Medical Herbalism: Clinical Articles and Case Studies

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Immune - HIV-AIDS - A case study

by Amanda McQuade Crawford

Medical Herbalism 07-31-96 8(1/2): 1, 6-12

In my general practice my location near San Francisco and later, Los Angeles, spurred me to specialize in HIV/AIDS client education on natural therapies. This presentation of a case history (blood work including CD4 levels and T4:T8 ratios monitored quarterly over two years) covers practical details of a successful herbal protocol. The accompanying outline covers specifics do’s and don’ts of whole food nutrition. This is not about a cure-all but it does spell out an approach based on clinical experience in the San Francisco and Los Angeles areas, with the terminally ill as well as long-term survivors.

The following case occurred early in my work with HIV/AIDS. My client presented one of my first chances to follow through with regular documentation to gauge the herbal medicine protocol I had been developing. Fortunately for this client, he was asymptomatic on the first visit, with a great blood profile. Over two years, a person HIV+ for nine years began experiencing repeated health failures, following the death of his partner from AIDS complications. A multidisciplinary protocol for re-instating asymptomatic HIV+ status in a long term survivor was based on nutritional support and Phytotherapy. A series of acute immune challenges over this time were resolved one way or another, detailed below.

Since then I have used a simpler version of this herbal protocol. This flexible but durable herbal approach has now been used successfully with people who did not arrive with such a high T-cell count, or who were in much worse shape. However, the nature of this clientele limits the availability of consistent documentation for some of the more dramatic returns from full-blown AIDS to relative health and long term survival. Though it would be poor science to base a cure on anecdotes, the wealth of experence among herbal or natural health practitioners is as useful as any data base on AIDS.

Anyway, I have no herbal cure and not one of the people I have seen die or thrive are mere anecdotes to me. Each of their stories is represented in some regard in this client’s experience. With HIV/AIDS, the phrase “successful protocol” is relative. I believe this flexible approach gives us a rational place to start facing an overwhelming epidemic. Our future success depends on choosing herbs from traditional experience rather than headlines, research or popular hearsay. Wholism, too unwieldy to package for sale, is a unique gift to AIDS treatments. Western herbal medicine is the best therapy I have for creating whole-person treatments. In the final analysis of AIDS protocols, wholistic therapies may be the only game in town.

First visit - 5/91:

I first saw this client, whom I will call John, in the late spring of 1991. Though asymptomatic, he had been diagnosed as HIV+ since 1984, but was certain he had been positive since 1982. He was 42 years old. In his childhood he had earaches and a tonsillectomy though his parents report his exposure to antibiotics was not excessive. He is allergic to peanuts. When he got the ‘flu one year after his probable HIV+ status in 1982, he recovered, ate some peanuts and developed mouth ulcers, which recur on accidentally eating peanuts hidden in other foods. He continues to suffer from allergies to springtime pollens including acacias and pine, but now considers wheat a potential allergen. His diet is mostly non-dairy, with organic poultry or fish 1-2 times a week, skipping lentils and tofu because of indigestion, and recently avoiding corn and barley due to the arginine content (he has herpes). He has one cup of coffee in the morning with a piece of whole grain toast but finds wheat increasingly indigestible. Lunch was typically a salad, rice or vegan sandwich. He often missed dinner, having an apple in the evenings. Recently he had begun losing weight (18 lbs. in 6 months), a mixed sign since he had gained 50 lbs. in the last year of his partner’s life, and wanted to go from his current 162 lbs. to 140-150. Most meals were taken in restaurants with his students; he taught Zen meditation. He had consulted a doctor about his health, especially since the stress in his life had increased with the terminal care of his monogamous partner, who died at home of AIDS just over a year previously. He did not drink or smoke, or take recreational drugs, and exercised regularly with Chi Gong and Tai Chi for an arthritic knee.
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He was self-medicating with:

- 40 gtt. 5 mornings a week of Hyperforat, a German Hypericin product, for 1 1/2 years. He attributed his positive shift of T4-T8 ratio to this.

