HIV/AIDS Skepticism

Pointing to evidence that HIV is not the necessary and sufficient cause of AIDS

Mainstream pseudo-science good, alternative pseudo-science bad

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2009/02/25

HIV/AIDS vigilantes like to accuse promoters of alternative treatments of threatening lives. In South Africa they have campaigned against Matthias Rath for pointing out the considerable health benefits of vitamin supplements for malnourished people. President Thabo Mbeki has been charged with the needless deaths of hundreds of thousands of people for questioning  the worth of antiretroviral drugs, and his Health Minister, Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, was sarcastically referred to as “Dr. Beetroot” for suggesting the value of some natural remedies.

But when properly “scientific” Westerners discover that naturally occurring substances might make good medicine, of course that’s something else. So the discovery by UCLA’s AIDS Institute was reported reverently, that “the herb Astragalus root may help fight HIV” [UCLA’s AIDS (“Beetroot”) Institute discovers how HIV kills cells, 2 January 2009]. Not to be outdone, Houston researchers have identified an ingredient of green tea as active against “HIV” even at physiological concentrations:

“Thursday, February 5, 2009, 3:15pm CST
Houston researchers cite HIV breakthrough
A chemical that occurs naturally in green tea appears to prevent HIV-1, the virus that causes AIDS, from infecting cells in the immune system and could prove a valuable component of treatment for the disease, according to a report by researchers from Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital.
After further research, the study could move to human trials, the researchers said Thursday.
In previous studies, Dr. Christina Nance, assistant professor of pediatrics at BCM, and Dr. William Shearer, professor of pediatrics at BCM, had demonstrated that epigallocatechin gallate — EGCG — found in green tea, inhibited infection in a specific HIV-1 strain.
The latest discovery shows EGCG can inhibit infection in multiple HIV-1 strains.
‘This is paramount from a global aspect,’ Nance said. ‘Most initial studies with HIV-1 in the Americas are based on subtype B.’ However, she added, most of the world is infected with other strains.
‘EGCG may represent a potential low-cost inhibitor of global HIV-1 infection that could be used at least as adjunctive anti-HIV therapy,’ said Nance and Shearer in their report.
Previous drugs developed to block the entry of HIV-1 into cells proved ineffective because the virus mutated. Nance hopes that EGCG, derived from a natural product, will be less likely to generate such mutations.
BCM has received a grant from the National Institutes of Health to being a phase 1 trial to study the safety of the compound in HIV-1-infected people.
Funding for the research came from the National Institutes of Health and the Baylor Center for AIDS Research.
The report appears in the current issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.”

In the true spirit of objective science, the researchers refrained from saying “breakthrough”, that was only the designation in the popular media; the researchers themselves merely titled their article “Preclinical development of the green tea catechin, epigallocatechin gallate, as an HIV-1 therapy” [by Christina L. Nance, Edward B. Siwak, & William T. Shearer, J Allergy Clin Immunol 2009;123:459-65] — though, come to think of it, that’s still making a pretty big claim, “development”, even if only pre-clinical as yet. And the Conclusions carry a tone of certainty: “We conclude that by preventing the attachment of HIV-1–glycoprotein 120 to the CD4 molecule, EGCG inhibits HIV-1 infectivity. Because this inhibition can be achieved at physiologic concentrations, the natural anti-HIVagent EGCG is a candidate as an alternative therapy in HIV-1 therapy.”

Perhaps this discovery explains why Asian-Americans, to whom we owe our introduction to green tea, have been so much less affected by HIV/AIDS than have Caucasian Americans?

At any rate, those of us who believed those unscientific peddlers of traditional remedies who have long touted green tea as health-promoting can feel vindicated as we continue with — indeed increase — our gullible guzzling of that beverage. And those intrepid researchers in Houston are being justly rewarded with continuing grant support from the National Institutes of Health.

13 Responses to “Mainstream pseudo-science good, alternative pseudo-science bad”

  1. Dave said

    Does green tea have any side-effects like anemia, liver failure or Buffalo Hump?

    If not, we won’t use it:)

  2. David said

    It has been my experience that practitioners of alternative medicine are usually just as uncurious about the problems with HIV theory as allopathic physicians and mainstream health care professionals. I think one of the reasons for this is that too many “alternative” medical practitioners are scared of losing referrals from allopathic physcians, and they dont want to seem even more “alternative” by embracing AIDS dissidence. The Dissident community is still seen by most in healthcare as “radical” and “fringe”. I know for a fact that some practitioners have been threatened by allopathic medical doctors for encouraging their patients to question the value of AIDS drugs.

    • Henry Bauer said

      David, re practitioners of alternative medicine and AIDS dissidence:

      I think another factor is that there are so many medical conditions, and it’s impossible for any doctor to read enough sources to reach a personal judgment on more than a few of them, so non-allopathic and allopathic physicians alike have to trust the judgments of others on many or most medical matters.

