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


































































AIDS / HIV Treatment with
Chinese Medicine

by Brian Benjamin Carter, with
Lynda Harvey-Carter, LAc, OMD

Brian is the founder of the Pulse of Oriental Medicine. He teaches at the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine and maintains a private acupuncture and herbal practice in San Diego, California, and is the author of Powerful Body, Peaceful Mind: How to Heal Yourself with Foods, Herbs, and Acupressure.

Long ago, I wrote an Introduction to AIDS and Chinese Medicine. You may want to start with that.

In this article, I'm going to amplify in this article to give you more specific information (symptoms, treatments, statistics, etc.)

You may also want to read Chinese Medicine Boosts Immunity in HIV Patients

AIDS Symptoms and Related Diseases

AIDS has many different kinds of symptoms. The average time between HIV infection and the manifestation of symptoms is 10 years. Then a combination of non-specific symptoms show up. Symptoms can be subgrouped (these are symptoms from all stages of AIDS):

  • Systemic Symptoms: Fever, dehydration, night sweats, weight loss (but losing more muscle than fat), low or no appetite, nausea, vomiting (these lead to wt loss), malabsorption, diarrhea from infection/parasites, and/or increased metabolic rate.
  • Sinopulmonary Disease: Pneumocystis pneumonia, other infectious pulmary disease, noninfectious pulmonary disease, sinusitis.
  • Central Nervous System (CNS) Diseases: Toxoplasmosis, CNS lymphoma, AIDS dementia, cryptococcal meningitis, HIV myelopathy, Progressive Multifocal Leukencephalopathy (PML)
  • Peripheral Nervous System Disease: Inflammatory polyneuropathies, sensory neuropathies, mononeuropathies
  • Rheumatologic Disease
  • Myopathy (muscle disease)
  • Retinitis
  • Oral lesions
  • Gastrointestinal: Candidal esophagitis, hepatic disease, biliary disease, enterocolitis, gastropathy, malabsorption
  • Skin: Herpes simplex and zoster, molluscum, staphylococcus, bacillary angiomatosis
  • Malignancies
  • Gynecological: Vaginal candida, cervical dysplasia and neoplasia, Pelvic Inflammatory Disease

Research on Alternative and Chinese Medicine Treatments for AIDS

It's difficult to study treatments for AIDS because a high percentage of chronically ill patients drop out... their disease and the study are usually too demanding for them. Nevertheless, some good studies exist. Herbs and herb formulas' effects as reported in studies are mentioned below. Others mentioned below may not have been studied. In both cases, chinese medical functions may be mentioned as well.

Chinese Herb Formulas for AIDS Treatment

The most common chinese herbal treatment strategy for AIDS is Fu Zheng, Supporting the Righteous. That means boosting the immune system, etc. This is most common because many AIDS patients are also on western drug cocktails. These drugs take quite a toll on the body- among other things, they injure the qi, create phlegm, and cause Liver-Spleen disharmonies. Fu Zheng therapies can help restore balance.

  • HY-1: chai hu, huang qin, ban xia, ren shen, da zao, gan cao, sheng jiang, huang qi, fang feng. Based on Xiao Chai Hu T & Jade Wind. Harmonizes Liver and Spleen, Boosts Wei qi
  • HY-2: huang qi, fang feng, ren shen, huang jian or ye jiao teng or he shou wu, yin yang huo, shu di huang. Boosts Yin and Yang.
  • Milingwang: huang qi, ling zhi, dang shen, bai zhu, gan cao, shu di huang, sha shen, wu wei z, sheng jiang, da zao, ji xue teng, tu si zi, shan yao, jie geng, nu zhen zi, bai shao, chen pi. Boosts bone marrow, RBC, inhibits viruses (polio).
  • Resist: huang qi, nu zhen zi, dang shen, shan yao, ji xue teng, ling zhi, ren shen, bai shao, shu di, wu wei zi, siberian ginseng, gan cao. Increases red blood cells, white blood cells, B cells, hemoglobin, and the phagocystic action of leukocytes.

The second most common treatment strategy is Qu Xie, Dispelling Evil. This is roughly the same strategy that western drug cocktails use... what is commonly thought of as 'chemotherapy.' It can also be done with herbs. Sometimes it is even used in concert with drug therapy.

