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AIDS Trestment News
December 18, 1998


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Complementary Treatments:
Dr. Kaiser's New Book

by John S. James

Jon Kaiser, M.D., an HIV specialist practicing in San Francisco for many years, focuses on combining mainstream and natural HIV treatment approaches. Five years ago he published Immune Power; now he has updated his recommendations in Healing HIV: How to Rebuild Your Immune System. Before reviewing the new book, we will first comment on its context -- the place of "alternative" treatments today when new antiretroviral combinations and other advances in mainstream medical care have greatly reduced AIDS-related deaths and illnesses, and justifiably captured the public's attention.

We believe that so-called alternative or complementary approaches will become more important over the next two or three years, for several reasons, but especially to help the mainstream therapies work better. Doctors are now beginning to see more clinical consequences of viral load which can no longer be controlled because some patients have "used up" all the available drugs, and new antiretrovirals are not being developed rapidly enough for many of these patients. Therefore it is very important to extend the effective life of the antiretroviral therapies for as long as possible, to avoid exhausting one's options too quickly.

One example of such a strategy is Dr. Kaiser's "elimination of cofactors checklist", which is referred to repeatedly in his new book. The eight cofactors listed are: Herpes infections; Intestinal parasites; Unhealthy intestinal environment; Low protein intake; Inadequate antioxidant vitamins; Hormonal imbalances; Substance abuse; and Emotional distress. For most patients who may need to change antiretrovirals, instead of rushing to switch, Dr. Kaiser will check these potential cofactors and treat if necessary, then re-test viral load, etc., to evaluate whether an immediate change of antiretrovirals is still required. Also, some patients who have not yet started antiretrovirals may be able to wait, instead of immediately beginning what may be a lifetime commitment to a difficult medical regimen.

If it works, this approach to improving health by controlling possible cofactors may be like having another antiretroviral drug available -- a drug with few or no side effects, no interactions with other drugs, and no viral resistance. But how confident can we be that treating these cofactors really has any effect on HIV?

Many of these potential cofactors listed (such as herpes infection, intestinal parasites, and of course malnutrition) have been suspected for years of contributing to HIV disease progression. But definitive trials are expensive, so we do not have data as good as that for FDA-approved drugs, which are developed at the cost of hundreds of millions of dollars each (and priced accordingly). Since the medical community has become accustomed to this level of data, potential treatments which do not have it are unlikely to become part of the standard of care, and may get little or no attention in a patient's treatment -- especially in this age of HMOs and cost-cutting medicine.

One way to approach uncertainty is to compare the costs of being wrong with the benefits of being right. Most of the respected "alternative" medical approaches have relatively little risk or expense (unless they are used to replace standard medical attention, in which case the health risk can be severe). Our impression is that such approaches -- based on some laboratory evidence, biological rationale, and clinical experience -- work well for some people. It is hard to rule out the possibility that seemingly good results are only coincidence or placebo effect -- but we doubt that all the success can be explained this way. And placebo effect is unlikely to account for measurable changes such as viral load or CD4 count improvement.

Below we mention a few of the many ideas in Dr. Kaiser's new book that may be useful. There is little certainty, but much room for exploration to find what does or does not work for oneself.

Healing HIV: How to Rebuild Your Immune System

This book's introduction describes its focus:

"I define a comprehensive approach as one which adds a program of aggressive natural therapies and emotional healing techniques to the standard medical treatment of an illness or condition [italics in original]. An aggressive natural therapies program includes a combination of diet therapy, vitamins, herbs, exercise, and stress reduction. Emotional healing encompasses a proactive program of psychological healing techniques that ideally include a spiritually oriented practice (prayer, meditation, yoga, etc.), combined with a significant level of social support." [from the Introduction]

The book has many specific practical suggestions. And readers will appreciate the effort that has gone into making them easy to understand and apply:

  • The section on getting enough protein includes easy-to-use tables, showing grams per serving of about two dozen high-protein foods; it also has a protein powder comparison chart, which includes a column on cost per gram of eight well-known commercial products. Dr. Kaiser recommends at least .6 grams of protein per pound of body weight for a person with HIV -- for example, someone weighing 175 pounds should get at least 105 grams per day. These charts are notably easy to use, unlike some nutrition charts which are complex and confusing.

