If you have had mononucleosis (MONO) aka the “kissing disease”, then you most likely have Epstein Barr virus (EBV) too. Nearly 95% of the population has the virus! When it is dormant, you experience no symptoms. Managing Epstein Barr reactivation can help keep you feeling your best.
The Epstein Barr virus comes in 4 stages:
- Stage 1: This is when you first get it and the virus is just floating around in your bloodstream. It is dormant at this time as it is multiplying. It won’t become active until it has the best environment too.
- Stage 2: This is when it becomes mono as it is able to unleash the infection. This is when it is the most contagious and when you experience the most symptoms.
- Stage 3: This is when the virus finds a place to nest in your body. Some of the common places are the spleen, liver, and thyroid. When you do a blood test, this is when the antibodies appear. This is when other symptoms/co-infections can occur.
- Stage 4: This is when the EBV takes over your central nervous system. By taking over those other organs, it is depleting our immune system. If the organs cannot function it is easier for it to multiple. This is when chronic inflammation becomes a major concern.
As you can tell, the goal is to keep the virus dormant. The that it is able to multiple is by being in the best environment. By creating an uncomfortable environment, the virus cannot thrive. The goal is to make your body unfit for the virus to activate. Even though it will be in your system forever, it doesn’t mean you will have symptoms forever.
What exactly is EBV reactivation?
This is when you experience a flare-up in symptoms. Often times it can be confused with the flu. However, these symptoms can last for months or progress into other conditions if that not treated.
These symptoms can include:
- Lack of Appetite
- Achy Muscles and Joints
- Swollen Lymph Nodes
- Liver Swelling
- Spleen Swelling
- Other flu-like symptoms
More often times than not the chronic fatigue is a huge indicator. Even if you’ve never had mono, that doesn’t mean you didn’t contract the virus. Unfortunately, it takes about 6-8 weeks for symptoms to even appear. Source: Here, Here
What triggers the reactivation?
This is when keeping a journal of how you’re feeling can be important. However, there are key things that occur that can trigger a flare-up. Some examples are:
- Poor Diet – Usually the Standard American Diet (very high in processed foods, refined sugar, conventional dairy, and so on).
- Overexercising – Even though it is good stress too much can wear down the body and suppress our immune system.
- Stress – This can be caused by lifestyle changes such as a death in the family to stress at work. If your stress becomes chronic is when it can suppress the immune system significantly.
- Lack of Sleep – Getting less than 8 hours of sleep can be detrimental to your body’s ability to heal and recover.
- Hormone Changes – This can be due to thyroid dysfunction, amenorrhea, and menopause can cause stress in the body. An increase in cortisol can be a major influence too.
- Gut Dysbiosis – Having a leaky gut and co-infections can cause your immune system to focus on killing that rather than the virus
- Smoking – This is also something that suppresses the immune system and triggers inflammation.
As you can see that anything that suppresses your immune system can be a trigger. Think of finals week in college, that week legit everyone has a cold. That is due to the lack of sleep, stress, and poor diet. The same is true for Epstein Barr’s reactivation. Source: Here, Here
How to manage Epstein Barr reactivation?
There are a handful of things you can do now to make your EBV dormant.
This is very important! A lot of these symptoms can be due to another root cause. When you get tested to ensure the physician looks for these antibodies:
- EBV VCA IgG
- EBV VCA IgM
- EBV EBNA IgG
- EBV EA IgG
This can be done with a simple blood test. I got my test through Quest Diagnostics through my physician. With this company, you can easily see your results online. It makes it easy to see improvements/declines if multiple tests are done.
If your EBV EA IgG is above normal limits is a very good indicator of EBV reactivation. The only concern is that EBV EA IgG can be above normal limits if you have had mono in the past.
Another good indicator is if your EBV VCA IgG and EBV EBNA IgG are in the triple digits. Similar to EBV EA IgG, those other two antibodies will be elevated throughout your life. It is good to have multiple indicators rather than just one.
I also recommend testing for your adrenals, cortisol level changes, and thyroid function. Source: Here
I highly recommend doing a paleo-based diet. This is when you’d cut out gluten, dairy, refined sugar, soy, and legumes. These can all trigger inflammation and decrease our immune system able to function.
Depending on your symptoms, you can also do Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) which is a stricter version. It also removes nuts and seeds, chocolate, specific spices, caffeine, nightshades, and eggs. However, this is completely dependent on how severe your symptoms are.
This another way to reduce inflammation and give your immune system some extra TLC. I personally follow a paleo diet and reducing my sugar intake helped me reduce my antibody levels.
Some great foods to include are:
- Dark Leafy Greens
- Sweet Potatoes
- Dark Berries
- Nuts and Seeds (unless you decide to do AIP)
- Good Quality Animal Products and Seafood
- Bone Broth
- Turmeric with Black Pepper
Some of these I have used in the past for EBV and/or to boost my immunity. However, I always recommend speaking to a medical professional to see what would work best for your body.
- Lauricidin or Monolaurin and Wellness Transfer Factor
- Elderberry Syrup
- Spore-Based Probiotic -More than 50% of your immune system is your gut
- Multi-Vitamin – I personally have used Vital Nutrients and MegaFoods.
- F.L.O.O.M – This is a blend of frankincense, lemon, oregano, on guard, and melaleuca essential oils. You can roll it on your feet and/or spine. Or some people put a drop of each in a veggie capsule. I only recommend doterra essential oils.
I would reduce all forms of exercise to let your body recover. The only forms of exercise I would recommend are Tai Chi, Yoga, walking, and stretching. You don’t want to put any more stress on the body.
Aim to get 8+ hours of sleep and if you need to take a nap to take the nap! This was something I should have done as I would often fight taking naps. When you are sleeping is the best time for your body to remove impurities and heal any alignments.
This could be a handful of things. Especially after the holidays, it is a great time to revamp your life! Something to also consider is what could be causing your symptoms are:
- Toxic Personal Care Items – Deodorant, Shampoo, Conditioner, Makeup, etc
- Toxic Cleaning Products – Bathroom Cleaner, Dish Soap, Laundry Detergent
- Mold Toxicity
- Poor Water Quality
- Poor Air Quality
These are just somethings to look into especially if you have chronic relapses.
I truly hope this helps you to get to the root cause of your Epstein Barr reactivation. Even though this virus will remain in your body, you can make it dormant.
I’d truly love it if you’d share this with any who may be experiencing these symptoms. Thank youu so much for reading!
**This information is not meant as medical or nutritional advice. Always check with your qualified healthcare professional before incorporating new supplements or nutritional changes into your routine. A Primal Health Coach (PHC) is trained to evaluate nutritional needs and make recommendations for dietary changes and nutritional supplements. A PHC is unable to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease or medical condition. I cannot guarantee any specific result from recommendations as we are all bio-individually different. If you are under the care of a healthcare provider, it is important that you contact them and alert them to any changes in your lifestyle in regards to nutrition and supplements. A health coach may be a beneficial addition to more traditional care, and it may also alter your need for medication, so it is important you always keep your physician informed of changes in your nutritional program.