LARK LANDS is well-known for teaching an integrated approach to health for people living with chronic diseases, including HIV disease, hepatitis, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, Lyme disease, osteoporosis, and heart disease, and to those who are interested in an overall approach to aging well. She is a respected treatment expert on HIV and hepatitis, a contributing medical editor and writer for the American Academy of HIV Medicine, the Hepatitis C Caring Ambassadors Program, The Positive Side, CATIE’s Practical Guides, the www.AIDSmeds.com website, and the Houston Buyers Club, and a long-time treatment activist, journalist, and educator. As a pioneer in promoting an integrated approach to HIV/AIDS, her articles have been widely reprinted in AIDS newsletters and on websites.
Diagnosed with severe type 1 diabetes as a child, she always refused to accept the pessimistic prognoses of multiple physicians who predicted a greatly shortened life span, and instead reached out for information on an integrated approach to health. She worked to integrate the best that Western medicine has to offer with all the other components of a total approach to disease, things like boosting nutrition through healthy eating and nutrient supplementation, and energy therapies (like acupuncture and acupressure and EFT and Reiki and Touch for Health and Therapeutic Touch), and physical therapies (like chiropractic and massage and strength training exercise), and mind/body approaches (like stress reduction and meditation and visualization). The result has been that she not only outlived all those docs’ expectations but has done so in excellent shape with very little in the way of symptoms and no significant diabetic complications.
In the early days of the AIDS epidemic she started a nonprofit organization called Positive Immunity which ran one of the first support groups for living with HIV in the world. Since there were no antiretroviral drugs at the time, she brought in experts to teach the group members things that it was thought could both help support immune function and eliminate symptoms: nutrition, exercise, energy therapies, herbs, chiropractic, and other therapies from the world of integrated medicine. As more information accrued about the disease, it was incorporated into what the groups were taught. Through all the following years (more than two decades now) she worked with large numbers of people living with HIV and hepatitis to try to improve their health. There was almost no research back in the beginning on the topic of nutrient deficiencies as the cause of symptoms, but to Lark and the clinical nutritionists with whom she worked the clinical signs were all there. So with plenty of willing and miserable volunteers, they experimented and found ways to get rid of fatigue and skin problems and neuropathy and diarrhea and gas and bloating and nausea and muscle aches and sexual dysfunction and the rest of the endless list of things that made daily living so awful for so many.
She was delighted when papers were finally published, often many years later, showing what she had known all along: that nutrients could both slow HIV disease progression and eliminate symptoms. Although she always strongly points out that no one who understands HIV disease would ever say that there is any nutrient therapy that is a replacement for an effective antiretroviral drug combination, she thinks it is important for those in the field to take note of the multiple studies which have now shown that supporting the body with potent micronutrient supplements can at least help to maintain immune function and slow disease progression. Because she has long worked in Africa, she thinks this is crucially important for people in the developing world where drugs are not yet available to all those who need them since with appropriate nutrient supplementation it may be possible to help many people stay alive long enough for the drugs to become available. And in the developed world, where one of the biggest issues is drug side effects, the appropriate use of supplements may help to first delay the time when drugs become necessary, and then help to counter the drug side effects, and then improve the chances for people staying on an effective drug combination long-term, without the symptoms that could degrade quality of life.
Through all Lark’s years of working with people living with HIV disease she continued to add to her base of knowledge on all possible approaches to solving both the early symptoms experienced by many and all the problems that began occurring later: fears about liver problems, cardiac disease, diabetes, bone problems, and so on. In more recent years, she has worked on developing nutrient protocols for handling all of the above, both in people living with HIV and all others who are trying to prevent such diseases, or the complications that result from them.
As a diabetic who has always had to be concerned about the possible development of cardiac disease, she has long been appalled that there is so much information out there on how to help counter diabetic complications and heart disease in general and, yet, it is too often not taught to those who could greatly benefit from this knowledge. So she has put together information on ways to help maintain health and prevent the development or worsening of heart disease, diabetic complications, liver problems from hepatitis or other causes, and the damage from many long-term diseases including multiple sclerosis, Lyme disease, and others. Her fundamental belief is that when you give the body what it needs to help protect itself from the damage that such diseases cause, you can greatly help to prevent disease progression and the development of all the miserable symptoms that too many people experience.
Lark has also focused on the general problem of aging well in the belief that there are many things that can be done to help prevent the usual downhill slide of aging, and that no one should accept that it’s inevitable to have both physical and mental function decline to the point that life is a daily struggle. She believes strongly that there are many, many things that can be done to help people age gracefully and maintain a good quality of life well into old age.
Lark feels that in the medical climate of our time, with too many diseases too much emphasis is put on therapies to extend life, but far too little on those things that can make life better by eliminating miserable symptoms and drug side effects and long-term complications. The focus of her Symptoms, Side Effects, and Serious Conditions Series is to teach people the latter. Lark is the author of a number of e-books in this series, each of which contains comprehensive information on treatment approaches to common problems.
For many years a frequent speaker at international, national, state, and local conferences, she has presented keynote or plenary addresses to many large conferences in North America. She has also presented in-depth seminars on topics including an integrated approach to HIV disease, diabetes, heart disease, liver disease, Lyme disease, and healthy aging.
In recent years, Lark has spent considerable time working with an organization she co-founded called H.O.P.E.: Helping Orphans by Providing Empowerment. H.O.P.E. was created to link organizations in need of fund raising in North America to an economic upliftment project in Africa. H.O.P.E. hires and trains impoverished women with no job skills and no hope of finding work to earn a living making beaded jewelry which can then be sold in North America, raising funds along the way for the organizations involved, and ultimately using the profits to support orphans and other impoverished children who currently are slowly starving in an area where most of the population is living in abject poverty. The H.O.P.E. beaders work in groups doing the beading, and gain both mutual support from other group members and the wages that can be quite literally lifesaving for their families. The income they earn both directly supports the women and all the children in their care, and indirectly helps to lift the whole community out of poverty when that money is spent.
The concept that underlies the economic upliftment model is simple. The previously impoverished women making the jewelry are now earning money. So they can now buy bread and the baker profits. They can now buy clothes, and the seamstress profits. They can now buy food and the grocer profits. And on and on, with the initial income sending out ripples in a way that helps to improve the future of the whole community, giving them all hope for a brighter tomorrow. Since education in this part of the world is normally only possible for those with money to pay for school fees and uniforms, the future of these women’s children is also made brighter since they can now afford to pay those costs and give their children the education that can help to permanently lift them out of poverty.
Lark co-founded H.O.P.E. with Liza Rossi, the founder and director of Ekukhanyeni (www.ekukhanyeni.org), the Home of Light and Hope, a registered charity (a non-governmental organization or NGO) in Gauteng Province, South Africa, that provides nutritional support to over 600 orphans and other vulnerable children through the development of permaculture gardens and the distribution of nutrient supplements. Lark and Liza met in South Africa when Lark was invited there to present information on HIV nutrition at a conference and they discovered their mutual passion for helping the women and children trapped in such terrible circumstances. After many years of working with people living with HIV disease and the children who have been orphaned by the disease, these two women came to believe that a better idea was needed to truly help orphans and other impoverished children and women. They believe that H.O.P.E. is that idea.
It is their belief that this is a model for the future. Instead of the old-fashioned idea that relief organizations have to give a never-ending stream of donations to help those living in poverty, the H.O.P.E. model truly helps to end poverty for these communities. The profits made by selling the jewelry is used by H.O.P.E. to support Ekukhanyeni. For more information on H.O.P.E., go to: www.hopebeads.org.