Sutherlandia and AIDS Patients - Summary of
a Field Trip
Summary of Dr Gericke’s field trip of March
2001, that was published in the Australia Journal of Medical
Herbalism. (Gericke, N. 2001. Sutherlandia and AIDS patients Update
13 March 2001. Aus J Med Herbalism 13 (1) 2001
I went up to KwaZulu/Natal
from 5-9 March 2001 at the kind invitation of Anne Hutchings, an
ethnobotanist at the University of Zululand.
- To give a seminar to the Integrative Health Initiative group
at the Nelson Mandela Medical School, University of Natal.
- To give a seminar to interested doctors and nursing staff
at Ngwelezane Hospital together with Anne Hutchings and other
caregivers administering Sutherlandia to AIDS patients.
- To meet with the various people administering Sutherlandia,
to critically evaluate anecdotal evidence of safety and efficacy.
- To see patients from the People Living With AIDS (PLWA) group.
A) Sr. Priscilla Dlamini, Emoyeni
Sr. Priscilla Dlamini, a nursing sister and nun, runs a community-based
AIDS hospice at Emoyeni, which we visited. This was a follow-up
visit a year after I was first introduced to Sr. Dlamini at Emoyeni
by Anne Hutchings, when we had first made Sutherlandia available
to Sr. Dlamini.
In the last 12 months, in addition to seeing outpatients,
Sr Priscilla has admitted 71 AIDS patients for terminal hospice
care. In addition to simple wholesome food, the patients get given
a dilute cold-water infusion of Hypoxis sp. made by Sr. Priscilla
from locally available plants, and Sutherlandia. Of the 71 AIDS
patients admitted for terminal care in the last 12 months SR Priscilla
was able to ultimately discharge 30 patients back into the community
as healthy. Some have been lost to follow-up, but some come back
for the Sutherlandia on a regular basis.
Sr. Priscilla confirms dramatic improvements in
quality of life in patients taking Sutherlandia:
- increased appetite
- weight gain
- improved exercise tolerance
- improve sense of well-being and mood
- and good sleep.
No adverse effects have been noted by SR Priscilla
on specific questioning for this. I video-documented her impressions
on my digital video camera.
One of the highlights was an AIDS patient brought
to the Emoyeni hospice after being found lying in a cane-field with
her young daughter. The patient had been found after being abandoned
by her family. She spent six months in the hospice, and was discharged
healthy with good weight-gain and has since even managed to get
B). Sr. Lana Oatway
I videoed SR Lana Oatway’s presentation at the hospital seminar,
and her approach impressed me because of its holistic nature, with
an emphasis on diet, and vitamin and mineral supplementation in
addition to Sutherlandia. Sr. Oatway is a Canadian-trained nursing
sister, and because of the inpatient situation at the hospice, she
has been able to monitor her patients well. The hospice is in Richards
Bay, and is funded by the company ALUSAF.
Sr. Oatway has to date put 60 patients on Sutherlandia,
and to quote her : “Initially we see a much better sense of well-being,
then we see a gradual increase in energy, then we see that their
appetites begin to return, and longer term we see that they begin
to gain weight.” All medication is given after meals, crushed into
live culture yoghurt, and in addition to Sutherlandia, a multivitamin
tablet, and foliate and iron are also given (also crushed into the
yoghurt). No adverse effects of Sutherlandia have been noted.
Sr. Oatway confirmed the efficacy of African Ginger
(Siphonochilus) for oral and oesophageal thrush – it clears completely
within two to three days - and also noted that it stops the spiking
of temperatures often seen in AIDS in-patients. When they ran out
of Africa Ginger for two weeks the temperature spiking of the patients
reappeared, only to disappear when the African Ginger was restarted
C). PLWA group at Ngwelezane Hospital outpatients
These AIDS patients from the group People Living With AIDS (PLWA)
get seen once a month by Anne Hutchings, after being seen by a doctor
from the hospital. The patients are also seen on occasion by the
hospital superintendent, DR Peter Haslau. There are now a total
of just over 170 PLWA patients being treated with Sutherlandia 25
‘old’ patients were seen by Anne Hutchings and myself, and 8 new
patients. Some of the ‘old’ patients have now been treated for 16
consecutive months with Sutherlandia.
