Treatment Of Human Papillomavirus: Discussion Of Botanical Protocol

Treatment of human papillomavirus can be approached topically alone, but it is optimal to boost overall resistance using a combination of topical and internal therapies. For topical treatment, undiluted botanical extracts can be directly applied to warts using a cotton swab several times daily (use a fresh cotton swab for each application) for 6 to 12 weeks, as needed. Suppositories can be inserted vaginally or rectally for warts in those areas. They should be inserted nightly five times per week for 6 to 12 weeks. The patient should be re-evaluated periodically for human papillomavirus.

Astragalus

Astragalus has been used for centuries in Chinese medicine as a qi tonic, specifically for strengthening what is called the “wei qi” or the protective energy of the body. It has long been used to build energy, increase general immunity, improve digestion and improve longevity. Herbalists and naturopathic doctors commonly use astragalus for its immunostimulatory effects. Oral doses of astragalus have been found to increase IgE, IgA, and IgM antibody levels and lymphocyte levels in humans. Of particular relevance to the treatment of genital warts was a randomized, controlled trial involving 531 patients with chronic cervicitis secondary to human papillomavirus, CMV, and herpes simplex virus infections. This trial demonstrated that a liquid extract of astragalus root potentiated recombinant interferon in the treatment of cervicitis, particularly when resulting from human papillomavirus infection. In addition to the immunostimulatory effect of astragalus, people who take it often experience increased physical stamina, increased mental alertness, and decreased fatigue.

Echinacea

The purified polysaccharide, arabinogalactan from E. purpurea, has been found to increase T-cell proliferation and the production of interferon by macrophages. Additionally, unpurified fresh pressed juice of E. purpurea has been shown in vitro to induce macrophages to produce cytokines, which in turn create an antiviral effect against viruses, including the herpes virus. Clinical trials of echinacea are of mixed results. As an example, a yearlong prospective, double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover trial (n = 50) examined the efficacy of a tablet form of Echinacea purpurea (Echinaforce) in the clinical course of genital herpes. The study found no statistically significant benefit in the clinical course of frequently recurrent genital herpes. It is possible that this study failed to show benefit because of insufficient dosing and / or the use of a tablet form of echinacea. Certain constituents in echinacea species, namely alkenes and amides, possess potent antiviral activity (including against herpes simplex virus). Ethanol extracts of these constituents and these extracts of echinacea have been shown to have the most potent antiviral activity. Although clinical trials have not yet conclusively demonstrated significant antiviral and immune stimulation, previous and current naturopathic and herbal practice demonstrate these effects and hence many modern herbalists and naturopathic doctors use echinacea as part of their treatment of human papillomavirus.

Goldenseal

Although no research has been done specifically on the treatment of human papillomavirus with goldenseal, the herb has shown broad antimicrobial effects that suggest this herb may be beneficial as part of a topical herbal application for this infection.

Lemon Balm

Acutely, lemon balm extract is applied topically for its virostatic action. Lemon balm has demonstrated effects against a number of viruses including herpes simplex virus and Influenza. Virostatic effects are attributable to the glyco side-bound phenolcarboxylic acid and its polymers. These constituents block cellular receptors responsible for viral adsorption, and thus viral replication. Additionally oxidation products of caffeic acid, found in lemon balm, inhibit protein biosynthesis in vitro, which may account for the antiviral activity of topical application. These in vitro data have been confirmed in at least three human trials. One of the more recent trials was a prospective, double-blind, randomized trial (n = 66). The treatment group applied a standardized balm cream [1% Lo-701 dried extract from Melissa officinalis L. leaves (70:1)] four times daily to an active Herpes labialis lesion over a 5-day period. All patients suffered from recurrent Herpes labialis. However, there was a significant decrease in the intensity of herpetic symptoms by day 2 of treatment between the active vs. the placebo group (p = 0.042). Lemon balm also has anxiolytic and sedative actions.

Licorice

Although no studies were identified on the treatment of human papillomavirus with licorice or its extracts, other viral studies suggest, as well as the herb’s traditional uses, that investigation into such use may be promising.

Oregano and Thyme

Both oregano and thyme essential oils are regularly included in vaginal suppositories for the treatment of vaginal infections, including human papillomavirus infection. One study reports on the efficacy of thyme as an antibacterial, and in another study oregano and clove oils were diluted and examined for their activity against enveloped and non-enveloped RNA and DNA viruses. Olive oil was also included as a control. Viruses were incubated with oil dilutions and enumerated by plaque assay. Antiviral activity of oregano and clove oils was demonstrated on two enveloped viruses of both the DNA and RNA types and the disintegration of virus envelope was visualized by negative staining using transmission electron microscopy. Care should be taken in the use of essential oils topically; used undiluted (neat) they can be irritating to sensitive tissues such as cervical or vaginal mucosa. Tincture may be applied directly.

Thuja

Thuja is used for the treatment of genital and anal warts, and is commonly recommended in the naturopathic treatment of cervical dysplasia for its antiviral activity. The main constituent is an essential oil consisting of α-thujone and β-thujone, the content of which varies proportionally with the amount of ethanol used in producing the plant extract. If consumed internally, thu-jone can be neurotoxic, convulsant, and hallucinogenic. Long-term or excessive use of thujone-rich products can cause restlessness, vomiting, vertigo, tremors, renal damage, and convulsions. Internal use of thuja decoctions and even very small doses of thuja oil (e.g., 20 drops per day for 5 days) as an abortifacient has been associated with neurotoxicity, convulsions, and death. Additionally, thuja is associated with a substantial risk of inducing fetal malformation, and is absolutely contraindicated for use in pregnancy. No research on the short- or long-term topical use of this herb was identified. Ingestion of thuja cannot be recommended because of its significant potential for toxicity.

Usnea

Usnea lichens have a history of use that spans centuries and countries from ancient China to modern Turkey, from rural dwellers in South Africa to modern-day naturopathic physicians and herbalists in the United States. The lichen is rich in usnic acid, which has demonstrated in vitro antimicrobial activity against bacteria, viruses, and protozoa. Additionally, it exhibits anti-inflammatory and analgesic activity. Alcohol extract may be added to a suppository blend or diluted in water or tea (1 tbs tincture / cup of liquid) for use as a peri-wash or in sitz baths.