Hands On HPV © by dr. Millie Says ND
Since Dr. Tori Hudson ND’s research in the 1990’s Naturopathic Doctors have known that several strains of HPV are largely responsible for genital warts, precancerous states of cervical dysplasia and cervical cancer. Due to this history and using Dr. Hudson’s research NDs have formulated effective approaches for the prevention and treatment of HPV-related conditions that can be an alternative and complementary to the new vaccine.
Naturopathic medicine addresses concerns regarding HPV with three major methods. First, focus is on prevention through education. If this is no longer relevant, then treat without causing further harm to the body. Stimulating the body’s innate ability to heal itself by supporting the immune system is the ultimate intention.
Although not everyone exposed develops any symptoms, it’s best to protect our daughters and selves by avoiding the risk factors for acquiring HPV.
1. Unprotected heterosexual contact. Of the 100 or so HPV strains, all are spread by direct skin on skin contact. The penis can be an asymptomatic carrier of the virus especially when it comes to the strains that cause cervical cancer. Unprotected intercourse can predispose a woman to developing cervical abnormalities. Even with the use of a condom though, genital warts can be contacted, as condoms do not cover the entire area.
2. Smoking. With the highest correlation, a 2-3-fold increase, smoking increases likelihood of developing cervical abnormalities due to antioxidants lost and increased free radicals levels simultaneously decreasing the immune system.
3. Poor nutrient diet. A diet rich with green, yellow, orange, red and cruciferous vegetables has been shown as more beneficial than taking large doses of supplements containing the same known nutrients.
4. Birth control pill. Long-term use of this and other medications may be responsible for nutrient deficiencies of those very antioxidants, folate, vitamin C and zinc, needed to protect against conditions caused by HPV.
5. Several partners. Having several unprotected male partners prior to 18 years of age exposes young women at a time when the body is still maturing therefore when cells in cervix are still growing and more susceptible to viral influences.
If one has been at risk then its time for a PAP test. Prevention and early detection strategies are, after all imperative reasons to maintain yearly checkups from time of first sexual contact. The newest version of the PAP test is able to detect the presence of HPV. If abnormal cells are present then one’s doctor, MD, nurse practitioner or ND, will likely recommend a follow up within 3-6 months. During this time the abnormal cells may resolve spontaneously, remain unchanged or progress. Susceptibility to HPV infection is based on the particular strain of HPV, of which 3-4 are responsible for the majority of irregular cell activity, lifestyle factors mentioned above and immune health.
Once diagnosed with abnormal cervical cells or cervical dysplasia, rather than waiting to see the next outcome, why not consult with an ND or another qualified CAM provider who can work to increase antioxidant and immune system status. Treatment may include nutrition and diet suggestions for increasing specific nutrient levels found in foods that top the Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) scale and improving immunity. It is particularly important to consume foods high in specific antioxidants such as vitamins A, C, E, folic acid, carotenoids, lycopene, selenium and zinc as well as Indol 3 Carbinol (I3C) found in raw cruciferous vegetables.
In addition to the vitamin protocol it may be necessary to be treated with a rotating series of antiviral vaginal suppositories in cases of moderate or severe cervical dysplasia. These suppositories would include a combination of antiviral, eschariotics and therapeutic herbs, enzymes and vitamins to treat and heal the local site. These suppositories are a capable of killing the virus and healing the local area and are non-scarring like the LEEP procedure. They must be performed or taught by a trained alternative health professional.
The vaccine (Gardisil) may seem like an easy solution, it does not replace prevention and education for best results. In addition long term studies have not been done, so the actual safety of the vaccine, is still unknown (see incidence reports http://www.nvic.org ). Incidence reports have shown that HPV vaccine has been involved in 8 deaths, and over 3100 reported adverse events including neurological paralysis and paresis, the Epstein Barr Virus and even cancer. The gut instinct says ‘alert alert’ and while we still await long-term trials that will show long-term effects such as how many boosters are needed and whether it will actually work for everyone. Now it has been approved for boys as well, due to the increasing incidence of throat and anal cancers associated with HPV. Take precautions by educating your sons, daughters and selves on the risk factors and sound lifestyle approaches.