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The Magic of Selenium

Walt Woods and Mardi Gieseler

We are taking a slight detour from reporting on subtle energy as related to healing in order to present some very interesting research on nutrition.
At the Canadian Society of Questor’s Conference in 100-Mile House the keynote speaker was Dr. Harold Foster, University of Victoria Professor of Geography. He gave one of the most astounding lectures we have heard in a long time. He is a medical geographer who looks geographically where diseases occur, or do not occur, and studies the reasons why.

AIDS: A Nutritional Disease

In his research, Dr. Foster noted that AIDS is epidemic in most sub-Saharan African countries except one, Senegal.  Why would Senegal have such a low AIDS rate (1-2%) when in all of the surrounding countries it is so high, sometimes in excess of 25% of the population?  After many years of research, Dr. Foster has evidence that a deficiency of the trace-mineral selenium and three amino acids can cause all of the symptoms of AIDS, with or without the HIV virus.  In sub-Saharan Africa, only Senegal has abundant selenium in the soil and water and adequate nutrition (amino acids).

These nutrients are not a cure for HIV infection. However, research studies found that high doses of selenium and the three amino acids (cysteine, glutamine, and tryptophan) given to AIDS patients, some bed ridden, eliminated most of the AIDS symptoms.  Sometimes in as little as two or three weeks patients were symptom free and some  returned to work in as little as one month.

Dr. Foster now has ongoing studies in Uganda and Zambia to study the effects of selenium and these three amino acids on large numbers of AIDS patients. Recently Dr. Foster wrote about a double-blind clinical study; “The news from the Ugandan 300 patient trial is very good. Many are recovering rapidly.”

Why Does HIV Infection Become AIDS?

Selenium and the three amino acids are necessary for the body to produce  glutathione peroxidase which is essential for the human immune system to be healthy, and is also important for many other vital body functions.  Research  indicates that the HIV virus needs selenium and the three amino acids in order to make viral proteins.  The HIV virus is very good at robbing these vital nutrients from the human body it has infected, leaving the body malnourished.  Thus, infection with HIV leaves the human body with a depressed immune system. Unless there is a replacement of nutrients, it leaves the body unable to fight off infection with the opportunistic diseases which characterize AIDS.

Cancer and Other Diseases

HIV I and II are not the only viruses that rob these nutrients from the human body. The viruses of Hepatitis A, B, and C, Coxsackie B (thought to be responsible for ¼ of heart attacks ),  and other viruses  (which encode for a glutathione peroxidase) leave the human body  depleted of the necessary nutrients to keep the immune system healthy and functional.  Selenium deficiency is also implicated in many cancers, thyroid malfunction, senility, and depression.  Some researchers have estimated that as many as 1/3 of the patients in hospitals for depression are simply selenium deficient.

In the 1970’s and 80’s before many of us had even heard of HIV/AIDS, researchers were studying the relationship of selenium deficiency to cancer.  Dr. Foster noted that Senegal, the African country with such high levels of selenium and low rates of HIV/AIDS infection, is also one of the lowest places on earth for cancer.

In one cancer study by P.D. Whanger, patients were given 200 mcg/day of selenium for 4.5 years with a 6.4 year follow up.  Selenium supplementation not only reduced cancer mortality, but also decrease total mortality.  The significant reductions in cancer  mortality were: prostate cancer 64%, colorectal cancer 58%, and lung cancer 46%. (P.D. Whanger, Selenium and its Relationship to Cancer: an Update, British Journal of Nutrition, 200491, 11-28.)

The Disease Belt

In China, there is a large area from the northeast to the southwest that is called the “Disease Belt”. The Chinese government added selenium  to the soils, table salt, and animal feed-stocks  and subsequently found a significant reduction in Hepatitis B and C and Keshan’s disease (a heart disease caused by Coxsackie B virus).  In one study of 21,000 people given selenium in their table salt, the hepatitis infection rate dropped more than 50%.

Selenium Bio-availability

We get our necessary amount of selenium from the foods that we eat or from supplementation.  Food grown on selenium-deficient soil and animals fed selenium-deficient food-stocks are contributing to a decrease in selenium in the food chain.

Atmospheric pollution in the rainfall, such as mercury and sulfur, combine with selenium to form insoluble compounds which are unavailable to plants and animals.

In recent years acid rain has changed the pH of the soil decreasing the bio-availability of selenium. Soil acidification lowers the abundance of selenium in the global food chain which may be contributing to the rapid rise of cancers and HIV/AIDS.

Toxic Levels of Selenium

Many people think that selenium is highly toxic. While an overdose is possible, a healthy person needs about 200 mcg/day, however  an HIV infected individual may need 10 times that amount for a while to bring selenium to a healthy level.  The first indications of toxicity are garlic breath and yellow finger nails which occur in some people at about 900 mcg/day.

We have tried to make a very complicated subject readable for most everyone. We have only  touched the tip of the iceberg concerning the health effects of selenium and the three amino acids, as well as the environmental reasons of why selenium is being depleted in the food chain world wide.  If you are interested in more information there are many sources on the Internet.

More Information

Dr. Foster has a web site where three of his books are available to buy or FREE to download.  Look at www.hdfoster.com for “What Really Causes AIDS”, “What Really Causes Alzheimer’s”, and “What Really Causes Schizophrenia”. He is now working on a book which will probably be out in April 2006, “What Really Causes Multiple Sclerosis”.

For the dowsers, remember to use your Hormesis Curve found in the back of “Letter To Robin, A Mini-Course in Pendulum Dowsing” available from ORI.


Reprint with permission from Journal of The Ozark Research Institute, Volume 11, No. 1