Pulse of Oriental Medicine: Alternative Medicine That Works for Regular Folks
Alternative Medicine That Works for Regular Folks


Introduction to AIDS and Chinese Medicine

AIDS, and the HIV virus, causes many symptoms, for some of which there are natural treatments. In this informative article, we discuss natural, herbal, chinese medicine remedies and treatments for AIDS.

Q: "Brian, can Chinese Medicine do anything for AIDS?"

A: Yes, it can. But first, let's put it in context.

Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is the last stage of HIV infection. HIV affects between 800,000 and 1.2 million Americans. It is now estimated that less than half of HIV infectees are homosexual. There is a rising incidence of female and neonatal HIV infection.

New 2002 statistics show that:

  • AIDS killed 3 million people this year
  • 42 million people have AIDS or HIV- 5 million of them infected this year alone
  • Even though this year new AIDS cases in Uzbekistan outnumbered all previous years combined, one-third of young women there have never heard of the disease
  • 80% of new infections between 1997 and 2000 occured in people under 29 years of age

The prognosis and expected life-span for AIDS patients has improved a great deal, partly due to improved drug therapies. However, these drug therapies (like chemotherapy and radiation for cancer) typically take a serious toll on the body. Common side-effects are fatigue, wasting and emaciation, diarrhea, numbness, burning and pins-and-needles sensations, muscle weakness, osteoporosis, and bone death.

Chinese medicine has various ways of viewing AIDS that fits with HIV's characteristic entering of the deep levels of the body, latency period, and heat signs.

Chinese herbal medicine treats AIDS via 4 main methods, some of all of which may be combined in one herbal formula:

  1. Tonification (supporting the body's strength and immune system), also called Fu Zheng ("support the righteous")
  2. Attacking with anti-viral/anti-bacterial herbs (a similar approach to the chemotherapy mentioned above)
  3. Circulating (for autoimmune processes and to prevent stagnation), and
  4. Anti-fungal/Anti-parasitic treatment.

There are good research studies on both single Chinese herbs and Chinese herbal formulas.

Compared to drug cocktails, herbal cocktails are less proven and must be taken in very high dosages, but they do not suppress the bone marrow. Often, the only side-effect of the herbal cocktails is digestive disturbance. These herbal cocktails might be a safe intervention for those without sufficiently low CD4 counts to indicate drug cocktail treatment.

If the patient is already taking western drugs, Chinese medicine can provide supportive therapy. These drugs often cause immune system and bone marrow suppression. In research studies, Chinese herbal formulas improved such patients' white blood cell counts and boosted their immune systems (http://www.itmonline.org/arts/sfxhivdr.htm).

Another solution for AIDS patients is specific nutritional therapy and dietary modification in accordance with the common problems of nutrient, protein, and calorie deficiency, fat malabsorption, and the digestive and appetite problems caused by drug cocktails.


  1. Knox, Kathleen. World: Small Signs Of Hope Amid Grim AIDS Statistics. Radio Free Europe. November, 2002.

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All information herein provided is for educational use only and not meant to substitute for the advice of appropriate local experts and authorities.
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