HAVANA TIMES, August 31 — Vimang, a natural Cuban medicine used against cancer, could also prove to have markedly positive effects in the treatment of patients with HIV-AIDS, explained its creator, former frigate captain Eleuterio Paez.
With his lab initially funded by the Cuban armed forces and now associated with the island’s Labiofam Laboratories, Paez has been able to industrially produce a range of medicines that come from the bark of mango trees.
For decades the Cuban health ministry had rejected such remedies, just as it had rejected other cures based on natural medicine. However they seem to have finally conceded in the face of demonstrated proof of the product’s effective treatment of a numbers of ailments.
Dozens of patient congregated in Ojos de Agua, a town located on the outskirts of Havana, where Paez — who everyone calls “Doctor” — received the gratitude of the townspeople, some of whom assured us that they had been diagnosed as terminally ill.
“The success level of the treatment is 90 percent,” explained Paez, adding that he has begun to treat 26 HIV-AIDS patients. Most of them are recovering well, he indicated, and the virus in two of them has disappeared completely.
Presently the laboratory’s pharmacy sells Vimang products to some 500 people a week. Most of them are Cuban though buses also arrive full of foreigners from Europe and Latin America.
Among the various ailments treated with remarkable success in Ojos de Agua are cancer and psoriasis. During the assembly we heard people who swore that they had been cured thanks to Paez’s treatments.
When we asked him if Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez had received this natural treatment for cancer, Paez responded to us categorically saying: “I’m not authorized to speak on that.”
Eleuterio Paez is a naval captain who received his earliest support from the head of the Cuban navy. At the end of the 1980s, Vice-admiral Perez Betancourt gave him a plot of land and a small house to set up his lab.
Among the thousands of patients that Paez has treated, the first was a 15-year-old adolescent with a brain tumor. His mother, Maria Concepcion Blendes, told BBC Mundo that doctors told her that her son was a terminal case.
The boy was seen in Cuba, where doctors in the Ministry of Public Health sent him to the United States, though specialists there concurred that nothing could be done. Nevertheless, “Doctor Paez gave him a treatment, and the result is that he’s now turned 44,” the visibly excited woman explained to us.
Paez’s fame spread across all of Cuba and the products from his small laboratory were no longer enough. This was when he associated with Labiofam and created a center with the capacity for industrial scale production, which has again fallen behind the need for the product.
Low financial profitability
Labiofam plant director Osvaldo Rodriguez informed us that, “Current monthly production is around 30,000 liters of Vimang, produced as a watery solution and as a cream,” though the total amount of the two forms is well below what is needed.
“For the time being the sole objective is to help people,” Rodriguez explained, adding that the cost per liter is $0.70 USD, though they sell it for only $0.80 USD. “We earn practically nothing, but some people here think the price is still too high.”
Yet Labiofam could increase its profits very soon. “Before the end of year end we’ll have Vimang in pills, and that will allow us to sell it abroad. Through that we can generate the profits required to increase production,” said Rodriguez.
The fundamental problems faced at the moment have to do with the import of alcohol, the shortage of gas and the lack of containers – in addition to the natural limits to obtaining bark from that species of mango.
The armed forces and natural medicine
The biggest obstacle that Captain Paez had to navigate was the resistance posed by doctors themselves. The training of Cuban doctors is very “western,” which is why they are leery of treatment using traditional or natural medicine.
The change began within the armed forces. In the late ‘80s and early ‘90s military doctors were ordered to investigate alternative treatments for use in situations where there were general shortages of medicine or in cases of war.
Many physicians traveled to Asia for training in Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese techniques. The order came from the highest level, Paez explained, saying that the authorization to begin his research “was signed by President Raul Castro, in his capacity as the minister of the Revolutionary Armed Forces (FAR).”
However, researchers assure us that the secret of Vimang doesn’t come from Asia, but from Africa, and that the technique for its use was handed down orally in Cuba by slaves to their children and grandchildren.
Originally published in Spanish on the website: Cartas desde Cuba.