Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV)
Have you ever found yourself inexplicably and chronically fatigued? Do you seem to do all the right things to be healthy, you eat well and are active, but you can’t seem to make any progress or feel better? Maybe someone you know is in that boat and you’ve noticed how they have not been themselves lately. It could be that you or your loved one is suffering from the chronic effects of a silent intruder, the Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV). In the hopes that it will help those who are struggling with this more-common-than-you’d-think virus, I want to share what I have learned about EBV from my research and personal experience.
What Is EBV?
Most of us (about 95%) will have the Epstein-Barr virus by adulthood, it just lies dormant in most cases. According to Anthony William, The Medical Medium, EBV is the root cause of numerous conditions, such as:
- chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS),
- polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS),
- hepatitis C,
- multiple sclerosis (MS),
- thyroid issues (e.g., Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism),
- rheumatoid arthritis (RA),
- and a host of other illnesses and autoimmune disorders.
Anthony William explains that autoimmune disorders are not the body’s immune system attacking itself. It is the immune system fighting against a pathogen, in this case EBV. It oftentimes does not show up on medical tests, having successfully buried and hidden itself within the body’s tissues. Autoimmune disorders are a sign that a foreign invader (virus) is present and that your body is working hard to fight it off. Our body is a marvellous creation, always striving to bring itself back into balance. It is designed to heal.
Anthony Epstein, Yvonne Barr and Burt Achong first discovered EBV in 1966. Since then we have learned much more about this virus and its various forms. It is able to effectively hide from the immune system and can reactivate when conditions are right. It can even infect B cells, the crucial antibody-creating cells of your immune system. Once it infects these cells, it’s in your body to stay. As such, it’s one of the few viruses that is able to avoid elimination. The virus causes mild symptoms in most cases but has been linked to more serious conditions. It is the first virus known to increase the risk of cancer.
Viruses are not technically alive, they need a host—a living organism—to provide what they need to replicate. We, or more technically our cells, become that host. Much of the time the virus lies dormant, buried in our organs, waiting for us to become run down and vulnerable or for other conditions to strengthen it. Exhaustion, nutrient deficiencies, or experiencing a traumatic or stressful event will feed EBV, awakening and reactivating it. According to Anthony William, it oftentimes hides and nests in our liver and spleen feeding on the heavy metals and other toxins and poisons found there. Part of the liver’s job is to convert those toxins and poisons into harmless substances and to make sure they are released from the body.
The EBV infection progresses through four stages. Understanding the progression of these stages can help explain the symptoms and provide treatment suggestions. Here is a brief summary of the four stages of EBV:
In the first stage, EBV is undetectable through blood tests and causes no symptoms; most people don’t even realize they have it at this point. It is slowly replicating itself to build its numbers. It waits for an opportunity such as a weakened immune system, hormonal changes, trauma or injury along with nutritional deficiencies to gain a foothold. It is at its most vulnerable point during this stage.
Stage two is when EBV makes its presence known through infectious mononucleosis (IM), a.k.a. the “kissing disease.” You may experience fatigue (which can become chronic), a sore throat, fever, headaches, nausea, and rashes. Some people may only experience a sore throat and tiredness for a couple weeks, while others may be hit harder with chronic fatigue that can last months. EBV and Streptococcus bacteria are basically partners in crime. During stage two you may also end up with a bacterial infection such as strep throat, cystitis, urinary tract infections, or sinus issues. In this stage the virus is contagious.
The virus is now living and nesting in the liver, spleen and other organs where it can stay dormant for years. While in this dormant state, EBV bides its time, waiting patiently for us to experience chronic stress, trauma, or hormonal changes from pregnancy, childbirth, perimenopause or menopause. While the immune system is off guard, EBV can make its way to the thyroid, creating a burden on the endocrine system. Metabolic issues (e.g., weight gain), psychological issues (e.g., mental fogginess, impaired memory, depression), hair loss, fatigue, insomnia, and muscle weakness are symptomatic of stage three. EBV begins to confuse and stress other components of the endocrine system, including the adrenals. As a result, the adrenals produce more adrenaline, which further feeds and fortifies the virus. The confusing part of this stage is EBV antibodies will show up on tests, resulting in a diagnosis of a past infection or reactivation of that past infection when it was in the mono phase. The results are often difficult to interpret and this is how EBV remains hidden.
