AIDS: A Holistic Approach to a Holistic Disease
By: William Martinez, Dartmouth College, 2913 Hinman, Hanover NH 03755
E-mail: William.Martinez at Dartmouth.edu
Presented on to: Professor DeMaggio, Biology 7 Class (Holistic
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Disclaimer: The information offered in this artlicle is not intended as
and should not be construed as medical advice. it is presented for
informational purposes only.
AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome) is a compilation of over 30
previously known diseases that in the presence of HIV (human
immune-deficiency viruses) are now called AIDS. In 1984, Dr. Robert
Gallo, of National Institute of Health and the National Secretary of
Health, Margaret Heckler, announced that the probable cause of AIDS had
been discovered. Instantly, HIV became known as the cause of AIDS. HIV
infection is supposed to result in the depletion of a specific immune
cell, CD4 T-cells. When T4-cells decline, the body¹s immune system is
weakened, and it no longer can protect itself against microbes which
would otherwise be easily manageable by the body¹s defenses. After more
than a decade of research, it is still unknown how HIV causes the
destruction of T-cells (Brown, 1992). In recent years, HIV has come
under attack by an increasing number of scientists who claim that HIV is
not necessary or sufficient to cause AIDS. Many scientists including
Luc Montagnier, co-discover of HIV, have stated the necessity of
cofactors for HIV to cause disease (Maddux, 1992; Null, 1995). Their
works imply that HIV alone cannot cause AIDS. A study due to be
released this spring in the Journal of AIDS and Human Retrovirology,
finds that HHV-6 (Human Herpes Virus - 6) has a high correlation with
AIDS and is capable of destroying the immune system more efficiently
than HIV(Berkowitz, 1996; Ostrom, 1995a). Virologist Peter Duesberg,
from the University of California, Berkeley and member of the National
Academy of Sciences, has published numerous articles that prove that HIV
alone cannot cause AIDS (Duesberg, 1991; Duesberg, 1992; Duesberg,
1994). The HIV=AIDS=Death disease model is overly simplistic and
reductionistic. It has been a complete failure in terms of treatment
and has not saved a single AIDS patient. It is more likely that AIDS is
a multi-factorial and holistic disease. Such a hypothesis has been
introduced by Dr. Robert S. Root-Bernstein, from Michigan State
University and others (Bernstein, 1993; Null, 1995). It would follow
that if AIDS is multi-factorial and holistic that the treatment of AIDS
should also be holistic.
AIDS is a disease brought on by many factors that contribute to the
depletion of the immune system (Bernstein, 1993). It is only after the
immune system is weakened by these other factors that HIV and other
viruses (i.e. Cytomegalovirus, Epstein-Barr, Human Herpes Virus-6...)
can cause damage. In order to identify the factors that contribute to
immune depletion we must look at who gets AIDS and what differentiates
them from the rest of society.
Since AIDS was first identified in the early 1980s, it has remained
prevalent in the same segments of the population: a subgroup of
homosexual men, IV drug users, and hemophiliacs (CDC, 1989; CDC, 1995).
Despite predictions to the contrary, AIDS has remained most prevalent in
these risk groups and has had a minimal effect on the rest of the
population (CDC, 1989; CDC 1995).
The largest risk group for AIDS is a subgroup of homosexual men (CDC,
1995). This subgroup of homosexual men who get AIDS is very different
from other homosexuals and the rest of society. Several factors are
contributing to their immune suppression.
These men are often very promiscuous and have unprotected sex with many
partners. The act of anal sex alone can cause immune suppression
(Mavligit et al., 1984; Sites et al., 1975). Cuts in the anal wall
usually occur and allow semen a direct route into the blood stream.
The foreign proteins and cells contained in the semen result in immune
suppression (Mavligit et al., 1984; Sites et al., 1975). The effect is
magnified by having multiple partners in a single night, which is not
uncommon for homosexual men who frequent bath houses and other similiar
establishments. Bath houses are often gathering places where a group
of homosexual men get together for the purpose of having sex. Sexual
partners are exchanged frequently and often anonymously.
These promiscuous homosexual men often contract many sexually
transmitted diseases such as gonorrhea, syphilis, herpes, hepatitis,
parasitic infections, etc (Bernstein, 1993). These men are infected
multiple times and are given stronger and stronger doses on antibiotics
to combat their recurring infections. Often they are also taking
antibiotics when they are healthy as a preventive measure (Pifer et al,
1987). These antibiotics are taxing their immune systems and can be
converted into carcinogens when taken in conjunction with certain
aphrodisiac drugs, such as amyl nitrates (Brambilla, 1985). Medications
taken for common homosexual parasitic infections have also been shown to
be immune suppressive (Bernstein, 1993; Ferrante et al., 1984; Yardley
et al., 1980).