  • The vitamins and minerals section is similarly straightforward. Dr. Kaiser recommends a 9-pill vitamin and mineral regimen, taken twice a day with breakfast and with dinner. He does not recommend particular brands, but lists about a dozen ingredients and the amounts that should be included. He also warns about certain vitamins and minerals which can be dangerous in overdose. He gives an approximate cost of this regimen, $75 per month.

  • On diet, Dr. Kaiser lists the following general principles (which are then described in more depth):

    • "Increase your consumption of whole grains...

    • Increase your consumption of vegetables (fresh, steamed, stir-fried, or juiced)...

    • Increase your consumption of fresh fruit...

    • Increase your consumption of natural soups, teas, and warm beverages...

    • Eat a nutritious breakfast every day...

    • Eat plenty of onions, garlic, and ginger.

    • The best oils to use are high-quality canola, olive, and sesame.

    • Eat locally grown, seasonal foods -- organic if possible.

    • Make sure that your diet provides you with abundant protein...

    • Limit your dairy consumption to approximately 10% of your total diet...

    • Avoid sugar, alcohol, and caffeine.

    • Avoid raw foods such as clams, oysters, marinated (uncooked) fish, sushi, very rare meats, and "runny" eggs. These can contain infectious bacteria and intestinal parasites.

    • Combine and balance foods properly. Do not eat vegetables and fruits at the same time... Rest for at least 10 minutes after each meal..."

These principles are followed by lists of dozens of foods, in five groupings from most to least recommended.

  • Dr. Kaiser strongly recommends avoiding processed sugar (due to published studies which found immune-suppressive effects), caffeine, and alcohol. But in order to formulate a program people can live with, the dietary recommendations allow a small amount of all of these, such as a cup of strong coffee a few times per week, or a small amount of processed sugar one to three times a week.

  • On diet as elsewhere, Dr. Kaiser shows a rare sensitivity to the steps actually involved in getting started. "Allow yourself to begin incorporating some of the changes that I have outlined in this chapter [the diet and nutrition information] on a daily basis. Start small. Eat breakfast every day. Begin avoiding caffeine, sugar, and alcohol. Drink plenty of water. Buy some herb teas and find a favorite. These are some easy, healthful changes to begin with. Next, eat more fruits and vegetables. Make sure your protein intake is varied and substantial. Eat less junk food. All of these will help, and after a few weeks of combining these changes together into a program of healthful eating, you will begin to feel the difference..."

There are many other parts of Dr. Kaiser's program -- some widely used by HIV physicians, and some not:

  • Checking testosterone levels, and supplementing if they are abnormally low;

  • Checking DHEA levels -- and comparing them with optimal young-adult averages (not age-adjusted averages) to decide if supplementation is appropriate;

  • What to look for in BIA results (bioelectrical impedance analysis, a measure of body cell mass and early warning of wasting syndrome) -- and specific exercise, nutrition, and medical programs to correct deficiencies.

  • Using certain nutritional supplements which may help prevent peripheral neuropathy (especially calcium, magnesium, and vitamin B6, in correct doses), when on an antiretroviral regimen which may cause this effect;

  • Using natural therapies to treat certain gastrointestinal or other side effects which may occur with antiretroviral regimens, in an effort to prolong the use of that regimen for the patient and not use up new treatment options any faster than necessary.

  • A chapter on six causes of fatigue, and their treatment;

  • How to develop an effective exercise program -- and the importance of avoiding too much exercise as well as too little. (The first advice is to "find exercise activities that you enjoy.")

  • Discussion of extensive stool tests from specialized labs, which look not only for parasites and bacteria which are clearly recognized as pathogenic, but also for certain others on which medical consensus has not yet developed as to whether they are harmful or not. Some of the labs will test intestinal bacteria not only for sensitivity to antibiotics, but also for sensitivity to certain herbal treatments which might be used to assist in their eradication.