During the final stage, the virus, having successfully worn you down, leaves the thyroid and turns its attention to the central nervous system, causing widespread inflammation. Symptoms may include muscle and/or joint pain, tingling or numbness in the hands or feet, migraines, dizziness, insomnia, night sweats, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and more. In many cases, the cause of these symptoms is generally considered a mystery or they are chalked up to an autoimmune disorder. The EBV infection and the widespread inflammation seem to be the root cause of those symptoms. EBV creates toxic waste matter (viral byproducts) that is poisonous to the nervous system. Your body is basically having an allergic reaction to these byproducts, resulting in inflammation.
Healing from EBV
The overall idea is to create an environment in your body in which the virus can’t thrive. You basically want to be a terrible host. The most important thing you can do is to keep yourself healthy both physically and mentally. It is important to give yourself the time needed to recover and rest. Reducing the overall stress in your life is important. The stress chemicals are feeding the virus and weakening your immunity.
According to ancient wisdom, the solution exists before the problem is created. Unfortunately, we can’t always see it because we are in a state of fear and disbelief. The word FEAR stands for Forgetting Every Available Resource. We need to just step back, breathe, release the fear and have faith and trust that every resource is already inside us.
Self-care is really important. Oftentimes we need to either experience an illness or go through a traumatic event to come to that realization. Here are some things you can do that I have found helpful:
- Rest when you need to.
- Say “no” when you need to manage your energy properly.
- Choose to not react to negative people or events in your life.
- Learn to take time for yourself.
- Be kind to yourself.
- Don’t take on responsibility for others or their problems; simply be an ear and listen.
- Find joy in your everyday existence and make peace with what is.
- Spend some time alone; meditate, write, sketch, do some yoga, or simply sit quietly for a few minutes each day and do absolutely nothing.
- Embrace your down time.
Additionally, you can ask yourself and reflect on these questions to guide your decisions:
- Does my life feel balanced?
- Am I involved in too many things? Is there too much on my plate?
- How much of my time is spent caring for others? For myself?
- Is there a dream or desire that keeps getting put off that I’d like to focus on?
- What can I do to achieve more balance in all the areas of my life?
It is of utmost importance to begin with proper digestion. Drinking enough water and taking a zinc supplement is needed to produce the Hydrochloric acid (HCL) our digestive and immune systems need. Zinc is critical for boosting our immune system and protects the thyroid from inflammation. HCL declines with age because of a lack of proper nutrients and hydration and from eating too much animal protein. HCL is needed for proper protein digestion and mineral absorption. Adding a handful of raw unsalted pumpkin seeds is a great source of zinc, fiber and nutrients.
Drinking 16 ounces of water as soon as you wake up will help with your morning bowel movement. Start to increase your fresh fruit intake. Fruit is full of nutrients, water, fibre and the sun’s energy. Fruit gives you everything your body needs and helps your body to heal. It is a gift.
Our bodies need a lot of vitamins and minerals (i.e., micronutrients) and juicing is an excellent way to get a lot of nutrients into your body. I like to think of it as a nutrient infusion. Add a lot of greens to your diet as they are full of minerals and nutrients that help your body heal.
According to Dr. Greger, up to 12 grams of undigested animal protein can end up in your colon, turning into toxic substances like ammonia, which can damage the colon and add to the overall toxic load in your body. Cutting down considerably on animal-based protein and increasing consumption of fiber and nutrient rich plant-based whole foods, including fruit, can help reduce or even prevent the toxic load.
The liver produces the bile that is needed to emulsify and breakdown the fat. A diet that is too high in fat puts a lot of stress on the liver. Bile is like the dish soap needed to get the grease off your dishes. If you’re constantly ingesting high amounts of fat, your liver will be working overtime. The primary source of fat is animal protein, dairy and oils. Digesting fat requires a lot of energy. Your body needs it’s energy to focus on healing not digesting, especially when dealing with a chronic infection like EBV.
