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Newsletter v4n12

Newsletter v4n12
Back Issues

"Live your life so that whenever you lose, you're ahead." (Will Rogers)

The DOCTOR YOURSELF NEWSLETTER (Vol. 4, No. 12, May 20, 2004) "Free of charge, free of advertising, and free of the A.M.A."

Written and copyright 2004 by Andrew Saul, PhD, of , which welcomes a million visitors annually. Commercial use of the website or the contents of this Newsletter is strictly prohibited.

BACK FROM THE NORTH COUNTRY I just returned from Vancouver, where it was my privilege to present at the 33rd Nutritional Medicine Today conference. ("So THAT's why he got so far behind in his email!") At the conference, I was honored to be introduced to Professor Harold Foster of the University of Victoria. Dr. Foster, with some 235 scientific publications to his name, is a world-class expert on identifying the causes of chronic disease. He has found a relatively small number of highly significant nutrient deficiencies in AIDS patients. It would be more correct to say that they really are nutrient dependencies. HIV seems to fatally up the nutritional ante for persons already malnourished. Dr. Foster has written a special summary paper, just for this Newsletter, which I include in its entirety below. This is very important reading for all. Please share it and help get the word out.

TREATING AIDS WITH NUTRITION by Harold D. Foster PhD University of Victoria British Columbia, Canada

WHAT REALLY CAUSES AIDS? AIDS is a deficiency disease caused by HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus). HIV-1 contains a gene that is virtually identical to that which allows humans to produce the enzyme, glutathione peroxidase. As the virus is replicated, it begins to seriously compete with its host for the four nutrients needed to make this enzyme, specifically the trace element selenium and the three amino acids, glutamine, cysteine and tryptophan. As infection increases, serious deficiencies of these nutrients develop. Inadequate selenium causes the immune system to collapse, the thyroid to malfunction and depression to develop. Glutamine deficiency leads to muscle wasting and diarrhea. Shortages of cysteine result in skin problems such as psoriasis and greater susceptibility to infection. A lack of tryptophan causes diarrhea, dermatitis, dementia and ultimately death. It becomes easy for other pathogens to infect the patient. In short, the infected person has developed the disorder we call AIDS. The treatment of HIV/AIDS, therefore, should always include diets elevated in these four nutrients to reverse such deficiencies. Details of how this might be done are available in the more detailed discussion that follows and in the book "What Really Causes AIDS" that is freely available at (Editor's note: I urge all Newsletter readers to download Dr. Foster's important (and free) book.)

If HIV-1 causes AIDS by depressing body selenium, cysteine, glutamine and tryptophan then the way to treat this disorder is obviously diets enriched in these nutrients1-2. But how much of each is required? What are the ideal levels of selenium, cysteine, glutamine, and tryptophan in the human body?

AIDS AND SELENIUM A study by Shamberger and Willis3 discovered that healthy US individuals, between 50 and 71 years old, averaged 21.7 micrograms of selenium per 100 millilitres of blood. This compared with cancer patients of the same age range who were found to have only 16.2 micrograms per 100 millilitres. Furthermore, in a subsequent paper, the same authors4 described a comparison of selenium levels in the blood of people from 19 US cities. These were highest in Rapid City, South Dakota and lowest in Lima, Ohio; 25.6 and 15.7 micrograms per 100 millilitres respectively. Interestingly, Shamberger and Willis found a clear inverse relationship between cancer death rates in these cities and blood selenium levels. The higher the selenium, the lower the cancer mortality. To illustrate, in Rapid City, where blood selenium levels were highest, the annual cancer death rate per 100,000 people, during the period 1962 to 1966, was 94.0. In contrast, in Lima, Ohio the cancer mortality rate for this time period was exactly double this at 188.0. This strongly suggests that it is far better to have a blood selenium level of 25.6 micrograms per 100 millilitres than one of 15.7. Such US regional differences in blood selenium levels were almost certainly a reflection of variations in the local soil content of this mineral.

