Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDs) is a complex disorder and is characterized by a compromise of cognitive immune function. The conventional belief about AIDS is that the immune deficiency results from an infection of immune competent cells with the Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV-1 and HIV-2).
Various factors influence the rate at which HIV progresses to AIDS, and nutritional status is obviously an important one. The virus itself interferes with nutrient absorption. Serum levels of many vitamins and minerals register low in HIV-positive patients, partially due to the progression of the disease and possibly due to drug-nutrient depletion from the ingestion of powerful HIV-drugs. Although antiretroviral therapies, especially protease inhibitors, have reduced morbidity and mortality from HIV, these drugs harbor many side effects. The stress of HIV infection places increased nutritional needs on the body. Increased oxidation (aging and deterioration) can greatly impair the body’s ability to mount an immune response.
Since HIV infection and the progression of AIDS involves a long period of latent infection characterized by low levels of viral replication that slowly increase to the point of immunosuppression, the role of antioxidants is important and well documented. Oxidative stress induces both viral activation of HIV and DNA damage. This leads to a suppressed immune system and programmed cell death (apoptosis). Evidence of increased oxidation reactions (aging process), depletion of glutathione-based antioxidant defense system, and increased levels of oxygen radicals have been demonstrated in the blood and tissues of HIV-infected individuals.
The current use of highly-active antiviral therapies and drugs, their efficacy, their toxicity, and their high costs have created the need for a more comprehensive reassessment of HIV treatment. Overall, AIDS remain incurable, but somewhat preventable. Adjunctive nutrient therapy appears to be of critical importance.
ALTERNATIVE OPTIONS TO DRUG TREATMENT
There have been many alternative approaches proposed to the treatment and management of HIV infection and AIDS. Although allopathic physicians will stress an aggressive approach to treatment, there remains good arguments that both integrative and alternative treatments are useful and deserve further investigation. Many would argue that any alternative options for AIDS is speculative and are not generally recognized in the U.S. as customary practices. There are a growing number of victims who are searching worldwide for viable alternative treatments. A number of options are:
- General Nutritional Support. There is a general depletion of both macro and micronutrients in AIDS. Poor nutrition impairs immunity and recovery. Potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory supplements are vital and valuable.
- Botanicals and Herbs. More and more HIV-positive patients are using herbs and botanicals from nature to support their immune system. Herbs are attractive because of low toxicity, low price, and more recognized efficacy that is backed by scientific research (mainly outside of the U.S.). Some of the most commonly used herbs include: milk thistle, licorice, echinacea, astragalus, ginseng, aloe vera, turmeric, andrographis and rainforest botanicals (cat’s claw, bitter melon, chanca piedra and anamu).
- Alternative Lifestyle Changes. These options may include adopting an organic, raw food, or macrobiotic diet. Stress management techniques such as yoga, meditation, biofeedback, prayer, touch therapy, chiropractic, traditional Chinese medicine, ozone therapy, hyperthermia and energy medicine. Increased exercise programs are also a common choice.
- Prebiotic and Probiotic Treatment. The stimulation of the gut immunity is central for overall prime immunity. AIDS patients have a high degree of gastrointestinal stress. Probiotics are the ‘good bacteria’ that can benefit the AIDS patient significantly.
- Detoxification Programs. Alternative therapies include chelation, sauna, exercise, massage, liver and colon detoxification supplements, hydrotherapy and herbal cleansing.
Dietary inadequacy may be caused by intentional changes in dietary intake (psychological), intestinal malabsorption, increased cell catabolism, involuntary decrease in nutrient intake (anorexia), drug-nutrient interactions, and redistribution of nutrients. These metabolic changes cause a greater caloric expenditure, and extra calories should be incorporated in the diet to prevent muscle wasting and nitrogen balance. The infection also often causes a change in taste.
- Individuals often lose weight, body tone and tissue due to catabolism of fat and protein.
- A protein-rich diet may help repair tissues and aid in growth, although avoid hormones, antibiotics and steroids in most beef-lot cattle, meats, eggs, poultry and milk in the U.S.
- Any diet that will strengthen the individual is advisable. Increase calories to avoid weight loss.
- Treatment for diarrhea is common. Increase fiber intake, give probiotic/prebiotic support.
- Increase intake of “green” foods, not only for their nutritional advantage, but also because they will alkalize the body. Acidity in the body is proven to impair healing and possibly induce the progress of the disease.
