HIV, or Human Immunodeficiency Virus, belongs to a group of viruses called retroviruses and was first identified in the 1980s. The virus degrades the body’s immune system by infecting CD4 or T-cells. These cells are responsible for fighting infectious diseases and with depleted numbers due to HIV, your body becomes susceptible to disease and infection. If your immune system degrades too much and your CD4 cell count falls too low, a patient can develop AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) and AIDS-defining illnesses. There is no cure for HIV, but treatment can reduce your viral load to non-infectious levels while maintaining CD4 cell count. If medical treatment is unavailable, there are also scientifically studied home remedies for HIV that can also reduce viral load and/or maintain CD4 count which will help you lead a normal life and perhaps permanently delay the onset of AIDS.
Symptoms of Acute HIV Infection
There are three stages of an HIV infection. The first stage of the virus is known as acute HIV infection. In the first few weeks of infection, your body will begin to produce antibodies against HIV, and blood tests for these antibodies will begin to show positive. As such this first stage is often called seroconversion illness (sero refers to blood, conversion refers to the fact that antibody tests have converted to positive).
The HIV virus attacks and kills the bodies immune cells (CD4 cells) and makes replications of itself by inserting its DNA into the infected immune cell. In this process, the virus must bond with immune cell receptors before it fuses with the cell. Antiviral drugs use a combination of approaches to reduce this process targeting the bonding process or the replication process. If the virus is unsuccessful in multiplying, typically the immune cell count rises. Home remedies for HIV also have similar mechanisms to prevent the virus multiplying.
The symptoms of acute HIV infection appear a few weeks after initial infection and are often confused with flu. These include:
- Cough and sore throat
- Muscle and joint pain
- Skin rash
- Diarrhea and vomiting
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Mouth ulcers
Given the non-specific nature of these symptoms, many confuse this phase of the illness with a bout of flu and often may not realize they are infected. However, these people are contagious during this period as the viral load (the quantity of virus per unit of blood) is deemed to be above safe levels.
The second stage of infection is called asymptomatic stage, and as the name suggests, patients feel healthy and do not show any symptom. This can last for several years. However, through this stage the virus will be multiplying, infecting and killing your CD4 immune cells and slowly degrading your immune system. Also, the patient will remain contagious through this stage without treatment.
The final stage of HIV is when your immune system has degraded so much that you develop symptomatic HIV. In this weakened state, patients will often develop opportunistic infections and will be susceptible to illnesses specifically associated with HIV such as certain cancers. This final stage is often called AIDS, and it represents the final collapse of the body’s immune system.
Treatment for HIV does not at this moment try to cure HIV. Instead, current medical treatment aims to decrease the viral load in the bloodstream to undetectable levels. While the virus is still present, its low quantity means that your CD4 count (levels of immune cells) are maintained to a healthy normal level. Likewise, at these low viral loads, the patient is also non-contagious.
No longer is HIV a death sentence and a normal life can be led.
Our home remedies for HIV are not intended as a substitute for antiretroviral therapy (ART) or highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) which are the current treatments for HIV. Our home remedies for HIV are intended as a compliment to existing therapy and should be only be considered as the sole treatment if modern medical treatment is unavailable.
The home remedies for HIV that we have listed here have been either tested in vitro (i.e. in a laboratory) or with human trials and have shown demonstrable success in increasing CD4 count and/or reducing viral load. This is the same objective as the antiretroviral therapy.
However, it should be noted that no home remedy for HIV has to date been shown to be AS effective as antiretroviral therapy. We have sourced academic journals accordingly.
- Neem leaf
Neem is a tree in the mahogany family Meliaceae. It is native to the Indian subcontinent and widely used in herbal medicine.
1g of a compound extracted from neem leaf (known as IRAB) was given to 60 HIV positive patients on a daily basis for a period of 12 weeks. 50 patients completed the trial and the average increase in CD4 cells count was significant. Average cell count increased by 159% over the period (1). No adverse side effects were reported in the liver and kidney functioning.
The exact mechanism for which the neem leaf extract counteracts the virus is still unknown, but the results were so impressive that neem extract is being evaluated as an addition to standard retroviral drug treatment ‘combination’ therapy, i.e. where several drugs are given simultaneously.
2. Black Seed
Black seed (nigella sativa) has long been known to possess medicinal benefits and is widely used in alternative medicine. However, one study has produced some astonishing results as a home remedy for HIV. (2)
A patient who was exhibiting late stage HIV (AIDS) with symptoms of diarrhea, weight loss, and multiple lesions, was given a black seed concoction of 10mls twice daily for six months.
At the end of the treatment, the patient was showing no visible AIDS-related symptoms. Viral load had diminished to undetectable levels, and his CD4 count had increased from 250 cells per mm to 650 cells (A CD4 count above 500 is considered to be a healthy normal level). These results would be considered extraordinary even for the most successful antiretroviral treatment.
However, there is more.
24 months after the black seed treatment had ceased, the patient experienced no relapse in viral load and CD4 count. Given the results, one would almost be tempted to say that this individual had been ‘cured’.
However, a note of caution must be made. This study was only conducted on one patient and while there is more anecdotal evidence for black seed efficacy, proper clinical trials on many people need to be conducted for confirmed proof.
