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Genital warts can itch, bleed, and become infected. Genital wars can cause severe pain when they are accidentally crushed, and they are unsightly for intimate contact. And, of course, genital warts can be passed on to one's intimate partner.
There is a point of no return for nutritional interventions that can help keep genital warts in check, but there are also solid, sensible recommendations for nutritional supplements that just might keep warts tiny or even invisible. I'll give you the specifics of nutritional supplementation for genital warts in just a moment, but first I will tell you the role nutrition plays in the disease process.
All genital warts are caused by one or more strains of the human papillomavirus, also known as HPV. There are over 80 strains of HPV that are identified by number. An HPV infection occurs when broken skin infected with HPV touches broken skin that has not yet been infected with HPV. Transmission of the virus is most likely to occur during overly energetic sexual intercourse, or when the skin has been broken by seen or unseen herpesvirus infection or allergies.
Warts on dry skin can only infect dry skin, and warts on moist mucosal surfaces can only infect moist mucosal surfaces. It is not unusual for auto-inoculation to occur. That is, people can infect themselves increases of skin and membranes. People with strong immune systems are resistant to infection, but the immunity that fights HPV originates in the skin itself, not in the bloodstream.
Vaccination protects against only four of the 80 strains of HPV that can cause warts. The HPV strains that are mostly like to cause potentially cancerous warts on the genitals, around the anus, or in the rectum are 16, 18, 45, 31, 33, 58, and 52. The Gardasil vaccine only protects against 6, 11, 16, and 18.
Nutrients in the vitamin A family, such as retinol (the activated form of vitamin A), alpha-carotene, and beta-carotene, help the basement membrane create proteins called adhesins. The adhesins literally cause the upper layers of skin to "stick" to the basement membrane.
Vitamin A, alpha-carotene, and beta-carotene do not "disinfect" the skin. The virus still lives in the skin, but the rapid growth of the skin is much less likely to form the familiar cauliflower-shaped warts. The skin is less likely to break, and the virus is less likely to spread.
Two B vitamins stimulate the immune system in the skin to release chemicals that fight HPV. These vitamins are folic acid and vitamin B12. Even when the core bloodstream has normal amounts of folic acid and B12, the vitamins are often deficient in the skin itself, and in the mucous membranes of the cervix, glans penis (tip of the penis), and rectal canal. Increasing core bloodstream levels of folic acid and B12 increases the supply of these two vitamins where they are needed most.
An antioxidant called glutathione peroxidase reduces inflammatory reactions all over the body, including the skin. You can actually buy a glutathione supplement, but your body can't absorb it (and you would be wasting your money). The body uses selenium and vitamin E to make and recharge glutathione peroxidase, and vitamin C to recharge vitamin E. Of these three antioxidants, only vitamin E has a direct effect on the virus that causes genital warts, but the other two antioxidants are important for keeping vitamin E active.
In women, zinc prevents the progression of genital warts to cervical dysplasia and cervical cancer. I used to write that there have been no studies of the use of zinc to support recovery from genital warts in men, but there was a small of study of zinc treatment of genital warts in men in Brazil published in a Portuguese-language medical journal in 2009. Brazilian doctors report that about 80% of men in their study had smaller genital warts after they took zinc sulfate as a nutritional supplement.
The amount of zinc the Brazilian doctors gave their study participants was very, very high, 10 mg for every kg of body weight. Frankly, no one should take 1000 mg of zinc a day without medical supervision, because of the very real possibility of inducing copper deficiency and creating a different set of medical problems. Taking a modest amount of supplemental zinc, however, should, as I have noted elsewhere, help keep genital warts from bleeding and crumbling.
How do you put this nutritional program altogether? The first step in a working home remedy for genital warts is to take moderate amounts of some safe and inexpensive common nutritional supplements.
If you take beta-carotene, you don't have to take vitamin A, and vice versa. The body can convert beta-carotene into vitamin A, although this process is a lot faster in thin people than it is in people who have a lot of body fat.
