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Health Corner
By Julene Tripp Weaver


According to the Wise Woman Tradition there is no one right answer. We are all unique individuals and worthy of treatment as such. What is right for me may not work for you and vice versa. It is important to tune in and listen to yourself, your body, and to try things as you learn about them if they seem aligned with your beliefs.

Listen carefully and be on alert when someone makes statements using these words: all, everybody, always, never, none, everytime. These words do not allow for exceptions and they over generalize about an experience. You may be the exception and your gut may be trying to warn you. So listen carefully, both outwardly and inwardly, to how a treatment, remedy or sell is being presented. Learn to ask critical questions to help you make your decisions.

It is important for medical providers to answer questions and to listen to your wishes. Your thoughts about your treatment are important. It is your body and ultimately your decision. There have been and are many toted remedies; protease inhibitors are at the top of the current medical list; other more alternative remedies have included: kombucha, blue-green algae, ozone therapy, chiropractic manipulation, fasting, various herbal remedies, and books that claim they have a cure for all.

The current "magic bullet" medications of the medical community are protease inhibitors. These may work for some people, but it is clear they are not the one right answer for everyone. There are many drawbacks and unknowns; strict compliance is important, dosages must not be missed, they must be taken on a strict time table (you cannot take a pill vacation), the virus develops resistance, long term effects are not known, nor is there enough information on how they react in women. If you decide to go this route be prepared because they might or might not work for you.

Kombucha was the rage recently and there were many claims that it was a healer of everything, including many of the symptoms of AIDS. It became quite popular and many tried it. The making of kombucha takes time and careful attention because it is important to brew it under sanitary conditions. I tried it, found it tasty, and drank it on and off for about a year; during this time I researched it intensively and wrote an article for Babes about it. Eventually I stopped using it, not because of a negative reaction, but because I came to believe it wasn't the panacea people claim it to be.

Blue-green algae is hot now; many people are selling it and claiming it works for many different ailments. I tried it in several forms, researched it, and have stopped using it. One reason I stopped is the high cost; it is overpriced nutrition. Another reason is that blue-green algae is pond sludge that can be contaminated with bacteria. Some brands are freeze-dried with no procedure for clearing harmful bacteria and people have had severe reactions. Spiralina, another of the blue-green algaes, is pasteurized, however it is sprayed with synthetic vitamins. These algaes gave me no more energy than a nettle infusion, so I rationalize why pay more when I can get just as much nutrition from wild green plants? Like my decision about kombucha, I believe one can get the same amounts of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients through diet, herbal infusions and vinegars.

Ozone therapy comes in and out of popularity for treatment for AIDS. I researched the basis for the claims of ozone therapy. I talked with people who tried it. I remain unconvinced, it kills bacteria and viruses, but it also kills good cells. To me it seems too similar to many of the medications used by modern medicine to fight the virus.

Studies have show people with HIV/AIDS who have their spines adjusted on a regular basis do better medically. Chiropractic manipulation is a useful treatment for spinal adjustments during times of spinal stress, or after an injury. A chiropractor can provide relief, but so could an osteopath or a cranial sacral practitioner. I used a chiropractor when my spine went out and I would use one again if I needed to. My only concern is around cost and accessibility; from my research of the field historically chiropractors made people dependent on their services creating elaborate long term treatment plans. I have not read the specific research related to HIV/AIDS but would beware of this dependency factor.

Many advocate fasting as a form of "cleansing" the digestive system but fasting can be dangerous. A strict fast with no food and only water to drink for two to three days or longer is detrimental to the body. According to The University of California, Berkeley, Wellness Letter, "There's no danger in a 24-hour fast. Some religions call for occasional fasts, and some people derive satisfaction from fasting. But longer fasts are ineffective and risky. Fasting for more than two or three days becomes starvation." Children, pregnant and nursing women, the frail elderly, and people who are seriously underweight are not recommended to fast. I add people living with HIV/AIDS to this list. When ill we often don't feel like eating, our body suppresses the need to eat so all our available energy can go into our healing. It is important to stay aware of any weight loss or depleted energy. Starvation in someone living with HIV/AIDS can lead to serious lean muscle loss that is difficult to regain.

You may hear of herbal remedies that claim to be cures or see books that claim to have the answer. Although I use many herbals, I do not use the same herb every day, I "pulse" the dosage. I do research to determine if a herbal remedy is safe to use for long term or if it is used only short term for a specific cause. I experiment and find what feels right and safe for me, being aware that this changes, what is right for me now may not be right tomorrow or next week. As for books that claim to have the answer, I take these claims with careful consideration because there is always a book that says the exact opposite or gives totally opposing information. Doing research, asking critical questions, and listening to your internal senses will help you come to a decision.

Andrew Weil, in his book Health and Healing, put forth some great premises to think about as you take in information:
1. No system of treatment has a monopoly on cures.
2. No system of treatment has a monopoly on failures.
3. There is great inconsistency among existing systems of treatment.
4. New systems of treatment work best when they first appear.
5. Belief alone can elicit medical cures.
6. Belief in treatment is a unifying variable that ties together the five previous conclusions.

With all the possible remedies and medications available you are the one who will make the ultimate decisions about your treatment. With any treatment become knowledgeable about its positives and negatives, benefits and side effects. Any of the treatments could be right or wrong, helpful or harmful, and you are best prepared to make the decisions based on your knowledge, understanding, and response.