Amyl nitrates, ³poppers², are used almost exclusively by promiscuous
homosexual men to facilitate anal intercourse (Lauritsen, 1995; Newell
et al., 1985). Amyl nitrates are mutagenic and carcinogenic and have
been linked to Kaposi¹s Sarcoma, a prevalent cancer in many homosexual
AIDS patients (Mirvish et al., 1987). Homosexuals using amyl nitrate
are also likely to be using other recreational drugs which may be
contributing to their immune suppression (Lauritsen, 1995; Darrow et
The diets of these men are usually very unhealthy as well. This is
typically the case with individuals who abuse drugs. Drug abusers tend
to have a diet high in sugar, processed foods, and artificial stimulants
such as caffeine and deficiencies in some essential vitamins and
Being homosexual also brings with it an inherent emotional stress not
present in the heterosexual community. Homosexuality is viewed as
immoral by many Christian groups and homosexuals often have trouble
being accepted in society (Lauritsen, 1995). This can often lead to
feelings of inadequacy and guilt. Emotional stress can have a very
detrimental effect on the immune system (Seligman, 1990).
All these factors contribute toward immune suppression in these men.
Considered separately these factors may be incapable of causing the type
of immune suppression present in most AIDS patients, but when considered
in combination over an extended period of time it becomes possible to
produce a severe immune deficiency, AIDS. However, monogamous
homosexual men who practice safe sex and do not use drugs do not get
AIDS despite their HIV status (Bernstein, 1990).
Intravenous drug users (IVDUs) make up the second largest group of AIDS
patients (CDC, 1995). The immune suppression in these individuals is
easily explained. Long term use of psychoactive drugs, such as LSD,
heroin, cocaine, etc..., has been known to cause severe immune
suppression (Byrant et al., 1992). The classic IVDU with AIDS suffers
from emaciation, or wasting, and one or more lung diseases such as
Pneumocystis carnii pneumonia and tuberculosis (Lauritsen, 1995). The
classic profile of a heroin addict is also emaciation and lung disease
(Lauritsen, 1995). The same heroin addict with HIV, is now classified
as an AIDS patient. Treatment is focused on HIV instead of the real
cause of immune suppression, the drug addiction. As stated earlier,
drug addicts tend to have very unhealthy diets and may suffer from
malnutrition, another known cause of immune suppression. Like
homosexuals, they may also suffer from emotional stress that inhibits
immune function (Seligman, 1990). Individuals often turn to drugs to
deal with severe emotional stress. By sharing needles, IVDUs can spread
a wide variety of infections not limited to HIV (Horburgh et al., 1989).
These two risk groups, homosexual men and IVDUs, account for about 90%
of all AIDS cases in the United States (CDC, 1995). The remaining 10%
of AIDS cases are hemophiliacs and transfusion recipients (who have many
long-established factors contributing to immune suppression regardless
of HIV status) and the general population. Most AIDS cases among
individuals in the gerenal population are seen in AZT (and other
nucleoside analogues such as: ddC and ddI) recipients (Bernstein, 1993;
CDC, 1995; Duesberg, 1992; Lauritsen, 1995). These chemotherapeutic
agents are highly toxic and extremely immune suppressant (Duesberg,
1992; Lauritsen, 1987; Lauritsen, 1995).
Once the immune system is severely weakened by a combination of
factors, viruses especially HHV-6 (Human Herpes Virus-6) can cause
further damage sending the patient deeper into immune suppression (Lusso
et al, 1995). HHV-6 is normally kept inactive by the body¹s defenses,
but when the immune system is severely compromised then HHV-6 becomes
active and has been shown to kill T cells directly; something HIV has
never been shown to do (Berkowitz, 1996; Lusso et al., 1991b). HHV-6
also predisposes immune cells to HIV infection by causing them to
secrete the cell surface protein CD4 and transforming these cells into
T4-cells (Lusso et al., 1991a). HIV attaches to the CD4 proteins of
cells in order to infect them. There is significant research led by
Dr. Konnie Knox and Dr. Donald Carrigan that HHV-6 is, according to
Knox, responsible for ³most or much of the damage done to the immune
system (Berkowitz, 1996).² They speculate that HHV-6 remains inactive
in the body until HIV activates the virus causing immune collapse
(Berkowitz, 1996; Ostrom, 1995b). The mode of activation is unknown. I
consider it more likely that the immune system is compromised by the
factors discussed earlier and that HHV-6, which is present in the
majority (about 90%) of the U.S. Population, becomes active after the
immune system is compromised. The virus adds insult to injury by
perpetuating the immune collapse already taking place.
