A cocktail of nutrients can improve the quality of life in those diagnosed with HIV infection and markedly slow deterioration into full-blown AIDS, according to the results of a new trial conducted at the Mengo Hospital in Kampala, Uganda.
The study, published in the latest edition of The Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine, involved 310 patients divided into two groups, one of whom received daily multivitamin and mineral capsules containing 30 nutrients, whilst the second group received capsules containing the same multinutrients in combination with specific antioxidants, such as selenium, N-acetyl-cysteine and alpha-lipoic acid, designed to raise levels of the natural antiretroviral enzyme glutathione peroxidase. The scientists also sought to measure the effect of the nutrients on CD4 T lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell, low levels of which are often associated with HIV/AIDS progression), as well as body weight and quality of life parameters.
Of the 263 patients who completed the trial, average CD4 and glutathione peroxidase counts improved significantly in both groups, as did average weight (by approximately 1kg), along with some apparently remarkable changes in physical condition; ‘many patients… described significant appetite increases, together with the return of their ability to walk long distances’ wrote lead author Edith Namulemia.
The trial was conceived of by Dr. Harold Foster of the University of Victoria, British Columbia, who has previously authored a book on the subject of nutritional treatment for HIV infection. The premise behind both Foster’s book, entitled What Really Causes AIDS and the trial is that HIV causes AIDS by ‘hijacking’ cells, impersonating glutathione peroxidase, and stealing four key nutrients that are needed to produce it, those being tryptophan, cysteine, selenium and glutamine.
These deficiencies, claims Dr. Foster, account largely for the various symptoms experienced by the HIV-infected patient: a severe deficiency of selenium and glutamine being responsible for rapid immune system deterioration, while tryptophan abnormalities are associated with psychological disturbances, which tend to appear during the latter stages of the disease. It is also selenium, Foster notes, that appears to be deficient in the soil of the most prevalent areas of HIV/AIDS in Africa. The discovery that HIV acts in such a way was made by Dr. E. W. Taylor and colleagues at the University of Georgia, and the so-called ’selenium CD4 T cell tailspin’ theory of AIDS appeared to gain some credibility from two smaller trials elsewhere in Africa, in which patients diagnosed as HIV infected improved through taking the four nutrients central to Foster’s AIDS hypothesis.
Dr. Foster is not the first scientist to question the validity of the original theory of AIDS. In 1987, Dr. Peter Duesberg, a virologist at the University of California, Berkeley, created controversy with an article that claimed HIV may have no relationship with AIDS at all. Since then, Duesberg has been joined by a number of other scientists, including Nobel Prize winner Dr. Kary Mullis, in calling for a reappraisal of the true causes of the disease. However, ‘the epidemiology and geography of the AIDS pandemic’, argues Foster, ‘clearly illustrate that Duesberg and his supporters are wrong’.
This latest study, the scientist and his co-authors suggest, adds further credence to the possibility that HIV infection causes immune system abnormalities that can be reversed with targeted nutritional supplementation, and concluded that ‘nutrient combinations, taken by HIV-positive patients receiving no antiretroviral drugs, can significantly slow their decline into AIDS’. This calls for further studies to establish optimum dosages and nutrient combinations.
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