Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections in North America today with over 100 different strains and many different presentations, from genital warts to cervical dysplasia (pre-cancerous cells). It is the leading cause of cervical cancer in our healthcare system. It is spread through skin to skin contact.
Here are the facts:
- 79% of women catch at least one infection in their lifetime
- 60%-70% of female cases are temporary and will resolve spontaneously within 2 years due to the host’s immune response to the virus
- 5%-10% of cases will persist for females infected, and in some cases, latent HPV infections can remain in the body for over a decade
- There are about 30 strains that cause visible warts, these are not the same strains that can cause cancer
- Nearly all cervical cancers are caused by HPV
How Chinese Medicine Treats HPV
Through years of practice and research, practitioners of TCM have found Chinese herbal medicine can increase the effective results of Western medical treatments and provide an overall benefit in women’s health.
When someone has a normal functioning immune system, the warts will resolve on their own, but with our topical and internal treatments,
When TCM can help:
Active visible warts
When there is a non-visible HPV infection which can last from 2 to even 10 years long
When there is a diagnosis of CIN 1-low level abnormal cervical cells and doctors prefer to wait to see if it will progress
Through researching anti-HPV herbs and studying the pathology of HPV infection in Chinese medicine, some protocols for treating active HPV infections, latent HPV infections, topical herb medicine treatment for warts have been discovered.
Treatments for CIN 1, CIN 2 and CIN 3 using an integrated treatment approach to HPV infection are available.
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Risks of HPV Infection
Why is it even necessary to treat HPV? It is because being infected with the Human Papilloma Virus carries considerable risks to the host, and in the case of an infection in a pregnant woman- the newborn.
The most considerable risk and burden to for a female is that it can develop into cervical dysplasia (pre cancerous cells), which can progress to invasive cervical cancer. It can increase the risk for miscarriage and teratism (deformity or anomaly) during pregnancy or vaginal birth. An HPV positive mother can infect her child perinatally and the transmission of HPV types 6 and 11 can result in the development of juvenile-onset recurrent respiratory papillomatosis.
The Disadvantages of Current Western Medical Treatments and Approaches
Western medical treatments for HPV are varied based on each individual practitioners understanding of HPV. Currently, the management of active HPV (warts), latent HPV, or HPV with genital neoplasia or premalignant lesions of cervix has not been adequately controlled with Western medicine treatments.
Many doctors will prefer the wait and see method since many cases will resolve on their own. This period can last for up to 2 years. During that time, a woman’s life will be negatively affected. During this time, sexual activity will increase the risk of transmission to a partner. Western doctors claim that there is no treatment for the non-visible infection
There is a demand for an effective treatment for HPV in all stages, being visible and non-visible!
Many of these treatments are physically or chemically destructive. The removal of the lesions with these therapies easily causes scarring at the lesion site. Not only is there scarring but studies done over a long enough period of time have shown that the long-term success rate of these therapies are very low and after the cessation of treatment there is a high level of recurrence of the visible genital warts.
Common treatments for HPV include:
- Salicylic acid
- Bi-and trichloro acetic acid
As well as Chemotherapy agents such as:
Discussion on HPV Vaccination
Gardasil®, manufactured by Merck Frosst, a vaccination marketed towards young girls and boys to prevent against HPV infection is the costliest scheduled vaccine yet. It is said to protect against HPV types 6, 11, 16, and 18. Type 6 and 11 are said to cause warts and type 16 and 18 are said to be high risk for cervical cancer and pre-cancer.
HPV is recommended and approved for children of 9 years of age- an age before sexual contact. It is approved for women up to 26 years of age.
Vaccinations in our Schools
Toronto Public Health is offering the HPV vaccination to girls in grade 8 for free through the school vaccination clinics. It is not mandatory for your child to get this vaccination.
Is taking the vaccination worth the risk of the damaging effects of the vaccine itself?
- As of 2010, 88 cases of death were reported to the National Vaccine Information Center (American).
- Less serious side effects have included: paralysis, seizures, arthritis, fainting, dizziness, nausea, headache and cases of genital warts (which the vaccine is also supposed to prevent).
High Risk Ingredients:
- Sodium borate: Commonly used in insecticides.
- Polysorbate 80: Studies of polysorbate 80 suggest this ingredient might increase oxidative stress and impairs fertility. Both polysorbate and aluminum are known to cause cancer in lab animals and to alter immune response.
