Treating HPV Symptoms with Natural Remedies

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Learn about managing HPV symptoms with natural remedies.
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Q and A expert Jill Stansbury.
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Q and A expert Terry Willard.

When treating HPV symptoms use a soothing sitz bath with natural remedies, including calendula, witch hazel and oak bark.

Read more about how to treat type 2 diabetes naturally: Managing Type 2 Diabetes with Natural Remedies.

Treating HPV Symptoms with Natural Remedies

I was recently diagnosed with cervical dysplasia, which I
attained through the sexually transmitted human papilloma virus
(HPV). I will be having surgery next month to remove the growth
from my cervix. However, my doctor has advised me that there is no
cure for HPV, and that I will more than likely have recurrences
where I’ll need to repeat the surgery. I was wondering if there are
any herbs or supplements to help ensure that the virus becomes
dormant.
T.M.
Brooklyn, New York

Stansbury responds: There are more than 60
types of HPV; some infect the skin, causing common warts, and
around one-third of the HPV types may be spread sexually and cause
venereal warts. Some types of HPV may infect the cervix and be
associated with an increased risk of reproductive cancer. Because
of this, HPV is best treated aggressively and followed with
frequent Pap smears to check for possible recurrences.

The propensity to develop cervical dysplasia from such viruses
may be more likely in women who smoke or whose diets are low in B
vitamins or antioxidant nutrients, which easily are added to the
diet. A further risk appears to occur in those with multiple sexual
partners. I advise checking vaginal pH, taking probiotics (such as
acidophilus and lactobacillus) and treating any other obvious
pathogens, such as yeast.

Do you frequently have other viruses, such as sore throats,
frequent colds or flus? If so, supporting your immune system with
astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus), echinacea (Echinacea spp.),
American ginseng or garlic also may be helpful. Is the HPV
associated with any vaginal discharge, frequent itching, bladder
problems or history of abnormal Pap smears? If so, a problem with
the health of the genitourinary membranes may be involved, and
using sitz baths with calendula (Calendula officinalis), witch
hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) and oak bark (Quercus spp.), plus
reducing sugar intake and improving the diet, can help.

If constipation, hemorrhoids, uterine fibroids or menstrual
problems accompany, the pelvic tissues and blood vessels may be
“stagnant” or congested and supportive to viruses in the local
mucous membranes. If so, exercise to support your circulation, and
consider blood-moving herbs, such as dong quai (Angelica sinensis),
or liver herbs, such as dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) and Oregon
grape.

In addition to the B and antioxidant vitamins mentioned above,
vitamin C, zinc and lysine are among the common nutrients noted to
have antiviral activity and deter the recurrence of chronic
viruses. Optimizing your diet and supplementing with these
nutrients may help prevent a recurrence.

Licorice root (Glycyrrhiza glabra) preparations also have been
shown to possess antiviral activity. Licorice is widely used in
herbal medicine—its actions are numerous and diverse, including
anti-inflammatory, immune-enhancing and hormonal balancing. Make
licorice tea by boiling 1 teaspoon of the shredded root per cup of
water for 5 to 10 minutes; strain and drink.

Willard responds: A lot of people are coming to
the clinic with this issue lately. The first, and one of the most
important things to note about HPV, is that you are not alone. HPV
is very common and many people have contracted this virus. There
are more cases of genital HPV infection than any other sexually
transmitted disease in the United States. At least 20 million
people in this country are already infected. This is not to make
light of HPV. Finding and treating tissue infected with this virus
can prevent cervical cancer.

HPV causes two kinds of abnormal tissue: condyloma (warts) and
dysplasia (precancer). In your case it’s dysplasia—abnormal cells
on the surface of the skin. Dysplasia is not cancer, but may turn
into cancer over a period of years if it’s not treated. Treatment
gets rid of dysplasia so that the tissue cannot turn into cancer.
Most HPV infections do not progress to cervical cancer. Abnormal
cervical cells can be detected by a Pap test and regular pelvic
exams; therefore, it’s very important to get regular
examinations.

One of the most important lifestyle choices with dysplasia is to
abstain from smoking, as smoking has been linked to an increased
risk of dysplasia turning cancerous.

Once HPV has been diagnosed, one of the first steps is to remove
or reduce the warts and dysplasia. It looks like you already have a
plan for this. But as stated by your doctor, this is not a cure.
Most authorities agree you cannot rid the body of the virus and
thus the recurrence of the associated warts may occur in the
future. If they do return, there are several alternatives to
surgery. Medically, freezing (cryosurgery), burning
(electrocautery) and laser treatment have all been used to remove
smaller warts.

Medical and naturopathic doctors often apply a 20 percent
podophyllin solution or podofilox (0.5 percent solution) to the
affected areas. If you are pregnant, you should not use podophyllin
or podofilox.

Orally, you can try homeopathic thuja (30 x strength) to reduce
the warts. Add to this immune-building herbs—such as echinacea,
astragalus, and shiitake (Lentinula edodes) and reishi (Ganoderma
lucidum
) mushrooms—and vitamin C (1 to 3 grams), beta-carotene
(25,000 to 100,000 I.U.), folic acid (1 to 10 grams) and zinc (30
to 50 mg).

The lifestyle changes that should be employed to help prevent
warts/dysplasia from recurring are similar to any healthy immune
program. Eliminate sugar, refined carbohydrates, excessive red
meats and processed foods from the diet.

Most dietary studies have found that women consuming high
amounts of nutrients from fruits and vegetables have less risk of
cervical dysplasia. Protective effects may be especially strong
from diets high in dark yellow/orange vegetables (carrots, winter
squash, etc.) and tomatoes. High blood levels of folate (the food
form of folic acid) have been linked to protection against the
development of cervical dysplasia.

Jill Stansbury has been a naturopathic physician for more than
12 years, with a private practice in Battleground, Washington. She
is the chair of the Botanical Medicine Department at the National
College of Naturopathic Medicine in Portland, Oregon, and the
author of many books, including Herbs for Health and Healing
(Publication International, 1997).

Terry Willard is a clinical herbalist, president of the Canadian Association of Herbal Practitioners and founder of the Wild Rose College of Natural Healing in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. He is the author of eight books and a CD-ROM, Interactive Herbal.

Please send your questions to Herbs for Health “Q & A,” 1503 SW 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609; fax (785) 274-4305; or e-mail us at letters@herbs forhealth.com. Provide your name and full address for verification, although both will be kept confidential.

The information offered in “Q & A” is not intended to be a substitute for advice from your health-care provider.

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