  • A protocol for prevention and natural treatment of sinus infections.

  • Many suggestions on stress reduction, and emotional and spiritual healing.

  • A resource section, including HIV-positive cookbooks, AIDS hotlines, buyers clubs, and dozens of Web sites.

The book also has: over 20 case histories (sometimes of patients who are difficult to treat, due to poor CD4 and viral load numbers, and intolerance or apparent resistance to many antiretrovirals); outcomes comparisons of patients treated in Dr. Kaiser's program, vs. others who received mainstream HIV treatment without the natural-therapy component; information about certain major herbs from both Western and Chinese medical traditions (although Dr. Kaiser usually refers patients to herbalists experienced with HIV for specific prescriptions); a discussion of approved and experimental antiretrovirals; and an appendix explaining common laboratory tests.

A major area where Healing HIV: How to Rebuild Your Immune System does not offer much help is how to find an HIV-experienced physician in your area who is open to working with you on some of these approaches. While many of the suggestions can be applied on one's own, others require medical supervision, especially for patients with serious health problems.

Our other suggestion for improving this book would be to establish a Web site for new articles on treatment changes as they occur. (These updates could then also become the basis of more-frequent new editions of the printed book, which would then start with new updates on the Web.) A major obstacle to using natural treatments in HIV has been the lack of authoritative, comprehensive, and easy-to-use protocols which remain readily available and up to date. Healing HIV: How to Rebuild Your Immune System is a major contribution to making this treatment approach more accessible.

Healing HIV: How to Rebuild Your Immune System, by Jon D. Kaiser, M.D., 392 pages including index, $19.95, is published by HealthFirst Press, Mill Valley, California, 1999. Despite the 1999 publication date, some copies are now in stores in San Francisco. Copies can also be ordered by calling 888-432-5448.

[Note: Dr. Kaiser does have a Web site,, which may include updated treatment information in the future.

Also, Dr. Kaiser is beginning a nationwide referral list of physicians who are supportive of his treatment philosophy. For more information, send a self-addressed stamped envelope to: HealthFirst Press, 775 E. Blithedale, Suite #367, Mill Valley, CA 94941.]

AIDS Treatment News
January Publication Schedule

AIDS Treatment News is published on the first and third Friday of each month. Since the first Friday in January is New Years Day, we are moving both issues back one week, and will publish on January 8 and January 20.

Buyers' Club List,
December 1998

Although AIDS buyers' clubs have existed for about ten years, there has never been an exact definition of what is and what is not a "buyers' club." Buyers' clubs sell alternative/complementary treatments and supplements, some of which may otherwise be difficult to obtain, at prices generally lower than retail. Most have 501(c)(3) IRS status, meaning that they are controlled by a non-profit board of directors and can receive tax-exempt contributions; but some groups organized as businesses have often been included in lists of buyers' clubs. Our listing below indicates which U.S. groups have 501(c)(3) status (or are programs of larger 501(c)(3) organizations). A list of Canadian clubs is included separately. Note that some of these organizations can ship orders internationally.

How did we decide which to include here? We started with our list from previous years, and also looked at lists kept by some buyers' clubs, and at community consensus or recommendations. Most of those below have been involved with AIDS (or sometimes other immune illnesses) for years. Some organizations which might qualify were not listed because we could not reach anyone by press time. If you believe we have omitted a group which should have been included, please let us know.

We did not include cannabis buyers' clubs here, as we have listed them separately (AIDS Treatment News #296, June 5, 1998).

Notes: (1) All or almost all of the following organizations will provide a product and price list on request. Most will accept cash, check, money order, or credit cards, and can provide fast delivery options -- but policies differ, so ask for details. The list below indicates which will accept mail order and international orders. (2) Many focus on low prices, and several have lowered their prices recently. (3) Some buyers' clubs require membership (and keep a release form on file); some offer optional membership for product discounts and other benefits; others do not have membership at all. (4) The list below is alphabetical by state, then by city within the state, and then by name of the organization when there are more than one in the same city. (5) For donors, many of the 501(c)(3) buyers' clubs are part of larger AIDS organizations; in these cases, contributors usually can designate a donation to the buyers' club. Call for specific instructions on making a donation. (6) Office hours can change; call to confirm before visiting.

