While the mainstream view of AIDS treatment focuses almost entirely on the elimination of HIV, the alternative view places the emphasis on restoring overall health by first eliminating the co-factors. Prevention of a decline towards AIDS itself, after HIV infection, seems to be dramatically helped by using methods which either retard other infections or which enhance the natural protective, detoxification, and self-healing roles of the body, including the immune system which, together with the other defensive systems, tries to maintain the body's proper balance for health.
Whether the virus can be held in check seems to depend on a number of factors, namely where the individual who is HIV infected is starting from ... at what level is immune function, how much previous disease or infection has there been, what other medical problems are there, and how much toxicity is there from drugs, polution, and other harmful environmental elements. Other important factors include the person's nutritional status, emotional state, and stress coping abilities, as well as "lifestyle" choices, including sexual, that may be helping or harming the defense effort. HIV entering a super-efficient immune system may well be overwhelmed and get nowhere. On the other hand, HIV entering a system already compromised by poor nutrition, other illnesses, and drugs (see the Candidiasis link . - Ed ), will find it's task that much easier. One only has to look at the previously cited six cases from Australia to see a clear example of this. The immune compromised person succumbed whereas the five with sound immune systems have almost no sign of HIV and no sign at all of ill-health after up to ten years.
There are also many case histories of people who are HIV positive and who have developed advanced signs of AIDS (Kaposi's sarcoma ect...) and yet who have managed to turn their condition around, regaining relative good health. Although such stories can be dismissed as "anecdotal", the sheer volume of these "anecdotes" overwhelms the weight of the dismissive arguments of the skeptics.
Continuing long-term studies at Bastyr College, are also examining the possibility of holding the disease at bay, of keeping people who show early signs of AIDS from degenerating further, and often of turning their condition around so that they become active, productive, and self-sufficient once more.
Some of the alternative methods being used today to improve the health and immune function of individuals with AIDS and HIV infection include improved nutritional status, detoxification, mind-body medicine, stress reduction therapies, herbal medicine, homeopathy, and ozone and other oxygen-based treatments.Diet and Nutrition :
"Nutrition is the foundation of natural therapy," Dr. Badgley states. " Broad segments of the American population have been proven to be deficient in specific vitamins and minerals, which are critical to immune system function. For example, persons with AIDS are often deficient in folic acid, selenium, zinc, and iron. "
While there is no universal dietary or nutritional prescription for the treatment of AIDS and HIV, since each person has varying needs and histories in terms of diet and nutrition, there are a few general guidelines a person can follow.
Because of everybody's biochemical individuality (genetic and environmental differences), each patient will have specific nutrient requirements. A qualified health care professional should always be consulted in order to recieve specific, individual guidelines.
Dr. Badgley reports of a patient who has been HIV positive for eight years and was diagnosed with AIDS three years ago, and who claims to have eliminated his symptoms through diet and cleansings. He began a diet of raw organic fruits and vegetables, emphasizing freshness, moderation, and a variety of foods. He also utilizes enemas to rid his system of toxins and to cleanse the colon where the virus is harbored. He avoids foods that are mucous-forming like dairy products, eating only cheese made from sunflower and pumpkin seeds. The patient reports that his T-cell counts have risen to normal levels and a liver disease with which he had been diagnosed is now also in remission.
Malnutrition is another common problem with people who are HIV positive and is almost universal in people with AIDS. This is often due to disruptions in the digestive processes caused by the weakening of the immune system. Raw foods, such as vegetables, can be lightly cooked or juiced to better facilitate digestion. Sometimes, though, nutritional supplements taken orally or via injection (intramuscularly or intravenously as appropriate), are the only way to ensure that adequate nutrients get into the body (although with impaired absorption capabilities, the oral route does not always guarantee that what is swallowed arrives where it is needed). ( Broths/Stock are quickly absorbed into the system - LRU )
People who are HIV positive and/or who have been diagnosed as having AIDS are most commonly deficient in the following essential nutrients : Vitamin B6, folate, Vitamin B12, selenium, and zinc. Nutritional supplementation has been shown in clinical studies to offer great benefits to people already seriously ill with AIDS, and it is seen by many as the cornerstone requirement if there is to be recovery.
