AIDS and HIV
It is a disturbing and widespread myth that HIV (human immunodeﬁciency virus) and AIDS, the usually fatal condition believed to be caused by HIV, no longer pose a grave public health threat. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that 5 million Americans are considered to be at high risk for HIV infection. Half of all new cases of HIV occur in people under the age of twenty-ﬁve. Although scientists have discovered several treatments that extend the life span of people with the virus, there is still no cure. Even grimmer is the news that AIDS rates, after a short period of decline, are on the rise. Gay men were once thought to be the group most at risk for contracting HIV, but statistics show that heterosexual teenagers, both male and female; Hispanics; blacks; and women are now contracting the disease in rapidly increasing numbers.
HIV is transmitted via vaginal or anal sex or by blood-to-blood contact. It is vitally important for everyone to practice safe sex, preferably in the form of a monogamous relationship with an HIV-free partner, and to abstain from intravenous drug use. Don’t rely solely on condoms to protect you, as they sometimes let HIV and other viruses pass through. Intravenous drug users are at a high risk: if you have an addiction, you should seek help, but at the very least you should never share needles with anyone.
The virus may also be passed from mother to child during birth or breastfeeding. It is possible to greatly reduce the chance of transmitting the disease during birth. Pregnant women should be tested for HIV as soon as possible, so that they and their unborn children can receive vital treatment. HIV is sometimes contracted by health- care workers who are stuck with infected needles. Also, be aware that the virus can- not be transmitted through casual contact, such as coughing, sneezing, shaking hands, or dry kissing.
Like all viruses, once HIV has entered the body, it seeks to replicate itself. What makes HIV far deadlier than, say, a cold virus, is that it takes a particularly aggres- sive tactic within the body: once it invades a cell, it reprograms that cell’s genetic mate- rial. Normally, a cell will reproduce by dividing and creating a copy of itself. In this way, the body regenerates itself at the most basic level. But when cells that are invaded by HIV divide, they don’t create copies of themselves—they create copies of the virus. Those copies then invade other healthy cells, so that, eventually, the virus cells far outnumber the healthy ones. To make matters worse, HIV attacks a particular kind of immune cell, called a Helper T-cell (these lymphocytes have a receptor protein called CD4+ in their outer membrane and so are also referred to as CD4+ lympho- cytes). As more and more CD4+ cells are destroyed, the body’s ability to ﬁght off infections is dramatically weakened.
Most people do not notice any symptoms when HIV ﬁrst invades the body. Peo- ple with HIV will usually go for years without knowing it, unless they are tested for the disease. Before AIDS develops, many will begin to experience symptoms such as night sweats, fatigue, fevers, diarrhea, weight loss, enlarged lymph nodes, thrush, herpes, mouth ulcers, and bleeding gums. Later, as the number of T-cells continues to decrease, their bodies will be highly vulnerable to infection by viruses and bacte- ria. HIV-positive people might contract a variety of diseases that are otherwise rare, such as Kaposi’s sarcoma (a kind of skin cancer characterized by raised purple welts), the Epstein-Barr virus (also known as chronic fatigue syndrome), neurological problems, eye infections (including cytomegalovirus, which can cause blindness), toxoplasmic encephalitis (a brain infection), and systemic candidiasis (yeast
infection). Other infections are those we usually consider common, such as pneumo- nia and various respiratory ailments.
Acquired immunodeﬁciency virus (AIDS) is the most severe form of HIV infec- tion. A person with HIV infection is considered to have AIDS when at least one com- plicating illness develops or the person’s ability to defend against infection signiﬁcantly declines, as measured by a low CD4+ lymphocyte count. Since the number of CD4+ lymphocytes in the blood helps to determine the ability of the immune system to protect the body from infections, it is a good measure of the degree of damage done by HIV infection. A healthy person has a CD4+ lymphocyte count of roughly 800 to 1,300 cells per microliter of blood. Typically, 40 to 60 percent of CD4+ lymphocytes are destroyed in the ﬁrst few months of infection. After about six months, the CD4+ count stops falling so quickly, but it continues to decline. If the CD4+ count falls below about 200 cells per microliter of blood, the immune system is susceptible to severe, life-threatening infections.
It is important to note that while all people with AIDS are HIV-positive, not all people with HIV develop AIDS. Most HIV-positive people develop AIDS within eight to twelve years after ﬁrst contracting the virus, but some develop it much faster, and many others still remain healthy decades after contracting HIV. It appears that people who are able to ward off full-blown AIDS are those whose immune systems are the strongest. Therefore, complementary therapies for HIV and AIDS work to bolster the ability of the immune system to ﬁght infection.
