Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome
HIV / Aids
The viral caused immune system disease called AIDS or acquired immune deficiency disease is one of the deadliest diseases in the world today-and a cure for it seems to be years away at the present, it is caused by a viral infection that attacks the immune system in the human body.
The virus is one among a group of viruses called retroviruses, this virus (HIV) or the human immunodeficiency is very different to the usual viruses because the only thing it really does is to attack the immune system in the human body and thereby weakens it, this is all the virus does, the affected person whose immunity to disease has now been destroyed is opened up to potential infection by other opportunistic diseases.
The virus itself cannot have an existence outside a human host and it is passed onto other persons through body fluids, and secretions, the HIV virus is transported in blood, in human fluids like semen and vaginal secretions, and other human fluids like the lymph.
Once within a human host the virus rapidly attacks a specific type of blood cell called a white blood cell which has a very important role in immunity, the type of white blood cell it attacks is called a T4 lymphocyte, the virus multiplies within this cell and destroys all the T4 lymphocyte’s in the body within a period of time-usually several years, or it brings the levels of T4 lymphocytes down to such levels where other pathogens having now no opposition from the immune systems depleted T4 cells are given free rein.
Therefore the virus itself is not disease causing, in that, it’s only contribution is the destruction of the immune system, death to an affected person, will come around through other diseases. The human immune system is our one and only defense against all manner of attack from microbes and even for a drug to work in the human body, the immune system has to be involved in its distribution around the body.
With the immune system itself being infected, it becomes well nigh impossible to even treat small and common ailments. Most full blown aids patients therefore die of normally treatable illnesses like TB, and even from the symptoms associated with the common cold!
The HIV virus’s origins is a mystery, as it suddenly appeared in the middle 80’s, it is thought that it is a mutant form of another similar simian virus, in two decades it has spread everywhere around the world and has mutated into several strains. Because of its presence in the blood and other body fluids, the virus itself spreads through several means; the most notable means being unprotected sex, prostitutes therefore are a high risk group.
The virus is also spread by drug user’s sharing the same syringes, and during pregnancy, from an HIV positive mother to the child she is carrying through the umbilicus.
Once a person is infected, the viral particles multiply within him, killing T4 cells, and this goes one for some weeks, some symptoms can be quite evident at this stage, fever typically sets in, the person may exhibit constant fatigue, other signs like a sore throat may come about suddenly, a rash may develop, a virus like mononucleosis might be suspected to have caused the infection because of the similarity in the symptoms. Infection has just occurred and there are no signs of aids yet, this is only the first stage in a long drawn out disease, this stage is very short lived and will only last for a few weeks.
Then in the next stage called the window period, the patient will show no symptoms at all and will live a very healthy life, this stage may last from a few years to ten years or more. During this stage the patient is outwardly normal, but he can infect others, and the virus is secretly multiplying. There however comes a stage when so many T4 cells have been destroyed that symptoms start appearing, and the person is now in the last an final stage called full blown AIDS, he is now no longer just HIV positive but has AIDS.
The symptoms at this stage are swollen glands, a fever may appear, the patient may get night sweats, and weight loss may be sudden and is usually the first sign and there could be persistent diarrhea.
Full blown AIDS develops when the immune system has been strained to breaking point, not enough T4 cells are produced by the body to replace those that the virus is killing, the lymphocyte count plummets to a T4 count of less than 200 per micro liter of blood, this is the time that opportunistic diseases step in, to take advantage of a non-functioning immune system, preventable diseases like TB become extremely dangerous as the immune system cannot cope, unusual types of cancer and even cancers that infect only animals strike with impunity, tumors like Kaposi’s sarcoma and rare lymphoma’s.
These opportunistic diseases are what usually kill a patient, if no steps are taken. There are some drugs in the market that can at least slow down the rate of the disease, and have slowed down its toll across the world. AIDS however still remains a grave danger to humanity, there are believed to be more than 30 million infected individuals around the world.
The HIV virus is passed on and is infective when, the mode of infection is through, any exchange of human blood, all seminal fluids and genital secretions, in cases through saliva and even body fluid like milk.
The HIV virus is chiefly transmitted during sexual intercourse-the most common mode of transmission. It is also common among intravenous drug users via shared needles and thirdly and unfortunately through blood or blood serum transfusions as in hemophiliacs, if the blood was not properly screened, this has mercifully been reduced because of better screening.
Infected pregnant mothers almost always infect the child they are carrying, within the body or while delivery or during nursing. HIV however and luckily is not spread by hugging, kissing, and being near infected persons; the virus loses its activity very quickly when it is outside the human body, and is not spread via means other than those above.
Supplements and herbs
All supplements recommended are aimed at boosting immunity and are to be taken along with the normal drugs used in the treatment of AIDS, these supplements work in the long term and a person may get the benefits in a month’s time.
The use of vitamin C and its great antioxidant property to boost the immune system seems to hold promise. Vitamin C has anti-inflammatory functions and is active against fungal infections. Coenzyme Q10 could help in increasing energy production within the body and may help in building up stamina in the patient with AIDS. Coenzyme Q10, the fat soluble vitamin E and alpha-lipoic acid, a fatty acid are all anti-oxidants and boost immune system function.
The mineral zinc is essential to the immune system and can help in the maintenance of weight in AIDS patients. Excessive dosage of ZINC can destroy the ionic balance and affect immunity and should only be consumed in measured doses. To combat pneumonia and fungal infections which comes with full blown AIDS, zinc is a good and effective remedy. Another essential mineral copper is depleted as zinc intake is increased; it is advisable to take the two together, to keep levels of both in the body, at a constant level.
Another important anti-oxidant is the amino acid NAC (N-acetylcysteine). When taken with other amino acids, it is an effective anti-oxidant assisting in tissue repair, bolstering the immune system and can act against excessive weight loss the usually accompanies full blown AIDS.
NAC is thought to interfere with virus replication and multiplication and could prove effective against HIV. Glutathione levels in the blood can help immune function, and is easily obtained from whey protein. The herb turmeric and bromelain (found in pineapple) acting together can decrease the HIV virus production in the body.
All essential fatty acids are helpful in improving the condition of the immune system, and a hormone called DHEA, can aid in muscle retention, because muscle waste away in AIDS patients. Reishi and maitake mushrooms, as well as other Japanese varieties of mushrooms, have been shown in controlled situations to improve immune function and may have important roles to play in dealing with AIDS related tumors and cancers.
Additional things you may do
Usual dosageBromelain / Turmeric, 500 mg bromelain and 400 mg turmeric three times daily. Bromelain provides 9,000 MCU or 6,000 GDU daily.
Maitake / Reishi mushrooms, 200 mg maitake and 500 mg reishi three times daily. If you’re on anticoagulants, avoid reishi.
Vitamin E / Vitamin C, 400 IU vitamin E once a day; 1,000 mg vitamin C three times daily. The effects of vitamin E can be boost by vitamin C.
Amino acid complex / NAC, 500 mg NAC three times daily; follow label for amino acids. They both can be taken on an empty stomach, but not at the same time.
DHEA, 100 mg every morning. Don’t take without a medical supervision. If you’re at risk for hormone-related cancers ( prostate, breast etc.), don’t use it at all.
Coenzyme Q 10, 100 mg twice daily. Should be taken with food for best absorption.
Copper / Zinc, 2 mg copper and 30 mg zinc daily. Adding copper is recommended only when you use zinc over 1 month.
Other beneficial herbs
- Cat’s Claw
- Pau d’Arco
- St. John’s Wort
- Tamanu Nut Oil
- White Birch