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Better Nutrition (1989-90)

AIDS update

AIDS update – holistic vitamin-mineral therapy

Frank Murray

A.I.D.S. U P D A T E Holistic vitamin-mineral therapy has succeeded where traditional drug treatments have failed.

When Louie Nassancy began suffering from complications associated with Kaposi’s sarcoma, he knew bad news soon would follow. In 1983, he was diagnosed with AIDS. Instead of turning to prescription drugs, he chose to rely entirely on nutritional therapy. Since that time he has improved steadily through a combination of diet, supplements, exercise and positive attitude. “I have a very effective nutritional program which utilizes beta-carotene, vitamins C, E and A and other nutrients. Kyolic garlic also is an important part of my program,” he says during his lectures around the country. “I also believe that exercise is necessary in recovering from this disease and I have a variety of physical fitness activities.”

If “too little, too late” is not to be the epitaph on the tombstone of America, we have to stop trifling with the AIDS epidemic and respond in a way consistent with our democratic values, said James G. Glimm, a professor at New York University, and colleagues at the Los Alamos National Laboratory and Georgetown University.

“Within present standards of medical practice, the cost of treatment for the acutely ill, among whom we must assume most of the two million infected will be, is approximately $200,000 per patient,” Dr. Glimm said. “Even if there were no further spread of AIDS, current standards of health care imply that society already faces a direct expense of about half a trillion dollars. This does not include the indirect costs of lost production, the impact of higher than expected mortality rates on insurance companies, the lost contributions to Social Security, and the lost federal, state and local tax revenues.”

Researchers are frantically working to discover new drugs and vaccines for AIDS, many of which may have dangerous side effects. AZT, the first drug approved by the FDA to treat AIDS, not only is expensive, but its side effects are so debilitating that many physicians will not prescribe it.

A study using Ampligen, once thought to be one of the most promising new anti-AIDS drugs, has been stopped because the drug failed to show any benefits.

Researchers at the National Cancer Institute said Suramin offered a glimmer of hope as a cure for AIDS, and yet studies of the drug ended at San Francisco General Hospital, one of the five centers selected to study the drug in 1985.

Of the 23 patients in the San Francisco study, 20 are now dead. Researchers in Africa and South America already knew that Suramin, used for more than 60 years to treat African sleeping sickness, is a very toxic drug.

The medical literature warned of Suramin’s effect on human livers, kidneys and adrenal glands, according to a report in San Francisco Magazine. Scientists at the National Cancer Institute warned that extreme caution had to be exercised if testing was to be expanded.

While the drugs tested for AIDS therapy have met with little success, holistic medicine has produced a number of success stories.

In the United States, Emanuel Revici, M.D., New York, has successfully treated 17 AIDS patients with zinc, iron, sulfur, magnesium, copper, selenium, lithium, lipid alcohols and organic acids that occur naturally in the body.

In California, Robert F. Cathcart III, M.D., Los Altos, said that since early 1983 he has treated more than 200 AIDS and AIDS-infected patients with large doses of vitamin C, along with other nutrients and a diet eliminating junk food. “These treatments have not resulted in a cure for AIDS but have, on the average, doubled life expectancy and considerably ameliorated the symptoms, resulting in less disability until shortly before death,” said Dr. Cathcart. “They have also considerably reduced the expense of treating the AIDS patient due to the reduction of necessary hospital care. One patient has survived six years; another four years. Six patients seem to have stabilized the loss of T-helper cells for two to three years.”

Dr. Cathcart, like most holistic physicians, believes most AIDS patients can return to work and live productive lives if the disease is holistically treated in its early stages. Once some of the opportunistic diseases that often accompany AIDS – pneumocystitis carinii pneumonia (PCP), Kaposi’s sarcoma (a deadly form of cancer), candida and tuberculosis – have debilitated the patient, it is difficult to halt the spread of the disease.

Also in California, Joyce Willoughby, D.C., Ph.D., has treated AIDS patients since 1980. At the Medical and Holistic Center in Los Angeles, Dr. Willoughby has treated 24 patients with PCP, ARC, Kaposi’s sarcoma, ARC-TB, ARC-hepatitis and other problems. Many of the patients are in remission from the disease and many others are free of the virus.

“These patients are alive and well,” Dr. Willoughby said. “The program includes six capsules per day of the Gold Stake dietary mineral supplement, herbs, digestive, tissue and blood detoxification, three types of baths and dietary nutritional therapy.”