  • Being Alive Buyers' Club (a program of AIDS Project Arizona), 602-265-2437, 602-265-9951 fax,,, 111 E. Camelback Rd., Phoenix, AZ 85012. Hours 8:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday., 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Friday.

    Mail order accepted, including international. Newsletter. Library. Referrals. Advocacy. Financial-need discounts to local residents. Membership $10 per year. 501(c)(3). Part of larger early intervention program, Being Alive. Specializes in products for gastrointestinal problems. Collaborates on alternative research with the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine. Prices set at cost plus 15%.

  • Travis Wright Memorial Buyers' Club (a program of the Southern Arizona AIDS Foundation), 520-322-6226, 520-327-9557 fax,, 151 S. Tucson Blvd., Suite 211, Tucson, AZ 85716. Call for office hours.

    Mail order accepted; no international, COD or next day service. VISA/MC/AMEX accepted. Referrals. Advocacy. Financial-need discounts. Services open to general public in addition to those living with HIV/AIDS. Works with separate Wellness Program, which began with CARE Act funding and is seeking grants to extend complementary therapy services, including naturopathic medicine, massage, and acupuncture. Donations accepted for all services.

  • Healing Alternatives Foundation, 415-626-4053 office, 415- 626-0451 fax, 800-219-2233 (phone orders by credit card only),,, 505 Castro St., San Francisco, CA 94114-2511. Hours 12 noon - 6:00 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

    Mail-order accepted, including international. Offers vitamins, nutritional supplements, and alternative treatments to the immunocompromised community. Member-to-member support structure, motivating one another to get involved in one's treatment regimen. Large and well-organized treatment information library. Referrals. Advocacy. Annual membership $10 to $30 (sliding scale). 501(c)(3).

  • CFIDS and Fibromyalgia Health Resource, 800-366-6056, 805- 965-0042 fax,,, 1187 Coast Village Rd. #1-280, Santa Barbara, CA 93108.

    Mail order only. Two newsletters. Special group discounts. Referrals to support groups, but not medical referrals. Focus on immune modulators. Not tax exempt; parent company is Pro Health, Inc.

  • LifeLink, 805-473-1389, 888-433-5266 toll free, 805-473-2803 fax,,, 750 Farroll Rd. Suite H, Grover Beach, CA 93433.

    Mail order only, some international.

  • Embrace Life, 800-448-1170 or 831-464-7444, 831-476-7717 fax,, 2070-C Wharf Road, Capitola, CA 95010.

    Mail order accepted, including international. Drop-in office open but call first to confirm. Vitamin and supplement information available.

  • Denver Buyers' Club (PWA Coalition Colorado), 303-329-9379, 303-329-9381 fax,, P.O. Box 300 339, Denver, CO 80203.

    Office visits by appointment only. Mail order available, including international. VISA/MC. Newsletter RESOLUTE, the major service of the PWA Coalition, is also published in Spanish. Small library. Advocacy. Nutritional and treatment information available. Products offered at cost plus 10%, no discounts. 501(c)(3).

  • Carl Vogel Center, 202-638-0750, 202-638-0749 fax, 1012 14th St. NW, Suite 707, Washington, D.C. 20005. Hours 12 noon - 6 p.m. Monday through Friday (and until 9:00 p.m. on Monday and Wednesday).

    Mail order accepted, U.S. only. Referrals. Membership $25, includes a free bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA) test, and discounts for members. 501(c)(3). Nutritional counseling and support by a registered dietitian. Complementary therapy program provides acupuncture, therapeutic massage, and Chinese herbal formulas to uninsured or underinsured individuals in the District of Columbia. HIV/AIDS treatment resource library. Educational workshops, symposia, and newsletter.

