Vietnamese researcher claims promising results for herbal AIDS drug
First results from clinical trials suggest a cocktail of Vietnamese traditional remedies is effective in boosting the body's defences
against AIDS, a Vietnamese researcher said Friday.
The cocktail of more than 30 herbal remedies boosted the levels of the key white blood cell TCD4 by between two and five
times among the patients with full-blown Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome treated with it, Professor Dai Duy Ban of
Vietnam's Institute of Biotechnology told AFP.
The boost to the patients' immune systems allowed them to put on weight by one to five kilograms (2.2 to 11.1 pounds) on
average and as much as 18 kilograms in one exceptional case, Ban said.
The Vietnamese scientist launched the clinical trials in January among 26 AIDS patients at the Pham Ngoc Thanh tuberculosis
clinic in the commercial capital of Ho Chi Minh City.
He developed his herbal cocktail in 10 years of work with a group of 30 former patients at the city's Binh Trieu detoxification
clinic who were among the first people in Vietnam to test HIV positive.
Ban said the cocktail included such active ingredients as saponin, ergosterol polysacchride, phenolic, caratenoic and curcumil,
but added he believed it was the combined effect of the cocktail, not any one of the individual components, which was
With the cost of the standard anti-retroviral drugs used to treat AIDS in the West beyond the reach of most developing
countries, researchers around the world have been looking for cheap natural remedies.
Ban said the cocktail he had developed cost no more than 100 dollars a year.
In some poor countries hard hit by the AIDS virus like Nigeria, an explosion of "miracle cures" of doubtful effectiveness has
prompted the authorities to outlaw all untested remedies.
But Ban is a member of Vietnam's National Centre for Natural Sciences and Technology who has been doing AIDS research
since 1985 and presented his preliminary findings at a medical conference here last December.
And medical doctors have not ruled out the effectiveness of traditional medicine in helping, if not curing, AIDS patients.
"It is important to acknowledge that traditional medicine is an ancient, valuable and effective system," John Rwomushana of
Uganda told an international AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa, last month.
Agence France Presse - August 18, 2000.