AIDS AND AMINO ACIDS Braverman and Pfeiffer5 have published data on various blood amino acid levels in both healthy adult males and females. For cysteine such levels range from 6 to 14 micromoles per 100 millilitres for men and 5 to 13 for women. Blood levels for glutamine given by these authors vary from 45 to 105 micromoles per 100 millilitres for adult males and from 40 to 90 for adult females. Similarly, the figures quoted for tryptophan in blood for both men and women vary from 4 to 25 micromoles per 100 millilitres. It would seem logical to attempt to achieve the higher ends of these ranges.

FOODS Naturally, one way to elevate body levels of selenium and the three amino acids is to eat foods in which they most commonly occur. "What Really Causes AIDS" is freely available at and contains appendices ranking foods according to their selenium and amino acid content. (Selenium content depends largely on the soil where the food was grown.) Below are some examples of foods that are normally elevated in at least one of the key nutrients: Selenium, Cysteine, Glutamine, and Tryptophan.

Selenium: Brazil nuts, garlic, mushrooms, liver, whole wheat, barley, egg noodles, fish and shellfish, soybean meal, brewers' yeast.

Cysteine: Brazil nuts, garlic, onions, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, poultry, egg yolks, yogurt, wheat germ.

Glutamine: Brazil nuts, wild game, wheat germ, oats, granola, cottage cheese, ricotta.

Tryptophan: Almonds, cashews, poultry, anchovies, eggs, cottage cheese and other unripened cheeses, oats, granola, brewers' yeast, bananas, pineapple, yogurt.

(Editor's note: see also:



There has been considerable debate over which form of selenium should be taken as a supplement. Organically-bound selenium, for example, in brewer's yeast, is considerably more effective in raising blood concentrations of this trace element than is sodium-selenite. (Passwater RA (1980). Selenium as food and medicine. New Canaan,CT:Keats Publishing.pp 183-196.) How much selenium should be taken daily by HIV-positive individuals is subject to discussion. Perhaps the most logical comments have come from Dr. Will Taylor6

"(R)esearch has shown that there are problems in nutrient absorption even in asymptomatic HIV+ individuals, the suggestion has been made that HIV patients need to take larger amounts of vitamins than uninfected individuals to attain the same blood levels. Since the USDA states that nutritional supplementation in the range of 50-200 micrograms (mcg) of Selenium (Se) daily is safe and effective for healthy individuals, a dose of 400 mcg seems reasonable for HIV-infected individuals, if they do have impaired absorption. For an AIDS patient who is demonstrably deficient in Se, an even higher daily dose (up to 800 mcg) for a brief period of time (say several weeks) to get their blood levels up, followed by a decrease to 400 mcg is an effective strategy that was used in one published clinical study involving AIDS patients. This question of dose level naturally arouses concerns, because in the past so much has been made of the potential toxicity of Se. I believe that the danger of serious toxicity with Se supplementation has been exaggerated. The threat of serious acute toxicity with supplementation is in my opinion nonexistent at doses less than 1000 mcg per day in some individuals. Thus, doses in the 400 mcg range are undoubtedly safe. In any case, the signs of chronic Se toxicity - garlic odour of breath and sweat, metallic taste in mouth, brittle hair and fingernails - are very distinctive, and easily reversed by lowering the dose."

I have nothing to add. Dr. Taylor seems to be correct as usual.


Glutamine supplements, normally in the form of 500 milligram tablets, are readily available in health food stores. AIDS patients are known to be very deficient in glutamine. In a Harvard study7 of HIV-seropositive individuals who were largely asymptomatic, glutamine serum levels were found to be very depressed, even though they showed no sign of AIDS. Despite the fact that a subgroup was given 20 grams (20,000 milligrams, that is 5 teaspoons) of glutamine daily in small doses over 24 hours for one month, glutamine blood levels remained depressed. Patients8 were then given 40 grams of glutamine per day, an amount usually reserved for bone-marrow transplant patients fighting off infection.

