Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually-transmitted infection in the world, and so much so that almost every sexually-active individual, whether male or female, will have it at some point in their life.
There are several different strains of HPV, and while in most cases HPV will clear itself on its own within two years without you even knowing, there are cases when the infection will not clear on its own. In some cases, it can be responsible for giving a woman cervical cancer.
"This comes from my own health journey," said Integrative Health Coach and Wellness Educator Denell Nawrocki to VIX. The also mind behind Generative Health, an alternative and holistic health service in Sebastopol, Calif. added: "I was diagnosed with HPV and cervical dysplasia, and I had consistently abnormal pap smear results for six years."
Nawrocki was determined to find natural ways to cure herself of HPV after doctors only offered her invasive surgical procedures as options to. "Not once did the nurse practitioner or OB/GYN give me any sort of tools for how to help myself," says Nawrocki. "So really, this interest in women's health is just through my own healing journey."
Narwocki recommends these five tips for healing HPV naturally, though she stresses "it is not a one size fit all approach," and you are easily able to adjust it to what makes your body feel good.
1. Nourish your body with good, whole foods.
"Nutrition is very pivotal when it comes to gynecological health, especially cervical health," says Nawrocki. During a pap smear, doctors scrape the cervix to check for abnormal cell growth, and Narwocki explains,"If something is wrong, it usually means that the immune system is compromised."
This is where nutrition comes in. For women who are trying to heal their cervix, Nawrocki recommends cruciferous vegetables like arugula, spinach, kale, cauliflower, and broccoli. "They have a lot of folic acid in them," says Nawrocki, "and that really helps support the immune system.
Foods with beta-carotene are also important to include in your diet, which include foods like cantaloupe and carrots. According to LiveStrong, a 2010 study published in Cancer Research, [found that] females with high levels of beta-carotene were 43 to 50 percent less likely to acquire any HPV-related infections than females with low levels of beta-carotene.
"Saturated fat has been demonized, but it's actually really necessary for the health of our cells, the health of the immune system," says Nawrocki. Coconut oil or grass-fed butter are two sources that she recommends for women to add into their diet to ensure they are getting enough saturated fats.
2. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
"So many people are dehydrated, and when you are chronically dehydrated, your cells are unable to function properly," says Nawrocki. According to the Institute of Medicine, women should be getting about 22.7 ounces of water from food or drink each day, and your body can be a good indicator of how much water your body needs. Each person is different, which is why there are only guidelines for how much water to drink, but if you're exercising vigorously, you might need more.
Nawrocki also recommends removing alcohol from your diet as much as possible. "If you have been diagnosed with HPV or cervical dysplasia, I truly recommend limiting alcohol consumption because it really takes a toll on the immune system."
3. Use herbs and supplements.
"The two supplements that I used and were recommended to me, are folic acid and lysine," says Nawrocki. According to Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Women's Mental Health, "The CDC, the U.S. Public Health Service and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), recommends that every woman of reproductive age get 400 micrograms (400 mcg) or 0.4 milligrams of folic acid every day." Folic acid can lower the chances of birth defects, and lysine is a great supplements for boosting the immune system.
Herbs can also be used to help boost the immune system and help the cervix, and can be taken as a tea, as a vaginal steam, or as a douche. For a tea, steep herbs in boiling water for a few minutes, and then drink, three times daily. Good herbs include nettle, lavender, and raspberry leaf.
Nettle, calendula, and lavender are great herbs for use in a vaginal steam, a process that is pretty simple and allows for herbs to directly nourish the cervix. Lastly, there is douching.
"Douching gets very bad press," Nawrocki says, laughing. "But what a douche does used with herbs is that it puts the herbs right up in the vagina and on the cervix." Women can easily buy a douche bulb from a local pharmacy, and use goldenseal powder and pau d'arco to make a warm tea, which would go inside of the douche bulb and then squirted up into the vagina. This allows for the herbs to get right onto the cervix and help it heal.
4. Reduce your stress levels.
"Cervical health is directly linked to immune health," says Nawrocki. "When a woman is really stressed out, the immune system becomes weakened, and that will make it more difficult for her body to self heal." Nawrocki doesn't recommend anything for stress reduction in particular (so you don't have to meditate or do yoga). "Do what makes you feel good," she says. "That might be taking your dog for a walk, or reading a book."
Coloring, going for a walk or jog, taking a warm bath with Epsom salts, listening to music, and getting a massage are all ways of helping to reduce stress.
5. Be aware of how you're feeling during sex.
The last thing Nawrocki recommends is for women to be very aware of their bodies when having sex. "Really become mindful about sexual practices," says Nawrocki. "Be aware of whether or not you are aroused when someone or something penetrates you. The cervix is this very sensitive and delicate body part, and it doesn't like to be hit when it's not ready."
When a woman is not aroused, her cervix sits low, and if women do not engage in enough activities that arouse her before penetration, it can hurt her, and she can feel a "hitting" sensation (that will cause sharp pain) against her cervix. "Prolonged exposure to this will cause the cells on the cervix to respond negatively," says Nawrocki.
The way to cure it? Spend more time doing foreplay to make sure your body is ready for sex. "The body just wants us to love it," says Nawrocki, "and this includes the reproductive system."
For more information about Denell Nawrocki and her holistic approach to women's health, you can find her at @denellnawrocki andGenerative Health.
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