Alternative HIV/AIDS Treatment
Many people with HIV find that alternative or complementary therapies – in other words anything that doesn’t come under the umbrella of standard western medicine - can help them cope with their illness.
The majority of these therapies are holistic (treating the whole person rather than the specific condition). But some, such as homeopathic and herbal treatments, claim to treat specific symptoms of the virus.
Available Alternative and Complementary HIV/AIDS Treatment
So what’s available? Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine rely on herbs. Aloe Vera for the skin, St John’s wort for depression and Echinacea to boost the immune system are all used by herbalists to treat HIV infected patients.
Homeopathy is more individual and involves using small doses of ingredients which in much larger does would bring on the symptoms. Homeopathy is founded on the “like cures like” principle.
Aromatherapy oils such as rosemary and bergamot are widely lauded for their effectiveness in uplifting the spirits while lavender is renowned for promoting calmness and sleep.
Acupuncture, which involves inserting very fine needles into the body to balance its flow of energy, has been successful in relieving tiredness and pain in people with HIV.
Chiropractic, which involves manipulating the body’s joints can be effective in relieving joint stiffness and pain as can osteopathy.
Massage can have a wonderfully calming effect. A good massage can relieve muscle tension and help reduce the inevitable mental and emotional stress which inevitably goes with an HIV or AIDS diagnosis.
Many people with HIV/AIDS use various forms of meditation such as yoga or visualization and behavioural techniques to help them deal with their illness. Yoga helps breathing and posture and many practitioners believe it strengthens the body and reduces tiredness. Meditation can calm the mind and reduce stress.
Behavioural therapy such as laughing workshops, hypnosis and “mind over matter” techniques have all proved beneficial for people with HIV.
There are many mainstream doctors out there who rubbish alternative therapies because of the lack of medical research to prove their benefit.
However the general rule of thumb is that it’s fine to experiment with “alternative” treatments as long as you tell your doctor what you’re doing and don’t come off any medication without taking professional advice (just because you think you’ve found a new cure-all “wonder therapy” on the Internet!).
These days a lot of HIV clinics in the western world now offer complementary medicine alongside standard drug treatments as part of a more holistic approach to combating the virus.
These alternative therapies can certainly help relieve stress and some claim to relieve symptoms of the illness – though few go so far as the longed-for promise of a cure.
It’s important to be aware that there are plenty of unscrupulous quacks who are only too happy to prey on people’s fears and ignorance about their illness. People with HIV, just as with any other terminal illness, may be highly vulnerable and at risk of falling victim to charlatans out to make a fast buck.
That doesn’t mean to say that all alternative therapies are a waste of time – far from it. Many of these therapies have undoubtedly improved the quality of life for people with HIV, relieving their physical symptoms and helping them cope mentally with their illness.