- Aluminum: This is a neurotoxin; peer-reviewed studies have linked it to macrophagic myofasciitis, chronic fatigue syndrome and Alzheimer’s disease. A 1996 position paper issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics states: “Aluminum is now being implicated as interfering with a variety of cellular and metabolic processes in the nervous system and in other tissues.” The growing number of children with diseases which involve such impairment may result in part from the growing number of vaccines which contain aluminum. The recommended three doses of Gardasil® contain a whopping big total of 675 micrograms of aluminum. This injected aluminum could act synergistically with the body’s accumulation of aluminum from other vaccines as well as from its myriad though much less easily absorbed non-injected sources to increase the toxic effects exponentially.
Dr Diane Harper, lead researcher in the development of HPV vaccine, has summarized a 2009 Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) report which questions the vaccine’s safety by saying, “The rate of serious adverse events is greater than the incidence of cervical cancer.”
This statement is repeated in the January, 2011 report, Gardasil Vaccination: Evaluating the Risks Versus Benefits by Lucija Tomljenovic, PhD. Dr Tomljenovic has analyzed the VAERS reports and compared them to the many health conditions that science research has shown possible from Gardasil®.
Due to the toxic ingredients of the vaccine, it may actually be a carcinogen-an agent that causes cancer. In the May 2011 Gardasil® monograph (document describing the properties and information of the pharmaceutical drug), pg 54 admits: “Gardasil® has not been evaluated for the potential to cause carcinogenicity or genotoxicity.”
The types of HPV that Gardasil® claims to prevent do not actually affect a large percentage of the population. A study estimating the prevalence of HPV infection in the US population published in the Feb 28, 2007 edition of JAMA found only 3.4% of women aged 14-59 yrs were infected with one of the four HPV types represented in Gardasil®; only 2% were infected with one of the two “oncogenic” types.
The vaccine would have to be effective for a very long time before a reduction in that cancer could be noticed; fewer than 8/100,000 Canadians per year get cervical cancer and the median time for its development is more than twenty years. Is this worth the strain on the healthcare system and the dangers to people taking the vaccine?
Does HPV cause cancer?
HPV is necessary for the development of cervical changes, but it does not cause cancer by itself. No one knows for sure what else is needed for cancer to develop.
Further Links about the dangers of Gardasil®:
- SaneVax- HPV Fact Sheet
- “Human papillomavirus, vaccines and women’s health: questions and cautions” August 1, 2007 – CMAJ: Canadian Medical Association Journal. Abby Lippman, PhD, Ryan Melnychuk, PhD, Carolyn Shimmin, BJ and Madeline Boscoe, RN DU
- Young girls ovaries destroyed following HPV vaccination- British Medical Journal (BMJ)
HPV and Cervical Dysplasia (pre-cancerous cells)
All cervical intraepithelial dysplasias (CIN) are linked with certain types of cervical HPV infection. It has been well established that invasive carcinoma of cervix is preceded by a precursive lesion that morphologically resembles adjacent invasive squamous carcinomas. This lesion is termed “carcinoma in situ” (CIS) and is preceded by a spectrum of lesions that vary in degrees of abnormality with;
CIN 1 showing small amounts of abnormality
CIN 2 showing more amounts of abnormality
CIN 3 showing the highest levels of abnormality
Risk factors for dysplasia progressing into cancer;
Age greater than 35 years old
Co-infection with HIV or Chlamydia
Rates of CIN 1 progressing to invasive cervical cancer is low (10%), and the risk of scarring with invasive treatments is high. For this reason, treatment is typically not recommended for CIN 1. Waiting to see if CIN 1 develops into CIN 2 or 3 is a journey full of suffering.
Moderate and severe dysplasia (CIN 2, and CIN 3) are considered true pre-malignant lesions with a progression rate to invasive cancer of 30% to 50%. Ablative therapy is provided but even with this therapy, there is an inherent recurrence rate of up to 10%.
The average time from acquiring a high-risk genotype of HPV to the detection of cervical cancer is 20 years. Even infection with the types of HPV which are high risk for cancer generally clear up n their own, it is only persistent or stubborn infection which will progress into CIN (abnormal cells).
Diagnosis of HPV
The incubation period of HPV warts is from 1-8 months, this makes it extremely difficult to confirm which partner the virus was contracted from. The most frequent sites of anogenital HPV infection in females are the cervix, vagina, vulva or anus and for males the anus or penis. Multiple sites are often involved (e.g., cervix, vagina, vulva etc.).
HPV can be diagnosed as part of the preventative screening of the PAP smear.