Candidiasis, or yeast overgrowth in the intestinal tract, is a common feature of anyone who is immune compromised and therefore can be a major problem for people who are HIV positive or have AIDS.
A nutritional strategy that helps discourage yeast overgrowth concentrates on reducing, or cutting out altogether, the intake of simple carbohydrates and sugars, while emphasizing complex carbohydrate intake.
In addition, an anticandidiasis strategy usually employs antifungal foods such as garlic and olive oil, along with the taking of specific substances that kill the yeast, such as caprylic acid (a fatty acid) and aloe vera.
Repopulation of the intestinal tract with friendly bacteria while the yeast is being targeted often involves the use of cultured dairy products such as kefir and live low-fat yogurt, as well as probiotic supplements such as Lactobacillus acidophilus and bifidobacteria to help colonize the tract with necessary microorganisms. Lactobacillus bulgaricus, which is a non-colonizing bacteria, is also sometimes used because of it's powerful antifungal and antibiotic potential.
In one six month study, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and essential fatty acids were all supplemented. Among the observed clinical benefits was a general improvement in well-being and a significant decrease in the P24 antigen.
Along with the above, other nutrients commonly supplemented in HIV positive and AIDS cases are Vitamin A (beta-carotene), B-complex, and E. The B vitamins thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), pantothenic acid (B5), pyridoxine (B6), and B12 are especially essential for improving a weakened immune system.. Vitamin C has also proven to be a powerful antioxidant and inhibitor of viruses and bacteria, as well as having specific and potent immune enhancing effects.
According to Dr. Cathcart," Preliminary clinical evidence is that massive doses of ascorbate (a salt of vitamin C) can suppress the symptoms of disease and can markedly reduce the tendency for secondary infections ". Working with a group of 102 patients, most of whom were taking Vitamin C on their own, Dr. Cathcart reports " considerable improvement " in most of the patients' conditions. Some of the improvements include a reduction of diseased lymph glands and the disappearance of Kaposi's sarcoma lesions.
Supplementation of folic acid, biotin, potassium, magnesium, and manganese is also recommended, as well as amino acids and essential acids, particularly Omega-3 and Omega-6. The best advice is to always consult with a qualified health practitioner in order to optimize any supplementation regimen.
Dr. Priestley reports good results from placing an HIV positive patient on a regimen of intravenous nutrition with supplements taken three times a week in an IV-nutrient dip. Dr. Priestley also prescribed high doses of oral Vitamin C daily and B-complex shots once a week, as well as garlic capsules, Siberian ginseng, beta-carotene, zinc, and aloe vera. The patient also began exercising, meditating, and using acupuncture.
Since beginning treatment, the patient has gained forty pounds and now has much fewer symptoms, despite having a low T-cell count, according to Dr. Priestley, who has continued the patient on a course of nutrients and preventative medicines to guard against infection.
The use of herbal medicines in the treatment of AIDS is widespread today, with additional research ongoing to assess possible further applications and effectiveness. Some of the herbal remedies most often employed include astragalus, carnivora (venus fly trap), echinacea, licorice, and goldenseal. Garlic and isatis root are also commonly used because of their broad antibacterial and antiviral qualilties, as is ginseng, for it's tonic effects on the thymus gland, in addition to it's ability to resist all forms of stress. St John's Wort ( Hypericum perforatum ) is also used because of it's specific retrovirus blocking actions. Chinese bitter melon, monolaurin, and lentinan (extract of shiitake mushrooms) have also shown dramatic anti-HIV effects.
According to Subhuti Dharmananda, PHD, Direrctor of the Institute for Traditional Medicine in Portland Oregon, herbal remedies used in specific combinations can often be much more effective than taking the herbs individually.
