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Chronic Epstein-Barr Virus: ‘Silent’ Yet Symptomatic

By David Pollack, D.C.

Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) is common and causes a ton of problems, yet it often goes undiagnosed with the typical (one- or two-page) bloodwork. To get a truer picture of how the body is functioning, bloodwork should consist of eight to twelve pages, depending on the lab. Many of these tests give early warning signs of inflammation, hormone imbalance and other abnormalities that can produce dramatic symptoms. 

EBV is just one of many health issues that tend to go undiagnosed; others include infertility, adrenal fatigue, and mineral deficiencies resulting from poor absorption of nutrients. Any one of the tests in a more extensive bloodwork panel can be a game-changer for figuring out why we feel the way we feel. 

Proper EBV testing can be critical when patients come in with symptoms like fatigue, brain fog, and aches and pains. EBV also has been shown to trigger issues such as hypothyroidism, autoimmune disease, and chronic fatigue or pain. This virus is insidious and really hampers the quality of life—and, in rare cases, causes some pretty terrible diseases.

A Widespread Problem

Studies show that 70 to 95 percent of the population has been infected with EBV, which leads to infectious mononucleosis in about 30 percent of people (usually in the teenage or college years). Some 70 percent of people who’ve had EBV don’t even realize they had it. 

While EBV is in the same family of viruses that cause chickenpox, it does not involve the skin. These herpes-type viruses—which have nothing to do with STDs—stay in the body forever after infection. Usually, they lie dormant, but sometimes they reactivate due to intense stress or other illness. In the same way that chickenpox can reactivate as shingles, mono reactivates as chronic EBV. Much like shingles, EBV lasts a few weeks or months, or it can last years. Many of my patients who recovered from chronic EBV realize that they were affected by its widespread and myriad symptoms for a decade or longer.

Symptoms of EBV

The classic symptoms of chronic EBV are similar to those of mono: Fatigue that ranges from mild to chronic. Aches that can be background noise or debilitating. Some sufferers describe brain fog, from forgetting a name to barely comprehending what they’re reading. Most sufferers have all three symptoms to some degree. 

But many sufferers have symptoms that are less common, and some have none of the classic symptoms. For example, I’ve seen EBV cause a range of hormone imbalances, from thyroid issues to menstrual abnormalities to low T (testosterone). I’ve had patients who couldn’t get pregnant until we solved the virus issue. For others, EBV causes digestive disturbances, such as bloating or colitis-like symptoms. 

There is a huge link between EBV and Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, the most common thyroid problem in the United States. In exceptionally rare instances, research has linked EBV to the triggering of cancers and severe autoimmune issues such as multiple sclerosis.

Many of my colleagues in the conventional medical world have noticed a huge uptick in chronic EBV with symptoms that are a bit more significant. We believe this is due to both Covid-19 infection and immunizations. EBV often resurfaces due to stress, and the last few years have certainly been stressful. That stress on its own likely reactivated EBV in many people. But going through an illness or vaccination is also stressful to the body; EBV reactivations may be linked to long-haul Covid and vaccine side effects. Luckily we have helped many people out with these issues, which don’t seem permanent.

Treating EBV

To battle Epstein-Barr Virus, we don’t just go in there, herbal guns blazing. First, we make sure the body is in a relatively strong functional state. This may include optimizing the digestive tract, home to 70 percent of the immune system. We might work on detoxifying the liver, kidneys and lymphatic systems as necessary. Balancing hormones can also be critically important to helping the body overcome EBV.  

After we achieve a strong functional state, one of two things happens. Half my patients overcome the EBV infection on their own as a result of improved body function. The other half need some herbal antivirals, which do an amazing job of cleaning up EBV as well as similar culprits such as cytomegalovirus (CMV), human herpesvirus 6 (HHV6) and Lyme disease. 

Dr. David L Pollack is founder of Pollack Wellness Institute, in Commack, NY. For more information, contact him at 631-461-0801 or [email protected], or visit PollackWellness.com.

 


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