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AIDS : The Therapies : From Acupuncture to Licorice to Visualization

August 16, 1987|Janny Scott and Lynn Simross

Almost since acquired immune deficiency syndrome was discovered six years ago, AIDS patients, those with AIDS-related complex or those who have tested positive for the HIV virus have also been using alternative therapies in dealing with the disease. Among them are:

- Acupuncture--As applied to AIDS patients, it is believed to increase the body's energy, helping to improve respiratory function, decrease swollen lymph nodes and build up the immune system.

- Visualization--Sometimes called guided imagery, it is the process of conjuring up mental images of the healing process and producing a feeling of well-being. AIDS patients try to imagine their immune system as a powerful force within them in which their infection-fighting T-cells, like Pac-Man, eat the virus. Some practitioners of holistic medicine offer a holistic workout, a combination of aerobic exercises, meditation and guided imagery.

- Channeling--The practice involves going to a trance medium or channel, who channels a spirit entity that provides counseling in dealing with AIDS and with life in general.

- Metaphysical and spiritual healing, including the laying on of hands--These methods are used to instill in AIDS patients a positive energy to deal with their disease.

- Meditation--Used by AIDS patients to still their minds and listen to inner guidance for help in dealing with the disease and life in general. Meditation is believed to change brain-wave frequencies and contribute to physical relaxation, reducing stress and assisting the healing process.

- Crystal therapy--AIDS patients use crystals in an effort to amplify and balance the human energy field, which supposedly will fight off or reverse the disease.

- Chinese Fu Zheng herbal therapy--A traditional Chinese herbal therapy used in treatment for cancer by modern Chinese physicians, who combine it with chemotherapy and radiation. It is now being combined by some AIDS patients with other Western medical treatments, including AZT.

- Coenzyme Q--A naturally occurring substance found in many foods and sold in capsules at health food stores. It is being taken by some HIV-infected patients as an immunomodulator, possibly restoring the balance between different types of T-cells. In Japan, it is a prescription medicine, used for the treatment or prevention of heart disease.

- Colonics--A deep enema treatment that cleanses the intestines and is supposed to relieve the entire body of toxins.

- Colostrum--A liquid made of the first secretion of milk from mammals. It is believed to fight the HIV virus by balancing and fortifying the immune system.

- Ozone therapy--Uses injections of medical ozone with an oxygen mixture. It is being performed by a West German doctor, who believes that the ozone has bactericidal, fungicidal and viricidal properties.

- Garlic capsules--Said to contain anti-viral and anti-parasitic qualities and increase resistance to bacterial infections. Found in health food stores.

- Japanese shiitake mushrooms--Often used in Japanese cooking and in treating cancer patients in Japan. They are reduced to an extract and put into capsule form and are believed to contain anti-viral properties.

- Laetrile--A drug derived from apricot pits and widely used in Mexico during the early 1980s as a cancer treatment. It is being used as an AIDS treatment in Mexican clinics; the FDA will not license the drug for use in the United States. A National Institutes of Health study in 1981 found Laetrile to have "no substantive benefits for cancer patients."

- Live-cell therapy--AIDS patients are injected with fetal cells from mammals in a treatment being used in Mexican clinics and in Switzerland.

- Hydrogen peroxide--The common household chemical is administered by injection in AIDS clinics in Mexico and also is being taken orally by AIDS patients--a few drops in a glass of water. It is thought to stimulate the immune system to act against viruses and bacteria.

- Licorice--Often used in medical treatments in China, it is being taken in root or extract form by some AIDS patients who believe it has antiviral properties.

- Macrobiotics--A strict diet regimen based on the Eastern philosophy of yin and yang. It has attracted some AIDS patients who believe that following the macrobiotic diet and life style can stimulate the immune system and put Kaposi's sarcoma, a cancer that afflicts some AIDS patients, into remission.

- Vitamin C--Popularized by Nobel Prize-winner Linus Pauling's 1976 book advocating megadoses to ward off colds, it is thought to stimulate T-cells, helping to protect the body against viruses if taken daily in megadoses.

- Megavitamins--A term that usually refers to an intake of vitamins at about 10 times the recommended daily allowance. They are popular with many AIDS patients who feel the heavy doses, along with a strictly nutritional diet, will stimulate the immune system.

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