- Aloe juice, as an antiviral

- 1 tablet daily, Blue-green Algaes and chlorella, for 1 year.

- 1 tablet a day Kyolic. He took Astragalus and Garlic in the diet against indigestion.

- 1 capsule powdered Korean Ginseng, 2 days a week; more caused insomnia and he preferred to switch brands, avoiding multi-herb combinations.

- 4-10 grams Vitamin C daily.

- 500 mg. Lysine 3 times a week.

- Glutathione to replace that lost from the HIV virus according to the literature.

- A B-complex, 3 times a week.

- A tablet of Pau d’arco daily, no mg. printed on label.

- A 280 mg. capsule of Echinacea daily, which I recommended he discontinue for now.

His tongue was pale pink, with a thin, wet, white coat, no ribbing on the sides. On further questioning, it was clear the digestive system was sluggish, prone to bloating, and sensitive to an increasing number of common foods.
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For extreme symptoms of allergies, he occasionally took Sulphedrin (containing ephedrine) which disrupted sleep. He had no other sexually transmitted diseases than herpes and HIV, and no urinary tract problems.

He had been in counseling for two weeks, though it had been over a year since his partner died. His stress was high, with frontal headaches, depression, and insomnia which had persisted over the 14 months since his loss. There were no night sweats associated with the frequent waking. He awakened slowly — even sluggishly in the morning, after waking 2-4 times a night with dreams or an “ambiguous feeling” not easily named as guilt, grief or other...He had been exhausted since the death of his partner, following a two-year illness involving PCP, meningitis, dementia and wasting. He had been the primary at-home care provider during this time.

His skin was dry, but not reddened. We agreed on cutting out the small amount of dairy and wheat by replacing it with rice bread, organic fruit in season especially pears and apples for energy, and at least 3 dinners cooked at home each week.

On analysis he was normal on values for glucose, BUN, creatinine, sodium, chloride, CO2, calcium, phosphorus, uric acid, iron, albumin, globulin, total protein, total bilirubin, alkaline phosphatase, ALT (SGPT), LDH, triglycerides, cholesterol, platelet count, WBC, RBC, hemoglobin, hematocrit, lymphocytes and monocytes.

Abnormal low - neutrophils 46% (normal range 50-70%).

Abnormal high - AST (SGOT) was 72 (normal range 0-50 u/l). Eosinophils 9% (normal range 0-5%).

John’s Helper T cells were normal at 49% (normal range 32-62%). His CD4 lymphocytes were 1150 per cubic mm (normal range 400-1770 cubic mm). The ratio of T4:T8 cells was normal at 1.44 cmm (normal range 0.9-3.5).

Note: these and repeated tests over two years of HIV-related blood results follow this case summary.

When asked what he wanted most (or first) from the herbs, he specified prevention and sleep, since it affected everything else. He reported he had not been able to sleep through the night for 3 years.

The herbs given for one week were:

Astragalus 3 sticks cooked in brown rice, vegetable soup or tea for 1 hour — 3 times a week.

Tincture Rx:

Urtica dioica (nettles)                 45 ml

Taraxacum officinalis radix (dandelion root)     45
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Glycyrrhiza glabra (licorice)             15

Turnera diffusa (damiana)                15

Dose: 5 ml. (1 tsp.) three times a day 30 minutes before meals.

Tea Rx:

Pfaffia paniculata (suma)                 3 oz.

Ocimum basilicum (basil)                 2

Nepeta cataria (catnip)                 1

Filipendula ulmaria (meadowsweet)         2

Stevia rebaudiana (sweet leaf)             1 pinch (approx. 1 g.)

Dose: 1 oz. steeped 30 minutes in 3 cups water, 1 teacup three times a day most days.