  • AIDS Manasota, 941-954-6011, 941-951-1721 fax,, 2080 Ringling Blvd. #103, Sarasota, FL 34237- 7030. Hours 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 9:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. Friday.

    Mail order accepted, including international, but mail order must be pre-paid. Newsletter. Library. Referrals. Advocacy. No special discounts; all product is cost plus 10% (plus $6.50 for postage and handling). 501(c)(3). Peer counseling. Massage therapy. Healthy PWA program. Pet support service. Emergency housing assistance. Positively Woman to Woman support group. HIV rap group. Annual "Until There Is a Cure" conference. Biggest fundraiser is annual two-car Lexus raffle.

  • Wholesale Health, 888-666-6743 toll-free, 503-236-9271 fax,,, P.O. Box 42461, Portland, OR 97242

    Mail order including international.

  • AIDS Treatment Initiatives, 404-874-4845, 404-874-9320 fax, 888-874-4845,, 828 W Peachtree St. NW, Suite 210, Atlanta GA 30308. Hours 12 noon - 7:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday.

    Mail order accepted. Referrals. Advocacy. Membership $25 per year. 501(c)(3). Some items require a prescription. Library: Works closely with AIDS Survival Project, a separate organization housed in the same building, which has an extensive library and a treatment resource specialist. Wellness Center includes complementary therapies available on a sliding-scale fee basis.

  • Boston Buyers' Club, 800-435-5586 or 617-266-2223, 617-450- 9412 fax, Located at the Boston Living Center, 29 Stanhope St., Boston, MA 02116. Open weekdays 12 noon - 6:00 p.m. (Friday to 5:00 p.m.)

    Mail order accepted, including international. Newsletter. 501(c)(3). Treatment Information Network provides advocacy, referral, and treatment information services for people with HIV/AIDS. Offers an inventory of over 100 different complementary therapies and nutritional supplements priced just over wholesale cost; profits go into compassionate-use fund to provide free-of-charge supplements to people with HIV/AIDS.

  • DAAIR, 212-725-6994, 888-951-LIFE (outside New York State), 212-689-6471 fax,,, 31 E. 30th Street, Suite 2A, New York, NY 10016. Hours for ordering by phone Tuesday through Saturday 10:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m., or voicemail any time; hours for walk-in 3:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m. Wednesday and Friday, and 2:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. Saturday.

    Mail order accepted, including international. Financial-need discounts. Membership on sliding scale $5 to $25. Anyone can request free Membership Outreach Pack, which includes 170 pages of specific treatment information including vitamins, nutrition, supplementation, detoxification, and protocols for symptom management (e.g. neuropathy, diarrhea, etc.); additional information on the Web. Call for introductory meetings schedule. Treatment advocacy and education forums.

  • PWA Health Group, 212-255-0520, 212-255-2080 fax,, 150 West 26th Street, #201, New York, NY 10001. Hours 10 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.

    Orders accepted in English and Spanish. Mail order accepted, including international. Newsletter Note from the Underground, Spanish edition Notas de la Clandestinidad, and many information packets. Referrals. Extensive advocacy for access to treatments, especially for opportunistic infections. 30% discount for persons with AIDS on Medicaid, Medicare, or in need. Treatment education program, Women's Treatment Project support groups, discussion groups, trainings, programs in jails, customized training workshops with agencies.


  • Global Vitamins, 613-284-0076, 800-996-8466 toll-free from Canada, 613-283-9306 fax,, Hershey Drive, Smiths Falls, ON K7A 5C7. Call for office hours.

    Mail order accepted, including international. Registered nutritional consultant on staff and available for counseling.

  • Supplements Plus, 416-977-3088, 800-387-4761 toll-free, 416-977-3099 fax,, 317 Adeline St. West #503, Toronto, ON M5V 1P9. Call for office hours.

    Mail order accepted, including international. Library at three locations in Toronto; HIV, alternative therapy information. Financial-need discounts. Sponsors educational forums.


