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From: Steve Harris <>
Subject: Re: HIV and vitamins (specifically vitamin C)
Date: 7 Jun 2005 11:59:30 -0700
Message-ID: <>

>>Anyone who disputes such a basic comonsensical concept like nutrition
being important in the management of infectious diseases needs to get
himself some basic education. <<


I wouldn't dispute the basic idea, though the devil is in the details.
For example, you can't just willy nilly supplement everybody with an
infection with everything. You don't want to give people with active
bacterial infections supplemental iron, for example. And there's a fair
literature to suggest that supplements of vitamin E are
immunostimulants to a point, and doses over that probably are mildly
immunosuppressive and antiinflammatory. Inflammation is bad for people
with arthritis, but it's a mixed bag for people with infections
(sometimes being good, sometimes bad-- you need it JUST right).  So it
may not be a good idea to load everybody with an infection up on the
max dose of every anti-inflammatory antioxidant vitamin you can think
of, either. And so on.


From: Steve Harris <>
Subject: Re: HIV and vitamins (specifically vitamin C)
Date: 7 Jun 2005 21:27:35 -0700
Message-ID: <>

>>As it stands, doctors almost completely ignore nutritional deficiencies
and the resultant effects on the patients health, their ability to
recover, and their ability to tolerate the various treatments, etc.<<


Sadly, I agree. It's a major deficit in the way medicine is practiced.
Until you'd made a valiant attempt to make sure your patient is
well-nourished, you shouldn't be messing about with drug treatment of
any chronic problem which can wait a bit. That's been a practice of
mine for decades.

>> In this area of basic nutrition, doctors are completely incompetent
and see no need to be any more competent than they are.<<


Here you will be surprised that I also agree. With the important
proviso that I see nobody out there much better.  Trained nutritionists
are somewhat better at devising diets which supply the essential
nutrients in reasonable quantities, but nutritionists, even the full
"metabolic team," spend little time in figuring out whether their
prescriptions actually do what is needed!  For most of these things
(half a hundred nutrients the body needs), there's no feedback!  A few
macronutrients (protein/nitrogen) are tracked, and a very few vitamins
(B12) and electrolytes routinely have blood levels measured, in
standard medicine. For the rest of it, we really have little good idea
what is the relationship between nutrients and disease, because the
interventive studies have not been done (due to lack of funding), and
the epidemiological studies provide data too complex to sort out.

But it's not like the alternative crowd measures these things, either!
And when they do, they do it in hair or something and it's complete
hokum. Yes, there's a large group of people thowing every nutrient you
can think of, at every problem you can think of. But they're not
measuring blood levels of appropriate vitamers (your chiropractor
getting 25-OH vitamin D levels-- no, I don't think so) or metabolic
markers either (this can get EXPENSIVE) and they're not collecting good
randomized prospective statistics on efficacy. So what they do is not
captured in scientific knowlege. It's impossible to tell if they do any
good. Some of them might be. Some of them surely aren't. But they work
in the dark with treatments they only half guess might be efficacious,
and there's not enough there to say whether it's a useful addition to
medicine or not.

Some nutritional therapies are beginning to see the light (long chain
w-3 treatment) and they provide a glimpse of things to come. But they
are few and far between, and embedded in an awful lot of voodoo. As an
often cited example, I've been seeing "alternative medicine" shoving
vitamin E down people for 25 years, now.   It doesn't work any better
now than it did then.  All we know after 25 years about vitamin E is
how much it does NOT work for many of the things it was most claimed to
work for (cardiovascular disease, aging). That's an example of
something all the alternative people "knew", and ridiculed doctors for
not knowing, which they really didn't know at all. "It ain't the things
you don't know that hurt you, so much as the things you know, that just
aren't so." (Josh Billings).


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