The Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) can be contracted through skin-to-skin or sexually transmitted, most commonly in ages 15-25 years old. It can lie dormant for months or years at a time, or be transient and resolve without symptoms. There are over 100 different strains, such as 16 and 18 being high risk factors for cervical cancer and anal cancer, and 6 and 11 for anogenital warts. There may not be any physical symptoms that HPV has been contracted (e.g. pain, discomfort, vaginal or penile discharge), or only a lesion could be present (e.g. genitals, mouth).

Common risk factors include smoking, obesity, compromised immune status, multiple partners, and oral contraceptives. Tests are unavailable for men, yet in women the first screening test is a pap smear, and then any abnormalities will be further investigated through a colposcopy (using vinegar to visualize any lesions) and a biopsy to determine its severity. Screenings for women 21-30 should be every two years, and every three years for women over the age of 30-64 (unless risk factors, immunodeficiency, or history of cervical cancer present) with three consecutive negative outcomes. However, women with many risk factors or those who are immunosuppressed (e.g. Human Immunodeficiency Virus, DES exposure) or treated for more serious cervical abnormalities may need more frequent screenings.

Results can be classified as:

  • Atypical squamous cells of undetermined significance (ASCUS)
  • Atypical squamous cells cannot rule out high-grade lesion (ASC-H)
  • Low grade squamous cervical intraepithelial lesion (CIN I, HPV)
  • High grade squamous cervical intraepithelial lesion (CIN II, CIN III)
  • Atypical glandular cells (AGC) – different types of cellular changes

Treatment depends on the result, as conventional medicine offers a variety of procedures such as cryosurgery (freezing off affected tissue), loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP – burns off affected tissue), and surgical conization (laser, scalpel, or both to remove affected tissue). In Naturopathic medicine we educate and empower the patient regarding natural therapies like botanicals and nutrition, as well as lifestyle modifications. A plan may also incorporate conventional care depending disease progression. For anyone, improving overall immune status in plans specific to the person is imperative in the healing process, as well as prevention of more serious outcomes. Below are a few areas to consider changing:

*  Quit smoking
*  If you’re taking an oral contraceptive pill, consider and discuss with your doctor another option
*  Decrease stress (stress is like food for HPV, especially #16)
*  Eliminate alcohol
*  Regular exercise

Focus on a whole foods diet, especially dark leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables (e.g. brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower), which contain sulfur compounds to promote detoxification, and rich in vitamin A and C to help boost the immune system

* 1-2 cups green tea per day – contains antioxidants, as well as L-theanine, which is a calming neurotransmitter (can help reduce stress).

* Foods rich in vitamin C – great for the immune system, and nutritive to muscles, and tissues. Think kiwis, strawberries, peppers, and green vegetables.

Your plan
Depending on your diagnosis and prognosis, your knowledgeable health care professional will discuss a variety of options including the conventional based ones above, and/or how to incorporate more natural therapies. Examples include vaginal-based ones like escharotic treatments (bromelain and calendula placed on her cervix to remove damaged tissue then nourish the cells) and suppositories (may have vitamin A, C, certain herbs), as well as various herbs (e.g. licorice, echinacea, astragalus, thuja) and nutrients to take orally.

These are best discussed with a knowledgeable professional to ensure there isn’t any herb/drug/nutrient interaction, and follow-up testing is done in a timely manner.

As always, discuss your concerns and questions with your attending physician.
We welcome your comments. If you have any questions on this or any other topic, feel free to write us at:

Dr. Serena Goldstein, ND
Natural solutions for Common Sense Medicine

Dr. Serena Goldstein, ND is a Naturopathic Doctor in NYC specializing in natural hormonal balance utilizing nutrition, botanical medicine, and homeopathy to discover the underlying cause of disease. She works with patients in navigating through natural and conventional care, while empowering patients to understand all options and trajectory of health. Dr. Serena is a native New Yorker who studied on the west coast for nearly 10 years, affording great versatility when creating individualized plans for patients. She is published in numerous wellness resources like MindBodyGreen, Better Nutrition, and the HeartySoul, and has spoken at places like Lehman College and the American Cancer Society. Dr. Serena is in her own practice, and lends her expertise to fellow doctors at NYU-Hospital Poison Control Center.


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