Dr. Willoughby explained that each patient has to be treated individually, depending on whether or not he has AIDS, ARC, PCP, Kaposi’s or tuberculosis. She said, “My procedure is very effective when I can see a patient in the early stages of the disease. Whether a patient is HIV positive, ARC, in remission or virus-free, is determined by clinical tests by M.D.’s outside my office, usually at the L.A. County-USC Medical Center. One of my patients was gravely ill and weak when he entered the Memorial Center in October. I am pleased to report that, with my nutritional program, in only three days he had gained four pounds and his skin color and mental outlook are greatly improved.”

Around the world, researchers continue to experiment with various holistic therapies. Ian Brighthope, M.D., of Melbourne, Australia has prolonged the lives of 18 out of 20 AIDS patients and all 100 ARC (AIDS-related complex) patients he has treated. Dr. Brighthope prescribed massive intravenous doses of vitamin C initially, plus various other vitamins, minerals and herbs, as well as exercise.

Laboratory studies in Japan suggest spirulina, a blue-green algae in the large intestine which improves digestion, allows better absorption of nutrients and stimulates the immune system. In fact, some AIDS researchers theorize that the inability to properly absorb nutrients leads to a potentially fatal immune deficiency. Spirulina is a rich source of vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, amino acids and chlorophyll.

Sally J. Sato, R.Ph., and Jay M. Mirtallo, M.S., R.Ph., believe malnutrition in the AIDS patient may be one of the reasons many patients succumb to the disease. They said patients often are unable to gain weight, even when fed intravenously. Of the 30 AIDS patients they studied, 20 suffered from diarrhea and were unable to gain weight.

“Consequences of diarrhea may be directly related to maldigestion or malabsorption of some nutrients,” the researchers said. Fat and vitamin B12 malabsorption is common with bacterial overgrowth due to action of bacteria on vitamin and bile salt metabolism. Successful treatment of the infection has led to improved vitamin B12 absorption from the gastrointestinal tract.

In other parts of the world, researchers at Sacco Hospital and the Italian National Research Council on AIDS in Ancona, Italy, said zinc supplements may enhance the immune system of AIDS patients because the mineral is involved in maintaining high levels of thymulin, which is a hormone from the thymus gland that regulates immune response.

Studies by Dr. Simin Nikbin Meydani at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University in Boston show that depressed immune functions in the elderly can be partially improved with vitamin E supplements, another positive implication for older AIDS patients.

“When vitamin E supplements were given to healthy elderly subjects for about one month, improvements in their immune responsiveness were noted,” Dr. Meydani said. “These included increases in cellular immunity and challenges to their white blood cells, or lymphocytes. Thirty-four human subjects were in the double-blind study, 17 on placebos and 17 on vitamin E supplements.”

In the Healing Nutrients Within, Eric R. Braverman, M.D., and Carl C. Pfeiffer, M.D., Ph.D., reported that the amino acid threonine stimulates the immune system. When threonine is deficient in the diet, antibody production is sluggish. Patients who are sensitive to wheat gluten can add some wheat to their diets when given two to four grams of threonine daily.

Organic germanium is a dramatic immunostimulant, according to Stephen A. Levine, Ph.D., in Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine. In controlled studies, Dr. Levine said, organic germanium has demonstrated marked anti-tumor effects, as well as interferoninducing activity. It also has restored immune function in immune-depressed animals, he said.

“These immunostimulant effects were achieved with oral doses, and no harmful side effects were noted,” he said. Dr. Levine believes organic germanium is capable of normalizing immune responses in organisms with impaired immune function, and said that reports in the literature indicate that it enhances natural killer cell activity in healthy human subjects.

Too much copper in the body can be toxic, while a copper deficiency can alter the immune system. A number of human and animal studies have shown that a copper deficiency can hinder antibody production and affect lymphocyte and T-cell functions, according to Professor Joseph R. Prohaska of the University of Minnesota.

Egg-derived lecithin has proved useful in treating some AIDS patients. A commercial formula is being used by researchers at a number of AIDS facilities around the world. A similar egg-lecithin product is available in health food stores.

One reason for this product’s usefulness is that it removes cholesterol from the membrane around the virus. This prevents the virus from infecting white blood cells and damaging the immune system, according to a report in New Scientist.

Japanese nutritionists urge the aged in their country to avoid stress, get plenty of exercise, eat a balanced diet and stimulate their immune systems with “immune reinforcing foods,” namely mushrooms, hondawara, hijiki, spirulina, iwanori, beer yeast, yogurt, natto beans, abalone, scallops, sea cucumbers, wild taro, udo, carrots, beans, garlic, kumquat, jujube, pine seeds, green tea and vegetable oils.

