Can a combination of local herbs including bitter leaf, bitter kola, lemon, lemon grass, Moringa, Gardonema mushroom and Neem tree provide the elusive cure for Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV) that causes Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS)? CHUKWUMA MUANYA, Assistant Editor, examines indigenous plants that have shown antiviral properties and could be used to boost immunity against not just HIV but cancer and other immune-compromised conditions.
Nigerian researchers have found that water-based extract of bitter leaf (Vernonia amygdalina) could be used as adjuvant in the management of people living with Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV)/Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).
A recent study on the immunological effect of Vernonia amygdalina leaf extract and immunace® (nutritional supplement) on HIV-infected patients taking highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) found that it could serve as a nutritional supplement in an HIV-infected or immuno-compromised condition such as cancer or diabetes patients.
The study published in Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine concluded: “The aqueous extract of Vernonia amygdalina (bitter leaf) and immunace or both have the immunological effect on HIV-infected patients. Therefore, we suggest that the V. amygdalina extract or immunace or both could be used as adjuvant in the management of HIV/AIDS clients.”
The study was conducted by researchers from the Department of Pharmaceutics, University of Nigeria Nsukka, Enugu State; Department of Chemistry, Ahmadu Bello University Zaria; and Department of Pharmaceutics and Pharmaceutical Technology University of Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.
The result of the study showed that the mean absolute CD4 count (a marker of the immune system) was increased in the client who took the extract or supplement. And the clients who took both the extract and supplement had a greater increase in the CD4 count. The increased CD4 was significant as compared with the control group. The skin rashes were also improved in the entire groups.
Also, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) have endorsed some herbs and spices that have shown promise in treating the opportunistic infections associated with the viral infections without side effects.
They have verified the efficacy of garlic (Allium sativum), ginger (Zingiber officinarum), cloves (Syzigium aromaticum), thyme, cayenne, basil, Aloe vera, Neem tree (Dogonyaro/Azadiratcha indica), lemon (Citrus limon), lemon grass (Cymbopogon citratus) in the treatment of opportunistic infections associated with the HIV/AIDS.
A Neem-based product has received United States (U.S.) patent, “US 20070275085 A1”, as compositions and methods for the cure of HIV/AIDS.
Also, Nigerian researchers led by a professor of pharmacognosy at the University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN), Chief Executive Officer of Bioresources Development Group (BDG), and former Chairman of the Independent Election Commission (INEC), Prof. Maurice Iwu, have validated local foods such as bitter kola, coconut oil, bitter leaf, Moringa oleifera, Sour sop, the mushroom Garnoderma lucidum, among others as immune boosters and for the treatment of HIV.
Also, another group of researchers have in clinical trials demonstrated how poly herbal preparations made predominantly with bitter leaf provide cure for chronic form of hepatitis B and C co-infection, cancer, type 2 diabetes, tuberculosis and HIV. The researchers from Halamin Herbal centre, 10 George Innih Crescent, Apo District, Abuja and Department of Histopathology and Cytology, Jos University Teaching Hospital (JUTH) Jos found that poly herbal preparations with bitter leaf as the active ingredient strengthen the immune system through many cytokines and chemokines regulations.
Other constituents of poly herbal preparations include: Sesamum indicatum (sesame), bitter leaf, Aloe barbadensis (popularly known as aloe vera), Saccharum officinarum (sugar cane), Allium sativum (garlic) and Amaranthus caudatus (green amaranth, inine in Ibo, tete abalaye in Yoruba).
The poly herbal preparations include: SAAAB and HAABS dietary supplement for hepatitis B and C, and HIV; SAABFAT 7 for cancer and HIV; TABSAABS for tuberculosis and HIV; and DAABS-2 for type two diabetes.
The researchers led by a leading researcher in plant extracts and natural medicine and pharmacist, Dr. Ben Amodu, have shown that there is a cure for the chronic form of hepatitis B and C. Amodu and his team of researchers have in recent clinical trials shown that the poly herbal preparations could be used to treat prostrate cancer and ‘bad’ cholesterol.
Result of laboratory tests by Image Scan Diagnostic Centre Maitama District, Abuja, showed that a patient with abnormal Prostate-specific antigen, or PSA per milliliter (ng/mL) of blood of 6.9; was reduced to reduced to PSA of 0.41ng/ml of two months of regular use of the poly herbal preparation as well as reduced the total cholesterol level from 250 mg/dl to 156 mg/dl.
