HPV Herbal Healing
The phone rang and my stomach dropped when saw the number. It was the gynecologist’s office with my test results. It turned out I was positive for high risk HPV (human papilloma virus) and had CIN II, which meant my cervical cells were funny looking and not in a good way. The cells were slouching towards cervical cancer and the OBGYN recommended I come in immediately for minimally invasive laser surgery, called a LEEP. They needed to cut out those cells — pronto — lest they turn into cancer. And while I knew I was going to be living with a lead pit in my stomach for the foreseeable future, a still, small part within me wondered if I could heal this condition using a different modality and circumvent the recommended surgery.
My saga with abnormal pap smears began six years ago when I first learned I had HPV and what turned out to be mild cervical dysplasia — CIN I — which essentially means some of the cervical cells look abnormal, but not enough to warrant surgery. HPV is a sexually transmitted disease and the leading cause cervical dysplasia. Both men and women get HPV, but there is no test for men because HPV does not lead to any unwarranted cellular changes in males. Most women will get HPV at some point in their lives, but the body is normally able to clear it before it leads to cervical dysplasia. While there are hundreds of different strands of HPV, some are known to be very aggressive and virulent. I, unfortunately, had those strands.
I was advised to get more frequent pap smears in order to see if the cells returned to normal, remained the same or became more abnormal. The inference was there was nothing I could do, nothing the doctor could do, except watch and wait. There is no drug to cure HPV. Both HPV and cervical dysplasia often go away on their own without treatment, but not always, and cervical dysplasia can lead to cervical cancer.
However I reasoned that if the doctor cuts out the abnormal cells it would not cure me of HPV and I would still be susceptible to future cervical dysplasia, as HPV is what causes the dysplasia. Was there a possibility of curing HPV? My advantage is that it takes years for cervical dysplasia to develop into cervical cancer, so I had time to see if there was alternative methods to cure my condition. With the CIN II type of cervical dysplasia I had, there is about a 40% rate of the cells returning to normal even if no action is taken. For CIN I, there is an 80% chance the cells will return to normal if no action is taken.
I decided to try acupuncture and Chinese herbs. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) looks at illness and disease differently than western medicine, and while not the mainstream in the United States, it is an ancient system that has long been known to cure disease. My doctor of Chinese medicine informed me that HPV and cervical dysplasia are damp conditions and recommended I change my diet. This was the first time a doctor recommended specific dietary changes for HPV and cervical dysplasia, which I had been battling off and on for six years. Stay away from cold damp foods as they will exacerbate my damp condition: no more yogurt or grapefruit for breakfast, avoid raw vegetable salads, and best to cut out alcohol and ice cream. Make sure to drink hot or warm water throughout the day. I had long heard I needed to drink half my body weight in ounces of water a day, but often lost my verve after the second or third glass. I started carrying around a thermos, mainlining herbal tea. For three months I ate a plethora of soups and knocked back extremely bitter tasting Chinese herbs. In three months’ time, I was sweetly relieved to have a normal pap smear.
But I still tested positive for HPV. And those unpleasant tasting Chinese herbs were $80 a week. So I decided to try a naturopathic doctor (ND). Naturopathic doctors can treat many of the same illnesses MDs do, but their four-year medical training focuses on treating the whole person along with prescribing medicines that include diet, herbs and supplements. ND’s are able to accept insurance in some states, but not all. It is also important to make sure your ND is a fully licensed naturopathic doctor with the four-year training, as naturopaths with less training are also allowed to practice and call themselves ND.
My ND assured me she could clear my HPV with herbs. She also spoke extensively about my diet, getting enough exercise, as well as reducing stress in my life. I felt her compassion during our hour-long conversation. I also continued to largely refrain from alcohol and caffeine, drinking at least 60 ounces of herbal tea a day, keeping refined sugar at a minimum, eating a lot of cooked cruciferous (broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts) vegetables and evoking positive visualizations for five minutes every day about healing HPV.
Six months later I had another pap smear; it was normal and I was negative for HPV. The protocol worked! Taking a risk and trying an alternative method of healing before succumbing to fear and getting what would have been an unnecessary surgery for me was so valuable. Herbs are powerful and they can cure us. There is no guarantee alternative methods work all the time for all people, but neither does western medicine work all the time either! Sometimes taking the road less traveled is well worth the risk.
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