Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV), also known as mononucleosis or mono, is a virus that is transmitted from human to human through body fluids. EBV is commonly referred to as the kissing disease but can be spread through many different types of contact including through the blood and seminal fluid. Although many people are carriers of this virus, some experience moderate to debilitating symptoms that can make life difficult. In this article I cover symptoms, causes, and my top remedies for Epstein Barr Virus.
Although EBV can affect anyone, it seems that those who are younger (especially college age) and up to 40 years old are at higher risk (1). Other factors that may put a person at higher risk of contracting EBV are weakened immunity and intimate contact with varying partners.
If you have been infected with EBV, it can sometimes be weeks before you have any symptoms. The initial stages of symptoms may resemble those of a cold or flu and include: fatigue, fever, sore throat, swollen lymph nodes in the neck, and general lethargy.
Although these initial symptoms may diminish within a few days, many experience a nagging fatigue that just won’t seem to go away. Some may also experience chronic pain throughout the body and in more rare cases, a swollen and painful spleen.
Just like any virus, you become a carrier of EBV by coming in contact with it. In the case of EBV this is commonly through saliva from kissing, sharing drinks, or sometimes picked up from shared surfaces like toys.
In rare cases, EBV can be contracted from blood transfusions, organ transplantation, or oral exposure to seminal fluids.
The extent to which you will experience EBV symptoms depends on the strength and coordination of your immune system. An intact immune system should be able to handle viral exposure with minimal or no symptoms but those who are immunocompromised will likely experience lasting symptoms.
How To Detect EBV
Being able to detect the presence of EBV is the first step in employing specific strategies to help your body heal it.
The first major sign to look for is a sudden onset of the flu-like symptoms described above, followed by a residual feeling of chronic fatigue. This residual fatigue that is sometimes accompanied by sudden onset of chronic pain is very indicative of EBV.
For my patients that have experienced this phenomenon I recommend having a Complete Blood Count and functional lab work done to look for specific indicators of EBV.
Complete Blood Count
A complete blood count (CBC) is a commonly used blood draw test that looks at the distribution of an individual’s blood cells. In a healthy person, there is an expected balance of the different types of blood cells. Many people understand that there are both white and red blood cells; white blood cells regulate the immune system, while red blood cells carry oxygen to our tissues.
Because white blood cells are responsible for a huge proportion of immunity, they can be observed clinically through a CBC for signs of elevated immune activity. In the case of mono, you would likely see elevated lymphocytes and monocytes.
Lymphocytes include natural killer (NK) cells, T cells, and B cells. Residing in the lymph fluid, these three regulate the body’s short-term and long-term immune responses. An elevated level indicates an increase in immune activity likely due to viral presence.
Monocytes play a similar role in immunity by forming macrophages. Macrophages are immune cells that reside in specific tissues and protect them from infiltration of foreign materials (such as viruses).
In a complete blood count, a proportion of white blood cells are observed and represented as a proportion out of 100 (as a percentage). A lymphocyte proportion of over 40% and a monocyte count of over 7% are indicative of viral infection.
Comprehensive Viral Panel
While the CBC is great at detecting abnormal immune system status, it doesn’t do much for telling what exactly is causing it. After seeing elevated lymphocytes and monocytes on a CBC, a viral panel can be used to determine the presence of specific viruses in the body.
My Comprehensive Viral Panel looks at 5 different indicators of EBV in addition to cytomegalovirus, herpes simplex, human herpes type 6, varicella zoster, and rubeola.
Upon detection, targeted strategies such as the ones listed in this article can be used to help your body fight off EBV and free yourself from the nagging symptoms.
Conventional treatment of EBV is very much focused on the mitigation of symptoms and little else. Common approaches include prescription steroids and pain medications to help the individual cope with fatigue and pain.
The common understanding is that there is very little we can do to get rid of a virus. By supporting the body through these 7 natural remedies, you can speed up the time it takes to overcome EBV.
We all know and love Vitamin C as a traditional cold and flu remedy, but this vitamin can actually have a powerful impact on EBV. A 2014 study observed the effects of high-dose IV vitamin C on EBV and found that it both lowered the presence of the virus in the body while also reducing the duration of symptoms (2).
