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Complementary and alternative medicine

African traditional healers and AIDS

Recently, the BBC posted an article soliciting opinions about whether African traditional or alternative medicines have a role in combatting AIDS. Not surprisingly there were a lot of credulous responses saying yes, but one response was more on target:

BBC, this question “Can herbal medicine combat Aids?” to me is a big joke. HIV death rate in Africa is growing at an alarming rate. If herbalists have power to cure people with HIV, why should they let the continent suffer? I have a number of old schoolmates who were affected by virus, their families took them away from town to villages thinking that traditional medicines would help them to survive but in vain.

Indeed. If African herbalists could cure AIDS, then why don’t they?

It’s possible that there might be herbal treatments that show retroviral activity, but there should be some sort of objective evidence for their efficacy before they are even considered seriously as a mainstay treatment.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

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