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Orthomolecular Medicine News Service

HIV Depletes Body of Selenium and Three Amino Acids

(OMNS, April 26, 2006) New clinical reports from Zambia, Uganda and South Africa indicate that AIDS may be stopped by nutritional supplementation. A number of members of the medical profession have observed that high doses of the trace element selenium, and of the amino acids cysteine, tryptophan, and glutamine can together rapidly reverse the symptoms of AIDS, as predicted by Dr. Harold D. Foster's nutritional hypothesis. (1)

These nutrients are necessary for the human body to produce the enzyme glutathione peroxidase. This enzyme is strongly antiretroviral (it is an antagonist of reverse transcriptase) and can greatly reduce HIV replication. Unfortunately, HIV has developed the ability to compete with the body for these four nutrients because shortages of them allow its more effective replication. Specifically, HIV has a gene that allows it to produce an analogue of glutathione peroxidase.

Diets high in selenium, cysteine, tryptophan and glutamine seem to have two major benefits for AIDS patients:

1) They replace these four nutrients in the body, correcting the deficiencies HIV has caused. AIDS is what we call these combined deficiency symptoms.

2) High levels of these four key nutrients push up the body's glutathione peroxidase levels, making it much more difficult for HIV to replicate. This enzyme also beneficially interferes with the replication of Hepatitis B and C. Nutritionally treated patients are still HIV-positive, but seem to generally remain in good health unless they start to eat a diet that once again is poor in one or more of these nutrients. If this occurs, glutathione peroxidase levels fall, HIV begins to be replicated and the AIDS cycle begins again.

Some countries or regions, like Senegal and Bolivia, have been very fortunate. Their bedrock is naturally elevated in selenium and their diets are normally high in the three amino acids. As a result, they are rarely infected by HIV. Others, like Finland, have wisely mandated the addition of selenium to their fertilizers, with similar results. In contrast, some regions like Kwazulu Natal have bedrock and soils that contain little selenium and diets are poor in one or more of the key nutrients. For example, corn (maize) is low in both selenium and tryptophan. As a result, populations eating a great deal of corn are easy to infect with HIV and die very quickly of its associated nutritional deficiencies (AIDS).

To halt AIDS, to stop HIV from replicating, the needed nutrient levels are high. Selenium, for example, is taken at several times the commonly recommended daily allowance for the first month. Dosage is considered in more detail in "What Really Causes AIDS." (2) This book is available for free reading and downloading at .

What is Orthomolecular Medicine?

Linus Pauling defined orthomolecular medicine as "the treatment of disease by the provision of the optimum molecular environment, especially the optimum concentrations of substances normally present in the human body." Orthomolecular medicine uses safe, effective nutritional therapy to fight illness. For more information:

The peer-reviewed Orthomolecular Medicine News Service is a non-profit and non-commercial informational resource.

Editorial Review Board:

Abram Hoffer, M.D., Ph.D.
Harold D. Foster, Ph.D.
Bradford Weeks, M.D.
Carolyn Dean, M.D. N.D.
Erik Paterson, M.D.
Thomas Levy, M.D., J.D.
Steve Hickey, Ph.D.

Andrew W. Saul, Ph.D., Editor. Email:


1. Foster HD. How HIV-1 causes AIDS: Implications for prevention and treatment," Medical Hypotheses, Vol. 62(4), p 549-553, 2004.

2. Foster HD. What really causes AIDS. Victoria, BC: Trafford, 2002. Free download at .

For further reading:

"HIV/AIDS: a nutrient deficiency disease," Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine, 2005, Vol. 20(2), p 67-69.
Environmental factors and the pathogenesis of selenium-CD-4 cell tailspin in AIDS. Chinese Journal of AIDS and STD, Vol. 10(5), p 390-392,402 2004.

AIDS and the selenium-CD4T cell tailspin," World Journal of Infection, Vol. 3(6), p 456-459, 2003.
Micronutrients in pathogenesis and treatment of AIDS," Foreign Medical Sciences: Section of Medgeography, Vol. 24(2), p 49-53, 2003.

Why HIV-1 has diffused so much more rapidly in Sub-Saharan Africa than in North America. Medical Hypotheses, Vol. 60(4), p 611-614, 2003.

"How HIV-1 kills: Implications for the treatment and prevention of AIDS. Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients, No. 255, p 76-78, 2002.

"Aids and the 'selenium - CD4T cell tailspin': the geography of a pandemic," Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients, No. 209, p 94-99, 2000.

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1 Comment

I have used these nutrients since 2003 and have recovered from chronic hepatitis C of over 25 years duration caused by HCV.
E. W. Taylor and Foster state that HCV also encodes for glutathione peroxidase, as do many other new ("emergent") viruses (most, perhaps all).
I was not aware of Foster's hypothesis in 2003 and chose selenium and cysteine to elevate glutathione, 5-HTP to feel better and sleep well.
By 2007 my LFT enzymes were all normal and all of the classic CHC symptoms were gone. I am still PCR positive for HCV. Other important factors in my recovery: alpha lipoic acid, ascorbic acid, chromium, magnesium. Reduce excess iron, avoid alcohol, etc.
Without selenium symptoms recur within days, without amino acids they are less severe initially but still unpleasant.

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