Often called the common cold of the sexual world, the Centers for Disease Control states that HPV has infected over 79 million individuals worldwide. Both prevalent and highly contagious, HPV tends to thrive on porous skin located in the throat, anal cavity, cervix and tongue, making it extremely difficult to test and eradicate around the world.
Kellie Lease Stecher, MD, a gynecologist in Edina, a suburb of Minneapolis, Minn. believes both studies highlight the importance of ongoing research. “While marijuana use is climbing due to legality, more studies must be done to look at the HPV’s DNA and how each strand is effected by CBD or marijuana,” Stecher explained. “Further studies should examine how HPV expression is altered by marijuana or its components in different tissues; as we don’t have enough data to determine if CBD or THC is helpful or harmful due to conflicting data.”
Understanding HPV’s infectivity
Interestingly, a 2016 study published by North-West University in Potchefstroom, South Africa, was found to be in direct opposition of Caifano’s findings.
Citing the same method of apoptosis, researchers found that CBD could be considered anticarcinogenic for cervical cancer. The data further illustrated that, “cannabidiol rather than cannabis sativa crude extracts prevent cell growth and induced cell death in cervical cancer cell lines.” Could cannabis hurt head and neck cancers while CBD kills cancer cells in the cervix?
In the study, Califano III cited that THC turned on the p38 MAPK, (protein that respond to stress or other stimuli) and while the protein was signaled on, HPV-positive head and neck cancer lost apoptosis (a form of cell death.) Meaning, THC seemed to ignite the protein that allowed HPV to continue growing at an alarming rate. Citing the study as a, “cautionary tale,” Califano III is now heading a study to see if CBD has the same effect.
Antioxidants are known for their cancer prevention properties. Studies have linked antioxidant levels to CIN and cervical cancer. In one study, blood levels of coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) and vitamin E were measured in patients with biopsy-confirmed CIN, cervical cancer, and in controls with normal PAP smears. Results showed levels of CoQ10 and Vitamin E were significantly lower in patients with diagnosed CIN and cervical cancer when compared to controls. Levels of CoQ10 from cervicovaginal epithelial cells were measurable and also appeared to be significantly lower in women diagnosed with CIN.15 These findings suggest low levels of these two antioxidants may play a role in the pathogenesis of cervical dysplasia.
3) Women of any age with certain risk factors may need more frequent screening, including those who have HIV, are immunosuppressed, were exposed to diethylstilbestrol (DES) in utero, and have been treated for cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN) 2, CIN 3, or cervical cancer.
There have been several studies showing low serum folate levels are linked to cervical dysplasia and high folate blood levels are linked to the prevention of CIN I.Improvement in cervical dysplasia using folic acid supplementation is also well documented.The doses vary and are most often given with vitamin B12 as not mask B12 anemia.
When the pap comes back with ASC-US and no HPV, normal cytology with HPV present, or ASC-US with HPV in the younger women, conventional medicine suggests to watch wait and repeat the pap. This is where naturopathic medicine would begin treatment. Supporting the immune system to fight off HPV as well as treating HPV directly can reverse the low grade cervical cell abnormality and eliminate HPV. Guidelines for referral to colposcopy are the same.
Naturopathic medicine can also treat cervical intraepithelial neoplasia I and II. This treatment consists of oral systemic support as well as local vaginal treatment of the cervix.
Coriolus is a mushroom commonly used in Asian cultures for its immune properties. It is often called an immunomodulator and has been studied for it is immune enhancing properties in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. Recently is has been studied for its immune modulating effects on HPV and reversing early stages of cervical cancer. A study published in the Townsend Letter November 2006 by J. Silva Couto looked at women with cervical dysplasia, LSIL (CIN I and HPV). Half of the women in the LSIL group were given 3g/d Coriolus a day for one year and the other half took none. Dr. Silva Couto found that Coriolus versicolor supplementation over a period of one year substantially increased regression of the dysplasia (LSIL) and induced clearance of the high risk sub-types of the HPV virus. Some interesting findings of the study include;
Indole-3-carbinol (I3C)is present in all members of the cruciferous vegetable family including cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and kale. Studies indicate I3C has the potential to prevent and even treat a number of common cancers, especially those that are estrogen related.In a double-blind, placebo controlled study, 30 patients with biopsy-confirmed CIN II-III were randomized to receive placebo or 200 or 400 mg oral I3C daily for 12 weeks. Three patients did not complete the study. None of the 10 patients in the placebo group had complete regression of CIN. Four of eight patients in the 200-mg/day group and four of nine in the 400-mg/day group had complete regression of CIN.I3C is easily available over the counter as a supplement or simply by eating 4-5 servings of the cruciferous family vegetables a day.