We had the opportunity to hear Dr. Jon Kaiser speak in New York last night, in one of his regular information sessions for people wanting to know about holistic/integrative approaches to treating HIV. (It was a double bill, since he had invited his colleague Dr. Ricky Hsu to open the evening with a review of HIV pharmaceuticals, including those just approved.)
While Dr. Kaiser ranged over several topics, including his long-standing interest in micronutrient support for people with HIV and the benefits it can provide, we took the most notes on his approach to reducing cholesterol with nutritional supplements. The need for cholesterol reduction strategies is widespread among people with HIV, since cardiovascular disease is a major concern, especially among those who have been on treatment for a number of years. Yes, as Dr. Kaiser stressed, there are obvious things to start with in order to reduce cardiovascular disease risk: you’ve got to quit smoking, and if you have high blood pressure, you have to work out the (relatively simple) treatment to control it.
But many people with HIV are prescribed statin drugs like Lipitor to reduce cholesterol, and unfortunately the statins come with a handful of potential side effects. So, Dr. Kaiser has recently been offering some of his patients the alternative of a nutritional supplement combination therapy. It consists of low-dose Niacin (to minimize flushing), fish oil (helpful in lowering triglycerides), plant sterols (available now in spreads, by the way), and pantethine. Although he’s only followed a few cases to date, he’s quite encouraged by results, and believes that many people with HIV could achieve good results (comparable to those offered by statins) with this kind of combination therapy.
Of course all of these components have been widely studied for cholesterol control before (you’ll find more information on them on the NYBC website at http://www.newyorkbuyerslcub.org). But it’s another very valuable contribution from Jon Kaiser the integrative health specialist to refine a combination of supplements to serve the particular purpose of reducing cholesterol and cardiovascular risk for people with HIV. We’ll watch for further updates from him on the clinical experience with this combination therapy.