- POTENT MULTI-VITAMIN/MINERAL FORMULA
Supplementing with a potent multi-vitamin mineral formula is a foundation of health for any immune disease. It is preferable if the formula contains addition Antioxidants and a generous amount of Green Foods as part of the supplement make-up. Dosage: As directed on label
- VITAMIN C and BIOFLAVONOIDS
Levels of Vitamin C are critically reduced in HIV progression. Adequate amounts of Vitamin C should lessen death and slow the progression of the disease. Vitamin C is not only a necessary antioxidant that can boost the immune system, but also raises interferon production and improves phagocytosis. The bioflavonoids (especially Quercetin) have been shown to modify anti-inflammatory responses, block the actual HIV virus, prevent platelet aggregation, and have powerful antiviral and carcinostatic properties. The role of flavonoids as inhibitors of reverse transcriptase suggests a place for these compounds in the control of retrovirus infections. Dosage: Vitamin C 1,000-20,000 mg daily, orally or IV as directed by a qualified practitioner. Bioflavonoids 400-1,200 mg daily or as directed.
Selenium appears to decline consistently as HIV progresses. This deficiency correlates to immune-competence. Selenium levels in HIV correlate with liver protection, and research indicates that supplementing with this mineral is a simple way to help keep their infection under control and increase the CD4 T-cell population. In addition low levels of plasma selenium is an independent predictor of mortality, and appears to be associated with faster disease progression. Dosage: 50-200 mcg a day.
- VITAMIN E and VITAMIN A (BETA CAROTENE)
It is reported that levels of both antioxidants is critically reduced in HIV patients. Vitamin E deficiency is found in HIV-infected patients with a wasting-syndrome condition known as cachexia. Because these patients poorly absorb this antioxidant, additional supplementation is essential. Serum deficiency of Beta carotene may contribute indirectly to the immunological deterioration in HIV infection by impairing the elimination of free radicals. Vitamin C lessens death in HIV patients and slows the progress of the disease and. Depression of serum beta carotene levels is usually indicative of fat malabsorption and diarrhea, common in HIV patients, and secondary to infection and altered gut flora. Dosage: Vitamin E 400-2,000 IU daily. Beta Carotene 5,000-100,000 IU. Only as recommended by a qualified practitioner.
- MILK THISTLE
Milk thistle is a universally-utilized herbal nutrient that has liver-protective and regeneration effects. It is wise to supplement milk thistle while taking the potent drugs often given to HIV patients to protect liver enzymes. Other herbs that are helpful in liver support and can be used in combination with Milk thistle include: Dandelion root and Schisandra. Dosage: 2-3 capsules daily, or as directed on label.
- PROANTHOCYANIDINS (GRAPE SEED EXTRACT and PYCNOGENOL)
These potent antioxidant agents elicit an inhibitory effect on HIV infection in vitro. This inhibition may prevent the binding of the HIV virus to cell receptor sites on normal white blood cells, thereby preventing infection. Dosage: 50-200 mg daily.
CoQ10 is a potent antioxidant that increases circulation and energy and protects the heart. CoQ10 is present in all cells and lipoproteins. In the cells, CoQ10 acts as an electron carrier and is a potent free-radical scavenger. Dosage: 100-400 mg daily.
- B COMPLEX VITAMINS
B Complex vitamins are important for the immune functioning and slowing AIDS development. Insufficient intake of B6 and B12 are associated with immune deficiency and peripheral neuropathy. In addition, AZT may induce pernicious anemia. Dosage: 2-4 gm daily has been recommended.
- OLIVE LEAF EXTRACT
According to Dr. Morton Walker, author of Olive Leaf Extract, concentrations of olive leaves contain natural protease inhibitors, and has reduced viral loads significantly in as little as two weeks. Olive leaf extract appears to work well in combination with the drug Naltrexone. Dosage: 500 mg up to every 6 hours, or as directed by an experienced practitioner.
- ESSENTIAL FATTY ACIDS (EFAs)
A person with established AIDS has considerable widespread inflammation that must be addressed. EFAs (especially the EPA in fish oil) are healthy omega fatty acids that can help in decreasing the inflammatory response and balance hormones. Dosage: 1,000-4,000 mg daily.
Zinc deficiency impairs immune function, and it is often deficient in HIV patients experiencing AIDS-related diarrhea. It is important to avoid mega-doses of zinc, since it may impair certain aspects of immune function. Dosage: 15-50 mg daily or as directed by a qualified practitioner.
- ASTRAGALUS (ASTRAGALUS MEMBRANACEUS)
Astragalus is a species of ginseng that has well known positive effects on immune function and may increase natural killer cells. Astragalus is one of the most effective immune-boosting herbs in the world, has consistent benefits, complete safety, and low interactions with HIV or other drug therapy. In TCM it is regarded as a Chi tonic (especially on the spleen) and reduces fatigue, decreases diarrhea, and improves appetite. Dosage: As directed on label.
- IP6 (INOSITOL HEXAPHOSPHATE)
In vitro studies have indicated that IP6 incubated with HIV-1 infected T-cells inhibited the replication of HIV-1. IP6 can be helpful even though the mechanism of IP6 action has not yet been determined. Dosage: As directed by an experienced practitioner.