Tincture for Insomnia Rx:

Valeriana officinalis (valerian)

Humulus lupulus (hops)

Scutellaria lateriflora (scullcap) (equal parts to make 2 oz.) 40 drops, 30 minutes before bedtime, or as needed.

2nd visit - 5/91:

John reported sleeping better, getting up earlier yet feeling rested. We agreed John could drop the morning cup of coffee to 1/2 cup, supplementing with green tea or Genmai if needed. The allergies were better this year anyway due to heavy rains, but one week of herbs and dietary changes had improved upon that.

Though he had a few doses left over, John liked his tea and noticed the tincture made each meal more easily digested, with less bloating, even when going out for Mexican food (whole wheat enchiladas with cheese).

A new problem had arisen with cold sores appearing inside the lip and a patch 1" in diameter on the foot. This was red, flaking, not itchy but tender. I recommended rubbing a few drops of the concentrated Hypericum tincture in for two days to observe, whereupon it resolved for a time.

Considerations for next visit: weigh-in; check recent lab results due by then; simplify number of supplements, possibly switch to fresh plant Hypericum 1:2 96% in primary remedy, and/or water plus etOH extract of Ganoderma added to tincture; discuss change in John since end of relationship, his fears of repeating that progression of illness.
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3rd visit - 6/91:

He continued taking Hyperforat at the dose indicated on the label, 40 gtt. three days a week.

A mild 2" oval rash on the right forearm appeared during a holiday in the bright desert sun of Southern California, when John also noticed he needed sunglasses for eye sensitivity to light. Four days after the right arm skin change, the left arm showed a similar patch near the elbow but not squarely on the flexor or extensor surface. Both skin patches and eye photosensitivity were more than annoyance, and were almost painful.

Meanwhile, digestion and sleep continued to improve, as did the allergies, which he attributed to each cup of tea. He had lost two sizes in 4 months, and now weighed 157 lbs.

Regarding medication, John reported a tense situation currently arising in the county for all people with AIDS, as doctors were urged to recommend AZT sooner than any symptoms or drop in T cells. John would prefer to try Trichosanthes (Chinese cucumber) with my agreement after I could confer with a Chinese Herbalist/ acupuncturist in my area.

He was worried about his next blood tests coming up, as his stress level and skin manifestations were alarming to him. He asked if brown rice could be causing his problems, due to the arginine. I checked Nutrition reference books and called back the next day to report that 100 grams of brown rice has 120 mg. of arginine and 100 mg. of beneficial lysine, so the lysine deficit was only 20 mg. per every 100 grams of brown rice. This is easily covered by the dose of 500 mg. lysine taken three times a week, plus additional lysine-rich foods and few other dietary sources of arginine.

As an additional safeguard, I suggested vegetable broths instead of rice as the medium to cook his Astragalus, but on consideration, John felt glad he could forget about the news bulletin that discouraged HIV+ people from eating brown rice.

The recommendation to cook at home three nights a week using Astragalus sticks was continued. He was given 4 oz. (approximately 15 sticks, or 3 per week for 5 weeks).

For the next five weeks, we lowered the dose of combinations favoring more alternative properties and bitter resins (Pau d’arco). I changed the formulas as follows:

Tincture Rx:

Astragalus membranaceus (Huang Chi Root)    60 ml. (2 oz.)

Schizandra lycii (Schizandra berries)        60

Smilax ornata (Sarsaparilla)             60

Tabebuia impetiginosa (Pau d’arco Bark)     60

Dose: 2-3 ml. (1/2 tsp.) three times a day in 1 cup water or herb tea, 30 minutes before meals.
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Tea Rx:

Pfaffia paniculata (Suma root)         4 oz.

Filipendula ulmaria (Meadowsweet)     2

Hibiscus salbdariffa (Hibiscus)         2

Ocimum basilicum (Basil leaf)         2

Calendula officinalis (Marigold)         2

Stevia rebaudiana (Sweetleaf)         2 grams

Dose: 1 oz. steeped 30 minutes in 3 cups water; 1 cup 30 minutes before meals, one to three times a day.

