vitamins A,B,C. The experiment that took place showed that flavanoid compounds in elderberries blocked HIV-1 entry.
The root of this herb is used to treat anaemia, kidney disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, allergies and HIV. Researchers claim that the herb increases the T-cell count within the body, making this a good immunity booster. Herbalists have used this herb in their medicines for years. Andrew Weil, author of “Spontaneous Healing”- which is an amazing book by the way- has used astragalus with his clients that are HIV positive.
Annoyingly, I cannot stand any of the following as they are all a type of mushroom. If you are like me, then they are available in tinctures, capsules, and other complexes. But again, consult your doctor first. Certain types of mushroom have had amazing coverage on their antioxidant and health promoting properties. A lot of research has gone into their impact on cancer, along with HIV.
MAITAKE (the dancing mushroom)
Maitake, or “the miracle mushroom” have been eaten in Asia for years. As a medicine, it has been used for in the treatment of cancer, hepatitis, diabetes, high cholesterol and HIV. Polysaccharides and beta glucans within the mushroom aid the immune system and promote T-Cells.
This mushroom is one of the highest antioxidants in the world. It has also been publicised previously about its health benefits with cancer. Chaga mushrooms have been useful in treating over 40 conditions. For extensive information on the chaga mushroom read here: http://www.chagamountain.com/health-benefits.html
You probably wont ever see this kind of mushroom in a kitchen. They are bitter and hard. In medicine, they like the chaga mushroom are an amazing antioxidant and free radical fighter. Reishi mushrooms are also considered to be beneficial to those suffering with cancer, as they may suppress tumour growth. Reishi mushrooms have also been used with respiratory issues, such as asthma, as they appear to have a healing effect on the lungs. (SOURCE: http://www.herbwisdom.com/herb-reishi-mushrooms.html )
An experiment showed that the reishi mushroom did in fact contain compounds that would help inhibit the HIV virus (SOURCE: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22347784 )
We may recognise this mushroom the most from our love and knowledge of eastern food. This mushroom is a fantastic source of iron. The shiitake has been documented to provide immune support, protection against rheumatoid arthritis (RA), have cardiovascular and anti-cancer benefits, (SOURCE http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?dbid=122&tname=foodspice ) and test tube studies showed that lignins within the shiitake prevented HIV cells from attacking the needed T-cells. (SOURCE http://www.fungihealth.com/shiitake-mushroom-against-aids )
Obviously we are going to see a lot of vitamin C in the pomegranate, with that a high level of anti-oxidants, in fact more so than the almighty acai berry or green tea. Pomegranates do wonders for your skin. Not only can pomegranates help a dry type skin, but they can also help soothe outbreaks on more oily/combo type skin. This vibrant fruit promotes skin regeneration and can help slow the ageing process on our skin. For the rest of our body pomegranates can help; cardiovascular health, bone quality (from the vitamin K), aid digestion, treat anaemia (pomegranates are also high in iron), and have found to contain a property that helps lose weight. Research with pomegranates and cancer has suggested that they could help treat prostate and breast cancer. (source: http://www.med-health.net/Benefits-Of-Pomegranate.html )
An experiment that took place using pomegranate juice showed that it may help in blocking the HIV virus from binding to T-cells. (SOURCE http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16387698 )
NATIONAL HIV TESTING WEEK IS 22nd-30th NOVEMBER
by Jordan Lohan