Getting sufficient and good quality sleep is essential, both for allowing the body to heal and recover from illness and for maintaining its optimal functioning. Moreover, not getting enough sleep will put unwanted stress on your adrenals, raising cortisol and adrenaline levels, which will then, in a vicious spiral, interfere with your sleep, resulting in an overall lack of energy. Thus, managing stress can help improve sleep. Creating good sleep hygiene habits is probably one of the most effective things you can do to improve the quality of your sleep. Try to be consistent with when you go to bed and wake up, as this will train your body to start getting tired at bedtime. Make sure that your bedroom is a comfortable place that you love. Go to bed in a dark, cool environment, as this prepares the body for sleep mode.
Other important sleep hygiene habits include avoiding things that will disrupt your sleep, such as screen time and caffeine. Electronic screens (on computers, phones, televisions, etc.) emit high levels of blue light, which can skew your sleep-wake cycle, signaling to your body that it’s not yet bedtime. So, if you like watching Netflix or Crave on your laptop or tablet, you can install an app that changes and dims the light on your computer. Here is what I use on mine: https://justgetflux.com Also, many newer operating systems (for both desktop and mobile) will have night shift modes.
Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant and will stay in the bloodstream for several hours, so limit caffeine intake later in the day. That includes, coffee, tea, soft drinks, chocolate and pain relievers that contain caffeine (Midol, Excedrin).
If you’re still having trouble sleeping, try taking a bath with essential oils like lavender, drinking some chamomile tea, reading a book, practicing deep breathing exercises or meditation before bed. Eat foods high in tryptophan (e.g., raw nuts and seeds, sweet potatoes, cruciferous vegetables, dark leafy greens, lentils, chickpeas, oats, and brown rice) at dinner. All of these will help calm your nervous system and the adrenals. If you have lists of all the things you need to do in your head, then write them down so you don’t stay awake thinking about them. I find it helpful to take melatonin and get into bed, dimming the light and reading a book. Finally, certain lifestyle habits, like regular daily exercise and meditation, can promote a deeper restorative sleep.
I am creating a line of specific antiviral supplements based on everything I have learned from my research and experience. More news on that as soon as the formulas come together and I can make this new line available.
Pulsed Electromagnetic Field Therapy (PEMF)
Daily Pulsed Electromagnetic Field Therapy (PEMF) treatments are important to help with microcirculation and healing. It promotes healing by increasing circulation, nutrient absorption and reducing inflammation. It can also be a great way to remove all the EMF smog we experience from our day-to-day lives. I’ve noticed how much calmer my body feels after a treatment. You can read more about PEMF at http://arawiseman.com/pemf/.
As you go through life and experience ordinary daily conflicts and stressors it is normal to feel a full range of emotions. These day-to-day challenges are different than the continuous stress we experience from deep internal conflicts and trauma. Diseases don’t always manifest as a result of an internal conflict; it is only when we are in a prolonged stress response that specific symptoms and imbalances are caused, which may potentially lead to disease. Think of it like a chain, if you continue to put stress on a chain, eventually it will break, and always at the weakest link. When we experience emotional stress, we all have an area in our bodies that is more prone to being affected—our body’s weak link. The nature of the conflict we tend to experience will repeat itself until we figure out what the message represents. It is during this “aha!” moment that we experience a shift in our consciousness and we are given what we need to resolve it. Keep in mind that it is sometimes not until the resolution or healing phase that we begin to feel the physical symptoms. For example, when you are going through a stressful event in your life, it is usually only after the event has passed that you end up exhausted mentally and physically.
Illness is really your own personal journey to understanding yourself at a deeper level, as it forces you to slow down in order to look within for guidance and answers. It’s a wake-up call to start making the necessary changes in your life and to focus on what is important. I believe nothing is random, that everything happens for a reason (yes, even illness sometimes), and that we are exactly where we need to be in each and every moment. Every experience is a gift that brings something for us to learn; it is happening for us, not to us. It is creating the space for us to receive.
How will you choose to receive those gifts, even—and especially—those that might not seem like a gift at the time?
Here are some additional resources on chronic illness and on EBV and its effects on the body:
Medical Medium, by Anthony William https://www.amazon.com/Medical-Medium-Secrets-Chronic-Mystery/dp/1401948294
Medical Medium: Thyroid Healing, by Anthony William https://www.amazon.ca/Medical-Medium-Thyroid-Healing-Hypothyroidism/dp/1401948367
The discovery of Epstein-Barr
Epstein-Barr linked to seven serious diseases
 William, Anthony (1015). Medical Medium. © 2015 Anthony William; Hay House, Inc.