4th visit - 7/91:

John was doing well, his blood results were better than expected, and he had just begun to add NAC once each morning, plus glutathione twice a week. The spots on his forearms had “traveled around,” then disappeared. His eyes still bothered him at the beach and while driving if there was glare due to hazy sunshine. This was more than a squint; though there was no pain, there was watering and itching.

His total weight loss was now 25 lbs. and he was satisfied with a 34" waist. John was less hungry though he was eating smaller meals of whole food, instead of skipping meals and snacking later. It turned out that apples weren’t the only item that used to substitute for dinner, but he only realized this when the pattern was consciously changed. He ate soba (buckwheat) noodles for breakfast. Avoiding all dairy and most wheat, he had no indigestion, normal stools and little bloating.

We examined simple recipes to expand the food choices or prepare new flavors, but it was the lonely solitude of cooking at home alone that was partially responsible for his eating on the go.

We opened the conversation about his grieving. He was only occasionally using the Valerian mixture at night.

His blood pressure was 125/70, with a strong, bounding pulse. I noticed several cat scratches on his arms and asked, but he said they never got infected now. He was more concerned about a report on zinc toxicity. I could not find information supporting this news bulletin. His dose was within normal range.

John continued his supplements, but I was still advising he lower the dosage or drop the Hyperforat. He asked to remain on it until the next round of blood tests were done.
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5th visit - 8/91:

The test results were noted at the AIDS Study Project as “exceedingly stable” for someone who had been diagnosed 8 years previously (10 by his own accounting).

A rash of bumps following an itch turned into blisters over 3-4 days, then more would arise. The Hyperforat tincture and Aloe gel helped them resolve faster, but the new areas of rash were 4-6" patches on the instep of the right foot, beside the left arm and on the chest.

On closer examination, the lesions appeared superficial; even the blisters didn’t seem to involve deeper layers of tissue. On the whole, it looked like a drug reaction.

He reported drinking extraordinary amounts of carbonated spring waters for an unquenchable thirst. Recent blood work did not repeat the glucose tests, but there were no other signs of electrolyte or water imbalance.

The muggy midsummer weather apparently made him feel more stressed than usual. He continued an hour of Tai Chi daily.

I recommended we begin to simplify the number of supplements over the next four visits. I began by asking that he drop the Hyperforat for two weeks as an experiment. John agreed after a discussion of potential human photosensitivity with high doses of Hypericin. Taking the herbs in the morning, evening and at bedtime felt easy to keep up for him, now that he wasn’t sluggish upon rising.

For the rash, I prepared a glycerin compound for external use only:

Tinctures Rx:

Calendula officinalis             7 ml.

Stellaria media                 7 ml.

Vinca minor                 7 ml.

essential oils:

Lavandula vera (lavendar)         4 drops.

Melaleuca alternifolia (Tea tree)         4

Rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary)     4

Thymus vulgaris (thyme)             4

Cupressus sempervirens             4

vegetable glycerinadded to make 1 oz
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Directions: shake well before applying undiluted or as a compress to affected areas, 1-4 times a day as needed.

6th visit - 9/91:

The external compound worked most effectively on the foot, but took 10 days to clear the areas on the face and head, because it was more difficult to reach. The old sites of the oval patches on both forearms were clear, but in the recent past the rash had traveled from inside the hair line down the forehead to the tip of his nose. Now all that remained was a new 2" irregular oval patch on his arm. This was not typical of shingles or of fungal infections such as Tinea.

