Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) for HIV | myHIVteam

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Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) treatments are popular with many people who have HIV. CAM treatments may include nutritional supplements, probiotics, herbal preparations, homeopathy, acupuncture, and massage. Some people claim that one CAM treatment or another reduces side effects caused by antiretroviral therapy medications or improves overall well-being. However, most CAM treatments have not been studied in rigorous clinical trials to establish their safety and effectiveness. Some CAM therapies can cause dangerous interactions with medications or other health conditions. If you choose to try one or more CAM therapies, it is important to maintain the traditional drug regimen established by your doctor. These treatments have been proven effective in rigorous, scientific trials. It is also vital to check with your doctor before beginning a CAM regimen so that they can warn you about any potential interactions and correctly interpret any side effects.

What does it involve?
At this time, several CAM treatments are accepted by doctors as potentially benefiting those with HIV. Before you consider taking nutritional supplements, speak to your doctor about testing for nutritional deficiencies. Your doctor can also help determine a safe dosage. Nutritional supplements popular with those who have HIV include multivitamins, Omega-3 fatty acids, whey protein, N-acetyl cysteine, Coenzyme Q10, L-glutamine, melatonin, and Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA). Probiotics may support digestive and immune health. Herbal preparations often used by those with HIV include decaffeinated green tea, fermented wheat germ extract, bitter melon, maitake mushroom, and cat’s claw. Ask your doctor about dosages. Some people with HIV utilize acupuncture and the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practice of moxibustion (the burning of dried mugwort) to treat neuropathy and diarrhea caused by HIV or antiretroviral therapy drugs. Massage may strengthen the immune system by relieving stress.

Intended Outcomes
People try CAM treatments to feel better and reduce their side effects from antiretroviral therapy.

Most CAM therapies have not been rigorously tested in clinical trials.

Herbal supplements and probiotics are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. Their safety and effectiveness has not been evaluated. The strength and purity of the ingredients may vary from brand to brand or batch to batch. Some CAM treatments can cause serious interactions with antiretroviral therapies or other medications. Some treatments may exacerbate health conditions. Health insurance may not cover CAM therapies. Some CAM treatments can be expensive.

For more details about this treatment, visit:

HIV and AIDS – University of Maryland Medical Center

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