ASK THE ND Reduce Your Risk of HPV
Herbal antiviral therapies can help the body fight off HPV
Natural ways to reduce risk of Human Papilloma Virus ( HPV).
Q: I’ve been hearing a lot about HPV lately. What is it exactly and are there any natural treatments that help prevent it?
— Anna Louise, Seattle
There are at least 60 types of Human Papilloma Virus ( HPV), the virus that causes warts. Most warts stay at a superfi cial ( epithelial) skin level, go away on their own, and rarely become cancerous. But there are several “high- risk” subtypes of HPV ( 16, 18, 33, and 35 are the most documented) that, left untreated, can progress to invasive tumors, or cancer.
Strangely, these potential malignant strains are fl at warts that are typically not visible to the naked eye. They will, however, turn white when swabbed with vinegar. This is called the “Schilling” test and is used when a test for cervical or penile warts ( most commonly known as the PAP smear) comes back positive for high- risk HPV. But high- risk HPV isn’t limited by its predilection for the cervix— the throat, larynx, and even lungs can become targets for the infection.
Like all viral infections, HPV tends to thrive in an environment that contains too little zinc, too few retinoids ( present in vitamin A and biofl avonoids such as turmeric and quercetin), or too much iron. In general, humans, especially meat eaters, get plenty of iron from a varied diet and don’t require supplements except in cases of anemia or heavy periods.
Your body’s naturally built- in antiviral mechanism is fever. If you have a viral infection ( such as the common cold, hepatitis, or HPV), then fever is your friend, and you would do well to raise your body
temperature toward 100– 102° F for 30– 45 minutes three times a week. Far- infrared saunas are great for this purpose.
Many herbs have potent antiviral properties: Some of my favorites include licorice, echinacea, osha, ashwagandha, blood root, and astragalus. For treating a viral infection, I often recommend up to 50,000 IUs of vitamin A daily until the virus is resolved, and 50 mg of zinc, which is a cofactor in almost 75 percent of all the enzymatic reactions in the body.
The standard procedure for a highrisk cervical infection is LEEP, which basically burns a wedge out of the cervix. It’s quick— and generally eff ective— but it may leave the cervix incapable of a normal vaginal delivery. If you don’t plan to have any more children, LEEP is a reasonable option. But if children may still be in your future, fi nd a naturopathic physician or progressive nurse practitioner who has been trained in cervical escharotic treatment, a highly eff ective, but lengthy ( 6– 10 visits) procedure. It involves gently but thoroughly placing liquid enzymes and somewhat caustic herbs on the cervix that literally dissolve the infection and allow for complete restoration of normal tissue. Most women do not experience any pain with this treatment, which lasts about 30 minutes per visit, but I had one patient colorfully describe the feeling as “spicy.”