Epstein Barr Syndrome is caused by the Epstein Barr virus – the same virus that is responsible for mononucleosis (mono) or glandular fever.
EBV syndrome is transmitted by direct contact with virus-infected saliva, mainly through kissing, although it can be picked up from sharing drinks, eating utensils, lipsticks etc., or through blood transfusions. The syndrome is most common in teenagers. The majority of people have had it by age 40. Children can pick it up, and in these cases it can go undiagnosed or passed off as a cold or flu virus. When EBV occurs in patients over 40, the symptoms can be more debilitating and prolonged.
Typical EBV symptoms involve a sore throat, fever, swollen glands and tiredness. There may be other viral symptoms like headache, body aches, poor appetite, runny nose, cough, loose stools, sensitivity to light and enlargement of the liver and spleen. Complications of the EBV syndrome are rare but can include rupture of the spleen, pericarditis, hepatitis, anemia, nerve damage, a decrease in blood platelets, pneumonia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
Symptoms usually appear 30-50 days after exposure to the virus, although in some cases the symptoms can take months to manifest. In most cases, the syndrome is self-limiting, lasting only a couple of weeks. However in some people the illness can become recurrent or chronic, lasting months or years. In these cases the most common lingering complaint is fatigue.
Epstein Barr Syndrome is diagnosed according to antibody blood tests, white blood cell levels plus a person’s age, symptoms and a physical examination.
The conventional medical treatment is rest and fluids. Painkillers may be recommended if there is a lot of discomfort or disruption of sleep patterns. In severe cases corticosteroids may be prescribed if there is compromised breathing or severe inflammation
The Epstein Barr virus is a member of the herpes virus so can recur when the body is run down or under stress. An Epstein Barr Syndrome cure is focused on eliminating symptoms and ensuring that the syndrome does not return. Fortunately alternative medicine has a lot to offer in terms of boosting the immune system, reducing symptoms and keeping the virus at bay in the long term.
Natural treatments for Epstein Barr Syndrome include high dose nutrients like vitamin C, zinc, selenium, CoQ10, magnesium and the B complex. Herbs like echinacea, oregano, olive leaf extract and astragalus are commonly used to support the immune and lymphatic system. If the liver and spleen are affected then the herbs red root and milk thistle are traditionally used.
Diet for EBV is based around a high protein diet which is low in sugar, alcohol, coffee and processed foods. Anti-inflammatory foods like fish oils, garlic, ginger and turmeric are useful in relieving symptoms. Antioxidant foods including green leafy vegetables, fresh juices, green tea, berries and lemons are a useful addition to a healthy, immune-boosting diet.
In chronic Epstein Barr Syndrome, treatment needs to focus on cleansing the virus from the liver and lymphatic system. This approach requires the combination of a liver tonic or cleanser with a pure diet and plenty of fluids to flush the virus and toxins away from the body. People who have had the virus for months or years also need to work on their adrenal glands. In chronic Epstein Barr Syndrome the adrenals are often exhausted and need to be nurtured and revitalized through correct nutrition, stress management, graded exercise and plenty of rest.