A 2016 paper by João S. Teodoro et al, on “Mitochondria as a Target for Safety and Toxicity Evaluation of Nutraceuticals”, noted that the multiple pharmacological activities of kolaviron from Garcinia kola (bitter kola) could be due to its ability to prevent and/or repair mitochondria damage.
Another study published on journal Phytomedicine has validated the treatment of oral thrush in HIV/AIDS patients with lemon juice (Citrus limon) and lemon grass (Cymbopogon citratus) and gentian violet.
The researchers noted: “Though the patient population was small, the use of lemon juice and lemon grass for the treatment of oral candidiasis in an HIV population was validated by the randomised controlled trial.”
Indeed, researchers have validated anti-HIV properties of Garnoderma lucidum. The study published in the journal Phytochemistry is titled “Anti-HIV-1 and Anti-HIV-1-Protease Substances from Ganoderma lucidum.” The Japanese researchers wrote: “Ganoderiol F and ganodermanontriol were found to be active as anti-HIV-1 agents with an inhibitory concentration of 7.8 mg ml1 for both, and ganoderic acid B, ganoderiol B, ganoderic acid C1, 3b-5a-dihydroxy-6b-methoxy- ergosta-7,22-diene, ganoderic acid a, ganoderic acid H and ganoderiol A were moderately active inhibitors against HIV-1 PR with a 50 per cent inhibitory concentration.” Also, scientists have in another study published in African Journal of Biotechnology found that extracts of Moringa oleifera showed inhibitory activity against early steps in the infectivity of HIV-1 lentiviral particles in a viral vector-based screening.
The researchers noted: “Moringa oleifera (Moringaceae) is one of the many medicinal plants employed by herbalist to treat or manage people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) in African Traditional Medicine (ATM) and there are many claims to the fact that it improves quality of life and reverses the course of the HIV/AIDS disease progression.
“In this study, M. oleifera leaf extracts showed potent and selective inhibition of early steps in HIV-1 infectivity and could serve as source of antiretroviral lead molecules.
The outcome of this investigation could partly explain the benefits and improvement in quality of life claimed by PLWHA in the use of this medicinal plant as supplement.”
Iwu told journalists in Lagos last week that his team at BDG has formulated these local food items into scientifically validated medicines, dietary supplements. BDG is comprised of Bioresources Development and Conservation Programme (BDCP), Bioresources Institute of Nigeria (BION), Intercedd Health Products (IHP), Intercedd Laboratories (IL), BioTrade Global Agency and Nature’s Emporium.
Iwu said these foods or rather plant extracts have been formulated foods that can be used as medicines or rather dietary supplements for persons living with HIV/AIDS include among others: Moringa Tea, Moringa Leaf Tea, Moringa Whole Seed, which have been shown by research to cure over 300 diseases; Vernonia Ocimum Tea from bitter leaf and scent leaf (Ocimum gratissimum) also used for the control of blood sugar and weight management; Garcinia-IHP from bitter kola (Garcinia kola) also used as antimicrobial and detoxifier; IHP Virgin Coconut Oil from coconut as stress buster and immune booster; Erovit-IHP, which combines the anti-ageing properties of the mushroom, Cordyceps, the high-potency antioxidant effects of Punica granatum fruits and the life-enhancing Korean ginseng; Immunovit-IHP from Reishi mushroom, Punica granatum and Korean ginseng to boost immunity against diseases; and Ganoderma Coffee and Ganoderma Green Tea.
Has Halamin Herbal Centre found a cure for HIV/AIDS in its bitter leaf-based polyherbal preparations? Amodu said: “As it is, it will not be proper to project the message that we have cure for HIV/AIDS. We don’t want to send any info to the outside world for anybody to think that we want to jump the gun. What we have can be subjected to further study, and we are uniting with NAFDAC to do that. So at this point, I don’t want to lay claim that I have cure for that. But, what the whole world recognized today is functional cure, and we can beat our chest that we have that cure. Functional cure as described by New York Times. What is a functional cure? It is a state whereby an HIV/AIDS client has an increase immune system, decrease or no opportunistic infections and has loss no man-hour (can do his work without help from another). This is exactly that our herbal supplements do; our supplements are at par with the conventional Anti Retroviral Therapy (ART)…”
Source: The Guardian