He had recently had a sore throat, following a gum infection self-treated with Hydrogen Peroxide and Hydrastis tincture swirled around, plus brushing 8 times a day. This stirred up bacteria, then swallowed, giving the sore throat which came and went without a fever (temperature low at 98 F). His doctor said his gums were in good shape now. His tongue was pink, with a thin wet white coat, covered by a white film. There were no problems at places relating to the liver in certain schools of tongue diagnosis, but the back of the throat was red and irritated (no tonsils). At the time of the visit the pulse was 60 and the skin was red, without sweating or heat. He craved hot, spicy salsas and foods to heat him up, though his appetite was low. John felt light-headed but had no trouble eating, despite a flare-up of intestinal gas. There were no bowel changes, which he thought was thanks to the herb tea. He craved meat so ate a little turkey once a week since the infection, which he said felt great.

He had a restless month, and was still slowly losing weight, having gone back up to 165 lbs., now with an ideal revised as 150. The anniversary of his partner’s passing was causing renewed insomnia, requiring 4 droppers full (5 to 7 1/2 ml. or approximately 1 to 1 1/2 tsp.) of Valeriana tincture.

In addition to another 4 oz. of Astragalus roots, he was given the following:

Upper respiratory/throat compound Rx:

Zingiber officinalis         5 ml

Glycyrrhiza glabra         10 ml

Balsam of Tolu cough syrup with Tussilago, Viola odorata and Aniseed essential oil                     15 ml

Dose: 1 tsp. every four hours or 4 times a day for 2 days.

Tincture Rx:

Pfaffia paniculata         120 ml. (4 oz.)

Schizandra lycii         75 (2 1/2)

Hypericum perforatum     120 (4)
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Calendula officinalis     45 (1 1/2)

Glycyrrhiza glabra     45 (1 1/2)

Turnera diffusa         75 (2 1/2)

Dose: 5 ml. (1 tsp.) three times a day in water or herb tea, 30 min. before meals.

Tea Rx:

Pfaffia paniculata                 1 oz.

Elettaria cardamomum (cardomon)    1

Matricaria recutita             3

Equisetum arvense             1

Echinacea purpurea             1

Tilia spp.                     3

Ulmas rubra                 1

Smilax ornata                 3

Glycyrrhiza glabra             1

Cinnamonum zeylanicum             1

Dose: 1-2 Tbl. steeped in 2-3 cups water, 2 or more cups per day, anytime as desired.

7th visit - 10/91:

In two days the sore throat had entirely resolved. He had recently suffered a late summer/early fall bout of ‘flu with a slight temperature which had been accompanied by water on the lungs. According to his physician, the respiratory tract was fine. John didn’t tell him he hadn’t filled his prescription for the antibiotics. The main problem with the ‘flu had been intestinal gas which was all cleared up now. He continued the herbs most of the days during the few days of ‘flu. In the last month there had been one patch of the rash on his middle right toe, but even that had cleared up now. His major concern was insomnia which he related to his partner’s death and the reactions of both their families to their many years in a monogamous relationship, the news of their HIV status, and the alternative choices made by John in the two years since his partner’s death.

Another full set of tests were done. The only items out of range were a low glucose level of 57 (normal range 70-125 mg/dl), and high numbers of red and white blood cells. The glucose level was attributed by the lab as a false low due to a high red blood cell count. Without the patient manifesting any signs of hemolysis to explain the readings, the RBC, hematocrit and hemoglobin were all high. This could have been due to a time lag at the lab between drawing blood, centrifuging and analysis. Neutrophils were 48%, just below the normal range (50-70%). Lymphocytes were just above normal at 43% (normal range 25-40%). The Helper T cells and CD4 lymphocytes were up in numbers, showing the replacement over the last two months of Hyperforat with Hypericum 1:2 96% tincture at much lower doses had not caused a reduction in benefits to T cells.
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The only changes to the herbal medicines given were the additions of Lentinus edodes (Shiitake mushroom) 1:2 96% fresh plant extract and Sambucus mexicana (Elder flower) 1:5 25%, to the tincture, plus the addition of Borago officinalis (Borage flowers) to the tea, Viola odorata (Sweet Violet) to the Valeriana compound taken before bedtime, and the use of the following three Flower Remedies: Yarrow, Lotus and Borage.

