Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Wisdom Wednesday: Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV)

Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), also known as human herpesvirus 4, is a member of the herpes virus family. It is one of the most common human viruses. EBV is found all over the world and most people will be infected at some point in their lives.

EBV spreads most commonly through bodily fluids, primarily saliva. EBV can cause infectious mononucleosis (the “kissing” disease), also called mono, and other illnesses.

Symptoms of EBV infection can include fatigue, fever, inflamed throat, swollen lymph nodes in the neck, enlarged spleen, swollen liver and rash. Many people become infected with EBV in childhood. EBV infections in children often are asymptomatic or indistinguishable from other mild, brief childhood illnesses. Teenagers or adults typically get better in 2-4 weeks, but some may feel fatigued for several weeks or even months.

After you get an EBV infection, the virus becomes latent (inactive) in your body. In some cases the virus may reactivate. The official statement of the CDC is that this does not always cause symptoms, but people with weakened immune systems are more likely to develop symptoms if EBV reactivates.

Recent research has linked EBV as a potential trigger for autoimmune disease. It has been implicated in up to a third of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and RA (rheumatoid arthritis) cases. Many rheumatologists now test RA patients for EBV. Unfortunately, there is much confusion about interpretation of these tests.

My current Epstein-Barr profile consists of the EBV, Ab VCA (viral Capsid Antigen), IgM EBV Early Antigen Ab, IgG; EBV ab VCA, IgG; EBV Nuclear Antigen Ab, IgG and Interpretation. This tests for current infection, past infection, recurrent infection and vulnerability to infection. It’s helpful to set up an Excel spreadsheet to interpret the results. However, my main interest is the recurrent infection.

Most of you are familiar with shingles. This is another herpes infection that is called Chicken Pox in children. After the infection resolves, the virus maintains a reservoir in the ganglions of the nervous system. If or when the immune system becomes impaired, the infection reappears as shingles. EBV is much like shingles only infinitely more difficult to diagnosis.

Treatment consists of high doses of vitamin D and bioavailable vitamin B12 (methylcobalamin). This protocol is becoming quite common for rheumatologists in the treatment of RA. I also add an herbal anti-viral compound and/or herbal anti-bacterial compound depending on how the patient tests. Bioavailable folic acid (5-MTHF) is sometimes needed to support B12 metabolism. This protocol can dramatically reduce inflammation and improve the chronic fatigue so often associated with autoimmune disease.

Research also implicates environmental toxins in impairing the immune system from properly responding to chronic viral infection. DDT (now banned, but still in use), and more recently Round Up have been specifically identified as cofactors in autoimmune disease.

The Bottom Line:
If you suffer from any autoimmune disease or chronic fatigue, consider having an Epstein-Barr profile run. The cost is well under $200. Regardless, this is another reason to avoid GMO foods. They are engineered to tolerate direct application of Round Up. The EPA may list Round Up as safe, but the WHO (World Health Organization) has identified it as a carcinogen. This year, my blog will cover many other chronic diseases in which environmental toxins and chronic low grade infections are cofactors.

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