How long do you need to take these supplements? It is especially important during the first six months after you have been exposed to HPV that you don't have deficiencies in any of these nutrients. Afterward, you will not have nutritional deficiencies in these vitamins and antioxidants unless you take certain medications.
This is the nutritional program to pursue if you know you have been exposed to HPV but you do not yet have genital warts. There is also a homeopathic program that uses five well-known treatments for keeping warts from emerging.
Homeopathy is a systematic form of energy medicine. The basic idea of homeopathy is that the whole person creates symptoms, and that different people can have different symptoms but have the same disease, or different people can have the same symptoms and different diseases. The remedy for each syndrome of symptoms (classical homeopaths called this the "central delusion" that kept a person from being well) is based on the energy of a remedy rather than the remedy itself.
There are some people who just can't believe that an "energy signature" can have a healing effect. The late French allergy researcher Jacques Benveniste demonstrated in an experiment he reported in the prestigious journal Nature that an "energy signature" could have a measurable, physical healing effect, and just before his death in a surgical mishap, he was even sending "energy signatures" over the Internet to treat patients a continent away from his office.
This is not the place to discuss the scientific merits of homeopathy. I'm just going to recommend a combination of homeopathic treatments that is usually helpful. The maker of these homeopathic treatments, Natural Remedies, offers a one-year money-back guarantee, so there is nothing to lose by trying them. Here's the combination of remedies used in their warts product.
The Native Remedies product that combines all five of these remedies is called Skin Dr. It is more expensive than most single-ingredient products, but it saves you having to buy all five remedies separately and comes with a one-year money back guarantee.
There is another Native Remedies Product that I think is worth a try for genital warts. It's called Immunity Plus. This is one of the few herbal remedies on the American market that includes white mistletoe. In my experience, this is the herb that is most likely to make a difference in viral infections of all kinds. The other herbs in the formula play a supporting role for the mistletoe. Where you are most likely to see (or more precisely, not see) results from Immunity Plus is in stopping the progression of genital warts during the first few weeks after exposure.
I would take this product for at least 3 months if I knew I had been exposed to HPV but I did not yet have the symptoms of HPV. If you don't develop warts, consider the product to have worked.
Q. Do condoms prevent the transmission of HPV?
A. If you were to use condoms 100% of the time, you would have about a 99% chance of avoiding infection. If you were to use condoms about 50% of the time, you would have about a 75% chance of getting infected if your partner has genital warts. The transmission of the virus diminishes over time, however, and warts on mucous membranes typically do not infect dry skin, and vice versa.
Q. Aside from condoms, is there anything that can be done to prevent the spread of genital warts?
A. Beta-carotene and vitamin A strengthen the skin so it is less likely to break and spread the virus. If there could be only a limited number of supplements you take to fight the infection, either beta-carotene or vitamin A should be at the top of your list.
Q. If two partners have been together for many years before one develops genital warts, does this mean that one partner has been unfaithful?
A. Not necessarily. The virus can be dormant for many years before stress or immune deficiency activates it.
Q. Should you stop having sex if you develop genital warts?
A. If you have been with one partner for a number of months or years, no. Chances are you have already exchanged the virus before any symptoms appear. However, you should not have sex with a new partner without making your HPV status known.
Q. Is there any required medical care for people who get HPV?
A. In less than 1% of cases, genital warts progress to cervical cancer in women. Women over 30 should get a Pap smear every year to make sure they do not have cervical dysplasia or cervical cancer.
Q. Can genital warts be removed?
A. Yes, doctors can remove genital warts with a variety of techniques, none of them pleasant. Surprisingly, many natural wart removal methods work because of a genuine power of brain over matter. There seem to be biological factors associated with belief in wart cures that make them work-but very few people can simply wish their warts away. They usually have to perform some ritual to make wart removal work.