Good news for HIV patients – Herbal combo reduces viral load, increases CD4 count

When the HIV virus was discovered about three decades ago, it sent shockwaves around the world. In the beginning, a patient diagnosed with the virus accepted that it was a death sentence passed on him/her.
Not anymore.

A recent study by Nigerian researchers has demonstrated how an herbal therapy could reduce the viral loads and increase CD4 counts of Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV)/Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) patients.

A CD4 count measures the number of CD4 cells in your blood. It’s used to check the immune system function in people with HIV.

According to the study by researchers from the Department of Plant Science and Technology, Faculty of Natural Sciences, University of Jos, and OLA Hospital Laboratory, Jos, Plateau State, the herbal treatments were effective in managing opportunistic infections and other complications in persons living with HIV/AIDS.

0The researchers, which include: M. K. Elujoba, C. I. C. Ogbonna, F. Chinyere, F. O. Elujoba, E. Ayanda and E. Newton, concluded: “The present study showed that combined herbal therapy could bring the reduction in the viral load and increase CD4 counts of HIV/AIDS patients. It similarly expresses good antioxidant activities in vitro when compared to the commercial reference Butylated hydroxyl toluene (BHT).

“Herbal treatment should be encouraged. It should act as the supplementary treatment for patients and should not replace the conventional Anti Retroviral Therapy (ART) therapy. Increases in adherence rate should also be advocated for a better response as non adherence to the treatment regime may present a decrease in CD4 count and an increase in viral load.”
The study titled “The Effects of a Mixture of Extracts from Indigenous Herbs on HIV/AIDS Patients Employing CD4+ T Lymphocyte Counts and Viral Load Reductions as Assessment Indices” was published in the May 2018 edition of the journal International STD Research & Reviews.

The herbal preparation, according to the researchers, include combination of fresh Ananascomosus (pineapple) juice (500 millilitres/ml), Citrullus lanatus (watermelon) juice (2.2 litres/L) and Citrus medica (lemon) juice (200 ml) were extracted using a blender (Model BL330, Kenwood, Hong Kong, China suspended in coconut oil (250 ml).
Aqueous extracts of Zobo (Hibiscus sabdariffa) was prepared by extracting 100 gramme in 500 ml of distilled water from which 200ml was mixed in the previous preparation.

Garlic (7000mg), Moringa oligofera (250g) and Artemisia annua leaves (250 g) were mixed with the whole preparation and then suspended in 1L of Tualing Honey. The herbal combination was dispensed in sterile plastic containers and refrigerated.

The volunteers were asked to take two tablespoons thrice daily (approximately 10 ml).
Garlic has been found to be effective against the opportunistic infections of HIV/AIDS patients. Such opportunistic diseases include herpes, tuberculosis and sexually transmitted infections.

Moringa leaf has been identified as a valuable nutritional component, which enhances the immune system.
Moringa leaves have also been reported to possess powerful anti-oxidants that can help prevent or delay some complications arising from AIDS.
Artemisia annua improves the general condition of the patients living with HIV/AIDS, improving their appetite, weight gain, and healing of opportunistic infections associated with AIDS.\

The study was edited by Jose Eduardo Serrao, Professor, Department of General Biology, Federal University of içosa, Brazil and reviewed by: Ashok Pandey, Child Sight Foundation Global, Bangladesh; Hendra Van Zyl, South Africa; Bora Ekinci, Turkey; and Johnstone J. Kumwenda, Malawi.
Until now, HIV infection is treated in some part of Africa using different herbal combinations.
The study aimed at determining the effects of herbal extracts on HIV/AIDS patients and to access its antioxidant effects in vitro. The extract was made from selected fruits, leaves and mixed with honey.
The herbal mixture was employed based on the claims by indigenous Biotechnologist (Medical Botany Practitioners) that such extracts were effective in HIV/AIDS management.

A total number of 95 volunteers’ from Jos North, Jos South and Mangu Local Government Areas, Plateau State, Nigeria were therefore chosen for this study.
All the study subjects were adequately diagnosed prior to the study to ascertain their HIV/AIDS positivity status, CD4 counts and viral load baselines. They were further divided into age brackets to find out the age brackets that responded best to the treatment.

The response of the patients was monitored using the CD4 counts increase and viral load reductions as indices at 6th, 12th, 18th and 24th-month intervals.
Significant improvements were recorded in viral load reductions and CD4 counts in all the age groups after the 18th month except for the age group 20 – 29 years.
The active age group (20 – 49 years) had a cumulative incidence of 88 per cent of the total study population.

The highest percentage adherence of 83 per cent was recorded in 40 – 49 years volunteers while the highest non-adherence was recorded as 64 per cent in 50 – 59 years volunteers.
The herbal mixture possesses good in vitro antioxidant effect when compared with BHT.
Despite the breakthroughs in the development of effective antiretroviral (ARV) drugs, a resistance of HIV to some used antiretroviral drugs poses the challenge to therapeutic failures in people treating HIV/AIDS.
Several treatment regimens may thus be needed in the effective treatment of HIV, making it a challenging task.
Conventional HIV/AIDS management therefore among the methods is widely employed.

The antiretroviral administration, including the conventional options, could have significant impact in the reduction of morbidity and mortality that stem from the HIV infection.
Several alternative therapies have been employed in the management of HIV/AIDS as supplements to the widely used conventional ART.
Given the chronicity and the impact of HIV related diseases on quality of life of patients with HIV/AIDS, and in view of the fact that the virus mutates very easily, it has become imperative to seek alternative therapies.
In Israel, A new HIV drug created by Israeli researchers has passed its first human clinical trial.

At end of the trial, it was discovered that the drug, named Gammora, created by Zion Medical, an Israeli biotech company was capable of wiping out 99 per cent of HIV infected cells in the human body.
According to a statement released by the company and available on PR Newswire, Gammora was able to eliminate up to 90 per cent of the virus during the first four weeks of the trial.
Zion Medical developed the drug Gammora in collaboration with the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and the Sirion Biotech in Germany.

The drug is designed to attack and kill the HIV-infected cells in the human body without causing damage to the healthy cells.
In the study, researchers randomly assigned nine participating patients from the Ronald Bata Memorial Hospital in Uganda to receive different doses of Gammora between four to five weeks in July and August of this year.
While the new HIV drug is still in its first stage of exploration, the results have already offered hope that a cure for the dreaded virus is possible.

“Most patients showed a significant reduction of the viral load of up to 90 per cent from the baseline during the first four weeks,” said Dr. EsmiraNaftalim, Zion Medical’s head of development.
With these discoveries and many more research efforts in the works, HIV may not be the blight it was thought to be.


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