If you contract HIV, you need to work with a doctor who knows about the latest treatments available for the disease. Although a cure has yet to be found, research is producing new therapies on an almost monthly basis. In addition, you will need med- ication to combat any infections that might arise.
There are no symptoms during the early stages of HIV, except perhaps a fever when the virus ﬁrst invades the body. As the virus continues to invade, the following symptoms can occur:
• Night sweats
• Weight loss
• Enlarged lymph nodes
• Thrush (mouth fungus)
• Mouth ulcers
• Bleeding gums
Several conditions are associated with full-blown AIDS. Following are some of the most common:
• Kaposi’s sarcoma (a type of skin cancer characterized by raised purple welts)
• Eye problems (often related to cytomegalovirus, which can cause blindness)
• Toxoplasmic encephalitis (a brain infection)
• Epstein-Barr virus
• Pneumonia and other respiratory ailments
• Cancer of various organs
Diagnosis of HIV is done with the use of the following blood test: HIV ELISA Test
If this test is positive, it is conﬁrmed with a more accurate test known as Western Blot. Also, the CD4+ count and the viral load are used to monitor progression of the disease.
It is also helpful to have:
Oxidative stress analysis—urine or blood testing Antioxidant testing (urine, blood, or skin scanning) Stool analysis
Hormone analysis by saliva, urine, or blood (estrogens, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA, cortisol, melatonin, IGF-1, thyroid panel)
• Anal or vaginal sex with an infected partner
• Blood-to-blood contact with an infected person (such as from sharing needles for intravenous drug use)
• Transfusions of infected blood (in the United States, blood donations have been screened for HIV since
• In the womb, at birth, or during breastfeeding
To reduce the risk of toxins entering your body, food should be as clean and pure as
possible. If you cook meat and poultry at home, reduce your risk of food poisoning by keeping preparation areas sanitary and by cooking at high-enough temperatures. Eat organic food, if it is available. If organic products are not an option, at least wash your food with pure water to get rid of pesticides and other toxins.
If you have HIV or AIDS, you absolutely must eat well. A good basic diet will include plenty of raw vegetables, seeds, nuts, grains, fresh fruit, and lean protein from qual- ity sources. As the virus continues to invade your body, you may ﬁnd that you lose your appetite, but try to keep eating healthful meals; an adequate intake of calories is more important now than ever. Protein is particularly important to prevent weight loss and maintain optimal immune function. Try to consume 2.0 grams for every 2.2 pounds of body weight. A high-quality whey protein is helpful in attaining this goal.
Garlic and onions have natural antibiotic effects, so use them often.
To ﬁght HIV or AIDS, include cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliﬂower, cab- bage, brussels sprouts, and others) in your diet.
Drink a glass of clean water every two waking hours. Make sure the water is from a good source, to avoid bacteria and parasite infection.
The “good” bacteria in your digestive tract help ﬁght infection, so maintain their presence by eating yogurt with live cultures, especially Lactobacillus acidophilus and biﬁdus. This is especially important if you are taking antibiotics, which kill the good bacteria along with the bad. If you cannot tolerate yogurt, take probiotic capsules.
If you have HIV, it is strongly advised that you invest in a good juicer. Live juices will help your weakened system absorb a maximum amount of nutrients. Drink several glasses daily of a variety of juices, especially those made from cruciferous vegetables, black radishes, cabbage, greens (such as wheatgrass), and carrots.
Food to Avoid
Do not consume raw eggs; unpasteurized milk, cheese, or cider; or rare meat. All of these products can contain harmful bacteria. In people who have compromised immune systems, these bacteria can lead to septicemia, an extremely dangerous and often fatal condition.
Cut out junk food, fried food, sugar, and alcohol, all of which suppress your immune system and tax your entire body.
Find out now if you have any food allergies or sensitivities, because they cause the immune system to attack itself. See the elimination diet on page 253 for further details.
Every month consider doing a juice fast. Juices made from carrots, cabbage, greens, and apples help cleanse the body. Green drinks are another excellent way to purify the blood.
ne clinical trial found that HIV-positive men who took a multivitamin- mineral supplement had a slower onset of AIDS, as com- pared to men who did not take a supplement.
Super Seven Prescriptions—HIV/AIDS
Super Prescription #1 Super green food supplement
Take an organic super green food, such as chlorella or spirulina, or a mixture of super green foods each day. It supplies a host of nutrients and antioxidants. Take as directed on the container.
Super Prescription #2 High-potency multivitamin
Take a high-potency multivitamin and mineral formula daily, as it will contain a strong base of the antioxidants and other nutrients that improve immune function.
Super Prescription #3 Whey protein
Take 25 grams daily or as directed by your doctor. It helps prevent tissue wasting and repairs the digestive tract.