Dr. Badgley reports that one of his patients, who was diagnosed with Kaposi's sarcoma nine years ago, has had excellent results with a tea brewed from a mixture of the herbs echinacea, red clover tops, chaparral, dandelion, sasparilla, and pau d'arco. The patient reports that the tea, in combination with the whole foods diet and nutritional supplements, stimulates his appetite and helps maintain his strength.
Acupuncture has been shown to be an effective and vital tool for the treatment of HIV infection and AIDS, particularly when coupled with other alternative therapies such as herbal remedies. Preliminary studies at the Quan Yin Clinic in San Francisco, California have shown acupuncture to increase immune function, white blood cell production, and T-cell production. It also alleviates many of the symptoms related to HIV infection and AIDS. According to a published report, " Many patients report a reduction in fatigue, abnormal sweating, diarrhea, and acute skin reactions after only four to six acupuncture treatments. Many describe an improved sense of well being, some report weight gain, and are able to return to longer hours of work.
William Michael Cargile, BS, DC, F.I.A.C.A., Chairman of Research for the American Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, has worked with AIDS patients for many years, and has been able to increase T-cell counts with acupuncture treatments. " One of these patients had a T-cell count of 30 to 40, " he recounts. " We eventually brought it up to 270, and although this is half the level a person is said to need, he's been doing great for the last six months. " Dr. Cargile adds that the key to understanding acupuncture's influence on blood values and cell counts lies partly in it's ability to minimize stress and strengthen the body's adaptive mechanisms. " I think that if we had more acupuncture and less AZT, we would see a qualitative improvement in these patients' health," he states.
Numerous clinical studies have borne out Dr. Cargile's claims. When two hundred patients in New York with AIDS were treated with acupuncture, it was found to reduce levels of secondary opportunistic infections and to be generally beneficial. Also, at Lincoln Memorial Hospital in New York City, out of 27 people with AIDS who received acupuncture treatments, 20 reported that fatigue was reduced and that night sweats and diarrhea improved after between one and three weeks. Many also gained substantial amounts of weight. Michael Smith, MD, who oversaw the patients, reports that in some cases T-cell ratios rose dramatically over a two to three month period with acupuncture alone.
In addition, 15 patients who attended acupuncture treatments regularly at Somerville Center near Boston, reported improvement in general symptoms and six reported that acupuncture helped reduce side-effects of medical treatment for Kaposi's sarcoma.
Sir Jay Holder, MD, DC, PHD, founder and medical director of the Exodus Treatment Center in Miami, Florida, has also achieved significant results using acupuncture. He describes the case of a man with AIDS, suffering from Kaposi's sarcoma, and given just 22 months to live. Within three weeks of treatment with acupuncture and chinese herbs, his T-cell count returned to normal and his lesions disappeared.
Most acupuncture treatments for people with HIV or AIDS last approximately 45 minutes, and are entirely painless, except for a slight pricking sensation when the needles go in. In addition, most acupuncturists today use presterilized disposable needles to proptect both themselves and patients from AIDS, hepatitis, and other infectious diseases.
For centuries, in Asian cultures, bitter melon has been used as a treatment for a wide variety of ailments. It is believed that eating bitter melon regularly will clean and purify blood and ward off a variety of infections. Since the early 1980's , bitter melon fruits and seeds have been tested in vitro and in vivo as an effective therapy for cancers, tumors, and HIV.
Stanley Rebultan, a Filipino-American man, who is HIV positive took bitter melon liquid extract for nearly four years as his sole antiviral treatment, and saw his T4 cell count increase by 121 percent (480 to 1060), his T4 to T8 ratio improve by 68% (.91 to 1.53), and his CD4 percentages rise by 77 percent (26 percent to 46 percent).
