The HHV-6 Viral Menace
Fifteen years after the onset of AIDS, I was treating a forty-year-old male who was HIV positive and hospitalized at the time for a suicidal depression. There was much controversy and misinformation about AIDS when the epidemic started. At first, people who received an HIV-positive diagnosis were “given eighteen months to live.” Homosexual men were thought to be the only population affected by this new illness.
AIDS survivor, Louis Nassaney, was still winning international body-building competitions fourteen years after he was first diagnosed. Eventually he succumbed to the illness. These exceptions to the rule were largely ignored. I understood a bit about Nassaney, who was very health conscious, nutrition conscious and aware of the importance of attitude and emotion. But my patient, whom I'll call Eddie, didn't live or think like Nassaney. I asked him why he thought he was still alive. He replied, “I've lost all my friends to AIDS. Everyone is dead. I have done everything to encourage AIDS. I go to bars, drink a lot, smoke, and eat junk food. I am trying to die. Everyone is gone. But I just don't get sick with AIDS.” Eddie, in fact, was strong as an ox. HIV had done very little to harm him. In 2004, I think I understand why.
This article is primarily about HHV-6 (human herpes virus 6), discovered in 1986 by Dr. Robert Gallo, who also was the co-discoverer of HIV. When I tell patients with CFS or MS that I want to have them tested for HHV-6, they usually think I am talking about herpes simplex, the cause of oral-genital herpes. I'm not. HHV-6 is one of 7 Herpes viruses, including: herpes simplex 1 and 2, varicella-zoster virus, cytomegalovirus, Epstein-Barr virus, HHV-6, and HHV-7. As we will see, HHV-6 weakens the immune system, attacks the nervous system, and is directly linked to chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalopathy (CFS/ME), fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis (MS), and AIDS. Like the other viruses in the herpes family, HHV-6 does a lot of tissue damage before the immune system can get the infection or outbreak under control.
There are many people who are HIV positive who don't get sick. And there are many people with AIDS who are HIV negative. That's right. They have AIDS but do not have HIV. Very curious.
It turns out that HHV-6 interacts with other viruses in the herpes family and also with HIV. Interestingly, HHV-6 was first identified in AIDS patients. Sixty-five percent of AIDS patients have lymph nodes that are infected with HHV-6. At the time of death in AIDS patients, HHV-6 is widely distributed throughout the body tissues. Researcher Dr. Konstance Knox has found that HHV-6 is capable of breaking a latency phase of HIV positive status, instigating a progression from an asymptomatic state to full-blown AIDS. As far as the difference in potency between HIV and HHV-6 goes, HHV-6 is much more efficient at damaging the immune system and the brain than is HIV. HHV-6 is extremely “lytic,” meaning that it splits, cuts up, and destroys cells.
This highly controversial information has been researched since 1986. HHV-6 catalyzes HIV. Each virus secretes products that help the other virus grow faster. They are a team when it comes to AIDS. AIDS cancer, in particular Kaposi Sarcoma, is directly related to HHV-6. In the absence of HHV-6, AIDS patients rarely develop Kaposi Sarcoma.
I began researching HHV-6 due to its association with CFS/ME and multiple sclerosis. But the AIDS story caught my attention. I began to understand why Eddie defied the odds, carrying HIV for fifteen years without any symptoms. It is unlikely that Eddie also carried HHV-6. It is also probable that Eddie had great genetics in terms of the immune system. HHV-6 also began to explain the illness that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) labeled “Idiopathic CD4+ T-lymphocytopenia,” or ICL. The diagnosis is so hard to pronounce and remember that it's actually a good choice. If the public is supposed to remain in the dark about non-HIV AIDS, ICL is a good start for the CDC. On the less conspiratorial side, maybe they're just terribly unpoetic people. ICL is “non-HIV AIDS” or AIDS patients in whom HIV is not present. ICL is almost certainly “HHV-6 AIDS.” The fact that non-HIV AIDS even exists and is acknowledged should be a major media event, a major medical discovery, and a cause for more research dollars. If the general public knew that non-HIV AIDS existed, much doubt would be cast on medical, governmental, and pharmaceutical company dollars spent on AIDS research. But money does play a role in healthcare that is frightening.
To return for a moment to the CFS/ME — AIDS link, it is most interesting that a study done seven years ago showed that the quality of life for a person with severe CFS/ME is equivalent to an AIDS patient two months away from death. The fact that researchers chose to research CFS/ME and AIDS, side-by-side, is interesting.
The movie, What the Bleep Do We Know? gave a few cameo appearances to Dr. Candace Pert, a major AIDS researcher. Pert, one of the great minds of our day, can knowledgeably talk about cell biology, receptor sites, endorphins, the biology of yogis, and the nature of Universal Consciousness — all in once sentence. In “What the Bleep” she was not given the attention she deserves and that we need to hear. I had the good fortune of spending time with Dr. Pert in 1996. At age 27 she discovered the endorphin receptor site, for which she should have earned a Nobel Prize, but the prize was taken out of her hands by her Ph.D. supervisor who claimed credit for the prize. Pert, upon learning of this “theft” told her former supervisor she was going to blow the whistle. He said, “Now, Candace, honey, just settle down.” She didn't settle down and no one won the Nobel Prize for this great discovery. That discovery opened the door to the entire field of receptor sites. Many pharmaceutical companies base their research on Pert's work, looking for drugs that work on various receptor sites.
Pert moved on to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), where she did AIDS research. Pert created a compound called “Peptide T,” which blocked the AIDS receptor site so that HIV could not bind to that site. Peptide T is a string of six amino acids, three of which are Threonine, hence the name. Peptide T showed great promise in helping AIDS patients. When she went to her superiors at the NIH and asked for additional funding for her research, they stonewalled her and refused. She was shocked and asked why they would not support her research. The reply was, “Candace, our money is behind AZT.” Against strong admonitions Pert went to the press with the story and was fired from NIH as a result. Eventually, she was able to raise the funds to build her own company, called “Peptide T,” which is doing well. Pert's work with Peptide T is over and she has moved on from the company she founded. This bit of medical research heroism needs to be acknowledged.
CFS and Fibromyalgia
To complicate our story, over time two types of HHV-6 have been discovered — type A and B. HHV-6A is responsible for its role in AIDS. It also probably causes many cases of CFS/ME and fibromyalgia (FM). HHV-6B is much less dangerous. When you combine type A and B, you find that a sizable, but debatable percentage (30 — 79 percent) of CFS/ME patients test positive for HHV-6, and it is highly likely that it causes the illness for many sufferers. One study showed that 22 percent of CFS/ME patients are infected with HHV –6A. Those who carry HHV-6A are much sicker than those who carry HHV-6B. I test all patients with CFS/ME for HHV-6 as well as cytomegalovirus, and Epstein-Barr virus, all of which can cause or contribute to CFS/ME and FM. HHV-6 is not sexually transmitted, but is most likely transmitted via saliva. I have just found a lab that can distinguish HHV-6A from HHV-6B, which will be clinically very helpful.
Like Epstein-Barr virus, most of the population carries HHV-6, in one form or another. By six months of age, 90 percent of us have picked up the virus, and most of us will go through life with the virus doing nothing at all. Most of us are carrying type B, not A. It is when we become immuno-compromised, when our immune system dramatically weakens, that HHV-6 becomes quite active. Once it is active, HHV-6 becomes cross-reactive with several other viruses, including CMV, EBV, and HIV. In other words it is much more dangerous in the company of one of these other herpes viruses and also with HIV.
HHV-6 does its damage by infecting white blood cell called “CD4+ T-lymphocytes,” and “Natural Killer” Cells (NK). It kills NK cells. Following infection, HHV-6 can remain dormant for decades, but it can also quietly infect the brain and all nerve cells, along with kidneys, and endothelium (the inner lining of arteries). When HHV-6 becomes active, it grows quickly within white blood cells, which burst, spreading the virus throughout the body where more cells become infected. I use ImmunoScience Laboratory in the Los Angeles area to test for HHV-6. They perform two sub-tests. If a person has elevated IgM antibodies, it means that they have acute HHV-6 infection. If they have elevated IgG antibodies, they have had an infection in the past. By using a specialty lab, we are able to track a person's progress in treatment, measuring the exact levels of IgM and the exact level of current activity of the virus within us.
MS and More
HHV-6A is one of the main causes of multiple sclerosis (MS), if not the main cause. At autopsy, people with MS have high concentrations of HHV-6 at the site of MS brain lesions. In a small study by Dr. Konstance Knox, 17 of 19 patients (89%) were found to have high concentrations of HHV-6A in areas of the brain where the lining of nerves, the myelin sheath, had been destroyed. HHV-6A first attacks myelin, and then the body gets confused and, in an autoimmune response, continues to attack nerves. The Wisconsin Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society said that, “Although the number of people in this (Knox's) study was small, the findings offer intriguing evidence for possible association of HHV-6 with MS.”
It should not be a surprise that people with CFS/ME often have symptoms quite similar to people with MS. People with CFS/ME think there is something seriously wrong with them. They're right. It is possible that for some people with HHV-6, the virus settles primarily in the brain, causing MS, and in others, most of the virus is present throughout the body, causing CFS/MS. There is a range of brain abnormalities caused by HHV-6A, from the large lesions of MS to subtler findings. CFS/ME researcher Dr. Paul Cheney has documented the MRI findings. MS and CFS/ME show nearly identical brain MRI scans. Furthermore, CFS/ME shows similar brain SPECT scans to people with AIDS dementia. Fifty to sixty percent of CFS/ME patients have abnormal SPECT scans or MRI's. Many of those with normal brain scans still show marked organic brain problems. HHV-6 is associated with Parkinson's disease, meningitis, encephalitis, and is likely to be showing up in association with a number of other nervous system and immune system problems.