Once the immune system is suppressed by the lifestyle factors and then
further suppressed by HHV-6 and/or HIV, the body can no longer protect
itself against otherwise harmless microbes. Opportunistic infections
occur which can ultimately lead to death. There seems to be a
correlation between the lifestyle factors of AIDS patients and the
opportunistic infections they contract (Duesberg, 1992). Homosexual
male AIDS patients die more frequently of Kaposi¹s sarcoma which, as
mentioned earlier, has been linked to use of amyl nitrate (Duesberg,
1992). Intravenous drug using AIDS patients die more frequently of
opportunistic lung diseases which, as mentioned earlier, have been
linked to the abuse of psychoactive drugs (Duesberg, 1992). The
orthodox medical treatment for this condition does not treat the
lifestyle factors, the opportunistic infections, or rebuild the immune
system, but instead treats the alleged cause of the immune suppression,
HIV. The standard treatment for HIV infection and AIDS is AZT.
Treatment of HIV positive AIDS patients with AZT is illogical
considering the extreme toxicity of the drug and the probability that
HIV alone cannot cause AIDS (Duesberg, 1992; Lauritsen, 1987). AZT may
be causing AIDS in HIV positive individuals who are not in the classic
risk groups, and it is contributing to the immune suppression of those
who are considered already at risk (Duesberg, 1992; Lauritsen, 1995).
The studies conducted by Burroughs-Wellcome (the manufacturer of AZT)
and the NIH (National Institute of Health) that were presented for the
FDA approval of the drug were flawed and have since been refuted by
numerous other studies (Duesberg, 1992; Fischl et al., 1989; Lauritsen,
1995; Lauritsen, 1992: Lauritsen, 1987; Richman et al., 1987). AZT has
been shown to kill healthy human cells as efficiently as it inhibits HIV
(Duesberg, 1992). AZT is capable of causing severe immune suppression,
and the side effects of AZT use are often indistinguishable from AIDS
(Duesberg, 1992). Long term use of AZT can result in AIDS when used to
treat asymptomatic HIV positive patients (Duesberg, 1992). The side
effects of AZT include: severe anemia, headaches, nausea, muscular
pain, cachexia, dementia, and wasting (Lauritsen, 1995; Null, 1995).
Recently, AZT has been shown to promote HHV-6 activity (Berkowitz, 1996;
Ostrom, 1995a). AIDS journalist John Lauritsen describes AZT as, ³the
most toxic drug ever prescribed for long term use (Lauritsen, 1995).²
A more logical and rational treatment is a holistic approach which
focuses on the rebuilding of the immune system regardless of cause(s) of
its suppression. Since one microbe cannot be identified as the sole
cause of the immune collapse associated with AIDS, it is impossible to
successfully treat AIDS by focusing on a single factor. Successful
treatment must address all the underlying causes of immune suppression.
There are cases of advanced AIDS patients, near death, who have survived
and have achieved full remission by adopting a holistic approach to
health and disease (Campbell, 1989; Gavrer, 1988).
The first step to any holistic approach to AIDS must be to forget the
false HIV=AIDS=Death message that is so prevalent in our society. AIDS
and especially HIV are NOT death sentences. A patient who begins a
holistic program in the early stages of the disease can reasonably
consider the possibility of living a long, healthy life (Burton Goldberg
Group, 1993a). Attitude is the most important factor in healing.
Without a positive attitude, treatments are not very effective. A
positive attitude stimulates the immune system while a negative attitude
suppresses the immune system (Seligman, 1990). Patients should
consider seeking counseling to deal with the emotional stress of the
The second step must be to identify the health risks that contributed
to a patients immune system collapse and then to eliminate those risk
factors. Promiscuous sex, overuse of antibiotics, drug abuse, AZT,
hostile and emotional stress, environmental toxins, and malnutrition
must be eliminated if the patient is to recover. A simple outline for
recovery is presented below. I have added to the list provided by John
- Take charge of your own recovery
- Break away from the AIDS death message
- Adopt a holistic concept of health (sound mind and body)
- Identify and eliminate all health risks.
- Detoxify both mind and body:
- no ³recreational² drugs
- no cigarettes
- no alcohol
- no toxic medical drugs (like AZT)
- Observe good nutrition:
- Avoid sugar and caffeine
- Avoid processed foods and saturated fats
- Eat whole foods
- Eat organic whenever possible
- Incorporate nutritional supplementation
- Reduce stress
- Get enough rest
- Have faith that good health will return (Lauritsen, 1995).
This outline will establish an optimal biochemical environment for
The third step in recovery is to treat the secondary and opportunistic
infections. While the rebuilding of the immune system will help to
combat and eliminate these infections, direct treatment is advantageous
and necessary especially in the advanced stages of disease. An advanced
AIDS patient is likely to have active HHV-6 infection, causing severe
damage to the immune system (Lusso et al., 1985). Other microbes such
as HIV, Epstein-Barr, cytomegalovirus, Candida albicans, Pneumocystis
carinii may be active and causing disease. Vitamin therapy (especially
given intravenously), ozone therapy, acupuncture, and herbs have been
shown to be extremely effective in treating these conditions (Burton
Goldberg Group, 1993a).
