A Common Virus With Serious Health Consequences
Most know of the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) in relation to mononucleosis, but researchers have discovered that the virus may also be associated with cancer, autoimmune disorders, chronic fatigue syndrome, “post recovery syndrome”, and more. While EBV is a common virus — with 90% of the worldwide adult population having been exposed to it at one time or another — science is finding it is far from benign as once thought.1 Thankfully, herbal remedies and positive lifestyle habits are an outstanding defense and treatment for EBV — several of which we will explore in this post.
Epstein-Barr virus — How does it spread and what are the symptoms?
Often referred to as the “kissing disease”, EBV is highly contagious and spreads person to person via bodily fluids such as saliva, blood, and semen. Sharing personal items with someone who has an active infection is a surefire way to encourage its spread. What makes this virus difficult to contain is that it can remain active for months without showing symptoms where it can be easily passed along to another. Also, once you are exposed to the virus, it remains within your system forever and can be reactivated during times of stress, illness, or when your immune system is compromised.
- Muscle weakness
- Sore throat
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Achy feeling
- Loss of appetite
- Skin rash
- Swollen liver or spleen
- Diarrhea and ear infections (with children)
Symptoms typically last for two to 4 weeks. However, fatigue can persist for much longer — up to several months. This ongoing fatigue is one of the hallmark signs of mononucleosis. If the spleen or liver is enlarged from the infection, your healthcare practitioner will usually recommend avoiding contact sports until you have fully recovered.
Those who are more likely to develop an infection from EBV often have a weakened immune system. Other risk factors include being female, a college student or in the military with close living quarters, you are sexually active, or located in a region that has warm weather, such as the tropics.
The Link Between EBV and Chronic Illness
As I wrote in “Is This Virus the Missing Link for Multiple Sclerosis?“, EBV is not only implicated in the development of multiple sclerosis, it is also associated with “post recovery syndrome”:
“The second study found a clear association between “post recovery syndrome” and a reactivated EBV infection. In fact, 66.7% diagnosed with this syndrome tested positive for activated Epstein-Barr virus. Only 10% of the participants with reactivated EBV were symptom-free. The researchers believe that reactivation “occurred soon after or concurrently with contraction of the [severe respiratory virus].” They concluded:
“These findings suggest that many long [post-recovery] symptoms may not be a direct result of the [severe respiratory] virus but may be the result of […] inflammation-induced EBV reactivation.”’
The virus has also been linked to other autoimmune disorders, such as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), inflammatory bowel disease (including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis), type 1 diabetes, and celiac disease.2
What’s more, researchers believe viral infections, particularly Epstein-Barr, may be involved with chronic fatigue syndrome. If you are suffering from this debilitating condition, see my post “Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: My Top Herbal Medicines & Lifestyle Tips for Healing“.
Researchers have also found an association to certain forms of cancer, including:
- Colorectal cancer
- Burrkitt’s lymphoma
- B lymphoproliferative disease
- Nasopharyngeal carcinoma
- Hodgkin disease
Lifestyle Habits And Herbal Remedies To Prevent and Treat Infection
Of course, taking steps to avoid infection with EBV is important. As with any virus, washing your hands often, and not sharing personal items are helpful with avoiding exposure to EBV.
Since our immune system is the heavy-lifter in addressing contagious illness, take steps to strengthen it by eating a clean, nutrient dense diet that is free of processed foods, refined sugar, alcohol, and preservatives/additives. Instead, focus on plenty of vegetables, especially leafy greens; high-antioxidant, low-glycemic fruits such as berries; and wild-caught fish that includes salmon, mackerel, or sardines. Probiotic-rich foods can also be helpful, think: yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, beet kvass, and tempeh. Reducing stress, getting plenty of rest, and practicing gratitude will support a healthy immune system as well. And don’t forget to stay hydrated.
Several herbs are helpful in not only fortifying the immune system, but some also tackle viral infections. A few of my favorites include Elderberry and camu camu or amla berry for vitamin C. Usnea Lichen is outstanding for preventing and treating viral and bacterial illness when sprayed in the back of the throat. Additionally, I apply a small amount of our All-Purpose (First Aid) Salve in my nose as a preventative to avoid picking up any bugs making the rounds. Elderberry, usnea lichen, and my salve are available in our convenient Travel Pack.
Lemon balm and turkey tail mushroom are helpful for reducing the viral load so that you can heal quickly. Turkey tail also helps to support and modulate your immune system so that it can effectively fight off contagious illness — including EBV. My Eastern Blend is an outstanding antiviral formulation that can help to heal Epstein-Barr, Lyme disease, respiratory infections, and other contagious bacterial and viral illnesses.
If you have an autoimmune condition, it is best to avoid popular immune boosters such as echinacea, goldenseal, and astragalus as they can cause a flare. You can learn more about this here, along with alternative options.
Opt for High-Potency Herbal Medicines
It is important to remember that not all herbal tinctures are created equal. At Nicole’s Apothecary, you will only find the highest-potency and most effective formulations that help to prevent and treat EBV and much more. All of our tinctures employ a Spagyric Extraction Method to access every beneficial compound in the plant. Moreover, our medicinal mushroom products are dual-extracted and only use the fruiting body, not the lower-quality mycelium that is commonly found in mushroom products. See our methods page for more information.
Visit the apothecary today and read about our powerful formulations and how they can help you defeat viral illness, improve health, and much more.
Wishing you the very best in health!
Nicole’s Apothecary Products in this Post
Ressing, M. E., van Gent, M., Gram, A. M., Hooykaas, M. J., Piersma, S. J., & Wiertz, E. J. (2015). Immune Evasion by Epstein-Barr Virus. Current topics in microbiology and immunology, 391, 355–381. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-22834-1_12
Houen, G., & Trier, N. H. (2021). Epstein-Barr Virus and Systemic Autoimmune Diseases. Frontiers in immunology, 11, 587380. https://doi.org/10.3389/fimmu.2020.587380