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Billions of dollars have been invested in the research and development of successful anti-retroviral drugs to fight Aids-related diseases throughout the world.
Traditional plants and herbs, on the other hand, that are known to have healing qualities and grow naturally in our environment, are collected and processed at a fraction of the cost. With huge political and financial divisions existing between them, it is possible that the two disciplines will never come together.
But Dr Steven Gunn, a doctor specialising with special interest in nutrition, herbs, HIV/Aids and complementary health, believes that a "significant opportunity" is being lost by not streamlining "parallel knowledge" and that it's time to "take the blinkers off".
"The Aids dissidents have unfortunately done a lot of unintentional damage to the Aids cause," he said.
"Scientifically we know that antiretrovirals work, but we also have established that basic nutrition, including our own traditional medicines, is not only acceptable to a mass of people, but can make the difference between living and dying and quality of life."
Gunn said that certain plant molecules help to balance cell metabolism and that during 15 years of research, he had found that herbal remedies, provided they were processed correctly, including African potato and Sutherlandia, were both safe and effective.
"Recently we've seen negative reports about African potato, which sadly does nothing for the greater cause," Gunn said. "It was based on a 10-year-old study that used toxic chemicals to extract plant molecules and not the water-extraction methods of today. Those chemicals were certainly a problem, but not the potato itself." He said that he had checked with both the South African Medicines Control Council and the Medical Research Council for any new data on the African potato, but there was none.
"I can only believe that there is an agenda is bringing up this old and flawed data, and that is a great pity," he said. "Working together makes so much more sense." He said modern medical scientific research has shown without a doubt the benefit of cellular nutrition, anti-oxidants and natural immune modulators on the immune system.