Nutritional supplementation has greatly benefitted many AIDS patients
and is essential for recovery. AIDS patients are commonly deficient in
the following essential nutrients: vitamin B6, folate, vitamin B12,
selenium, and zinc (Burton Goldberg Group, 1993a; Null, 1995). Because
of their severely weakened immune systems, AIDS patients may need very
high doses of certain vitamins. It is then advantageous to administer
the nutrients intravenously in an IV-nutrient drip. High doses (over 50
grams per day) of vitamin C administered intravenously have been shown
to suppress the symptoms of disease and reduce the tendency for
secondary infections (Blakeslee, 1985; Bouras, 1989; Cathcart, 1984).
Vitamin C has extremely potent antiviral and immune enhancing properties
at high doses (Blakeslee, 1995; Bouras, 1989; Cathcart, 1984). High
doses of other nutrients such as glutathione have shown similar effects.
Ozone therapy, the introduction of highly reactive O3 molecules into
the bloodstream, has demonstrated virucidal, bactericidal, fungicidal,
anti-cancer, and immune enhancing properties (Null, 1996). Its
capacity to kill the microbes that cause opportunistic infections while
leaving the body¹s cells unharmed makes it a valuable tool in the
treatment of AIDS (Bocci, 1992, Bocci 1993-94). Ozone therapy has been
used to successfully treat herpes , hepatitis, Candida, cytomegalovirus,
Epstein-Barr, HIV, and other AIDS related conditions (Null, 1996).
Ozone therapy has received some attention lately for its ability to
inactivate HIV and has also converted some patients from HIV positive to
HIV negative (Carpendale, 1991a; Carpendale, 1991b). While I can find
no direct studies of the effects of ozone on HHV-6, ozone does
inactivate similar viruses in the herpes family. Ozone is a versatile
molecule capable of treating many of the conditions commonly associated
The use of herbal remedies in the treatment of AIDS is widespread.
Some herbs are used for their immune enhancing effects while others are
used for their direct antiviral and antibacterial effects. Some of the
more common herbs used in the treatment of AIDS include astragalus,
echinacea, carnivora (extract of venus fly traps), licorice, and
goldenseal (Burton Goldberg Group, 1993a). Garlic, St. John¹s Wort,
and isatis root are used for their broad antiviral and antibacterial
qualities (Burton Goldberg Group, 1993a). Ginseng is used for its
adaptogenic qualities and to resist stress. Chinese bitter melon,
monolaurin, and lentinan (extract of shitake mushrooms) have exhibited
anti-HIV effects (Burton Goldberg Group, 1993a). Herbs are often used
in combinations to enhance their effects and herbal therapy is used as a
compliment to many other therapies.
Acupuncture has proven itself as an effective treatment in AIDS,
especially when used in combination with herbal medicine (Orman et al.,
1992; Smith, 1988). Acupuncture relieves stress and stimulates the
immune system. Studies demonstrate an increase in immune function,
white blood cell count, and T-cell production (Burton Goldberg Group,
1993a). Acupuncture has demonstrated effectiveness in the alleviation
of symptoms related to AIDS (Orman et al., Smith, 1988). Acupuncture
has been extremely effective in treating drug addiction, a major source
of immune suppression in many AIDS cases (Burton Goldberg Group, 1993b;
Wen et al., 1973).
Many factors, other than HIV, contribute to the immune collapse in AIDS
patients. While HIV may cause damage to the immune system after the
immune system becomes compromised, it is not the cause of AIDS.
Treatment of AIDS with extremely toxic drugs that target HIV is
therefore irrational and counter productive. AIDS is a holistic and
multifactorial condition. Successful treatment must address these
factors and holistic health must be promoted within the body. A
holistic approach that incorporates the elimination of risk factors, the
enhancement of the immune system, and the elimination of secondary and
opportunistic infections offers the best chance for AIDS remission.
The treatment like the disease must be multifactorial drawing on a
variety of healing vectors. Vitamin C has been shown to work well in
conjunction with ozone therapy (Burton Goldberg Group, 1993a). Herbal
medicine has been shown to compliment nutritional supplementation and
acupuncture (Orman, 1992). By incorporating all these therapies into
the treatment of AIDS the odds of survival would be greatly enhanced,
more than by the use of one of the therapies in isolation.
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This article is greatly indebted to the work of: Peter Duesberg, John
Lauritsen, Robert S. Root-Bernstein, Neenyah Ostrum, Gary Null, Spin
Magazine, and others too numerous to mention. A great many thanks!
³If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would appear to man
as it is: Infinite.² - Willam Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell