Epstein Barr virus

November 13, 2015

What is EBV?

The Epstein Barr Virus is a member of the herpes virus family. It is one of the most common human viruses and affects at least 95% of the population*. Most people are infected during infancy and early childhood and do not exhibit symptoms. Infection during adolescence and into adulthood often results in an acute viral infection called mononucleosis (more on this below). EBV also plays a role in certain cancers including Burkitt’s lymphoma and nasopharyngeal carcinoma**.

What are the symptoms?

When EBV results in mononucleosis symptoms include fever, sore throat, fatigue, swollen lymph nodes, swollen liver and a rash. Additionally, I have experienced facial flushing, dry eye, extreme lethargy and muscle weakness when my EBV has been active. These symptoms alone are extremely frustrating but what makes my EBV very difficult to manage is the intermittent nature of the symptoms when the Virus is active, gone one day only to re-appear the next.

How does it re-activate?

EBV can be reactivated when the hosts immune system is compromised. This may be due to another infection, a period of great stress, due to an inflammatory diet or anything else that may send the immune system into disequilibrium***. I can only hypothesise but in my case I believe the tapioca starch supplement led to an inflammatory cascade in my body which re-activated the Virus.

What can you do if you have active EBV?

Take it easy! Anti-viral treatments are not nearly as effective as anti-microbial or anti-fungal treatments so the best thing you can do to help your body eliminate the mononucleosis is provide the optimal conditions for your body to heal. This means following the fundamental principles of the paleo diet very closely including prioritising sleep (at least 8 – 9hrs of deep sleep per night), eliminating stress, spending time in the sun, very light exercise (if you are up to it!) and of course following a nutrient-dense, non inflammatory diet.

Healing Foods & certain fruits and vegetables can help your body rid itself of EBV and heal from its effects. The following are the best ones to incorporate into your diet (listed in rough order of importance). Try to eat at least three of these foods per day—the more the better—rotating your consumption so that in a given week or two, you get all of these foods into your system.
Wild blueberries: help restore the central nervous system and flush EBV neurotoxins out of the liver.

Celery: strengthens hydrochloric acid in the gut and provides mineral salts to the central nervous system.

Sprouts: high in zinc and selenium to strengthen the immune system against EBV.

Asparagus: cleanses the liver and spleen; strengthens the pancreas.

Spinach: creates an alkaline environment in the body and provides highly absorbable micronutrients to the nervous system.

Cilantro: removes heavy metals such as mercury and lead, which are favored foods of EBV.

Parsley: removes high levels of copper and aluminum, which feed EBV.

Coconut oil: antiviral and acts as an anti-inflammatory.

Garlic: antiviral and antibacterial that defends against EBV.

Ginger: helps with nutrient assimilation and relieves spasms associated with EBV.

Raspberries: rich in antioxidants to remove free radicals from the organs and bloodstream.

Lettuce: stimulates peristaltic action in the intestinal tract and helps cleanse EBV from the liver.

Papayas: restore the central nervous system; strengthen and rebuild hydrochloric acid in the gut.

Apricots: immune system rebuilders that also strengthen the blood.

Pomegranates: help detox and cleanse the blood as well as the lymphatic system.

Grapefruit: rich source of bioflavonoids and calcium to support the immune system and flush toxins out of the body.

Kale: high in specific alkaloids that protect against viruses such as EBV.

Sweet potatoes: help cleanse and detox the liver from EBV byproducts and toxins.

Cucumbers: strengthen the adrenals and kidneys and flush neurotoxins out of the bloodstream.

Fennel: contains strong antiviral compounds to fight off EBV.

Healing Herbs and Supplements

The following herbs and supplements (listed in rough order of importance) can further strengthen your immune system and aid your body in healing from the virus’s effects:
Cat’s claw: herb that reduces EBV and cofactors such as strep A and strep B.

Silver hydrosol: lowers EBV viral load.

Zinc: strengthens the immune system and protects the thyroid from EBV inflammation.

Vitamin B12 (as methylcobalamin and/or adenosylcobalamin): strengthens the central nervous system.

Licorice root: lowers EBV production and strengthens the adrenals and kidneys.

Lemon balm: antiviral and antibacterial. Kills EBV cells and strengthens the immune system.

5-MTHF (5-methyltetrahydrofolate): helps strengthen the endocrine system and central nervous system.

Selenium: strengthens and protects the central nervous system.

Red marine algae: powerful antiviral that removes heavy metals such as mercury and reduces viral load.

L-lysine: lowers EBV load and acts as a central nervous system anti-inflammatory.

Spirulina (preferably from Hawaii): rebuilds the central nervous system and eliminates heavy metals.

Ester-C: strengthens the immune system and flushes EBV toxins from the liver.

Nettle leaf: provides vital micronutrients to the brain, blood, and central nervous system.

Monolaurin: antiviral; breaks down EBV load and reduces cofactors.

Elderberry: antiviral; strengthens the immune system.

Red clover: cleanses the liver, lymphatic system, and spleen of neurotoxins from EBV.

Star anise: antiviral; helps destroy EBV in the liver and thyroid.

Curcumin: component of turmeric that helps strengthen the endocrine system and central nervous system.
You will also want to boost your immune system as much as possible. Californian practitioner, author and all-around health guru, Chris Kresser has recorded a podcast on this topic. Some of the things he suggests to improve the immune system’s capacity is high doses of vitamin C (be careful when purchasing vitamin C as many contain artificial sweeteners, as I recently found out), selenium, iodine (so chow down on your seafood!) and supplements to enhance glutathione production such as N-acetyl cysteine (be careful with this if like me you have a sulphur sensitivity, as these supplements will be broken down into sulfites and sulfates during the methylation cycle – see here for further info). 
On a personal level the most effective supplement has been monolaurin. It is a natural anti-viral. According to Chris Kresser “monolaurin works directly on the envelope coat of the virus by disrupting the conformation of the lipid bilayer, which in turn prevents its attachment or absorption to host cells”. I have also been drinking both dandelion and lemon-balm tea (be cautious with lemon-balm tea as it can be problematic for those with auto-immune disease) for their anti-viral effects.
When EBV results in mononucleosis symptoms include fever, sore throat, fatigue, swollen lymph nodes, swollen liver and a rash. Additionally, I have experienced facial flushing, dry eye, extreme lethargy and muscle weakness when my EBV has been active. These symptoms alone are extremely frustrating but what makes my EBV very difficult to manage is the intermittent nature of the symptoms when the Virus is active, gone one day only to re-appear the next.

If you suspect you have the Epstein Barr virus, you can ask your doctor for a test. Just remember, every single time you choose to nourish your body with therapaetic foods & herbs, every time you choose life instead of stress… You are taking your power back! 

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