  3. Cathy said

    Dave:
    The only side effect is that it tastes awful. As a black-tea addict, I tried switching to the “healthy stuff” some years ago but could not in all honesty get to like it.

  4. Joe said

    Green tea in Texas fights AIDS, but that doesn’t work in China? If the Houston researchers believed the HIV/AIDS figures for China, I doubt they’d be spending their time looking at green tea. In fact, one has to wonder what drove them to even consider green tea’s benefits in relation to ‘HIV infection’. Perhaps they follow Henry’s blog and used that as a compass to find areas of useful research.

    • Henry Bauer said

      Joe:

      One of the things I learned from Science Studies is that the intense specialization that’s now the rule in science means that, in many fields, there’s little or no continuing overall assessment going on. There’s no incentive to do it. Everyone works at his own little project and is too busy preparing grant proposals and watching the competition to spend time thinking about how this little specialty fits into the whole. Another way of putting it is that nowadays in science

      THE RIGHT HAND DOESN’T KNOW WHAT THE LEFT HAND’S DOING.

      That applies within the vast area of HIV/AIDS “science” and practice no less than in science as a whole.

  5. Tracy D. Ellis said

    Hi Henry!
    As a AZT mono therapy survivor and a man who lost a son to the same drug I want to tell you from the bottom of my heart thank you. Your blog is a classy place to hang out, again I thank you.
    Before finding out vinegar was a more effective treatment for my 10yr diagnoses of acid reflux disease I believed in short western medicine was king and all others were quacks.
    After the vinegar thing I figured I should research the other 20 pills or so a day I was taking for my deadly HIV infection. Since I have had at least one t-cell count below 200 (10yrs ago) I guess I no longer have HIV but now I have AIDS. Labels are overrated says my body though🙂
    I now practice the psuedo science of Ashtanga Yoga and the Buhddist path to enlightenment and can say it’s been by far the most difficult and the most rewarding thing I have ever done for myself.
    Tracy

  6. David said

    good points Dr. Bauer

  7. Dave said

    Hi Tracy,

    Glad you survived the AIDS beast, and good luck with your new and improved health.

    One of the things about this nightmare is that it leaves many psychological scars on folks who are mostly just trying to cope with the “HIV” stigma.

    This is one of the few blogs where you can rationally discuss the issues, without a lot of emotional browbeating.

    My mantra:

    1. The tests are unreliable

    2. The drugs are highly toxic

    3. Have a nice day.

  8. Martin said

    Hi Tracy, What leads you to believe you have AIDS? Did you ever regularly use recreational drugs like poppers, heroin, cocaine, crystal meth, etc.? Did you regularly use antibiotics prophylactically? What specific diseases do you have if any — I don’t count T-cell counts as a valid guide no matter what the government quacks say.

    Hi Dave, Re your Mantra, 1. The tests are unvalidated and useful only for the drug companies. 2. The (so-called antiretroviral) drugs are deadly and will cause great suffering. 3. Have a nice day.

  9. Marcel said

    I thought about guzzling green tea for its supposed health benefits but found out that it and other forms of tea have very high levels of fluoride for some reason.

    http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=%22green+tea%22+fluoride&btnG=Search

    So…I’m still a coffee drinker.

  10. MAUREEN said

    A person came to me asking for advice on a positive HIV test. I gave him all the info so that he could make an informed choice. I diagnosed via kinesiology that his immune deficiency was due to negative endoral currents and metal toxicity of dental materials/metals. He refused to remove them because he said “he had just spent a lot of money putting them in” — incredible isn’t it that his money was more important than his health. Notwithstanding the substantial improvement with homotoxicology and supplements, he decided to go to the AIDS clinic. Of course, they gave him the usual psychological terrorism. Take the AIDS drugs or you will die etc. Alternative therapy is pseudoscience. He did not tolerate the drugs and felt very ill, the AIDS clinic gave him a drug to protect the stomach lining. He stopped vomiting and started to get better. He is still taking the drugs. These drugs are chemotherapy and work by blocking the replication of DNA, that is ALL DNA,and is not specific to HIV. I am surprised that he is not gradually falling into a state of degeneration. Can anybody explain this?

    • Henry Bauer said

      MAUREEN: I don’t know what “endoral currents” are; and I won’t disagree with the inevitable quibbles from the dogmatists that this is just an anecdote, though intimate knowledge of a specific case can sometimes be more meaningful than statistical data.
      But on your main question: Our bodies can withstand all sorts of physiological insults. If antiretroviral treatment is monitored very closely and changes are made as soon as deleterious “side”-effects are noticed, to reduce dosages or switch drugs or take a holiday from treatment, then people can survive for quite a long time; mainstream physicians undoubtedly know of quite a lot of long-term non-progressors, people who can survive HAART for extended periods. Still, it’s sobering that the mean age of death of the prominent AIDS activists who died in the HAART era was 44, as I noted in my reply to Francis.

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