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Health Corner
By Julene Tripp Weaver

Combination Anti-Viral Herbal Formula

I recently learned about an anti-viral herbal combination being used by people living with HIV and AIDS. Alternative choices can be overwhelming, and now that triple-therapy is the new treatment standard it is even harder to decide what alternatives to integrate. Fred Bingham of Direct AIDS Alternative Information Resources (DAAIR), a buyer's club in New York City, created this anti-viral herbal protocol. It uses four herbs: SPV-30, bitter melon, curcumin and Glycyrrhiziate Forte.

Anti-Viral Protocol

AM on an empty stomach
Bitter Melon, 500 mgs (Tai He) 5 capsules

3 times per day with meals
Curcumin 97, 500 mgs (Jarrow) 2 capsules
Glycyrrhiziate Forte, Licorice, 300 mgs (Jarrow) 1 capsule
SPV-30, Boxwood Extract, 330 mgs (Arkopharma) 1 capsule
SPV-30 can be taken on an empty or full stomach, the ideal way to take it is one capsule every six to eight hours.

PM on an empty stomach
Bitter Melon, 500 mgs (Tai He) 5 capsules

A review of each of the ingredients in this formula:

SPV-30 (Boxwood plant)

This is an herbal extract of the mature leaves of the European evergreen boxwood tree, also known as buxus SemPerVirens. An HIV positive woman in France had been using this plant based remedy for several years, when she got PCP her CD4 counts remained high. When she stopped boxwood her CD4 cells dropped, when she restarted it they rose. Her doctor was surprised at this and as a result it has been through Phase II and III studies with Luc Montagnier at the Institute Pasteur in France. These studies were classified as an antiretroviral clinical trial by the French Ministry of Health. An Open Label study was done in the United States. It is a nontoxic antiretroviral and the cornerstone of this protocol. The specific material extracted remains a proprietary secret of Arkopharma, the largest phytopharmaceutical company in Europe. They have a reputation for quality control and good manufacturing processes to maintain product purity. A "cryogrinding" process is used to process the plant.
Some of the possible benefits of this plant include:

Contraindications: None noted.
Side effects: None noted.
Drug interactions: Unknown, has been taken with other AIDS drugs with no problems.

Note: SPV-30's effects take four to six months before they are seen.

Bitter Melon (Latin: Momordica charantia)
"Chinese Bitter Melon" is the common name of this tropical fruit; it is a light green cucumber like plant with bumpy skin that is very bitter to the taste. It has been used medicinally for generations in Southeast Asia to treat surpressed appetite, gastrointestinal infections, diabetes, tumors and some viral infections. This plant is in the curcubiticeae family, the same family as the Chinese cucumber, Tricosanthes kirilowi, from which Compound Q (GLQ 223) is extracted; Compound Q has also been used to treat HIV.
Similar to the story of SPV-30, this antiviral was discovered because an HIV positive Filipino-American man used a bitter melon extract as his sole antiviral treatment for over four years. He had good results with his health and T cell count, and because of his success research was done. In 1990, Sylvia Lee-Huang of New York University's School of Medicine isolated three proteins from Bitter Melon that inhibit HIV-infected macrophages and T cells: alpha- and beta-monocharisn, and MAP-30 (brief for Momordica Anti-HIV Protein).
This herb became was used early in the epidemic in the form of rectal retention enemas; enemas provided optimum absorption. This method of administration is time-consuming and difficult to continue on a long term basis; now bitter melon can be vacuum dried and it comes in a more convenient capsule form.
Some of the possible benefits of this herb include: Contraindications: Do not use if pregnant because it can induce abortions.
Side Effects: loose bowels are the only known side effect. Possible nausea if drinking a mixture of it. People who have used it for over three years show no change in blood chemistries.
Drug interactions: Unknown.

Note: Some people are taking bitter melon at a lower dosage than ten per day to reduce the costs of this protocol. There is no known research on what is the right amount of bitter melon; taking half the dose or less may be common.

Curcumin (Tumeric: Latin: Curcuma longa)
The plant Tumeric grows wild in Java. It is a mild spice; curcumin is the compound that makes turmeric yellow and gives curries their deep yellow color. Tubers from the plant are used for medicinal purposes and in cooking throughout India and other Asian countries. Turmeric is in the same family as ginger and acts similarly as an anti-inflammatory agent. This would prove helpful to anyone with joint pains or rheumatoid arthritis. Curcumin at 400 mg was comparable to 400 mg of ibuprofen in showing improvement, although its pain relieving action is not as potent. It is used for jaundice and liver diseases, and slows replication of HIV in test tubes. Curcumin is not soluble in water; in many curries the spices are mixed in hot oil or clarified butter (ghee) which then transport the active ingredients into the body. Bromelain (an enzyme in pinneapples) is often used with curcumin to increase its absorption.
Some of the possible benefits of this herb include: Contraindications: People who have gallstones or blockages of the bile duct should not use, otherwise it is known to be safe in moderate doses.
Side effects: Stimulates gastric juices, can irritate the gastric mucosa of the stomach possibly causing ulcers.
Drug interactions: Unknown.

Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra)
Glycyrrhizin is a constituent of Chinese licorice root, it is responsible for the sweet taste of licorice. In Japan glycyrrhizin has been used to treat chronic hepatitis B. It has been used for peptic ulcers, low adrenal function and to enhance the immune system during viral infections. Clinical trials have been run in HIV positive people with hemophilia and a stabilization of disease has occurred, T cells have not increased but progression to AIDS halted.
Some of the possible benefits of this herb include: Contraindications: do not use if you have high blood pressure, a heart condition or a weakened heart, low blood potassium, or a weakened kidney function. It does correct some liver disorders (such as Hepatitis B) but is not to be used in chronic liver inflammation and cirrhosis.
Side effects: High does or long duration can cause high blood pressure, water retention or edema, and low blood potassium. Potassium levels must be monitored, and follow a high-potassium, low-salt diet while using. Supplement potassium by eating bananas, dried apricots, blackstrap molasses, avocados, cantaloupe, orange juice, and sweet potatoes, among other foods. The effects are reversible when the herb is stopped.
Drug interactions: Can interact with cardiac glycosides (digitalis, lily-of-the-valley). Its action may also be stronger when given with diuretics. Not advised for someone taking insulin as severe reactions could occur.

These products are available at Buyer's Clubs. Read my article on Buyer's Clubs for further information. As with any protocol it is important to discuss it with your doctor and have blood tests done on a regular basis.
* "Different strains of HIV-1 can be found in the same infected individual. These differ from each other in their infectivity and in the damage they can cause to their host cells. For example, certain strains of HIV-1 isolated from some individuals show a high level of a syncytia-inducing factor (SIF). This factor increases the tendency of this HIV-1 strain to fuse single helper cells into large masses (syncytia), thereby effectively taking them out of action. The presence of this factor in affected individuals is associated with a more rapid progression of the disease. These syncytia can later rupture to release large numbers of HIV-1 particles." P. 25
"Syncytia formation (the fusing together of cells), which is a factor inthe progressive depletion of the T4-helper cells and is seldom observed in the body under normal circumstances." P. 153 From: Kidd, PM and Huber W, Living With The AIDS Virus A Strategy For Long-Term Survival, Berkeley, CA: HK Biomedical, Inc, 1990.

Disclaimer: Please be advised this is a sharing of information that is not meant to be used to replace medical treatment and your own intuitive sense of your body and what it needs. Please see your medical provider (Dr., Naturopath, Acupuncturist, etc.) to follow up on suggestions.