Pressman and Buff9 probably provided the best advice on the therapeutic use of glutamine as a supplement when they wrote: "Glutamine may also help treat serious diarrhea caused by AIDS or by other intestinal problems such as ulcerative colitis. Fairly large doses of glutamine, as high as 40,000 milligrams, may be needed. The glutamine improves the absorption of water through the colon, which helps relieve the diarrhea. Dosages that high should be taken under supervision, and only by those with diarrhea caused by a serious medical problem. Don't treat minor diarrhea from indigestion or a 24-hour stomach virus with glutamine."

As Shabert and Ehrlich10 point out:

"There are very specific instances in which giving glutamine to a sick individual would not be indicated. Individuals who have severe cirrhosis of the liver, Reye's syndrome, or another metabolic disorder that can lead to an accumulation of ammonia in the blood are at an increased risk for encephalopathy or coma. The basic problem is an inability to clear the body of excess nitrogen, which is converted to ammonia and ultimately causes brain swelling and brain-cell death. When the liver is severely damaged or when hepatic coma is imminent, glutamine is not effective and would cause only further damage to the brain."


Cysteine supplements have been used for many years by orthomolecular physicians to treat diseases as diverse as stroke, manic depression, asthma, and schizophrenic psychosis. Cysteine, however, is a poorly absorbed amino acid and has to be given in fairly large doses. To quote Braverman and Pfeiffer5:

"When we determine that cysteine supplementation is necessary, we usually begin with a dose of 500 mg/day. (Starting with a larger amount can lead to indigestion). Gradually, we may increase the dose to 3 or 4 g per day. Meanwhile, we keep an eye on serum cystine values. We find that, as cystine levels return to normal, low plasma levels of zinc, folic acid and taurine also return to normal. Some researchers have used as much as 7 g per day of cysteine. It should be noted that extremely high doses of cysteine, probably greater than 7 g daily, can be harmful. Patients with cystinuria, an hereditary disorder characterized by excretion of large amounts of cystine and other amino acids in the urine, are at increased risk of forming cystine gallstones. We would suggest a limit of 500 mg of cysteine twice per day except under medical supervision. Vitamin C may prevent cysteine toxicity."

Indeed cysteine should always be taken with high dose vitamin C and vitamins B1, B6, and E which improve its efficacy9. Other recommended supplements are magnesium and zinc, deficiencies of which are detrimental to glutathione metabolism. In magnesium deficiency, for example, one of the enzymes that is required in glutatione synthesis, gamma glutamyl transpeptidase, is lowered. Zinc and magnesium supplements, therefore, may enhance glutathione synthesis under specific conditions5. However, it is known that diabetics should avoid cysteine supplementation because it can block the effects of insulin by altering its chemical structure. That is, cysteine breaks some S-S cross- link bonds, changing insulin's molecular shape. Some orthomolecular physicians prefer to describe N-acetyl-cysteine for the treatment of AIDS. This is because AIDS patients usually have digestive absorption problems. It is easier for them to take N-acetyl-cysteine than either cysteine or glutathione. Physicians treating AIDS patients generally recommend fairly high daily doses of N-acetyl-cysteine, in the range of 1,800 to 2,400 milligrams, taken at regular intervals, in three or four divided doses9.


Tryptophan is the least abundant essential amino acid in foods. Deficiencies of it are known to be linked with a wide range of health problems including Hartnup's disease, pellagra, depression, hypertension, anorexia, insomnia, and overly aggressive behaviour. Tryptophan supplements of up to 3 grams daily have been used also to control intractable pain. This amino acid is used by the body for the biosynthesis of niacin, serotonin, and various proteins. As a result, deficiencies of tryptophan, seen in individuals who are HIV-seropositive, seem to result in a variety of symptoms including those associated with pellagra; namely dermatitis, diarrhea, and dementia5,11

L-tryptophan is the most desirable supplement form since all other metabolites of tryptophan, with the exception of niacin, have significant side effects. Braverman and Pfeiffer5 explain that:

"Infusions of tryptophan can raise serum tryptophan six to ten times in normal persons without apparent side effects. Oral loading (4 grams) to normal controls can increase plasma levels up to four times normal within two hours. Twelve grams daily to manic patients can maintain plasma levels at three times normal."