The doses used within the study are hard to obtain in the diet, ranging from 7.5-50 grams. While small amounts of vitamin C can be obtained from the diet, you may look into supplementation with encapsulated or IV vitamin C from a qualified professional.
Zinc has long been known as an effective anti-viral compound. Commonly found in lozenges marketed to speed healing from cold or flu, it is thought that having optimal zinc levels in the body inhibits the replication of viruses.
This is because zinc potentiates human cytokine interferon alpha which is a protein whose primary role is to inhibit viral replication (3). Zinc also supports the production of a powerful antioxidant call superoxide dismutase which protects your cells from the damaging effects of viral pathogens.
Finally, zinc helps to downregulate the inflammatory response of the body which can help keep the immune system functioning properly. It is estimated that 25% of the world’s population is zinc deficient so this one is important!
Lysine is an essential amino acid that plays important roles in building muscle, production of hormones, and antibody formation. It has also been found that lysine supplementation may lower the severity and frequency of outbreaks in cases of herpes.
It is thought that because EBV is a strain of the herpes virus that it has similar benefits.
Arginine is another amino acid that has been shown to promote the growth and survival of viral pathogens in the body. It has been proposed that lysine provides an antiviral effect by directly opposing the effects of arginine (4).
Beta Glucan is a powerful immune-regulatory agent. This means it can stimulate or inhibit immunity depending on the needs of the body. In the case of an infection like EBV, the immune system can become overwhelmed.
Instead of a swift eradication of the virus, you get immune discoordination and systemic inflammation.
Beta Glucan activates both short and long-term immune responses to allow a more efficient activity of the immune system and increase the chances of fighting off infection. One way it does this is by binding to macrophages and boosting their ability to target and destroy foreign pathogens.
Olive Leaf Extract
Olive leaf is a powerful herb with a long history of use. It has been shown particularly helpful for supporting the immune system due to its anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-viral effects.
The effects of olive leaf are beneficial for many reasons. First, addressing other underlying bad bacteria and fungi is crucial for freeing up the immune system to fight EBV. Additionally, it has been shown that olive leaf extract inhibits viral reproduction.
Finally, using olive leaf extract along with other immune support agents like beta-glucan and vitamin C provides multi-faceted support for fighting off an infection.
This is exactly why I developed Immuno Charge. It has a therapeutic combination of all three to optimize your immune response from many different angles. It is a key component of my EBV protocol (which I outline at the end of this article).
Berberine is a powerful antimicrobial compound isolated from many plants found in nature. A 2017 study looking at nasopharyngeal cancer found that berberine was able to inhibit cancer formation that is commonly associated with EBV.
This is due to the inhibition of a specific gene called EBNA1 (Epstein-Barr Nuclear Antigen 1). What is significant about this is that this gene also plays a primary role in the replication and survival of the EB virus (5).
Berberine also acts in the GI tract to fight off other unwanted pathogens that may be distracting your immune system from fighting off EBV.
Echinacea may enhance healing from EBV due to its specific antiviral activity while also supporting macrophage activity.
Echinacea has also been shown to control the body’s pro-inflammatory responses to viruses. This helps lower systemic inflammation in the body and keep the immune system properly coordinated.
My Personal Protocol
Once I have seen that a patient’s CBC shows elevated lymphocytes and monocytes in addition to the presence of EBV on the comprehensive viral panel, I recommend the following protocol:
Super C: Take 4-6 grams daily by taking 6-8 caps – 3x daily away from meals
- If you get diarrhea, lower the dosage
- If you have low iron, take with meals
Immuno Charge: Take 2 caps – 3x daily (w/Super C)
- Contains Beta-Glucan & Olive Leaf
GI Regulator: Take 2 caps with each meal
- Contains Berberine along with other immune supportive compounds
Zinc Charge: 1 cap – 2-3x daily
L-Lysine: 1 cap – 2x daily
Probiocharge 30 Billion: 1 cap in morning upon arising and 1 cap at night before bed
- Proper microbial balance in the gut is absolutely critical for optimal immune system function
Additionally, I would recommend consuming 2 cups of Echinacea w/Elderberry tea daily for a week and then 2 weeks on this Everyday Detox tea and continue to cycle like that – 1 week Echinacea and 2 weeks Everyday Detox.