Alternative Treatment for HIV
Alternative Treatments for HIV: Coping with the Effect of Medication
HIV is a pandemic that is affecting us for four decades. HIV medicines provide a chance to live longer, healthier lives and reduce the risk of HIV transmission. But, these medicines can sometimes cause side effects. The side effects of HIV medicines can be easily manageable, but a few can be serious.
Generally, the benefits of HIV medicines outweigh the risk of side effects. Additionally, fresher HIV medicines cause fewer side effects than medicines used in the past. With advancements in HIV treatment, people are less likely to have side effects from HIV medicines.
Do all HIV medicines cause the same side effects?
The side effects from HIV medicines usually last only a few days or weeks. The side effects commonly include nausea, fatigue, and trouble sleeping. These are usually some short-term side effects of HIV medicines.
But, some of the other side effects from HIV medicines can lead to problems that may not appear for months or years after starting a medicine. These may include, high cholesterol which is a risk factor for heart disease. Developing another medical condition or taking other medicines can increase the risk of side effects from HIV medicines. The drug-drug interactions between HIV medicines or with other medicines a person is taking can also cause side effects.
What are the Alternative treatments for HIV?
With side effects of medicines, many people use alternative or complementary health treatments along with side effects medical care. These therapies are usually used alongside the more standard medical care you receive.
Along with medicines many people with HIV or AIDS use complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) in combination with traditional medical treatments. This helps to improve their health and well-being and can relieve some symptoms of HIV infection or AIDS. However, these treatments are not proven to treat or cure HIV or AIDS.
Common complementary therapies include:
Physical therapies include yoga, massage, and acupuncture.
Relaxation techniques include meditation and visualization.
Herbal medicines are derived from plants.
In the effects medical case of complementary therapies, your health is looked at from a holistic point of view. Consider your body as working as one big system, from a holistic viewpoint, everything you do – like food to being stressed - affects your health and well-being.
How do Alternate Therapies Work?
These therapies are proven to make immune systems stronger and to make healthy people feel better in general. People suffering from HIV might use these therapies to help deal with symptoms of the disease or side effects from the medicines that treat the disease.
These complementary therapies provide positive results, but, some of the common CAM treatments are proven to improve the symptoms of HIV and related illnesses. Sometimes, these treatments might be worth a try for someone with HIV infection or AIDS. Some of the complementary treatments include:
Physical or Body therapies - These therapies include various activities such as yoga, massage, and aromatherapy that focus on promoting healing and well-being. Some of the various therapies
Yoga and massage therapy: This may help reduce pain, along with improving feelings of overall health and reduce anxiety and depression. These have also been shown to improve levels of CD4 cells, which are immune cells that are attacked by HIV. Yoga includes breathing exercises, stretching and strengthening poses, and meditation. Massage therapy helps to deal with the stress and side effects that go along with having an illness, including HIV.
Acupuncture: This may help reduce nausea and other treatment side effects. Acupuncture involves placing thin, solid needles into various pressure points on the body according to ancient Chinese medical practice. This also helps relieve symptoms of HIV and side effects from the medicine, like fatigue and nausea as well as release chemicals in the body that can help relieve pain.
Aromatherapy: This is based on the theory that smells can change the way you feel. The old extracted from plants are used in aromatherapy, and they can be inhaled (breathed in) or used in baths or massages. Aromatherapy helps to deal with stress or to help with fatigue. Sometimes, the oils used in aromatherapy can be very strong and even harmful.
Relaxation Therapies - Therapies, such as meditation and visualization, focus on mind and imagination can promote overall health and well-being. In this section, you can read about some examples of how you can use relaxation therapies to reduce stress and relax.
Meditation: This is a method of concentration that allows your mind and body to become very relaxed. Meditation increases the level of focus and is quiet for HIV patients. Meditation involves deep breathing and paying attention to your body and mind. People with HIV undergo mental turmoil and can use meditation to relax. Meditation helps them to cope up with the stress that comes with any illness. Meditation can help you to calm down and focus if you are feeling overwhelmed.
Visualization: This method helps people feel more relaxed and less anxious. HIV patients who use visualization imagine that they are in a safe, relaxing place. Focusing on a safe, comfortable place can help HIV people feel less stress, and even lessen the pain or side effects from HIV or the medicines you are taking.
Herbal medicine - A brief course of various herbs may support immunity in people with HIV. Milk thistle is used to improve liver function and does not interact significantly with antivirals. It is important to consult the healthcare provider as herbs may interact with conventional HIV treatments. This would allow the healthcare provider to monitor for any drug interactions or side effects.
Medical marijuana - Loss of appetite is common among people with HIV. Some of the antiviral medications can upset the stomach and make it harder to keep up with scheduled medication doses. Alternatively, medical marijuana can help reduce pain, control nausea, and increase appetite. But, medical marijuana is legal only in certain states.
Supplements – People with HIV need supplements to reduce the side-effects of HIV medicines, which include:
Calcium and vitamin D helps improve bone health.
Fish oil helps reduce cholesterol.
Selenium helps to slow the progression of HIV.
Vitamin B-12 helps improve the health of pregnant women.
Whey or soy protein helps with weight gain.
HIV and AIDS medication can cause various side effects, and some alternative treatments could help provide relief. But, people with HIV should talk to the healthcare provider before considering alternative treatment options. Alternate or complementary therapies can help reduce any potential drug interactions and perhaps suggest other options that could help reduce symptoms. These include physical therapies such as yoga and acupuncture, relaxation techniques such as meditation, and herbal medicines.
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