They further describe giving seven patients 2 grams of tryptophan daily for 6 weeks. Their plasma tryptophan levels were by then nearly double those of a control group of 96 patients.

Unlike selenium, cysteine, and glutamine, tryptophan is not readily available in health food stores. In the fall of 1989, the FDA recalled all L- tryptophan, stating it caused the rare and deadly condition Eosinophilia- Myalgia Syndrome (EMS)12. On March 22, 1990 the FDA completely banned the public sale of L-tryptophan.

The truth appears to be that one faulty batch of tryptophan probably caused the death of 37 people, and permanently disabled 1,500 more. It is clear, however, that this was due not to the amino acid itself but to a contaminant in it, produced as a result of the use of genetically engineered bacteria in its production13. Banning the sale of tryptophan, because of the world's first genetic engineering disaster, was like banning the sale of whiskey because of deaths due to a bad batch of moonshine. However, it is still possible to buy 5-Hydroxy Tryptophan (5- HTP), derived from the seeds of Griffonia simplicifolia, a medicinal plant traditionally used in Ghana, Cameroon, and CÙte d'Ivoire14. This supplement should not be taken by anyone using SSRI (serotonin reuptake) or MAO (monoamine oxidase) inhibitor prescription medications15. 5-Hydroxy Tryptophan is formed by the addition of a hydroxyl group (OH) to tryptophan, by the enzyme tryptophan hydroxylase and is the intermediate in the natural synthesis of tryptophan to serotonin16. In addition, another tryptophan metabolite, niacin, is available in any health food store. It should also be recalled that there are 400 milligrams of tryptophan in a cup of wheat germ, while low fat cottage cheese contains 300 milligrams per cup. There are also some 600 milligrams of tryptophan in a pound of turkey or chicken. In most countries, if not available in health food stores, tryptophan can be prescribed by a physician. Indeed, it is strongly suggested that anyone attempting to reverse selenium, cysteine, glutamine, and tryptophan deficiencies caused by HIV infection should do so under the supervision of an orthomolecular (nutritional) physician. (Editor's note: I do not maintain a database of such physicians. I recommend an internet search.)

More information, including cited references, is available at:


1. Foster, H.D. (2002). What Really Causes AIDS. Victoria: Trafford Publishing.

2. Foster, H.D. (2004). How HIV-1 causes AIDS: Implications for prevention and treatment. Medical Hypotheses, 62, 549-553.

3. Shamberger, R., and Willis, C. (1980). Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 44, 931. Cited by Passwater, R.A. (1980). Selenium as food and medicine. New Canaan, CT: Keats, p.18.

4. Shamberger, R. and Willis, C. (1971). CRC critical reviews in clinical laboratory sciences, 211-221. Cited by Passwater, op.cit., pp.21-22.

5. Braverman, E.R. (with Pfeiffer, C.C.)(1987). The healing nutrients within: Facts, findings and new research on amino acids. New Canaan: Keats Publishing.

6. Taylor, E.W. (1997). Selenium and viral diseases: Facts and hypotheses. Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine, 12(4), 227-239.

7. Young, L.C., Gatzen, C., Wilmore, K., and Wilmore, D.W. (1992). Glutamine (Gln) supplementation fails to increase plasma Gln levels in asymptomatic HIV+ individuals. Journal of the American Medical Association, 92 (Suppl), A-88.

8. Robinson, M.K., Hong, R.W., and Wilmore, D.W. (1992). Glutathione deficiency and HIV infection. Letter to the editor, The Lancet, 339, 1603- 1604.

9. Pressman, A.H. (with Buff, S.)(1997). The GSH phenomenon: Nature's most powerful oxidant and healing agent glutathione. New York: St. Martin's Press, p. 135.

10. Shabert, J., and Ehrlich, N. (1994). The ultimate nutrient glutamine: The essential nonessential amino acid. Garden City Park, NY: Avery Publishing Group, p.46.

