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   Sep 20

Even nature has ‘cure’ for HIV!

Nigella sativa, commonly called black seeds or cumin) has been documented to possess many medicinal uses. But the least expected is in the treatment of HIV to ensure a low HIV load in the body which is very rare despite extensive therapy with highly active anti-retroviral therapy (HAART).

In a new study, scientists reported the case of an adult HIV patient that lost his HIV-specific antibodies or ‘seroreversion’ after six months of treatment with Nigella sativa and suggested the possibility that it might effectively control HIV infection

Nigella sativa is a popular herb that has been in use in many forms (root, leaf and seed) for many centuries. Called Kamansulum in Kanuri or Habbatussauda in Hausa, black seeds have found its usefulness in the treatment of various ailments including infectious to non-infectious diseases, wound healing, as a worm expeller, reducing blood pressure, treatment of arthritis, stroke and asthma.

The 2013 study documented in the latest edition of the African Journal of Traditional Complement Alternate Medicine the complete recovery and sero-reversion of an adult HIV patient after treatment with Nigella sativa concoction for a period of six months.

The study was entitled “Nigella sativa concoction induced sustained seroreversion in HIV patient”. It was carried out by Abdulfatah Adekunle Onifade from the Immunology unit, College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, Andrew Paul Jewell from St George’s University of London & Kingston University, London, UK in collaboration with Waheed Adeola from the Clinical Pharmacology Department, University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan.

The 46-year-old patient presented to the herbal therapist with history of chronic fever, diarrhoea, weight loss and multiple papular pruritic lesions of three months duration. Examination revealed moderate weight loss, and the laboratory tests of ELISA (Genscreen) and western blot (new blot 1 & 2) confirmed the man had HIV infection. His HIV viral load and CD4 count were 27,000 copies/ml and 250 cells/ mm3 respectively.

The artisan was taking 10mls of Nigella sativa concoction twice daily for six months. He was monitored daily and visited regularly to ascertain the effectiveness of the herbal concoction. But the man was not on highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) before, during or after the Nigella sativa concoction therapy.

The researchers documented that fever, diarrhoea and multiple pruritic lesions (Severe itching patches), disappeared on 5th, 7th and 20th day respectively on Nigella sativa therapy. The CD4 count decreased to 160 cells/ mm3 despite significant reduction in viral load (d”1000 copies/ml) on 30th day on N. sativa. Repeated ELISA and Western blot tests on 187th day on Nigella sativa therapy was sero-negative. The post therapy CD4 count was 650cells/ mm3 with undetectable viral (HIV-RNA) load.

They wrote: “Nigella sativa concoction is likely to be virucidal (an agent that deactivates or destroys viruses) because viral load reduced significantly and symptoms and signs associated with HIV infection disappeared despite reduction in CD4 count at early phase of treatment in this patient.”

They declared that the sustained sero-reversion caused by Nigella sativa might be due to complete absence of HIV infected cells from the body, adding that “the sustained sero-reversion induced by Nigella sativa concoction in this HIV patient means that all HIV cells at all stages in infected cells in the body must have been lysed(destroyed).”

But they suggested that there is need to further study more HIV patients on Nigella sativa therapy and its ability to deactivate or destroy viruses such as HIV.
Previously, several herbs have been documented to have ability to deactivate or destroy virus such as HIV. Also, many herbal remedies had played many roles in treatment of HIV/AIDS ranging from opportunistic infections to the prevention of HIV replicating itself in the body. For instance, some Chinese medicines have been reported to cause sero-reversion in HIV patients.

Aloe Vera, St. Johnswort, echinacea, licorice, and ginseng are just a few of the herbs used to treat HIV/AIDS. Taking immunity-boosting herbs (such as astragalus, echinacea, and ginkgo) may help revive an ailing immune system, and certain herbs (such as garlic) may help battle bacteria and viruses.

In addition, two principal African herbal compounds used for HIV/AIDS treatment in sub-Saharan Africa include Hypoxis hemerocallidea (common name: African potato), and Sutherlandia. These two herbal remedies are currently recommended by the South African Ministry of Health for HIV management.

Increasing more research on alternative medicine is being done but many when used alongside HIV drugs can affect their potency. For example, studies have shown that garlic and St. John’s wort interfere with HIV therapy.

Source: Nigerian Tribune

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