Super Prescription #4 Antioxidant formula
Many studies have shown that people with HIV have a greater need for antioxi- dants. Take a combination antioxidant formula, as directed on the container.
Super Prescription #5 B-complex
Take a 50 mg complex twice daily. Many people with HIV have deﬁciencies of the
B vitamins, which can impair immune function.
Super Prescription #6 Vitamin C
Take 1,000 to 3,000 mg daily. It supports immune function.
Super Prescription #7 Probiotic
Take a daily probiotic supplement that contains at least 4 billion active organisms. Probiotics are used to replenish healthful bacteria that ﬁght intestinal infection and support immunity.
DHEA may help prevent the depression and the fatigue associated with an HIV infec- tion. Take 10 to 25 mg or higher, under the supervision of a doctor.
Enzymes aid in the digestion of food and are essential for all the metabolic activ- ity in the body. Take 1 to 2 capsules with each meal.
L-glutathione is one of the most important antioxidants in the body. Take 500 mg twice daily.
CoQ10 is a potent antioxidant and a nutrient involved in energy production and immunity. Take 50 to 300 mg daily.
Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) extract improves liver and immune system function. Take 2 to 4 capsules daily.
Garlic (Allium sativum) supports immune function. Take an aged garlic supplement daily.
Milk thistle (Silybum marianum) (80 to 85 percent silymarin) supports liver func- tion while you use pharmaceutical medications for HIV/AIDS. Take 250 to 300 mg three times daily.
Aloe (Aloe vera) has antiviral effects. Use a food-grade product, and take as directed on the container.
Selenium has antiviral effects. Take a daily dosage of 400 mcg.
Maitake (Grifola frondosa) supports immune function and has antiviral properties. Take 1 mg of the MD or D fraction per 2.2 pounds of body weight daily.
Turmeric (Curcuma longa) (90 to 95 percent curcumin) is shown in test tube stud- ies to inhibit HIV infection. Take 500 mg three times daily.
Zinc supports immune function. Take a daily total of 30 to 50 mg.
Thymus extract supports healthy immunity. Take as directed on the container.
HIV and AIDS are complex disorders with many variables. A homeopathic practi- tioner can suggest a preparation that addresses your individual needs.
See pages 668–675 for information about pressure points and administering treatment.
• Conception Vessel 17 helps the immune system and also eases depression and anxiety.
• To ease digestive problems and improve the absorption of nutrients, try Stom- ach 36.
A lymphatic massage, especially with the oils listed in the Aromatherapy section fur- ther on, will drain toxins from your body. Massage, in general, can help relieve stress, depression, and fatigue.
See pages 686–687 for information about reﬂexology areas and how to work them.
Work the liver point to support this critical organ of the immune system.
If you are constipated or experience diarrhea, massage the area corresponding to the colon.
Hot and cold hydrotherapy promotes healing and energy and also combats stress.
Add juniper to a carrier oil, and use in a lymphatic massage. Juniper helps break down toxins that have built up in fatty deposits.
Several oils have antibacterial properties, especially tea tree and eucalyptus. These oils can be used in any form but are highly recommended for use in lymphatic massage.
To lift your spirits, use lavender or geranium oils in any form.
General Stress-Reduction Therapies
A diagnosis of HIV can be devastating. You need someone you can talk to as you work through the initial shock and then face each successive challenge. Although family and friends are always a welcome source of strength, you may also want to recruit the help of a professional who has experience working with people suffering from a dif- ﬁcult illness. A religious adviser, a psychotherapist, or a support group leader can offer you invaluable advice and help.
In a world of expensive and invasive medical treatments, meditation and positive mental imagery can come as a relief. All you need is some private space and a com- fortable place to sit. As you grow skilled at meditation, you’ll ﬁnd that you can use its calming techniques whenever necessary, even if you’re ill and bedridden.
Bach Flower Remedies
Consult the chart on pages 648–650 to ﬁnd the appropriate ﬂower remedy for your particular condition. Once you’ve found the right remedy, place 10 drops under your tongue. Hold the drops in place for thirty seconds and swallow. Use as often as needed.
For fear of the unknown, try Aspen.
For exhaustion and fatigue, Hornbeam or Olive can be useful. Rescue Remedy is excellent in any stressful crisis.
• Get plenty of rest and fresh air.
• Regular exercise will counteract stress and help keep you healthy, but don’t overdo it. A daily morning walk is a good idea. Weight lifting helps to maintain muscle mass.
• Try to get early morning sunlight on your skin, but make sure to stay away
from harsh or bright sun. People with HIV have a heightened vulnerability to skin cancer.