While this article has focused on HHV-6's affect on the brain and immune system, it also can infect lung, heart, bone marrow, liver, kidney, spleen, skeletal muscle, adrenal glands, pancreas, thyroid, and the lining of arteries, including the largest artery, the aorta. It can cause hepatitis and fatal liver disease as well as fatal lung disease. HHV-6 in conjunction with HPV (human papilloma virus) is suspected in cervical cancer. HHV-6 is associated with transplant rejections, especially bone marrow transplants.
Children are not immune from HHV-6. Twenty to thirty percent of first febrile (due to fever) seizures in children are caused by HHV-6. HHV-6 is also associated with Hodgkin's lymphoma, acute lymphocytic leukemia, and sarcoidosis.
One way that HHV-6 and Epstein-Barr virus cause illness is by thickening the blood ever so slightly, a state called “hypercoagulation.” Hypercoagulation accomplishes two things for the virus. First, when the blood is thicker, it is more difficult for our immune system to suppress these viruses. Viruses thrive in thicker blood. Second, thicker blood prevents maximum delivery of oxygen and nutrients at the cellular level. Hemex Laboratory in Arizona specializes in coagulation studies. The test recommended for CFS and other viral related illnesses is their ISAC test. There are several ways to thin the blood if hypercoagulation is diagnosed, including low dose heparin.
I don't write about anything for the purpose of scaring people. I write to educate and then propose solutions. Here is a beginning.
1.Various anti-viral drugs have been tried with HHV-6. Ampligen, which is still in clinical trials, is clearly the best medication. In CFS/ME in which HHV-6 is clearly present, treatment with Ampligen is very successful. Ampligen works by preventing HHV-6 from escaping from cells. Another anti-viral, Gangcyclovir, is often effective very early on in HHV-6 infection.
2. Amino Acids. L-lysine in the range of 1,000 mg 3 times a day slows down viral growth, while arginine can accelerate viral growth. L-arginine is an essential amino acid, which we cannot do without. Its pro-viral properties are largely balanced and negated by L-lysine.
3. Sunlight speeds up the growth of viruses.
4. Stress is proving to be a big factor in worsening viral infections. So learning stress reduction is not just a nice thing to do if one has HHV-6. It is essential. People with CFS/ME often have a problem with their hypothalamus, pituitary, and adrenal glands in which the stress response is reversed. When healthy people are stressed, their adrenals release cortisol into the blood. People with CFS/ME, when stressed, have the opposite adrenal response. Cortisol is not released, or even decreases, in the face of stress, which is why most people with CFS cannot work. We require more cortisol to handle stress. The normal stress-cortisol relationship falls apart in CFS, and therefore minor stress can cause a flare-up. It is possible that HHV-6 is infecting the hypothalamus, which in turn can drastically alter normal function of the adrenal glands. It's one hypothesis.
5. Transfer Factor. This product was patented in 1989 and is made from concentrated cow colostrum (tested to be free from Mad Cow Disease). Cows are exposed to almost everything humans are exposed to. They make antibodies to viruses and bacteria, which are expressed in the milk and concentrated in colostrum. Transfer factor is concentrated colostrum. The first transfer factor product had antibodies to 150 different kinds of pathogens. In the mid-1990's, products were developed that have specific action against a particular virus. For example, transfer factor 360 is targeted against HHV-6, while transfer factor 340 is targeted against Epstein-Barr virus. This product is essential in treating HHV-6, although it can take 3 to 6 months to start seeing benefits and 12 months to reach maximal benefit. You can find various transfer factors at www.immunesupport.com.
6. Ozone, which is a form of oxygen (O 3 rather than O 2 ), should be part of everyone's treatment for HHV-6, CFS/ME, and FM. To my knowledge, there are just a couple of centers in the country that offer ozone, as the government is not user-friendly with this treatment modality. I have worked with CFS/ME patients who flew to Toronto, Canada for several weeks of ozone therapy. One individual went there several times in one year. Ozone proved to be extremely helpful in her overall treatment plan. Ozone plus nutritional therapy cured her of a bad case of CFS/ME. I cannot personally vouch for any ozone clinic, including those in Mexico.
7.Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (I recommend the Whitaker Wellness Institute in Newport Beach) can be of assistance in multiple sclerosis and other neurological diseases. It is probably less effective in treating CFS/ME, even though both can be caused or exacerbated by HHV-6. To complete the MS story — Mercury in the brain as well as a spirochetal bacteria are also implicated in MS.
