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Complementary and alternative therapies for HIV/AIDS

Many people with HIV or AIDS may think about trying complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapy to boost immunity, treat complications, or ease side effects from HIV drugs. Some examples of CAM therapies are:

  • Acupuncture
  • Plant products, such as herbal supplements
  • Massage
  • Aromatherapy
  • Meditation

Never try any CAM therapy without talking to your doctor first. Some CAM therapies may not work, could carry risks, or could even be harmful. For example, two widely used herbal products can actually interfere with HIV medicine: St. John's wort and garlic. St. John's wort is used to boost mood. Garlic supplements are used to lower cholesterol. Even though you might need to lower your cholesterol or boost your mood, these supplements can be very harmful to your HIV treatment. On the other hand, some CAM therapies, such as meditation, might help to improve your sense of well-being and quality of life. Massage therapy could ease pain or other symptoms you are feeling. Your doctor should know whether a CAM therapy may be helpful and is safe to try along with your current treatment.

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Content last updated: July 01, 2011.

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