- 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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