  • HY-3: da qing ye, chai hu, lithospermum, gan cao, chen pi
  • HY-4: ban lan gen, zhi zi, blechnum, gan cao, chen pi. To reduce virus potency, alternate with other Qu Xie formulas to avoid tolerance, less specific than other forms) - Good for asymptomatic patients
  • single herbs: zi hua di ding, xia ku cao, tian hua fen, huang lian, jin yin hua, chuan xin lian, niu bang zi, yin yang huo, zi cao, gou ji, guan zhong, qian li guang

Sometimes, both strategies (Supporting the Righteous and Dispelling Evils) are used together.

  • HY-7: (mod of Qing fei tang, platycodon & fritillaria) - Ai ye(art annua), chang-shan (dichroa), chai hu, huang lian, huang bai, xing ren, tian men dong, zhu ru, zhi zi, bei mu, sheng jiang, fu ling, da zao, gan cao, sang bai pi, mai men dong, jie geng, wu wei zi, dang gui… (Lung deficiency with Heat, e.g. Pneumocystis Pneumonia)
  • HY-22: (fu zheng & quxie)- huang qi, fang feng, ren shen, dan shen, ban lan gen, da qing ye, shu di huang, lu jiao jiao, dang gui, gan cao, tu fu ling, tu si zi, ji xue teng (Circulate xue, clear heat and toxins)
  • HY-27: (mod Anemone Comb) - Anemone, brucea, huang lian, dichroa, fraxinus, huang bai, sanguisorb, terminalia (Cryptospor) As enema
  • HY-30: zi hua di ding, jin yin hua, yin yang huo, gan cao, huang qi, ling zhi, nu zhen zi (clr ht, detox, enhance immune symptom)
  • Enhance: ling zhi, ban lan gen, da qing ye, bai mu er, chuan xin lian, chen xiang, bai hua she she cao, gou qi zi, dang gui, xi yang shen, nu zhen zi, shu di, ji xue teng, huang qi, jin yin hua, yin yang huo, rou cong rong, kun bu, wu wei zi, bai zhu, dan shen, yu jin, zi hua di ding, chen pi, bai shao, he shou wu, du zhong, sha ren, gan cao
  • "Herb Tea #1" (from a chinese study): huang qi, wu wei zi, ling zhi, nu zhen zi, dang gui, mai men dong, xia ku cao, gan cao, da zao, chi shao, chuan san qi, da qing ye, ci wu jia, tian hua fen, he shou wu, dong chong xia cao. Increased weight of thymus, IL-2 levels in spleen, antibiotic function of B cells, Natural Killer cell activities.

How Western and Chinese Medicine Treatments are Combined

  1. Sometimes western drugs and chinese medicine are used together to treat the same symptoms. This can allow for a decrease in the drug dosage. This makes sense since the drugs tend to have more damaging side effects.
  2. Drugs and Chinese Medicine together; drugs as chemotherapy (dispelling) and supporting herbal formula to offset the weakening effect of toxic drugs.
  3. Chinese medicine may be used instead of drugs when the patient isn't strong enough to continue chemotherapy. The patient can then regain strength. Supporting the Righteous, or combinations of mostly supporting and some dispelling.
  4. For symptomatic treatment without drugs. Most commonly with fever, headache, fatigue, CMV retinitis, wasting syndrome, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, PML.

There are still gray areas when drugs and herbs are combined. There are general principles for combining drugs and herbs (see your health practitioner), and a fair amount of research on specific herbs and drugs exists. It is important to note that research has proven that in some cases, the healing effects of drugs and herbs combined is greater. For more on this topic, read our article "Are My Drugs and Herbs Dangerous Together? Drug Herb Interactions."

It is best to have a chinese medicine herbalist and physician working together. (In California, acupuncturists and herbalists can order lab tests, but not in most states). Someone will need to monitor your lab values and know what to expect when herbs are added to your treatment regimen.

Hopefully, your health care practitioners can cooperate, educate one another, and work together for your well being. In these days of cooperative care, any one of your practitioners' refusal to work with practitioners from other medicines might be grounds for termination.

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