8th visit - 11/91:

On re-testing, all the abnormal levels were discovered to be normal, while the T4 and other HIV blood criteria were raised even higher (better).

John began clerical work at an AIDS hotline and networking center for education. This was very stressful compared to teaching Zen meditation, which he continued in his spare time. This job change gave him a stronger purpose, as he was genuinely needed by large numbers of people every workday, and his evening hours were comfortably overfull with congenial students and friends taking his classes. These were scheduled at a relaxed pace after an initial overload. Even at the height of stress, his skin had not erupted since he dropped the standardized Hyperforat. He increased Vitamin C to 8 grams a day, and was building up to the removal of one troubled wisdom tooth causing lingering problems in one place on the gums.

Neither of us had been satisfied at that time with the Trichosanthes research we had found, mainly because of language and financial barriers to translating or accessing Chinese or Japanese studies. We discussed the bioflavonoid Quercetin, reputed in the AIDS press as an AZT-like substance that precipitates reverse transcriptase, the enzyme needed by the HIV virus for transferring information from the cellular RNA to DNA, thereby expressing viral replication. I asked for time to double-check on these broad claims for a bioflavonoid commonly found in herbs, though admittedly not in such concentrated doses as those recommended in the alternative literature. Though my aim to reduce “natural” megadoses if possible, this aim was frustrated by my overriding concern: support the client’s informed choices. Quercetin was added, as noted below.

We spent an additional series of consultations reviewing nutritional choices pertinent to HIV/AIDS.

To prepare for the release of bacteria when the dental procedure was scheduled, I added Echinacea purpurea as 1/4 the total volume of tincture for the next four weeks, with few other changes to tincture or tea.

A separate tea of Momordica charantia (Bitter Melon Vine) was given. The dose was 1 oz. per pint, 1-2 cups a day before midday meals. Though intensely bitter, John had no problem getting used to this, and ignored my recommendation to start off with a smaller 1/2 cup dose to check for gastric sensitivity.
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9th visit - 12/91:

In the last month John has woken with headaches which led to digestive distress, intestinal gas and constipation, worse with cheese or fruit, though he attributed his problems to the NAC, which also caused dark urine with a sulfurous odor. Urinary frequency was not accompanied by fever or skin rash. He was eating white rice and bananas. There was no noticeable change from stopping the NAC for two days. In the last four days all the digestive distress has calmed down. The tongue was red along the sides, with a dark pink showing underneath a white coat, showing tiny cracks. Four capsules of acidophilus didn’t help, but the herbal remedies still felt fine on a digestive tract he described as “delicate.” He began taking Coenzyme Q10, but stopped the aloe juice as an antiviral.

The Blood Pressure was 118/80, and the weight had gone up to 170 lbs.

I recommended adding celery stalks to cooked white rice, and trying a one-day liquid fast of Ulmas rubra (Slippery Elm) as a gruel, plus strained broth from vegetable soups with barley.

Continue with: 4 oz. Astragalus


I added 120 ml. (4 oz.) each of Achillea millefolium (Yarrow leaf and flower), Urtica dioica (Nettle leaf) to the tincture.

Lastly, there was a separate tea to take for the next five days only:

Tea Rx:

Ulmus rubra (slippery elm powder)        3/4 oz.

Zingiber officinalis (ginger root powder)        1/4

Tilia spp. (linden flower, powdered)         1/2

Ocimum basilicum (basil leaf, powdered)        1/2

Dose: 1 Tbl. as a cold infusion, steeped 1 hour in 1 pint of water, taken by sips between meals and as needed.

10th visit - 2/92:

Despite the cold, wet winter, John had been in excellent health, no colds or flus despite stress at the AIDS information office, funding cuts and frequent illnesses among co-workers and clients there.
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The skin looked great. There was one spot of Tinea between two toes, which had not responded to self-treatment with hydrogen peroxide and Desenex, an over-the-counter product, which he wished to replace with herbs. We used a tincture of equal parts Hydrastis and Commiphora mol-mol, which made the itch better on the first application.