All the ‘old’ patients seen felt the Sutherlandia
was beneficial with improvements in quality of life : increased
appetite, weight gain up to 10-15 kg in some patients, improved
effort tolerance, improve sense of well-being and mood and good
sleep pattern. In many patients who were not wasted to begin with
there appears to generally be a stabilization of weight, but it
is still too early to tell if this will be sustained. In some patients
interpretation of weight charts has been complicated because there
have been intercurrent infections with cholera and acute viral diarrheas,
typical of impoverished rural communities without access to sanitation
or clean water. One of the patients we saw had survived two episodes
of cholera (treated for this as an inpatient in Ngwelezane Hospital
) in the last few months, and intercurrent acute viral diarrhea.
The area is just recovering from a major cholera epidemic.
No adverse effects of Sutherlandia ingestion were
noted on specific questioning for adverse reactions.
It was clear that the patients were really delighted
to see Anne, and they have greatly benefited from Anne’s personal
interest in their plight, and the hope that and encouragement that
she gives them. This perception was confirmed by DR Haslau at the
hospital seminar. Anne’s excellent homemade skin and wound creams
from local available plants have helped many patients with itchy
rashes, herpes and shingles.
Many from this group of patients are poverty-stricken,
with very poor diet at home. We tried to encourage them to eat locally
available wild spinach (Amaranthus spp; Bidens pilosa; Portulaca
oleracea, and Centella asiatica) in addition to staples, and also
to take advantage of the fruit of wild guava trees that are abundant
in the area which are high in vitamin C. viral diarrheas are common.
In some cases the PLWA patients who are taking
Sutherlandia are doing so well that they are given a follow-up appointment
by the hospital superintendent for two months time, rather than
the usual one month.
D). Sr. Ziphi Dldadla
Sr. Dladla is a nursing sister who sees HIV positive and AIDS patients
who are municipal workers at a municipal clinic in Richards Bay.
Sr. Dladla has treated 60 AIDS patients with Sutherlandia since
October 2000, including AIDS children who get half the adult dose.
No adverse effects were reported on specific questioning and Sr.
Dlada is delighted with the results. To quote her : “They all come
back with results like : I have energy now, I have good appetite,
I feel well”.
One of the municipal workers on Sutherlandia from
Sr. Dladla was also seen by a doctor, who told the patient that
his CD4 count had gone up since taking Sutherlandia.
SR Dladla was also very happy with the efficacy
of the Sutherlandia gel, reporting it rapidly removes the pain of
acute Shingles, and facilitates healing of the skin eruption. To
quote her : “For shingles, the new one, the gel, they are flocking
for it. It makes it numb and takes away the pain” .
- Sutherlandia is clearly having a very significant impact
on the weight and quality of life of many patients with WHO
stage 3 and 4 AIDS. The true impact is difficult to communicate
in a written report – the actual patients’ expressions, and
general condition has to be seen to be appreciated. All the
caregivers were very positive about the benefits, and want to
make more product available to meet the increasing word-of-mouth
- Many so-called ’terminal’ AIDS patients can clearly still
be rescued with a holistic approach to healing and good nutrition,
and with the addition of Sutherlandia. (This is obviously also
the case with modern Highly Active Anti-retroviral Therapy (HAART),
should it become available at an affordable price).
- There is an urgent need for doctors and other health workers
caring for HIV/AIDS patients to be educated about the need for
appropriate nutrition and vitamin and mineral supplementation.
- The anecdote of a raised CD4 count supports many other anecdotes
that have been reported to Sutherlandia raises CD4 counts in
AIDS patients. This needs to be verified in a controlled clinical
trial as a matter of urgency.
- No severe adverse reactions have been reported from ingestion
in adults or children, including in very ill patients, and in
patients who have been taking Sutherlandia on a daily basis
for 16 to 18 months.