African herbal medicine is beating AIDS

BARCELONA – A traditional African herbal medicine, METRAFAIDS, has shown to substantially reduce the viral loads of HIV positive patients and increase their CD4 (immunity) counts, it was announced at the International AIDS Conference today (Thursday).

A total of 62 patients (18 men and 44 women) were treated with the combination medicine for six-month intervals between 1999 to 2002 at the Experimental Center for Traditional Medicine in Fatick, Senegal.

According to PROMETRA (The Association for the Promotion of Traditional Medicine) and the Ford Foundation the trials were carried out under the supervision of traditional healers and physicians and conformed to stringent scientific standards.

METRAFAIDS produced significant clinical and laboratory results with over half of the patient population (54%) presenting with a viral load decrease greater than 66%.

Forty-four patients (71%) increased CD4 counts by more than 70% during therapy.

‘€œMETRAFAIDS improved opportunistic infections, dermatosis, weight, and clinical symptoms in more than 85% of the patients,’€ researchers said, adding that there were no documented adverse reactions throughout the study.

METRAFAIDS is a combination of 5 herbal plants and although scientists were not prepared to divulge the ingredients they said most of the herbs were easily available and that it would cost ‘€œpennies’€.

A modified National Institutes of Health (USA) protocol was the basis of study design and execution. The standard laboratory studies, CD4 counts and viral loads were all verified by bodies such as the Institut Pasteur in Dakar and Labcorp in the United States.

‘€œWe conducted this study at a high level and we are planning to publish the result in a scientific journal so it can be scrutinized,’€ said Maurice Iwa, vice-chairperson of the Scientific Advisory Committee at PROMETRA.

Patients, who ranged between 18 and 58 years, were also monitored for fungal and bacterial infections, dermatosis, weight, fever, diarrhoea and depression.

METRAFAIDS has now been trade marked and patented by PROMETRA through the African Intellectual Property Organization (OAPI).

‘€œThe benefits of this traditional herbal medication are great, recognizing its efficacy, accessibility, low cost and non-existent side effects. In Africa where antiretroviral medications are routinely inaccessible, this herbal preparation will open a treatment option for large numbers of the HIV infected population,’€ PROMETRA said in a statement.

Virginia Davis Floyd of the Ford Foundation, the chief funder behind the project, said they had decided to become involved after seeing ‘€œpatients get better’€.

‘€œWe decided that we have to prove or disprove the medicine and we are delighted with the results,’€ she said.

Approximately 85% of the residents of sub-Saharan Africa obtain their health education and health care from traditional medicine practitioners.


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