The insomnia was a thing of the past. The Flower Essences seemed to him to have had their desired effect on balancing emotional energy.

He had determined the intestinal gas had been due to the NAC, and stopped buying it. The people at his AIDS buying club in San Francisco acknowledged then that most people complained of this side effect, whether it was taken as recommended in 500 mg. capsules with food or on an empty stomach.

He loved his liquid fast and had continued doing it one day a week, dedicated to rest and meditation. On these days he took no vitamins, and felt much energized.

John wanted to postpone reducing the number of supplements until the next visit, scheduled for 2 months ahead, “just to be safe.”

11th visit - 4/92:

The sun sensitivity returned with a warm, sunny spring, though his allergies were almost unnoticeable, even without occasional recourse to antihistamines. There was no insomnia, and less need for sleep. The pulse was fast and bounding.

Once more, we discussed simplifying his regimen of supplements, which included:

- Blue-green Algaes, chlorella or Spirulina 6 days a week

- Aloe vera juice

- Kyolic and fresh garlic, now well-tolerated in whole food cooking at home

- Lysine - 3 times a week

- Germanium

- Quercitin - 3 times a week

- Co-enzyme Q10 - twice a week

- Lecithin

- Glutathione


- S.O.D.

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- C - 3-5 grams twice a day, four days a week

- B complex - once a week

- E - 800 IU 5 times a week

- Beta-carotene


- Selenium - 3 times a week

- Zinc - 3 times a week

- Copper

Self-prescribed Herbs (Each once a week or occasionally)

- Momordica charantia (bitter melon vine)

- Hypericum perforatum (St. Johnswort flower)

- Tabebuia impetiginosa (Pau d’arco bark)

- Panax ginseng (Asian ginseng root)

We discussed the fact that the properties of many of these were duplicated in his tea and tincture, as well as his typical nutritional plan over the last several months. Because his blood tests were so stable he was willing to experiment to some degree, but his supplements had been chosen due to long hours of his personal research, and there was a strong attachment to taking them, reasonably enough. I asked if he wanted to phase out the duplicating properties of herbs in tea and tincture, but he wanted only to consider this.

I changed the formulas to prepare for weaning off many of the supplements as the client was willing. With these changes I also hoped to address the doubts I had about the value of some of the products:

Tincture Rx:

Crataegus monogyna (Hawthorn flower, leaf and berry)     2 parts

Elettaria cardomomum (cardomon seeds)         1

Lomatium dissectum (toza, Biscuit Root)             1

Viola odorata (sweet violet leaf, flower)             1 1/2

Echinacea purpurea (coneflower root)             1/2

Lentinus edodes (shiitake mushroom)             1

Lavandula spica (lavender flower)             1 1/2
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Schizandra lycii (schizandra berries)             2

Pfaffia paniculata (suma root) enough to make total tincture of 16 oz.

Dose: 2.5 ml. (1/2 tsp.) in 1/3 cup water three times a day before meals; skip one day per week.


Calendula officinalis (marigold)        2 oz.

Urtica dioica (nettles)            2

Solidago virgaurea (goldenrod)         2

Glycyrrhiza glabra (licorice root)         1

Salvia officinalis (sage leaf)         1

Trifolium pratense (red clover buds)     2

Turnera diffusa (damiana leaf)         1

Taraxacum officinalis (dandelion root)     1

Dose: 1/2 oz. steeped 30 min. in 4 cups; 1 cup twice a day.

12th visit - 7/92:

John’s last liver tests showed his Phosphorous was slightly above normal at 4.6 mg/dl (normal range 2.5-4.5 mg/dl), upon which he dropped the American retail brand of extra-strength Hypericin tincture as well as mine for 3 weeks, when the liver tests returned to normal. The Potassium values, BUN and all other markers were normal, though his blood showed the polymorphonuclear leukocytes (mature scavenging neutrophils), were low at 44% of total WBC (normal range 50-70%). Upon re-starting the combination containing Hypericum perforatum 1:2 96% from my dispensary, the liver tests and Phosphorus remained normal.

