Five Chinese Herbs Proven
As Good As Western Drugs
Against HIV
BANGKOK - Thai researchers have found that five Chinese herbs are as effective as western drugs in slowing the progress of HIV, and two others can fight lung cancer, reports said on Sunday. Health Minister Korn Dabaransi announced that herbal medicine from China's Kunming Institute of Botany could reduce the amount of HIV in the body, and kill cancer cells without causing any side effects.
"The discovery will brighten the hopes of many patients and will probably be the best news for Thai people in the 21st century," he said, according to newspaper reports. A cocktail of five herbs dramatically reduced the amount of virus in nine of 28 patients treated this year at a hospital in northern Chiang Mai, said Medical Science Department deputy director Paijit Warachit. In a further 16 patients it helped to contain the virus, while the other three were at a more advanced stage of the illness and experienced no benefit.
"The clinical tests have proven that the dosage was safe and has helped reduce any opportunistic infections and prolonged the lives of the patients," Paijit said. "However, the medicine is not a cure." A combination of two herbs was used to treat patients with final-stage lung cancer, extending their lives by between one and five years, said Medical Science Department chief Mongkol na Songkla.
The cancer study, initially performed in China, was replicated by Thailand's National Cancer Institute, he said. Thailand has one of the worst AIDS problems in Asia. An estimated 950,000 people, or one in 60 Thais, are infected with Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV), which leads to Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).
But only five percent of the 120,000 people with full-blown AIDS can afford expensive anti-virus drugs manufactured by western companies. Activists have urged the United States to allow Thailand to make cheap copies of the drugs.

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