AIDS Treatment News
Index, 1998

2003 | 2002 | 2001 | 2000 | 1999 | 1997 | 1996

TopicIssue Number
4th Intl. Conf. on Drug Therapy306
abacavir306, 291
access to care307, 301, 286
ACTG 334308
ADAP (AIDS Drug Assistance Prog.)306, 305
adefovir dipivoxil293, 288
Agouron Pharmaceuticals297
AIDS Treatment News307, 298
alpha interferon302, 299
alternative/complementary treatment309, 301, 295
anemia306, 292
AZT short course290
Bartlett, Dr. John G296
Becker, Dr. Stephen301
Beta Live303
buffalo hump298
buyers' clubs309
California306, 305
Capaldini, Dr. Lisa292, 291
clinical trials308, 306
clinical trials - design296
Clinton, President William303
Deeks, Dr. Steven289
developing countries307, 301, 294
Dieterich, Dr. Douglas295
DNA vaccine308
dried blood spots290
drug interactions296, 290
drug pricing305, 302
efavirenz306, 304, 302, 299, 296, 292
email301, 294
expanded access304, 293, 291, 288
Fair Price Working Group302
fatigue292, 291
FDA291, 290
Federal funding306
Foster, Will287
funding307, 306, 304
fusion inhibitors299
Gallo, Dr. Robert302, 299
Gardner, Fred304
Getty, Jeff288
Glasgow Conference306
Glaxo Wellcome304, 301
Gorter, Dr. Robert305, 304
guidelines306, 297
Healing Alternatives Foundation300
Healing HIV (book)309
HealthCare Communications Group306, 290
Henry, Dr. Keith304, 295
hepatitis B293
hepatitis C302, 297, 295
HIV immunogen298
HIV-specific immune responses300, 298
human growth hormone298
ICAAC Conference (1998)308, 303
IDSA (Infectious Diseases Soc. of Am.)308
Immune Response Corporation297
immune-based therapies297
immune-suppressive treatment308
indigenous nations303
Infectious Diseases Society of America308
Institute of Human Virology302
intellectual property308, 307
international307, 301, 294
International AIDS Vaccine Initiative308
International Conf. (1998, Geneva)300, 299, 298
intestinal parasites309
Isis pharmaceuticals302
Johns Hopkins University296
Kaiser, Dr. Jon309
lipodystrophy306, 304, 303, 298, 295
Lungren, Dan307, 287
marijuana, medical307, 306, 305, 301, 300, 296, 290, 287
maternal-fetal transmission290, 294
McCormack, Tom308
names reporting287
National AIDS Treatment Advocates Forum306
New Scientist290
NIM 811308
NTZ296, 295, 288
nutrition309, 300
Oakland, California301
opportunistic infections289
organ transplantation288
patents, pharmaceutical307
patient assistance programs306
PEP302, 296
political organizing297, 294
post-exposure prophylaxis302, 296
pregnancy caution292
prison305, 304, 302, 288
Project Inform290
proposition 215 (California)290
protease inhibitors291, 289
research policy303
Retroviruses conference (1998)289, 288
Retroviruses conference (1999)301
returning to work308
rheumatoid arthritis287
ribavirin302, 297, 295
Roche Molecular Systems303
Saba, Dr. Joseph294
Salk HIV immunogen297
Sandoz Ltd.308
Scientific American298
sexual exposure302
Shaman Pharmaceuticals299
Smith, Denny294
spiritual healing309
Stoia, Jeffery302
stool analysis309
stress reduction309
survival292, 286
T-20306, 300, 299, 293
TAG (Treatment Action Group)289
testosterone replacement307, 306, 291
traditional healing303
treatment "failure"289, 286
treatments (summary)294
tuberculosis306, 290
Tulsa, Oklahoma287
UltraSensitive viral load303
vaccine308, 300, 295
viral load303
World Wide Web307, 306, 302, 300, 299, 298
zinc-finger inhibitors289

ISSN # 1052-4207

Copyright 1998 by John S. James. Permission granted for noncommercial reproduction, provided that our address and phone number are included if more than short quotations are used.

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This article was provided by AIDS Treatment News.