11. Fuchs, D., Moller, A.A., Reibnegger, G., Stockle, E., Werner, E.R., and Wachter, H. (1990). Decreased serum tryptophan in patients with HIV-1 infection correlates with increased serum neopterin with neurologic/psychiatric symptoms. Journal of Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome, 3(9), 873-876.

12. Manders, D.W. (1995). The FDA ban of L-tryptophan: Politics, profits and Prozac. Science Policy, 26(2). Reprinted on Cognitive Enhancement Research Institute website: .

13. Boyens, I. (1999). The skeleton in the GMO closet: Did genetic engineering cause the tryptophan-EMS disaster of 1989? From Unnatural harvest: How corporate science is secretly altering our food. Toronto: Doubleday Canada. (See

14. People and Plants Online. Medicinal Plant Use in Africa. (http://www/

15. http://www/ .

16. .

KISSED BY A MOVIE STAR Aw, shucks! Yes, it's true. At the Vancouver conference, I spoke with Margot Kidder, best known as Lois Lane in the "Superman" movies. ( Fully recovered from severe bipolar disorder (thanks to her use of megavitamin therapy), Margot is now an active spokesperson for nutritional (orthomolecular) medicine ( and one of Dr. Abram Hoffer's staunchest supporters. In her very well-received speech this year, Margot's essential message was, "You can fix your brain with nutrition." She's right, and furthermore, she did it. She writes:

"People diagnosed with this or that "mental illness" . . . are not mysteriously odd -- we are human beings, just like you, with chemical malfunctions that periodically cause us to behave in seemingly incomprehensible ways. When the chemical imbalance is righted, as hundreds of thousands of us have been lucky enough to be able to do with the help of a strictly scientific practice known as Orthomolecular Medicine, our lives are fully restored and we become, in the deepest sense of the word, WELL. I have been well and free of the symptoms that are called manic-depression for almost five years (now, in 2004, for 8 years), and have been working steadily and leading a happy and productive life since then." (

And you wanted to know about that kiss, didn't you? In our conversation, I complimented Margot on her work, gave her a half-hug. . . and she kissed me. How about that! Star struck? Who, me?

More about megavitamin therapy and Margot Kidder's experiences with it at


Bipolar Disorder: and and


Psychosis and Schizophrenia: and

A case history:

DID YOU KNOW: AMERICANS THROW OUT about half a BILLION pounds of food every week. And then there are so many others, those who still go hungry, in a nation as rich as this one.

Half of all Americans now take supplemental vitamins every day. But this means that half of all Americans do not. And you can be sure that half includes the poorest of the poor.

For those who cannot afford vitamin supplements, we can help them directly, and here's how:

VITAMIN DISPENSARIES It all started at a soup kitchen, two decades ago. Some of us were helping prepare and serve meals to poor and homeless folks at St. Joseph's House of Hospitality in Rochester, NY. The idea of offering each person a good daily multiple vitamin came up, and we decided to give it a try. I observed some notable improvements, especially among drug addicts and alcoholics.

Over twenty years ago, when interviewed for The Mother Earth News magazine (Jan-Feb 1984, Issue 85 ( 01.htm) I said:

"Simple, easily available vitamins can actually fight drug addiction. I've written to (then First Lady) Nancy Reagan and expressed my support for her fight against drug abuse in children. And I told her of our work with our vitamin dispensary that serves the poor in Rochester. We have seen substance abuse trail off when individuals get adequate vitamin supplements. . . especially B vitamins and vitamin C in substantial quantities. I suggested to Mrs. Reagan that she help develop a national vitamin supplementation program. Naturally, all I got in reply was a polite letter from her press secretary. Yet I've talked to street people who were so drunk they couldn't stand up without my holding them. We get such alcoholics on vitamin C and B-complex, though, and those individuals can get off the booze. And that means a lot."

Though there were interruptions in the program due to lack of funding, the dispensary is currently going full tilt once again. Between 50 and 100 people every day benefit from nutritional supplementation that they would otherwise not be getting.

