Human papillomavirus, also known as HPV is one of the most common STIs. So common that 80% of the population will have had a brush with it at some point in their life. In this post, we’ll explore some simple natural foods, herbs, and remedies that you can adopt into your lifestyle to make sure your immune system is fighting this pesky virus at its full capacity.
Natural Remedies for HPV
The good news is that HPV symptoms are usually mild and the infection is often asymptomatic, especially in those who have strong immune systems, but it can manifest severely for those with weakened immunity.
There are multiple strains of HPV, some of which can cause more serious complications than others. Some people may develop warts in various places of their body, others may get less lucky and present with lesions that have the potential to become cancerous.
Because of how serious some cases may become, an HPV infection shouldn’t be taken lightly. One of the best things you can do for yourself once you’ve discovered that you’ve been infected with HPV is to get tested regularly and maintain as strong of an immune system as you possibly can. While there isn’t a cure for HPV, there are things you can do to keep the infection at bay.
Studies have found that shiitake mushrooms (Lentinula edodes) are more than just a delicious addition to your stir fry. Turns out, they contain a compound called active hexose correlated compound (AHCC), which makes your immune system more efficient and prevents the development of tumors. A study conducted on the effects of AHCC on HPV found that 50% of the participants had either a complete eradication of the virus or a reduction in cervical cancer tumors after 6 months. While more studies are needed to understand how well this works, it probably won’t hurt to add more shiitakes to your diet.
African basil (Ocimum gratissimum) is an aromatic herb found in equatorial countries all over the world and has known antiviral properties. But what makes it even more interesting in the context of HPV management is that it contains a powerful compound known as caffeic acid, which has been shown to destroy cervical cancer cells within 48 hours in lab experiments.
Caffeic acid increases these cells’ apoptosis (self-destruction mechanism) and causes oxidative damage to precancerous cells, all while wielding antiviral powers against the virus itself.
Incorporating this incredible herb into your diet or as a supplement can be very helpful in your fight against the effects of HPV.
Pomegranate (Punica granatum) is a delicious fruit with a lot of well-known health benefits. It’s touted as a heart-healthy option that reduces inflammation, supports urinary health, and helps your digestion. But did you know that it can be beneficial for those dealing with HPV?
Pomegranate contains two important compounds that fight HPV and its cancerous effects. One of those compounds called ellagic acid blocks certain pathways in precancerous and cancerous cells in the cervix, effectively preventing them from growing and spreading.
The other compound, gallic acid, encourages apoptosis of cancerous cells, which causes your immune system to better identify them and cause their demise.
Adding some pomegranate seeds to your diet is easy – throw a handful into salads, use them as toppings for soups, or blend them into your daily smoothie.
Berries, such as strawberries (Fragaria × ananassa) and blueberries (Vaccinium corymbosum) are great when it comes to strengthening your immune system. They are high in antioxidants, which have been shown to increase your ability to fight viral infections as well as provide other health benefits.
Berries are also full of ellagic acid, which we mentioned previously as a powerful compound that blocks the growth and development of HPV-induced cancer cells.
Dark Leafy Greens
It should come as no surprise that dark leafy greens such as kale, spinach, collard greens, and bok choy are good for your health. These nutritional powerhouses shine when it comes to folate, a type of B vitamin that helps your body in a variety of essential functions.
Several studies have shown that folate can help prevent or stop HPV from progressing. It can help reduce symptoms such as lesions and warts.
One study even found that a high amount of folate can reduce the risk of HPV infection by 73%. So if you need another reason to eat your greens, let this be it.
So much of HPV management comes down to strengthening your immune system, and what’s more powerful for your immune system than vitamin C?
This vitamin has well-known antioxidant and immune-boosting properties that are instrumental in the body’s fight against viruses like HPV.
Multiple studies found that high doses of vitamin C help fight this pesky virus in all stages of its lifecycle – by preventing infection, keeping it dormant in those who have been infected, and even reducing the risk of cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN) development in women with high-risk HPV.
Whether you have HPV or not, consuming plenty of vitamin C will keep you protected from the virus and its negative effects, in addition to boosting your immune system against other ailments.
Garlic (Allium sativum) is a great herbal remedy for treating a wide range of infections due to its antiviral, antibacterial, and anticarcinogenic properties. The case is no different for HPV.
A diet high in garlic can help boost your immune system and fight off viral pathogens from the inside. Another great way to use garlic in the fight against HPV is through topical application. This is especially helpful for those who have HPV-related warts.
Genital warts, which are caused by HPV, have no official cure. Some methods, such as cryotherapy, have been somewhat successful at removing the warts, but these therapies are costly and painful.
Garlic has been studied as a promising alternative to treating these warts. A study found that placing mashed garlic mixed with olive oil on the affected areas over the course of several weeks has similar effects to cryotherapy. Word of advice though: be very accurate with the placement of this remedy. You don’t want garlic to end up on sensitive skin.
Green tea (Camellia sinensis) can be so much more than the aromatic warm beverage we all love and enjoy. It’s been studied for a variety of health benefits, and scientists keep discovering new ways that this magical plant can benefit your body.
From reducing inflammation and aiding in weight loss to fighting cancer and preventing premature aging – this herb seems to be a superstar when it comes to boosting our health.
Recently, studies uncovered another incredible use for green tea – fighting HPV.
Green tea contains a compound called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) that has antiviral properties and plays a critical role in suppressing HPV proteins in the body. This helps prevent an HPV infection from developing complications such as warts and cancers. The same study also found that applying EGCG topically using a highly concentrated green tea ointment to existing warts can cut the number of outbreaks in half.
Try this simple recipe, which combines the powers of EGCG from green tea, the cancer-fighting properties of pomegranate seeds, the vitamin C from citrus, folate from leafy greens, and antioxidants from berries. This smoothie can be made daily to boost your immune system and protect your body from HPV.
- 1/2 cup strong green tea (cooled)
- ½ cup coconut milk
- 1 tbsp frozen pomegranate seeds
- 1 orange, peeled
- 1 handful of spinach
- 1 handful of berries (strawberries and blueberries mix)
- Prepare the green tea ahead of time to allow it to cool. I recommend making an extra-strong cup of tea by using 2 green tea bags in 4 oz of hot water and steeping it for at least 10 minutes.
- Once cooled, add the green tea and the rest of the ingredients into a blender.
- Blend for 3-5 minutes until smooth.
- Enjoy! If you prefer your smoothies sweeter, you can add some honey to the mix for additional antiviral benefits.
In addition to embracing natural remedies for the treatment of stubborn HPV, lifestyle changes are a must if you’ve been infected. You can easily boost your immune system and your body’s ability to conquer the virus if you kick a few bad habits and implement some good ones.
Consider quitting smoking and drinking alcohol, as both of these nasty habits have been shown to weaken your immune system and slow down the body’s healing processes.
Reducing stress in your life is a little trickier, but worthwhile nonetheless. Chronic stress plays a big part in weakening the immune system. Practice stress-reducing techniques such as yoga, meditation, and deep breathing to help you find more zen.
Regular exercise, even something as simple as daily walking, is a natural immune booster. Get your body moving to help fight off the infection, and be prepared to experience all the other wonderful effects of daily exercise.
HPV is highly prevalent, but it often doesn’t cause issues for people with strong immune systems. By incorporating natural remedies and adopting a healthy lifestyle, you can strengthen your natural defenses and manage HPV effectively. However, it’s crucial to get regular tests to ensure that the infection hasn’t become pre-cancerous or cancerous, so make sure to stay on top of that to protect your health to the fullest.