AIDS or Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome is the most advanced stage of the HIV or Human Immunodeficiency Virus infection. An HIV infection leads to deterioration in CD4 cells, a type of T cell in the body. These cells play a critical role in the immune system, which is the natural defense mechanism that fights against pathogens, illness, virus, etc. As the infection progresses, the number of CD4 cells declines, resulting in the breakdown of the immune system. HIV has no cure, however, the infection can be managed with timely antiretroviral treatment.
AIDS patients often turn to alternative remedies known for their medicinal values. Garlic and bitter gourd (karela) are two such natural remedies. A number of patients are opting for these remedies due to the antiviral benefits of the two.
Let’s look at the pros and cons of garlic and karela treatment for HIV:
Garlic for HIV Infection Treatment
Garlic or Allium sativum is one of the plants that have high medicinal value in both traditional and modern medicine. It contains a high percentage of sulfur compounds that are known to boost immunity. Garlic contains allicin, diallyl trosulfide, diallyl disulfide and S-allyl cysteine. Among these, allicin is the most prominent. All the compounds are known to possess antioxidant properties.
Pros of Using Garlic in HIV Infection
- It has anti-oxidant properties, which strengthen the immune system of the patient.
- Garlic has anti-microbial properties. One of its components, allicin, is effective against staphylococcus infection. It is effective against its multi-drug resistant mutants too.
- It is anti-fungal and is known to effectively fight against candida yeast.
- It is anti-viral too. Garlic compounds fight viral infections to quite an extent.
- Garlic is anti-inflammatory.
- It is a known vasodilator and maintains optimum blood pressure. These are crucial in managing HIV infection.
Cons of Using Garlic in HIV Infection
- Studies have shown that garlic consumption adversely affects the anti-platelet medications that are administered to HIV patients.
- Garlic consumption also interferes with the HIV medications, which can have a detrimental effect on the patient.
- High doses of garlic lead to liver toxicity.
- High garlic consumption leads to intestinal mucosal damage.
Karela or Bitter Gourd for HIV Infection Treatment
Bitter melon or Mamordica charantia is another well-known vegetable with medicinal properties. It is most famous as a blood purifier. However, it has other benefits too. Many HIV patients are known to use the bitter melon extract to slow down the infection and maintain their blood quality. The extract is prepared from the juices of the fruit and leaves and diluted using purified water to manage its concentration and potency.
Pros of Using Karela in HIV Infection
- It can boost the CD4 count in the body.
- It is known to reduce respiratory infections.
- Bitter gourd is known to slow down HIV-1 infection.
Cons of Using Karela in HIV Infection
- Karela induces favism, which is lethal in HIV infection.
- It can also interfere with HIV retroviral treatment.
- Bitter gourd interferes with blood sugar levels. If the HIV patient is diabetic, consumption of bitter gourd can cause hypoglycemia.
Both garlic and karela have known therapeutic and medicinal uses. However, in the case of HIV infection, the body’s normal immunity as well as physiological functions are affected when garlic and karela are consumed. It is always advisable to consult a physician before trying alternative medicines for the treatment of HIV/AIDS.