• Magazine Web Edition
  • April 1989
  • People with AIDS Look to Asia for Help
  • People with AIDS Look to Asia for Help

    People with AIDS Look to Asia for Help

    While Western Medicine Looks for the "Cure," Old Eastern Remedies Offer Results - Today

    "It's illegal to claim you have a cure for AIDS, unless you can prove it can cure everyone," warns the US government. For Western medicine's gargantuan pharmaceutical industry - looking frantically for an AIDS cure - those words mean great frustration, and great expense. But, for a Chinese herbalist - or Indian Ayurvedic doctor, Japanese Reiki therapist or Tibetan healer - that threatening legal technicality is not a problem. That's because Eastern medicine believes there is no one cure for AIDS, and so is not looking for one. It does not simplistically perceive AIDS as an elusive virul mafia wreaking havoc on defenseless T-4 helper cells until an immune super-hero is found.

    The Eastern perception of disease is more subtle in its understanding and more individualistic in its treatment. AIDS, like all disease, goes deeper than the body. Remedies must also.

    It's difficult getting Asian medicine understood and practiced by Westerners raised on the medical ideology that the body is "just parts" and diseases are cured with drugs. But making it easier is The Foundation for Research of Natural Therapies (FRONT), which recently convened over 50 MDs, Ph.D.s, scientists and clinicians in Universal City, California. FRONT sponsored this Advanced Immune Discovery Symposium to specifically update an understanding of AIDS.

    Experts Compare Notes

    Dr. Laurence Badgley, a general practitioner in the San Francisco Bay Area and author of the books Healing AIDS Naturally and Energy Medicine, is founder of FRONT. "What we're seeing," Dr. Badgley explained, "is a shift in the perception of what the AIDS disease process is. We're understanding that it is a co-factor process, that the disease evolution and development depends upon what we do in our lives, and that negative co-factors and injurious lifestyles can activate the AIDS process. Our researchers are providing data on these negative co-factors, and what we have here is a chance to build a bridge of communication between orthodox and alternative therapies using the universal language of science."

    With intrepid conviction, Dr. Brian Rees, Medical Director for the Maharishi Ayurvedic Medical Center in California, addressed his colleagues at the FRONT forum, "Our model in Western medicine is outdated, based upon a Newtonian view of a world composed of fragmented, isolated bits of matter and some waves and particles which interact. It is a useful model in dealing with car wrecks, but doesn't seem to have much utility when we're dealing with the human body. The blood and guts that we think of as our body are really very transient, and those aspects of our selves that we regard as ethereal and hard to grasp-our spirit, our intelligence and so forth-are really what we are."

    Another participant, Delores Krieger, Ph.D., R.N., professor of nursing at New York University, teaches a technique of body energy manipulation, called "therapeutic touch," to lay people and health care providers, as well as masters and doctoral candidates at NYU's School of Nursing. Wearing a rose-quartz crystal around her neck, the chain tangled with other energy stones, she explained, "therapeutic touch" is really a contemporary interpretation of some very ancient healing practices. I've never looked at it as medical knowledge. Rather, it is knowledge about practices in health. What we are working with is the human energy field. This knowledge has always been there. It's a matter of recognizing it."

    Western, allopathic medicine continues to spiral toward a one-cause, one-treatment, drug-oriented approach to health care, which, given its track record with AIDS, is limited at best and fatal at worst. On the other hand, the Eastern, homeopathic, holistic and multi-factorial (viewing one disease as a combination of contributing factors) approach is offering more immediate case-by-case AIDS help. Alternative treatments are emerging, born from patients' sheer will to survive and sustained by a refusal to equate a diagnosis of AIDS with a death sentence.

    The Powers of Heart and Mind

    Statistics tell a lot, but a living energetic AIDS survivor can say the most about what is keeping him alive, and among long-term survivors, nearly all are employing one or more natural therapies, either exclusively or in conjunction with orthodox treatment. Fundamental to their survival is the active, willful decision to live healthily with AIDS, not die from it. That "self-empowerment" process is the single most common trait among survivors of AIDS and any other allegedly terminal illness. A new attitude, a new way of thinking can magically synthesize electro-chemical energies feeding new strength to a sick body. Such mind-over-matter thinking is old in Asian circles, but new on the cutting edge of modern clinical research.

    Dr. George Solomon, Professor of Psychiatry at UCLA, calls this mind/body and psychosocial/immune system's relationship to health, psychoneuroimmunology. "There are nerves which go directly to the thymus gland, which is the school for the education of T-cells (the white blood cells that attack foreign invaders), and to the spleen and bone marrow, so that there are a number of mechanisms by which the nervous system can influence the body's resistance system."

    Specific Therapies

    One AIDS survivor does nothing more to treat his illness than drink pure water and visualize it cleansing his being. He has survived for years on this mind nutrition. Others are taught to inwardly "see" their immune systems fighting the HIV, to visualize healing white light pouring over their body or to erase lesions from the body with the end of an imaginary pencil. Others are taught to draw pictures of their perceptions of the virus, and then translate those images into movement and dance, incorporating the entire body in the imagery exercise.

