Natural Approaches for Cervical Dysplasia
by Belle McCaleb
Cervical dysplasia or abnormal pre-cancerous cervical cells is common in women and can appear at any age. In most cases cervical dysplasia is asymptomatic and is only detected via a routine PAP smear. Mild cervical dysplasia is the most common form and up to 70% of these cases eventually resolve on their own. Resolution sooner rather than later can be assisted with natural medicine approaches to support immunity, treat inflammation, manage viral infection, and to correct low nutrient and antioxidant status. Moderate to severe cervical dysplasia is less likely to resolve spontaneously and has a higher rate of progression to cancer so medical intervention is advisable. However, natural medicines can be used as supportive care during and following medical intervention to promote recovery and healing as well as help prevent recurrence.
The development of cervical dysplasia and cervical cancer is strongly associated with infection with human papillomavirus (HPV). Therefore a useful natural medicine approach includes the use of anti-viral, anti-tumour and immune support herbs. Herbs with strong anti-viral actions include Andrographis, Olive Leaf, Echinacea, Oregano and Calendula. Additional potent immune support herbs include Reishi mushroom, Coriolus versicolor mushroom, Astragalus and Withania. Anti-tumour herbs include Echinacea, Reishi, Tea tree, Blood root, Thuja, Thyme and many medicinal Chinese mushrooms including Coriolus versicolor.
It is important to treat cervical inflammation topically as it is also a key driver of the development and progression of dysplasia. Reducing inflammation systemically can be assisted with the use of oral Curcumin (extract of Turmeric), Boswellia and high quality Omega 3 Fatty Acids. The use of anti-inflammatory and tissue healing herbs in the form of herbal suppositories is also useful. Common herbs used for this purpose are Marshmallow, Golden Seal and Licorice. Identification and treatment of contributing factors such as chronic candidiasis or bacteriosis is essential as they contribute to inflammation. Myrrh, Oregano and Thyme are often included in preparations for their anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antifungal actions. If candidiasis or bacteriosis is suspected it is also very important to treat the gut and correct the balance of the microflora. Additional anti-bacterial/anti-fungal herbs and special strains of particular probiotics can help keep both mucosal areas healthy. Obviously all herbal treatment should be under that supervision of a professional medical herbalist.
A B vitamin deficiency may be associated with cervical dysplasia. In particular a deficiency of Folate, or B9 has been associated. If folate is deficient or unavailable at a cellular level then a substance called homocysteine may increase. Homocysteine is thought to contribute to the severity of cervical dysplasia. We now know that certain genetic combinations result in limited availability of intracellular folate. Further discussion with your naturopath regarding testing for homocysteine and the MTHFR gene is recommended as this is a vast subject. However, certainly hedging your bets by taking activated forms of the B Vitamins may be a good idea – again professional advice is recommended.
Similarly a diet low in antioxidants is associated with increased risk of cervical dysplasia. Increasing dietary antioxidants such as green tea, blueberries, citrus, acai and other “superfoods” is recommended. If you have not had a high antioxidant diet for sometime or if you have developed cervical dysplasia of any degree supplementation with food based antioxidant formulas as well as natural betacarotene, Vitamin A, Vitamin E and Vitamin C is highly recommended under the direction of a professional naturopath or nutritionist.
Another natural food based supplement called Indole 3 carbinol has support in the literature for cervical dysplasia. This extract of Brussels sprouts, broccoli and cabbages helps with estrogen metabolism through the liver. Studies have found supplementing at 200 to 400 mg daily is useful in treating cervical dysplasia.
In summary, there are a variety of herbal and nutritional approaches to help reverse and prevent recurrence of mild cervical dysplasia. In the case of more moderate to severe cervical dysplasia natural medicines can support the healing and recovery from medical intervention and help prevent future recurrences. Remember, tt is important to seek professional medical herbalist and/or naturopathic advice as herbs and nutrients are not without risks and contraindications. It is also important to reduce modifiable risk factors such as smoking, poor diet and poor exercise patterns.
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For women’s health go to www.mccalebhealth.com.au. Belle McCaleb ND, RN, MSS-C, BSN, RYT has been a registered health professional since 1986. She is a naturopath, herbalist, Master’s prepared counselor, Registered Nurse and Registered Yoga Teacher. Belle firmly believes total health and wellness are only achievable through the integration of body, mind and spirit. She specializes in women’s health and cancer support and holds advanced nursing qualifications in obstetrics, gynaecology and reproductive endocrinology and infertility.
Belle has specialised in cancer support since 2003, is the founder of the Cancer Support Alliance (www.cancersupportalliance.com.au) and was the Consultant Naturopath for Cancer Care Centre for seven years.” She has a particular interest in keeping cancer patients well during their chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments, combining knowledge from her extensive nursing background with natural medicine and dietary approaches. Belle teaches gentle yoga classes at her private studio, Serenity Yoga and also offers individual therapeutic yoga sessions for particular health issues. She is currently undertaking a Postgraduate Diploma in Yoga Therapy.
Belle is located in St Georges (Burnside), SA. For more info see www.mccalebhealth.com.au.