cassia abbreviata may help people with hiv

I learned today of a plant- cassia abbreviata- that is thought to decrease viral loads for people with hiv. Basically, there is only anecdotal evidence, but researchers met with a traditional healer in Botswana, and they tested the plant, and the results show that it decreases the amount of the virus in a person’s body.  There is more research to be done, such as extracting the compound from the plant to test it in the lab, then on mice, then on humans.  Interestingly, the presenter of this information- a researcher at University of Botswana- thinks that extracting the compound won’t have the same effect as taking a powder made from the entire leaf of the plant because of a synergy of different elements in the plant that would have a stronger effect than any single compound.

I find this sort of thing particularly interesting because I am fascinated by nature and its ability to heal most human illnesses and particularly with respect to people suffering from compromised immune systems, such as people with hiv.  There are many illnesses we can treat by using plants.  Having scientific research to back up anecdotal evidence of the power of medicinal plants and herbs could mean that more people can be confident in the healing properties of plants, and natural remedies could be used more widely.

The presentation was made by Mr Leteane at the 2nd National Hiv/Aids, Sexually Transmitted Diseases and Other Related Infectious Diseases Conference (NHASORC) which is taking place in Gaborone, Botswana this week.  (Acronyms are out of control in this world!) My friend and roommate Ondine Jones Adams has been working insanely hard to coordinate this event and roped me into helping her this week, which has been quite enjoyable in a funny busier-than-could-ever-be way.  Behind the scenes there is lots of hair-raising hectivity (new word), quick thinking, and getting-it-done.

Doctors, researchers, and public health professionals from all over, particularly Harvard, UPenn, Baylor, and other African countries, are busy working in the field of hiv in Botswana, where the incidence of hiv/aids is rising.  It’s an interesting world of which I have only scratched the surface.  The most intriguing slice of it for me is the use of medicinal plants in treating illnesses.  Only 2 of over 100 presentations at this conference discuss plants and nutrition in relation to hiv/aids and infectious diseases, but I swear, it’s got its foothold and growth for the future.

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