    George Melton, who has had AIDS since George Melton, who has had AIDS since 1984, shares the non-medical side with Upanishadic insight, "My healing grew out of my mind and heart, and my body simply reflected that, because you're not your body. It's just a vehicle you wear. You are the light and the life and the intelligence that animates it."

    At the Immune Fitness Center in Los Angeles, founder/director Shanti Kaur Khalsa, a devotee of Yogi Bhajan, explains her work, "The cardiovascular system has the heart to pump it. The lymphatic system has no such muscle. The way we move our bodies supplies that system its own pump, so I teach breathing and movement techniques designed to provide the lymphatic system that pump, and to relieve pressure on the spleen and the nodes." Each movement is combined with the breath and tied to mental attitude. "The body cannot be healthy if the mind is not relaxed."

    AIDS counselor and author Nick Bamforth in his book. Aids and the Healer Within, shows the connection between the endocrine system and the chakras (energy force fields subtly connected to spinal nerve ganglia). "The endocrine system is directly linked with nonphysical energy centers that are as real as the endocrine system. In the East-and even in ancient civilizations of the West-these chakras have always been the focal point of healing activity."

    The Chinese Contribution

    Inside the Quan Yin Acupuncture and Herb Center of San Francisco, the smell of incense softly wafts throughout this professional and busy hub of Oriental medicine. Thirty percent of its present work is with 200 people having AIDS-related illnesses. Founder and director of Quan Yin, Misha Cohen, C.A., O.M.D., has been exploring the imbalances of energy associated with AIDS, finding in traditional Chinese medicine reliable therapies for stress reduction, relief from symptoms and immuno-enhancement. Acupuncture stimulates and balances body energy, "Qi," by directing the flow of yin and yang along meridians-sort of a circulatory system for body energy. Needles can add, subtract or direct energy as needed. Through the practice of moxibustion, the burning of small amounts of the mugwart weed near the acupuncture points, energy can be infused. But Misha Cohen carefully clarified for HINDUISM TODAY that although her work is decidedly Oriental, "the Western approach is needed in AIDS-related life/death situations where you can use a drug to kill a specific micro-organism like pneumosystis. The Eastern approach," she feels, "doesn't get this specific."

    In Portland, Oregon, Dr. Subhuti Dharmananda, director of the Institute for Traditional Medicine and Preventive Health Care, is finding Chinese and Tibetan herbal therapies able to counteract the often toxic side effects of Western drug treatments like AZT, which, he explains, "causes certain side-effects, the main one being the depression of the production of blood cells. Chinese herbs and especially the [jelly-like material found in] deer antlers, help to restore the production of [white] cells and counteract the AZT." Tibetan doctors are also searching ancient Buddhist scriptures for clues in AIDS treatment. Recently, a highly secret compound consisting of 17 metals and minerals was produced under tight security and will be introduced as a therapy in the near future by the personal physician to the Dalai Lama.

    Disease: The Mystical View

    "Most medical researchers who study AIDS and people who contract the AIDS problem, will probably not examine this disease from a point of consciousness. This will only compound the problem," says author Guru Das in Gem Elixirs and Vibrational Healing, Volume I. "Someday it will be understood that the various viruses and bacteria that we spend years of research and money to isolate are only the result or expression of a problem that our soul presents to us to learn specific lessons in life. Almost all diseases are a teaching from our soul and higher self, with viruses and bacteria used as one vehicle to manifest these imbalances."

    Though Western medicine still powerfully guards its multi-million dollar hospital/health industry, its insurance/claims financial basis and strong popular loyalty. Eastern medicine is slowly and persistently winning acceptance, as it proves non-drug remedies are effective, eve


    While Western countries suffer with AIDS, Asian countries watch quietly. AIDS in this part of the world is foreign, a disease still of the West. But cases do occur. A recent report released by the Indian Council of Medical Research alarmingly alleged that 6% of Bombay's prostitutes is infected with viruses causing AIDS-triggering interest to invest millions of rupees in AIDS research. But subsequent analysis of their study showed that due to the "selective screening," the statistic was corrected and reduced to 1.5%. In fact, Indian scientist Dr. Guntaka of the University of Missouri is convinced, "The AIDS virus will not even kill 20 people in India each year, while half a million people are dying in India each year from preventable diseases." He believes India should not waste its precious medical research funds on AIDS research. Let the US do it.


    AIDS is Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. A weakened immune system, specifically low in T-lymphocytes, becomes susceptible to opportunistic infections which the body is unable to defend against. It is said AIDS doesn't kill anybody, the secondary infections do. AIDS is often defined as a list of other diseases, such as Kaposi sarcoma, cancer of the blood vessels, and pneumocystis carinii pneumonia, the most common cause of death among PWAs (persons with AIDS), as well as a host of viral, fungal or bacterial diseases. The current model of AIDS points to the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV, previously known as HTLV-3, LAV or ARV), a retrovirus which destroys the T-4 helper cell's ability to communicate with other cells, rendering the body defenseless. This model is being seriously challenged by both orthodox scientists and alternative health care providers, who view AIDS as a result of negative cofactors including self-abuse through drugs, diet, stress, promiscuous sex, tobacco and alcohol.

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