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What Men Should Know

Traditional Medicine use for men who have sex with men

Across the world people are turning to traditional herbal medicine for improving wellness and to fight disease, this is also true for many men who have sex with men. The herbal medicine trade has grown exponentially around the world and many men are taking advantage of the herbal remedies available. Herbal medicine is not only for the treatment of disease states but also for improving wellness and even for anti-aging and there are many who routinely take herbal remedies to boost their immune systems, enhance their libido and improve their cognitive function. More and more, herbal medicine is seen as a complementary treatment that can work well alongside western medicine. The fact is that many herbal remedies are well tolerated by the body and can augment the working of western medicine.

My husband is a Naturopathic Iridologist who decided to become an initiated iNyanga (traditional herbalist healer), and he has been practicing since 1988. In that time many, many gay men have been seen by him not only to help with HIV-related health issues but also to improve their overall wellness. A lot of men who have sex with men are concerned about growing older and not being able to perform as well as they did when they were in their twenties. Many gay men also require counseling and life coaching and we have found that young men especially, want help to come to terms with their sexuality and clarify life issues. It is important to make sure that the alternative health care practitioner that you visit is reputable, has a practice number and belongs to a governing body.

Many men who have sex with men are open-minded and educated enough to make decisions about their health and welcome answers from reputable traditional herbal medicine practitioners and this is also true for those who are HIV-positive. Not everyone who finds out they are HIV-positive are able or willing to go onto anti-retroviral drugs right away. Although there is no official cure for HIV there are herbal medicines like    by Living Force Health and Wellness that has documented evidence of dramatically lowering the viral load of those who take them and some HIV specialists are routinely recommending Virocide to patients as a complementary treatment. A clear distinction needs to be made between the words ‘cure’ and ‘treat’. While a traditional healer may assist in strengthening your immune system and can treat some symptoms of HIV with herbal remedies, they are not able to cure HIV. Even if an HIV-positive person starts feeling better due to an improved immune system, they are still infected with HIV, and need to be aware of their behaviors and adjust them accordingly. There is currently no known cure for HIV and only by using ARVs exactly as prescribed can HIV be controlled in your body.

While some herbal remedies can help to relieve some HIV symptoms (and even the side-effects associated with taking ARVs), some of these remedies can cause harmful interactions when combined with ARVs. If you are consulting both a traditional healer and a medical professional at the same time, must you tell your healthcare provider so that they can advise you as to whether or not this is safe to do.

Botanists and pharmaceutical scientists continue to study the ingredients of traditional medicines in use by traditional healers. Well known contributions to the world of medicine from South African herbal remedies include aloe, buchu, devil’s claw and hypoxis (African potato). Some public health specialists are now enlisting the help of traditional healers in the fight, not only against the spread of HIV/AIDS, but also diarrhoea and pneumonia, which are major causes of death in rural areas, especially in children. In the past decade, the role of traditional healers has become important in fighting the impact of HIV and treating people infected with the virus before they advance to a point where they require (or can obtain) anti-retroviral drugs. A review by UNAIDS in September 2000, regarding collaboration with traditional healers in HIV/AIDS prevention and care, found that modern and traditional belief systems are not incompatible, but complementary.

Eon Joubert is a contributing writer for Anova Health Institute.  These are his views and do not necessarily reflect those of Anova Health Institute or its affiliates. Eon is a Holistic Life coach and NLP practitioner from Bedfordview who specialises in Holistic Self Integration and Gay Life Coaching. He can be reached on eonj@livingforce.co.za