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Alternative therapies for neuropathy.

Neuropathy is a painful nerve condition that affects about 1 in every 3 HIV+ patients. HIV medications sometimes known as "d-drugs" like ddl (Videx), ddC (Hivid), and d4T (Zerit) can make this condition worse. At this year's conference, several studios were presented that looked at alternative therapies to reduce the pain associated with neuropathy. Capsaicin (pronounced "cap-say-sen") is the substance in chili peppers that makes them spicy and was one such therapy studied (abstract 490). In this small study, 12 patients were first treated with a topical (on the skin) anesthetic for 1 hour followed by a 1-hour application of a capsaicin skin patch to the painful area. Patients were only treated one time and then studied for 12 weeks. Over half of the patients felt less pain at that site during the 12-week study period. Patients did experience mild discomfort during and shortly after treatment, but generally tolerated the patch well. In another small study, marijuana was also shown to lessen the pain associated with this condition (abstract 496). Ten out of 16 patients had a significant reduction in pain after smoking cigarettes containing THC (the active ingredient in marijuana) 3 times a day for 7 days.

Another study looked at the effect of a specially formulated multivitamin supplement (consisting of several pills) on reducing neuropathy pain (abstract 494). This study was a "double-blind" study, meaning that both patients and healthcare workers did not know which treatment each patient was receiving. Forty patients with neuropathy who were taking Zerit or Videx ware randomly assigned (by chance, like flipping a coin) to receive the specially formulated multivitamin supplement or a placebo twice daily for 12 weeks. Though patients taking the multivitamin experienced some pain relief the effect was small. However, the researchers discovered that the multivitamin did increase T cell counts, suggesting this type of supplement may benefit people with HIV.
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Title Annotation:11th Retrovirus Conference Highlights
Publication:HIV Treatment: ALERTS!
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 1, 2004
Previous Article:Welcome.
Next Article:Surgery anyone?

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