Warts – it’s all about the vitamin A
I’ve seen a wonderful patient over the past year who is in her late sixties and has been coming in for treatment of a wart. Although we typically think of a wart (verrucae plantaris) as a disease of adolescence, every so often I’ll see someone in their sixth or seventh decade of life with a wart. Most commonly the wart will be associated with a callus in the forefoot. And over the years, I’ve found that these particular warts, in folks over the age of 60, are tough to eradicate.
Treatment to date with this patient has included periodic paring of the wart and topical application of 60% salicylic acid. We had also recommended daily supplemental Vitamin A.
In my most recent visit with this patient, the wart, and to a great degree, the callus, had disappeared. We talked about lifestyle and possible contributing factors that may have helped to eliminate the wart. The one change that rose to the top was a new green smoothie for breakfast diet kick that this patient and her husband were on. Why is a green smoothie important? Green leafy vegetables are a very high source of Vitamin A. Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that is stored in body fat. Unlike Vitamins B and C, which are water-soluble, Vitamins A, D, E and K are stored in your body for future use. Vitamin A is stored primarily in body fat. And the cushion in the palm of the hand and the sole of the foot? That’s fat. Knowing that most warts are found on the palm of the hand and the sole of the foot, the intent of using elevated levels of Vitamin A is to drive excess vitamin A to the palm and the sole. Every 28 days, we get a whole new layer of skin. Therefore, over the course of a month, you’ll see elevated levels of Vitamin A in the skin.
What’s in a green breakfast smoothie?
- Kale, 1 cup cooked – 354% of daily recommended amount of vitamin A. (1)
- Spinach, 1 cup cooked – 377% of daily recommended amount of vitamin A. (1)
There are so many theories in the lay literature that suggest how to treat a wart. Knowing that most warts are found in adolescence, the vitamin A theory comes from a simple fact – what self-respecting adolescent is going to eat green leafy vegetables?
Is the green smoothie a new medication? Likely not, but I do believe that the dietary changes made by my patient significantly contributed to the elimination of the wart. Maybe not a new medication, but I’d certainly call it good medicine.