This information is not a substitute for medical advice. It is best to consult with a health care provider before initiating any new form of treatment. Those taking medications should be especially prudent, and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding must always discuss new treatments with their health care provider to ensure their safety.
Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is a type of virus that is transmitted via intimate skin to skin contact. It is so common that it is presumed everyone who is sexually active will at some point contract it. This statistic should not alarm you however, because much like the common cold your immune system (when healthy) is well equipped to fight it off. Most people clear the virus without ever knowing that they have been exposed. That said, it is important to take HPV seriously because some strains can have serious consequences. Of the 150 strains, a few can cause genital warts while others if not eradicated can lead to cancer. This is why it is important for women to have PAP smears done regularly to screen for signs of cervical cancer or pre-cancerous changes. Cervical cancer is not the only cancer that is possible – men can develop penile cancer and all sexes can develop oral or anal cancer if the virus isn’t cleared. This progression of disease typically arises when our immune system is weak. Poor diet, stress and toxicity are three of the main factors that can compromise the ability of our immune system to perform optimally.
To support the immune system from a dietary perspective:
- Minimize sugar as much as possible
- Ensure you are adequately hydrated with water
- Consume lots of vegetables ideally organic (should be 50% of your diet)
- Limit simple carbohydrates (baked goods, bread, cereal, white rice, fruit juice, etc)
- Limit your caffeine intake
- Eliminate or moderate your alcohol intake
- Moderate your consumption of red meat as it can be inflammatory (grass fed beef is BEST!)
- N-acetylcysteine (NAC) has the double benefit or providing anti-viral activity while also increasing the body’s ability to clear toxins. 600mg taken two to three times a day is a good dose for an adult. People who have asthma should avoid taking NAC as there are concerns it could induce spasms of their airways. NAC can slow the time it takes for clots to form, so it should not be taken 2 weeks leading up to a surgery or by individuals on blood thinners unless advised to do so by their healthcare provider. NAC also seems to enhance the effects of nitroglycerin and should not be used in conjunction with this drug.
- Human strain probiotics help modulate the immune system in a number of ways that can both help to clear the virus as well as prevent it from taking hold upon future exposures.
- Fish oils are rich in omega 3s and have been proven to help improve immune function when taken in sufficient doses (combined total of 2-3g EPA and DHA daily). Make sure when purchasing a fish oil that you are buying one that is in triglyceride form and from a company that rigorously tests their product to make sure it is free of heavy metals and other environmental toxins. Staff at a health food store should be able to inform you about what brands you can trust. Fish oil, like NAC can influence the ability of blood to clot. So while there are many cardiovascular benefits to taking a fish oil, anyone who is taking blood thinners should avoid it unless it is under the supervision of their doctor.
- Vitamins A, C, E as well as Zinc and Selenium are helpful in supporting immune function. There are many formulations that combine these nutrients because of their ability to work together synergistically.
- The buds from Acer campestre, commonly known as Field Maple have immune boosting effects that are particularly helpful for eradicating chronic viral infections like HPV. The medicinal benefits provided by remedies made from the buds of plants are quite profound as the bud contains nutrients and plant growth hormones that are lost in the mature parts of the plant (roots, bark, leaves etc.) This form of herbal medicine can be prepared using different methods so best to follow instructions provided on the label.
Helpful lifestyle modifications include:
- Breathing exercises are one of the best ways of helping to calm the nervous system and thereby relieve stress. In addition to using the guided meditation found on this page, try to use your breath throughout the day to regulate your nervous system.
- Getting sufficient sleep is as much about quality as it is quantity. Aim for 7-8 hours a night and try your best to be sleeping between the hours of 10pm to 6am. Avoid screen activity as much as possible before going to bed and immediately upon rising as it disrupts your body’s internal clock. You can adjust the display settings on your smart phone and/or purchase glasses with orange lenses to help counteract the effect of the blue light on your body’s ability to establish a healthy circadian rhythm.