A BIG THANK YOU St. Joseph's House has recently received a most generous donation of **hundreds** of bottles of multivitamins from Our Health Co-op, "a Florida-based company providing scientifically-promising, high-quality health products made affordable. Our Health Co-op focuses on healthy aging and serving those with limited means, particularly fixed-income seniors." (

The Co-op's "Free to the Poor" program is, I think, the very model of corporate responsibility. Details are provided, simply and elegantly, at .

I would especially like to publicly thank the members of Our Health Co- op, whose contributions made this life-affirming donation possible.


Step One: Identify where poor people can already go for free meals or free groceries. It may be a church, shelter, mission, or community center. Talk to the people in charge and ask if you can provide free multivitamin supplements for their clients. Their answer is likely to be yes.

Step Two: Now that you have an outlet, ask pharmacies, health food stores, supermarkets, practitioners, public figures, friends, family, ANYONE for donations of bottled multivitamins. Stores are especially likely to donate products that are close to their expiration date. Mention this when you ask. Doctors, chiropractors, dentists, and optometrists may have multivitamin samples on hand. Supplement companies always have their name and address on their products. They may make a major donation, especially after your work is established. Ask!

Step Three: You began it yourself, but many hands make light work. Now, you need to gather volunteers. A organizational picnic or pot-luck supper can be a good way to do this. Your group may wish to hand out the vitamins in person, on a rotating schedule. Or, the food shelf, church, or shelter may have people to do this for you, and you can spend all your energies seeking donations. . . which, in my experience, is the real key to long-term success.

Step Four: Keep it simple. If you operate an all-volunteer effort, and receive donations of unopened, bottled vitamins (rather than money), this will remain uncomplicated. You do not necessarily have to be officially incorporated as a non-profit organization to operate as one; informal status saves legal costs. Honest operation and accurate record-keeping makes problems unlikely.

If you would like to help with our vitamin dispensary in Rochester, please email me at and I will tell you how your cash contribution to the St. Joseph's dispensary is IRS tax deductible.

NEW BOOK NEWS: My book, "DOCTOR YOURSELF: Natural Healing that Works" is now available in the UK, Germany and Japan, as well as throughout North America.

Yes, there will be a sequel. I have already sent my next manuscript into my publisher. I will keep you posted as to when it will be available.

BOOK SIGNING: I will be autographing books and presenting a free natural health lecture at the Lift Bridge Bookshop on May 20 at 7 PM. The bookstore is located at 45 Main Street, Brockport, NY 14420.

If you cannot attend and still want a signed copy, please take a look at . I am happy to autograph books mail-ordered directly from me.

THE BEST KIND OF LOSS While you've been reading my last couple of newsletters, I've lost 15 pounds. Although I've been told (by a physician) that I'm tall enough to carry the weight, I wanted to drop it and here's how I did it:

I lived for about three weeks mostly on water and vitamin supplements, near-saturation levels of vitamin C, and an average of one bean-filled, dessert-free meal a day. I also maintained my occasional four-mile walks and got my three gardens in. Bingo. Five pounds a week in weight loss, and high energy the whole time. This is no fad; it works and it is cheap.

Weight loss and fitness tips galore at:

Privacy Statement: We do not sell, and we do not share, our mailing list or your email address with anyone. We never send out advertisements of any kind. You may notice that there is no advertising at and no advertising in this newsletter. We have no financial connection with the supplement industry. We do not sell vitamins or other health products, except for Dr. Saul's books, which help fund these free public services.

AN IMPORTANT NOTE: This newsletter is not in any way offered as prescription, diagnosis nor treatment for any disease, illness, infirmity or physical condition. Any form of self-treatment or alternative health program necessarily must involve an individual's acceptance of some risk, and no one should assume otherwise. Persons needing medical care should obtain it from a physician. Consult your doctor before making any health decision.

"DOCTOR YOURSELF" "" and "Doctor Yourself Newsletter" are service marks of Andrew W. Saul. All rights reserved.

Copyright c 2004 and prior years Andrew W. Saul . Permission to reproduce single copies of this newsletter FOR NON-COMMERCIAL, PERSONAL USE ONLY is hereby granted providing no alteration of content is made and authorship credit is given.