Zinc has long been known to be an essential mineral for the healthy functioning of the immune system. However, research now suggests that zinc supplements can help with some of the symptoms of AIDS
A control group of HIV/AIDS patients was given zinc nutritional supplements over an 18 month period.
The results of the study showed that those taking the supplements showed a four-fold decrease in immunological failure and a 50% reduction in diarrhea incidence relative to the placebo group. (3)
Selenium is an essential mineral for the human body and has long been associated with the healthy functioning of the immune system. It is also involved in antioxidant processes in the body preventing damage from free radicals and inflammation.
However, research now shows it to be one of the best home remedies for HIV.
In one study, HIV positive adults with a CD4 count between 300-650 were daily 200 μg selenium tablets or a placebo and then assessed over the next 24 months. It was found that the depletion rate of CD4 cells was reduced on average by 44% showing that selenium supplements can slow the onset of AIDS. (4)
Another similar study showed that daily selenium supplementation can suppress viral load and provide indirect improvement of the CD4 count. (5)
5. Green Tea
Green tea has long been used as a herbal remedy for a host of ailments through the ages but only now is it being studied as a possible treatment for HIV.
It is a compound in green tea called EGCG which has taken the spotlight in the research. The compound has been shown to prevent HIV from successfully bonding with the CD4 cells. It is this initial bonding which is the precursor to the CD4 cell destruction and subsequent virus replication. (6)
The precise mechanism is currently unknown, and further research is being conducted to assess whether green tea’s EGCG compound could offer a range of drugs.
Curcumin is the active ingredient in the turmeric plant and is the pigment responsible for giving the root its yellow color. Turmeric has long been known to be anti-inflammatory, antibiotic, antioxidant as well as antiviral. It really is a superfood for medicine.
It was only a matter of time until someone tested it versus HIV.
Studies have shown that it is an effective home remedy for HIV. The curcumin in turmeric inhibits infection and replication of viral genes. (7)
It works by degrading a protein called TAT which plays an essential role in viral replication. (8)
In addition, curcumin enhances the effect of conventional anti-HIV drugs while reducing their side effects. As such, adding turmeric to your diet should be a priority.
7. Bitter Melon
Bitter melon, (bitter gourd or karela in India) is an extremely bitter medicinal plant used widely across Asia. It is used to treat a variety of diseases as it has anti-viral, anti-tumor, and immune system boosting properties.
Studies have shown that it anti-viral properties extend to HIV and such we have listed as one of home remedies for HIV.
One study identified a plant protein (MAP30) that is effective against multiple stages of the HIV viral lifecycle, both in terms of initial infection as well as replication of infected cells. (9)
In human trials, one experimental study showed promising results from bitter melon therapy. One patient was given 16 ounces per day of bitter melon juice for one year. The patient noticed increased energy levels, with improved stamina and appetite. One year after therapy, his CD4 count had increased greatly, and his chronic sinusitis and recurrent respiratory problems ceased. (10)
8. Probiotics and Prebiotics
It is a common misconception that the immune system is regulated by our glands. However, most would be surprised to find out that it may be the gut where the core of the immune system resides.
Studies have shown that there is ‘cross-talk’ between the microbes in our gut and other cells in the body responsible for the immune system and metabolism. If your gut bacteria become unbalanced, this can have a knock-on effect on the immune system leaving the body vulnerable to pathogens. (11), (12)
It has long been known that HIV infection is associated with significant damage to the gastrointestinal tract and the gut wall, upsetting the gut bacteria balance. Microbial products leak out from the gut into general circulation. This leakage has been linked to inflammation and HIV disease progression. (13)
One study looked at 68 HIV patients who were given probiotic yogurt containing lactobacillus bacteria and measured their CD4 cell count over the treatment period.
Average CD4 cell count increased significantly across the group by over 100%.
Another study published in 2013 in the Journal of Clinical Investigation suggests that supplementation with pre and probiotics may be beneficial for HIV patients on ARVs.
Licorice root has long been used to treat gastrointestinal problems. It is used for food poisoning, stomach ulcers, and heartburn. The active compound in the root that has the medicinal qualities is glycyrrhizic acid.
Glycyrrhizic acid has been tested for its effects on HIV. A daily dose of 1600mg of glycyrrhizic acid was administered intravenously for a month to hemophiliacs with HIV on six separate occasions. Viral antigens were detected at the beginning of the treatments, but by the end of 3 out of 5 courses, viral antigens were undetectable in three courses and had decreased to low levels in the remaining two. (14)
Further studies have also shown that glycyrrhizin significantly inhibits HIV replication in HIV-seropositive patients (15)
People who are infected with HIV often try dietary supplements many of which claim to boost the immune system or counteract the side effects of anti-HIV drugs. In this article, we have listed the home remedies for HIV that have clinical research to support their efficacy. We are aware of other home remedies for HIV not listed here, but we found insufficient evidence to support their claims.
Also, most home remedies for HIV have not been tested in combination with conventional HIV drugs, and one should always consult medical advice before attempting home remedies treatment. Indeed, certain home remedies such as St John’s wort or garlic may actually lessen the potency of antiviral drugs.