At the Amsterdam International Conference on AIDS in 1992, Quingcai Zhang, a Chinese medical doctor and herbalist presented additional data supporting Rebultan's experience. In Dr. Zhang's study, those who took bitter melon for 4 months to 3 years had CD4 counts increase between 33 percent and 285 percent. His findings showed that, in most cases, it normalized T4 to T8 ratios, rasied T4 counts over time, and increased energy and a sense of well-being. Dr Zhang also noted that bitter melon blocked HIV-infected macrophage (immune cells that recognize and ingest foreign antigens), something AZT does not do, as well as infected lymphocytes, such as CD4 cells.
Bitter melon extracts or boiled decoctions ( click here to read about teas,infusions and decoctions - LRU ) can be taken orally or rectally. A rectal retention enema is recommended, though, because the plant is very bitter and unpleasant to drink, and may cause nausea. Using the retention enema method also avoids the breakdown of the bitter melon proteins in the stomach acid, allowing them to instead be absorbed directly into the bloodstream through the colon and large intestines.
While bitter melon has shown remarkable results for those who stick with it, many people quit before the therapy can take effect. Rebultan admits that it took him three months before he felt comfortable with the treatment procedure, but explains, " It's a long-term therapy. You won't gain results overnight. It takes at least six months to see results but if I have to do this my entire life to maintain a normal sense of well-being, then I will. Herbal therapy takes a long time. It's not like the perceived overnight solutions of pill popping that American medicine feels so entitled to. "
Researcher have aslo proven that HIV is heat sensitive, and will become increasingly inactive as the body temperature is raised progressively above normal (98.6 degrees Fahrenheit) for extended periods of time. Much as a fever is the body's natural defense mechanism ( LRU - Read about fever by clicking here ! ) against infection and disease, hyperthermia can be used to similar effect by artificially raising the body's temperature above normal. This also stimulates the immune system by increasing the production of antibodies and interferon (a protein substance produced by virus-invaded cells that prevents reproduction of the virus).
Certain forms of hyperthermia can also be employed as part of a self-care regimen. Hot baths are the simplest method of inducing a fever at home, and for viral infections such as HIV, they can be combined with hot drinks and blanket wrapping to stimulate the immune system. After a hot bath, a person can wrap up in dry blankets, with a hot water bottle over the abdomen, in order to perspire heavily for as long as can be tolerated. This may take several hours and should be followed by a cool shower. It is also possible to produce a mild fever with the hot bath by simply wrapping up in the dry blankets after the bath. Again, allow several hours to perspire heavily and follow with a cool shower.
A wet sheet pack may also be used to raise the body temperature. In this case, the patient wraps in a very cold, wet sheet, followed by several blankets. Like the dry pack, it will take several hours to produce a fever, the cold sheet causing reactions in the body that encourage the production of heat. It is often useful to precede this procedure with some kind of heating such as exercise, a hot bath, or a hot shower.
Other more "high tech" methods are also available, such as shortwave or microwave diathermy (the use of high frequency current to generate heat in a part of the body), ultrasound, radiant heating (heat from a light source), and extracorpeal heating (heat administered from a source outside the body), but these are usually administered only in a medical or hospital setting.
The Natural Health Clinic at Bastyr College, hyperthermia is commonly used in the treatment of HIV infection. Hyperthermia treatment was also included as part of the college's HARP study. Participants were given a series of hyperthermia baths (102 degrees fahrenheit) for forty minutes. These were administered twice weekly for three weeks at a time, over the course of a year. According to Leanna Standish, PHD, ND, who oversaw the HARP study, when participants in the study were asked what aspect of the treatment had the greatest impact, the overwhelming response was "hyperthermia". There was a reported decrease in night sweats and in the frequency of secondary infections. Also, many of the participants claimed to have a greater sense of well-being after receiving hyperthermia treatments.
While hyperthermia treatments may not be able to kill every invading virus (with approximately 40% HIV inactivation after 30 minutes in a 107.6 degrees fahrenheit bath), they reduce their number, making it easier for the immune system to handle the remaining viruses. Hyperthermia is also a useful technique for detoxification because it releases toxins stored in fat cells.