Any protrusion from the genital area doesn’t necessarily mean it is HPV, there are other things to consider.
- In both sexes: sebaceous glands
- In women: Vestibular papillae, also known as micropapillomatosis labialis
- In men: pearly penile papules on the coronal sulcus (just below the head of the penis
- Secondary syphillis with condylomata lata
- Molluscum contagiosum
Diseases of the skin and mucosa
- Intradermal nevi
- Skin tags
- Seborrheic keratosis
- Intraepithelial neoplasia
Lifestyle and Food Recommendations
From Chinese herb medicine and dietary therapy practice, the following herbs/foods are used to treat HPV infections:
Zi Cao, Radix Arnebiae seu Lithospermi; Green Tea, Camellia Sinensis; Huang Lian, Rhizoma Coptidis; Yi Yi Ren/Job’s Tears, Semen Coixis; Zi Su Ye, Folium Perillae; Ling Jiao/Water Caltrop, Trapa Bicornis; Carrots, Daucus Carota; Huang Qi, Radix Astragali siu Hedysari; Shan Yao/Chinese Yam, Rhizoma Dioscoreae; Huang Bai, Cortex Phellodendri; Dong Gua/Winter melon, Benincasae; Hei Dou/Black Bean, Radix Glycinae; Ma Chi Jian/Purslane, Herba Portulacae; Ban Lan Gen, Radix Isatidis.
There are many more herbs with anti-HPV effects, but these need to be prescribed by Chinese medicine practitioners for safe use.
Food therapy can help to boost the immune system and clear HPV. It can be used singly or alongside Western medicine for HPV prevention or infection with or without visible lesions, or vulvar, vaginal or cervical intraepithelial dysplasia and cancer.
The following recipes can be used to help clear an HPV infection
Tea of Coix Seed and Water Caltrop (2 servings)
3 Water Caltrops **
Soak Coix seeds in 2 cups water in a pot overnight.
Peel off the hard shell of Water Caltrops and cut into chunks.
Place Water Caltrop chunks in pot with Coix seeds and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat and simmer until Coix seeds become soft (about 30 minutes).
Administration: Eat 1 serving, 2 times daily for 1 month.
(Caution: do not eat pork.)
* Coix seed, also known as Job’s Tears, is a food-herb that looks similar to barley.
** Water Caltrops is variety of water chestnut.
Coix Seed and Carrot Porridge (2 servings)
30g Coix seeds
1 medium carrot
Soak Coix seeds in a pot with 4 cups water overnight.
Cut carrot into small chunks.
Place rice and carrot chunks into pot with undrained Coix seeds.
Bring water to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer gently, partially covered, until Coix seeds and rice are very soft and liquid becomes thicker (about 30 minutes), stirring occasionally to keep rice from sticking.
Serve porridge warm.
Administration: 1 serving, 1-2 times a day for a month.
Water Caltrop Porridge (2 servings)
30g water caltrostarch
Place rice in to a pot, with 3 cups water and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat and simmer about 15 minutes.
Add water caltrostarch to pot, continue to simmer until rice is very soft (about 30 minutes), stirring occasionally to keep rice from sticking.
Serve porridge warm.
Administration: eat 1 serving 1-2 times per day
Astragalus Porridge (2 servings)
30g coix seeds
15g red beans
Place astragalus into a stainless steel pot with 4 cups water and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat and simmer about 20 minutes.
Strain out the herb and use the resulting decoction as a broth for the next step.
Put Coix seeds, rice, and red bean into the broth.
Simmer until those ingredients are very soft (about 60 minutes), stirring occasionally to keep rice from sticking.
Serve porridge warm.
Coix Seed, Winter Melon, and Semen Euryales Soup (4 servings)
50g Coix seeds
50g semen euryales
500g winter melon
100g pork chops
Soak Coix seeds and semen euryales in 4 cups water for over one hour.
Wash pork and winter melon, cut to small chunks.
Bring Coix seeds and semen euryales to a boil, add pork chops and winter melon.
Reduce heat and simmer until the pork chops are soft.
Add salt for taste.
Serve soup warm.
Administration: eat 1-2 servings per dayAlong with the above dietary therapy,
Other Lifestyle Recommendations
It is also recommended to drink green tea every day, quit smoking, avoid contraceptive pill use, avoid overwork, and do regular hip baths with a green tea leaf decoction or prescription herbal solution.
See more in our Vitality Magizine Article on HPV
1. Wang, Yuxiang (2013). Integrated Gynecology Course Notes. CGICM.