8. Immune System Boosters. When you boost your immune system, it becomes unlikely that HHV-6 can become active or that you can be infected with it. Similarly, if you have one of the illnesses described in this article, boosting your immune system could be quite helpful. This topic is too broad to devote a lot of time to. Green products, such as spirulina, chlorella, and super blue green algae support the immune system, as does Vitamin C. Glutathione is an important molecule in our immune system. It can be boosted by N-acetyl cysteine as well as what are called “un-denatured whey proteins,” such as ImmunePro or Metagenics' Biologically Pure Protein. These products not only directly increase glutathione, they also improve general immune system function, including raising natural killer cell levels. The mineral selenium supports glutathione production.
9. Identify other infections, such as candida and parasites. By treating these, you boost your immune system (as well as doing away with dozens of symptoms), and make it harder for HHV-6 to thrive.
The exploration of HHV-6 and AIDS has been an interesting journey for me. Ten years ago a colleague of mine, a fellow M.D., told me he was absolutely convinced that HIV did not cause AIDS. I thought he was a bit out of touch with reality. Turns out I was wrong, and while the AIDS story has not yet been fully told, I no longer believe that HIV is the one and only cause of this worldwide epidemic.
Note: Dr. David Gersten recently changed his name from Dennis Gersten. Don't miss his Free Lecture on “Ten Steps to Attaining Optimal Health” Wednesday, November 10 th . See ad on page 13. David Gersten, M.D. practices nutritional medicine and psychiatry out of his Encinitas office and can be reached at 760-633-3063. Access more than 1,000 pages of on-line health information at www.aminoacidpower.com.
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First I want to comment on how great you look for your age. (I'm looking at your photo on the latest edition of your book You Can Heal Your Life.) My question: I do notice that healing does take time, and I'm noticing that life is improving, but is there an additional affirmation to help me leave my current place of employment more quickly? My family is in the process of moving to Florida, and I'm a single woman who lives with no roommates other than a cat. I'm very creative, and now actively looking to leave my situation. Any advice and support would help.
N.T. , Bangor, Maine
Thank you for your kind words. I do my best to live what I teach and to take good care of my body. I'm careful not to eat things that aren't life-enhancing for me.
So, you want to leave your current job on the best of terms. When you get a new job, it will be something batter than what you have now if you do this: Flood everything about the job with love; and bless the building with love, all the offices, all the furniture, all the equipment, and most of all, your employer. Just send love to each and every part. Even bless with love the transportation you use to get to work. If there are customers involved, bless them, too.
Then affirm: There is a wonderful new job looking for me in Florida. This employer is looking for exactly what I have to offer. They will be delightful, kind people to work for and will pay me a good salary. I deserve it, and I accept it now!
My dear mum has always been depressed and is a big worrier. I can see myself in her, but that's not who I want to be. How can I stop myself from becoming my mum?
I'm glad that you noticed that the depression and worry is only a thought pattern. Now, every time you find yourself thinking like your mother, just say to yourself: That is my mum thinking, not me. I am a cheerful, optimistic person, and I know that Life loves me and will always take care of me. All is well, and I am safe.
There's been a huge change in me in terms of my outlook on life and personality since reading your books. Everyone at work has commented that I have this glow that's very positive—and I've quit smoking! Now that was an achievement. My cigarettes were my life, and now I don't need them.
There's a downside to my story, though, regarding finances. I'm a single mom of one child whom I'm very blessed to have, but I just can't attract the finances I need to survive. I'm always without money—literally without. My child's father has a habit of not supporting his child unless I phone and beg, but I'm so tired of begging, and so tired of being without and always looking for help. I've run out of people and places to go to for help. Please tell me how to love myself so that I can bring prosperity into my life.
B.I., South Africa
Congratulations on your progress so far! If you can change one pattern, you can change any pattern. Make a list of all the negative things your parents said about money, such as “Money doesn't grow on trees,” or “There's never enough,” or “Money is hard to get.” As children, we believe what our parents say and get stuck in their patterns. You need to forgive them and move on. It's time to create your own beliefs.
Let's create some new beliefs for you. Affirm: My income is constantly increasing. I prosper wherever I turn. My child is always well taken care of. There's plenty for both of us. Money comes in expected and unexpected ways. I relax and allow Life to take care of both of us. New employment comes to me in the most unusual way. I love and adore myself, and I am pleased and proud of who I am.
If you would like Louise to answer your letter in this publication, please send it to: Dear Louise Column, c/o Hay House, Inc., P.O. Box 5100, Carlsbad, CA 92018-5100, or e-mail your letter to: firstname.lastname@example.org (letters used in this column may be edited for length and clarity). Please visit Louise's Website at: www.LouiseHay.com or the Hay House Website at: www.hayhouse.com.
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