Aloe VeraHerbalsHIV/AIDS

Use of herbal medicines during HIV/AIDS treatment

Researchers at Mbarara University of Science and Technology, in Uganda evaluated the use of herbal medicines among patients at the HIV clinic of Mbarara Regional Referral Hospital.

First, the details.

  • 334 patients receiving anti-retroviral Therapy (ART) were studied.
  • Demographics, clinical characteristics, perceptions of quality of care received, self-perceived health status, information on ART received, herbal medicines use and ART adherence were recorded.

And, the results.

  • 46% of patients reported concomitant use of herbal medicines and ART.
  • 40% used herbal medicines at least once daily.
  • 72% used herbal medicines to treat HIV-related symptoms.
  • 93% reported that the doctors were unaware of their use of herbal medicines.
  • 69% said it was of minimal importance to the attending physician.
  • Most frequently used herbs:
    • Aloe vera (25%)
    • Vernonia amygdalina (21%)
  • Time since start of ART, number of ART side effects reported, and self-perceived health status (good vs. poor,) were independently associated with concomitant herbal medicine and ART use.
  • Concomitant herbal medicine and ART use was not associated with poor ART adherence.

The bottom line?

The last bullet is more important.

The authors concluded, “Patients appear to use these therapies to complement as opposed to substituting ART.”

2/2/12 22:22 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.