Could traditional Chinese medicine help fight HIV?

Researchers say a combination of anti-retrovirals and Chinese traditional medicine is more effective at rebuilding the immune system.

Photo by: AFP (Archive)
Photo by: AFP (Archive)

This picture taken on February 28, 2017, shows a sample of "Ejiao," a form of Chinese traditional medication derived from boiled donkey skin, displayed in factory packaging at a licensed specialised slaughterhouse in Baringo.

There are around 600,000 people infected with HIV in China, but many of those patients struggle to access the anti-retroviral medicine they need.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has long been used to supplement western treatments. China is planning to increase the use of the alternative therapies to fight AIDS. 

According to the researchers, ancient recipes have proven effective in treating illnesses associated with HIV.

But critics say TCM studies haven't been large enough in scale, and lack scientific collaboration between western and Chinese professionals.

The World Health Organization advises caution, saying it only recommends anti-retrovirals for the treatment of HIV. According to the WHO, traditional medicines may only have an adjunct role in improving the patient's overall well-being.

TRT World's Dan Epstein has more details from Beijing.