Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV)
Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is a member of the herpes virus family, and, as with herpes, even when the symptoms have totally cleared, the virus stays in the body in a latent state. Epstein-Barr virus infection generally doesn’t cause a problem, unless people happen to be managing a chronic or invisible illness that causes a weakened immune system. In that case, EBV can reactivate and cause symptoms like fever, fatigue, and swollen glands. Sometimes people develop chronic fatigue syndrome after reactivation of EBV or another virus, so researchers are trying to discover whether viruses might trigger chronic fatigue syndrome.
EBV is most often transmitted by saliva, but it can also be spread through other bodily fluids, such as blood and semen. Besides causing infectious mononucleosis (aka mono), an EBV infection may lead to Guillain-Barré syndrome, a rare neurologic complication in which your immune system attacks your nerves, and many other conditions. In fact, EBV infection was recently linked to multiple sclerosis (MS).
Here’s what’s important to remember: EBV is one of the most common viruses in the world. Most infections don’t cause any symptoms, but when fever and fatigue are present, it can definitely complicate things. There is no specific treatment for the virus, but high doses of intravenous vitamin C seem to reduce the viral load. Even if someone’s EVB isn’t bothering them now, it is beneficial to check with a nutritionist to make sure there aren't deficiencies in any vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin D (chronic illness of any kind can deplete the body of nutrients). There are also many other remedies that seem to have potent anti-EBV activities, including turmeric and passionflower. Amino acids and Chinese herbs are also used successfully by some. Western herbal botanical medicines have also been helpful for many. As always, it's best to find healthcare providers who can match the many natural treatment options out there to the specific symptoms so you recover faster. Meanwhile, hydration helps (some people swear by celery juice) as does getting lots of rest. To avoid passing along EBV, don’t share toothbrushes or drinks with others until well after the fever has subsided.
- Mayo Clinic. Mononucleosis. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/mononucleosis/symptoms-causes/syc-20350328
- Center for Disease Control and Prevention. About Epstein-Barr virus. https://www.cdc.gov/epstein-barr/about-ebv.html
- Merck Manuals. Infectious mononucleosis. https://www.merckmanuals.com/home/infections/herpesvirus-infections/infectious-mononucleosis
- Med Sci Monit. Effect of high dose vitamin C on Epstein-Barr viral infection. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4015650/
- Pediatr Transplant. Optimal treatment for chronic active Epstein-Barr virus disease. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1399-3046.2008.01095.x