Prevalence and patterns of Moringa oleifera use among HIV positive patients in Zimbabwe: a cross-sectional survey

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Tsitsi Grace Monera *
Charles Chiedza Maponga
(*) Corresponding Author:
Tsitsi Grace Monera | moneratg@yahoo.co.uk

Abstract

Supplementation of conventional medicines with herbs is increasing globally, including among people infected with HIV. Yet there is little data systematically describing the prevalence and patterns of this supplementation and on which counseling scripts can be based. Moringa oleifera is an herb found in the tropics and sub-tropics commonly used for medicinal and nutritional purposes. This survey determined the prevalence and patterns of use of M. oleifera among HIV positive patients. The study was a cross-sectional survey. HIV-infected adults were enrolled from an opportunistic infections clinic of a referral hospital. Using a previously piloted researcher administered questionnaire; patients who reported to the clinic over three months were interviewed about their use of herbal medicines. The focus was on M. oleifera use, and included plant part, dosage, prescribers and the associated medical conditions. Sixty-eight percent (68%) of the study participants consumed M. oleifera. Of these, 81% had commenced antiretroviral drugs. Friends or relatives were the most common source of a recommendation for use of the herb (69%). Most (80%) consumed M. oleifera to boost the immune system. The leaf powder was mainly used, either alone or in combination with the root and/or bark. M. oleifera supplementation is common among HIV positive people. Because it is frequently prescribed by non-professionals and taken concomitantly with conventional medicine, it poses a potential risk for herb-drug interactions. Further experimental investigations into its effect on drug metabolism and transport would be useful in improving clinical outcome of HIV positive patients.

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Author Biographies

Tsitsi Grace Monera, University of Zimbabwe School of Pharmacy, College of Health Sciences, Harare

Lecturer

Charles Chiedza Maponga, University of Zimbabwe School of Pharmacy, College of Health Sciences, Harare, Zimbabwe; New York State University at Buffalo, Department of Pharmacy Practice, School of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences, Buffalo, NY, USA

Senior lecturer