The Japanese have long valued shiitake mushrooms (Lentinus edodes) not only for their culinary benefits but also as an immune stimulant. Now researchers in Japan have developed an extract from these mushrooms which offers considerable promise as an AIDS treatment. The extract is called LEM (Lentinus Edodes Mycelia extract), and a product using the extract is now available in health food stores.

In one study, Tadafumi S. Tochikura of Yamaguchi University in Japan, and colleagues, used LEM alone and with another ingredient to determine whether or not it would inactivate the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which causes AIDS. The researchers reported that in laboratory tests, LEM does block the initial stages of the HIV infection.

“The ability of LEM to enhance antibody response seems to be due, at least partly, to macrophage activation, judging by its effect on antibody production,” the researchers said. “Moreover, it has been proposed that LEM has several advantages over other antiviral or immunomodulating agents: firstly, it can be given orally and thus allows for long-term and outpatient therapy; secondly, it is highly effective in improving liver function; and thirdly, it causes no troublesome side effects….”

Researchers at Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, have demonstrated the antiviral effect of garlic or garlic extract using both human and animal cells. “Allium sativum [garlic] has been used traditionally to treat a wide variety of infectious diseases,” the researchers said. “Garlic extract has been shown to have antiviral activity against influenza B and herpes simplex type 1 virus in cell culture, and influenza virus strain AO/RR8 in infected mice if the garlic extract was administered 15 days before inoculation with the virus. We have determined the antiviral activity of garlic and a new commercially available garlic product. Garlicin, against seven different animal viruses in two-cell lines: herpes simplex virus type 1 and 2 (HSV-1 and -2), vaccinia virus, and vesicular stomatitis virus in Vero cells; parainfluenza type 3 (Para-3), poliovirus type 1, and human rhinovirus type 2 in HeLa cells….”

A combination of five mushrooms, which has been used in Japan for many years, is now available in a product sold in health food stores. If offers promise to some AIDS patients, as well as those without the disease, because it reportedly benefits the kidneys, lungs, spleen and stomach. The ingredients include shiitake, ganoderma, a medicinal tree fungi; tremella, which usually grows on hardwood trees; polyporus and poria.

As scientists work frantically to eradicate the AIDS virus, victims of the disease do what they can to alleviate the symptoms. Doctors, patients, and even those who have no direct connection to AIDS are starting to notice the success of some holistic therapies – therapies that can mean fewer side effects, lower cost and most importantly, the return to a normal lifestyle for AIDS patients.

REFERENCES 1. Glimm, James G., et al. “Stop Trifling with AIDS.”

Los Angeles Times, May 25, 1987. 2. Kolata, Gina. “Poor Results Bring End to Anti-AIDS

Drug Study.” The New York Times, October 14,

1988. 3. Linebarger, Charles. “Tragedy at San Francisco General.”

San Francisco Magazine, July-August, 1988. 4. Tsuchihashi, N., et al. “Effects of Spiralina n Caccum

Content ‘n Rats.” Chiba Hygiene College Bulletin,

Vol. 5, No. 2, February 1987. 5. Sato, Sally J., R. Ph., and Mirtallo, Jay M., M.S., R.Ph.

“Nutritional Support for the AIDS Patient.” U.S.

Pharmacist, December 1987. 6. Fabris, N., et al. “AIDS-Zinc Deficiency, Thymic

Hormone Failure.” Journal of the American Medical

Association, February 12, 1988. 7. James, John S. AIDS Treatment News, July 15, 1988. 8. Enright, Nancy. “Vitamin E May Help Elderly Resist

Disease.” American Chemical Society News, September

30, 1988. 9. Braverman, Eric R., M.D., and Pfeiffer, Carl C., M.D.,

Ph.D. The Healing Nutrients Within, New Canaan,

Conn.: Keats Publishing Inc. 1987. 10. Levine, Stephen A., Ph.D. “Organic Germanium: a

Novel Dramatic Immunostimulant.” The Journal of

Orthomolecular Medicine. 11. Prohaska, J.R. “Copper Deficiency Alters the Immune

System.” Abstract from a paper presented at the

196th National Meeting of the American Chemical

Society, Los Angeles, Calif. September 25-30, 1988. 12. Kingman, Sharon. “Mystery of Delayed Trial for AIDS

Drug.” New Scientist, May 21, 1987. 13. Tochikura, Tadafumi S., et al. “Inhibition of Replication

and Cytopathic Effect of Human Immunodeficiency

Virus by the Extract of Culture Medium of

Lentinus Edodes Mycelia In Vitro.” an unpublished

paper translated from the Japanese.

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