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Generic and Trade Names:

Acyclovir Zovirax
Indinavir Crixivan
SaquinavirFortovase, Invirase
Zidovudine (AZT) Retrovir


There are many different types of antiviral medications available today. They act in different ways to produce their antiviral properties. Some selectively inhibit viral DNA or RNA synthesis, others inhibit the activity of the HIV protease enzyme. Antiviral agents are used for a wide range of conditions. (Facts and Comparisons 1999)

Nutritional Considerations:

Side effects include: Dry Mouth, GI Irritation, Nausea and Diarrhea.

Food may decrease drug absorption of some products. (Shyu 1991)

Riboflavin may help to reverse the lactic acidosis possible with the nucleoside analog reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTI) drugs, such as Stavudine or Zidovudine. (Fouty 1998)

When didanosine was ingested after a standard high-fat breakfast, there was a 50% decrease in peak plasma concentration and area under the plasma concentration-time curve compared to taking the drug following a fast. The time required to reach the peak concentration (i.e., rate of absorption) was not affected by food. (Facts and Comparisons 1999)

Herbal Considerations:

Astralgus may interact with antiviral medications, increase side effects. (Upton 1999)

Lentinan may interfere with didanosine by increasing CD4 levels. (Gordon 1995)

These herbs show antiviral properties according to the German Commission E:

Cardamom seed
White oak bark
Sage leaf

St. John's Wort may decrease the effects of some types of HIV drugs, primarily the NRTI drugs (Efavirenz, Delavirdine, Indinavir),but others (Norvir and Viracept)may also be affected. Do not use this herb without consulting a physician first.(Piscitelli 2000)


Blumenthal, M (Ed.): The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. American Botanical Council. Austin, TX. 1998.

Facts and Comparisons, Clinisphere 2.0, Wolters Kluwer Company, 1999.

Fouty B, Frerman F, Reves R. Riboflavin to treat nucleoside analogue-induced lactic acidosis. Lancet 1998;352(9124):291-2.

Gordon M, et al. "A phase II controlled study of a combination of the immune modulator, lentinan, with didanosine (ddI) in HIV patients with CD4 cells of 200- 500/mm3." J Med, 1995; 26(5-6):193-207.

Maenza J & Flexner C: Combination antiretroviral therapy for HIV infection. Am Fam Physician, 1998 Jun, 57:11, 2789-98.

Piscitelli SC, Burstein AH, Chaitt D, et al. Indinavir concentrations and St. John's wort. Lancet 2000;355(9203):547-548

Product Information: Zovirax(R), acyclovir. Burroughs Wellcome, Research Triangle Park, NC, 1996.

Shyu WC et al., Food-induced reduction in bioavailability of didanosine. Clin Pharmacol Ther, 1991 Nov, 50:5 Pt 1, 503-7.

Upton R (ed). Astragalus Root: analytical, quality control, and therapeutic monograph. Santa Cruz, CA: American Herbal Pharmacopoeia; 1999;1-25