Now John was willing to drop the Co-enzyme Q10 from 2-3 times a week to once a week.

He had dropped about 10 lbs., and felt an increase of energy from swimming.

He dropped his dose of Vitamin C down to 6 grams a day because it was easier to take with the evening meals.

13th visit - 10/92:

Continuing to do better on all tests and in his subjective sense of self, John had gone back to eating a vegan-based diet with little to no meat. On his own he was taking fewer vitamins or lower doses of his supplements.
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Our discussion led to a plan to drop everything but the Momordica charantia (Bitter Melon Vine) as a tea for two weeks, 1 oz: pint, 1 cup three times a day. These two weeks would be followed by taking a tincture (1:5 70%), 1.5 ml. (approx. 1/4 tsp.) in 1 pint of filtered water, twice a day 30 minutes before meals.

14th visit - 6/93:

Over the last 8 months, John decided he liked the Momordica, and his bloodwork remained just as high. Still, he re-started taking his herb tea and tincture, with few significant changes from the previous combinations, as this prevented indigestion.

John’s blood tests were making waves in the AIDS centers of medical research. His T Helpers and T4:T8 ratio put him in the top 10% of all long-term survivors in the U.S. who had been diagnosed longer than 10 years.

We limited visits to brief check-ins, or we’d discuss Zen concepts of non-attachment. We discussed his lover and his mother...his renewed purpose in living.

There were a few acute illnesses, including a sore throat treated by his doctor with erythromycin. This led to severely swollen eyes and a feeling of malaise usually associated with the onset of full-blown AIDS. His T-cells remained high, with the result being that John made a therapeutic decision not to jump on minor acute illnesses with aggressive allopathic remedies, which he characterized as a big mistake. When he dropped the antibiotics early in the course against all advice, his lingering symptoms of being unwell, including the puffy eyes, improved in 36 hours.

The sore throat was treated successfully within a week, on the following compound:

Syrup Rx:

Lomatium spp. (Toza root)         2 oz.

Glycyrrhiza glabra (Licorice root)     1

Glycerin                     1

Mentha piperita essential oil         2 drops

Dose: Shake well; 1 Tbl. twice a day or as needed up to 6 times a day.

Tincture Rx:

Hypericum perforatum         240 ml. (8 oz.)

Althaea officinalis             60 (2)

Glycyrrhiza glabra         120 (4)

Angelica archangelica         60 (2)
Copyright 2001 Paul Bergner    222


    Medical Herbalism: Clinical Articles and Case Studies    

Dose: 5 ml. (1 tsp.) in 1 cup tea or water twice a day, before meals.

continue: Astragalus root in cooking Momordica Tea


Between 6/93 and 3/95, John has added to his responsibilities at the HIV/AIDS education center. He speaks at elementary and secondary schools on prevention and the reality of living with his HIV+ status. John delights in taking his blood tests to hospital support groups for AIDS patients and talking about the latest literature in support of Hypericum as a whole plant extract versus a standardized botanic drug. His breadth of experience allows him to dialog with anybody, including his attentive doctors and hospital staff, about many medicinal plants, the problems with AIDS research, sociopolitical trends affecting the fastest growing group in the western hemisphere which seems to be young heterosexual women, and finally, his certainty that his HIV+ long term survival and intimate experience of AIDS is a gift.

This unexpected gift is rich with blessings in compassion, the nobility of the human spirit in the face of overwhelming loss; the gift takes the form of prejudicial barriers broken down to be replaced with bridges. There is tragedy transmuted into something beyond words. We live during a revolution of thought, of consciousness. With such gratitude for Life with both its Terror and its Beauty, we may win through.
Copyright 2001 Paul Bergner    223