- N-ACETYL CYSTEINE (NAC)
Large doses of NAC and vitamin C enhanced both lymphocyte activity and glutathione levels, thus boosting the immune system and extending life expectancy in patients with HIV. Research suggests that NAC is capable of enhancing T cell immunity by stimulating T cell colony formation. NAC may help to prevent progression to AIDS. Dosage: 1,000-2,400 mg daily.
- PAU D’ARCO (TABEBUIA AVELLANEDAE)
This South American herb can treat a variety of conditions often problematic in HIV including bowel dysbiosis and effective diarrhea. It is a major component in herbal formulas used for urinary infections, herpes, yeast infections and tinea. It also promotes detoxification. Dosage: As directed by an experienced practitioner.
Acetyl-L-Carnitine is reported to reduce lymphocyte apoptosis and oxidant stress in HIV patients treated with AZT and DDI. In one study, daily infusions of L-carnitine (6 grams) for 4 months resulted in an increase in CD4 counts in HIV-positive patients not taking anti-retroviral therapy. Dosage: Mega-doses are sometimes given (over 2.000 mg daily), so see a qualified practitioner.
- DEHYDROEPIANDROSTERONE (DHEA)
Preliminary evidence suggests that DHEA may play a role in AIDS. Levels are low in HIV patients and DHEA may inhibit the replication of HIV. In addition, DHEA has been shown to enhance the immune response to viral infections. Higher doses from 50-200mg a day may be suggested, however don’t use unless the patient is under a qualified doctor’s care.
- SHIITAKE AND MAITAKE MUSHROOMS
These anti-carcinogenic mushrooms raise the T-cell counts in AIDS patients. They may be as powerful as AZT without toxic side effects. Dosage: As directed by an experienced practitioner.
- L-ARGININE, GLUTAMINE and other AMINO ACIDS
Amino acids that may prevent the lean body mass and increase NK-cell cytotoxicity in some patients. Amino acids are important for protein synthesis and have the ability to act as an antioxidant and free-radical scavenger. HIV infection appears to induce glutamine deficiency, possibly as a result of the rapid turnover of immune cells that occurs in the acute and chronic stages of the infection. Dosage: See a qualified practitioner.
- BETA GLUCAN
Beta glucan has shown surprising inhibition of antiviral activity found in infected patients. Dosage: As directed.
Glutathione plasma levels are significantly lower in HIV patients. Low levels will negatively affect the immune system since glutathione positively affects T-cells and B-lymphocytes in the body. Glutathione is antioxidant and antiviral. Dosage: As recommended by a qualified practitioner. IV therapy may be suggested.
- CAT’S CLAW
This South American vine has been used adjunctive to antiretroviral therapy by stabilizing or reducing CD4 cell count, increasing vitality and mobility, and reduce HIV-related symptoms. In the mid-1980s, when HIV infection was beginning to be widely recognized, Cat’s Claw was the ‘underground’ botanical ‘drug’ used by thousands of men. It is also active against Herpes simplex and Varicella-zoster. Dosage: As directed by an experienced practitioner.
- KOREAN RED GINSENG
Chinese scientists have deduced that long-term intake of Korean red ginseng delayed disease progression in HIV-infected patients. This ginseng appeared to significantly affect the slow depletion of CD4 T cells irrespective of prognosis. It also provides exceptional adrenal support for the patient undergoing treatment. Dosage: See an experienced practitioner of TCM.
- ST JOHN’S WORT (HYPERICUM PERFORATUM)
This common herb has components that have effects on trancriptase enzymes showing clear anti-retroviral activity. High doses may be effective in treating AIDS-related depression. Unfortunately, SJW has a propensity for drug interactions and must be carefully used with conventional HIV drugs and prescription anti-depressant drug. Dosage: 600-1,200 mg daily.
- CHADRA PIEDRA (PHYLLANTHUS NIRURI)
This is a well-known South American medicinal plant used to treat renal kidney stones. Chadra piedra possess viable analgesic, anticancer, antiviral and liver-protecting qualities. In AIDS patients it has been shown to decrease HIV-reverse transciptase. Dosage: As directed on label or from an experienced practitioner.
- TUMERIC (CURCUMIN)
A Chinese herb that has shown anti-HIV activity in vitro. Dosage: As directed by a practitioner.
- MANGOSTEEN FRUIT
Xanthones found in mangosteen fruit had anti-viral activity that inhibited HIV-1 protease enzymes. Dosage: As directed on label.
- ELDERBERRY (SAMBUCUS NIGRA)
An elderberry extract called Sambucol was studied for the potential to inhibit the infectivity of HIV. Two elderberry extracts were used. A significant reduction was observed in infectivity of all HIV strains. A combination of elderberry and a thymus extract resulted in reduction in viral load in people with HIV. Dosage: See a qualified practitioner.
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