Is It Epstein-Barr Virus Reactivation?

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ELIZABETH

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Epstein-Barr virus reactivation is becoming more and more prevalent, and maybe the reason your health has declined or why feel so tired all time. Here’s the full story of how I began my journey to learn about Epstein-Barr (EBV) reactivation.

Epstein-Barr Virus Reactivation

(Quickly, this post has gone a bit viral, and I want to say thank you for the overwhelming response to this EBV story! I recommend reading all posts in this EBV series after reading this one, and be sure to get on my email list below the post for future updates and recommendations.)

Is It Epstein-Barr Virus Reactivation?

If you had a terrible case of mononucleosis (mono) when you were a child or teen (like I did), or if you often feel low in energy with no explanation, then this post is especially for you.

Before I get into the details of the Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) reactivation, discovery, testing, and treatments, I want to mention that I’ve had this post in draft for months. When I sat down to finish this series, I just stared at the screen for an hour.

I took some time to reflect on why this post is so damn hard to write, and here’s what came to me: there is still a lot of confusion in both the modern and alternative medicine worlds about the testing, chronic effects, and treatments for EBV. I’ve worked with two talented naturopaths and discussed this with multiple functional medicine experts. They all tell me the same thing: there just isn’t a lot of information or standardized tests yet to understand the virus. I’m currently working with a medical doctor who specializes in integrative and functional medicine, and we are still working on treatments and understanding the virus.

With that, I’m going to share my story in the hopes that it can help you—in case you also experience low thyroid levels, an autoimmune condition, lethargy, exhaustion, or days when you just plain don’t feel great. 

One last note. This post is much longer than most of my blog posts, but I wanted to give you the full story about Epstein-Barr Virus Reactivation. So grab a cuppa tea and cozy up—you’re about to learn why you’ve been so tired with no explanation.

The Backstory

A few years ago, I was diagnosed with reactivated (active?) Epstein-Barr (also known as Epstein-Barr Virus Reactivation). I finally had an explanation—or at least the start of an explanation—of why my thyroid levels are so low and why I feel so tired all the time, despite eating well, exercising, and taking pretty darn good care of myself and my health.

My diagnosis came after I read The Medical Medium and requested an Epstein-Barr test from my naturopath. More on the book and testing in a minute. But first, you need to hear the (waaay) backstory in case something similar has happened to you.

The Way Backstory

I had strep throat a lot as a kid. It started to get really bad in my early teens, and it seemed like I was in the walk-in clinic every other month being put on another round of antibiotics to clear up the strep. (The dozens of rounds of antibiotics caused an entirely different issue—an unhealthy gut bacteria balance that I’ve been able to clear up with real food, avoiding processed foods, and consuming fermented foods and probiotics, but we’ll talk about that in another post.)

My mom grew weary of the cycles of strep and asked the doctors if there was anything we could do. They suggested having my tonsils out. Fifteen is old to have tonsil surgery, but after consulting with different people, my parents decided it was the right decision. I had my tonsils out, which really cleared up the strep, but I never fully recovered from the surgery. Between the hard detox off the anesthesia and the wicked case of mono I developed, I just never really felt 100% again.

Side note: Much later on, while reading The Medical Medium, he talks about strep being a co-infection to mononucleosis, which made SO much sense in this story. I had no idea that was the case 20 years ago, and neither did any doctor I had ever encountered.

Back to the mono. In the six months after the tonsillectomy, I was so tired I could barely get out of bed. It’s normal for a teenager to sleep a lot, but it was getting worse by the day. I was an active dancer and cheerleader and at a healthy weight. I ate pretty well for what we knew back then, but despite being seemingly healthy, I was exhausted all. the. time. My mom took me back to the doctor, and one test later, it was clear that I had mono. Mono is really common amongst teens, so they just told me to rest and that it would pass.

I slowly recovered from the acute mono, as most teens do, but just like when I had the surgery, I never felt completely better.

Another side note: I wish I had a cool story about getting mono, but I was such a prude that it wasn’t even from kissing cute boys under the bleachers or anything like that. I probably got it from sharing pop (yes, we still call soda “pop” in the northwest) with friends. [And eeew, I used to drink a lot of pop in the days before I was a health coach.] It doesn’t really matter how I got mono, what matters is that I was so sick I missed almost an entire semester of my junior year of high school. I started to recover slowly but surely, but never regained full steam.

The next year, a week before graduation, I’m climbing the stairs at school and suddenly have to sit down. I’m winded—a strange phenomenon for a teen who was a dancer her entire life. A friend walked me to the nurse’s office and I ended up at the doctor that day. A blood panel would reveal that my thyroid levels were so low that I needed to get on medication that very same night. Again, I’m only 17 years old when this happens.

Over the next 10 or so years, I popped that thyroid medication every morning and didn’t think much of it. Except, just like before, I never really felt 100% better. A little, sure. But something always felt off. Between bottomed-out energy levels and a few pounds that I just couldn’t seem to shake, I lived my way into my thirties figuring I’d just have to accept the fate that for some reason, my thyroid quit working.

Getting Tested for Reactivated Epstein-Barr

But then I discovered the idea of Epstein-Barr Virus Reactivation.

I had my annual physical coming up with my naturopath to have my thyroid medication renewed, and in our meeting, I mentioned that I had just read a book that hypothesized that the virus could be the root cause of my thyroid issues. I knew that a traditional western medicine doctor would have thought I was looney for even asking, but I knew my naturopathic doctor would at least hear me out.

Doctor: “Yes, I’ve been hearing this a lot lately, so I read the book. It’s not that it’s unfounded, but you aren’t presenting with symptoms of active or reactivated Epstein-Barr.”

Me: “I totally hear you, but is it easy to test for? Just for peace of mind?” I said, as she did the thing where doctors take notes about you that feel like complete and utter judgment on a page.

Doctor:Well, there isn’t standardized testing, but we can check the level of antibodies. One will always show positive for a past infection, but the other will indicate a recent infection. And if that second one is high, we can suspect reactivation because your body has recently been fighting the virus and we know you had mono 17 years ago. But just so you know, I’m writing in my notes that you do not present with [currently accepted] symptoms of Chronic Epstein-Barr.”

Ha! There was the judgy note. But I didn’t mind; she was just doing her job. She’s a great doctor and a really good person.

Me: “How much does it cost?”

Doctor: “$40.”

Me: Feeling like it was a no-brainer just for the reassurance (and to appease my curiosity), I said, “Great, let’s do it!”

10 days later, she called me and said, “Oh my God, you were right—the antibodies that show recent infection are sky-high.”

I felt so validated—finally!—that I was NOT crazy and making it up. All of my other lab tests except my thyroid panel were normal. Quite a few doctors had told me that there was absolutely nothing wrong with me. But alas, I’d been walking around with a version of reactivated Epstein-Barr, which for me, felt like another case of mono, which comes along with a whole host of other issues.

There are not any (NONE, ZIP, ZERO) treatments for EBV in the current western medicine landscape. Crazy, right?!

Some practitioners don’t even recognize it (along with Lyme) as a disease, which is so sad, because it affects so many people. Once I started researching alternative treatments to calm the virus, everything changed. I felt better than I had in years after having a blood ozone treatment (Major Autohemotherapy) and incorporating a few natural antivirals into my routine. I’ll write about all of those things in my next blog post, so stay tuned.

Another side note: I also want to mention that the term “reactivated Epstein-Barr” isn’t really standardized either and can mean different things to different practitioners. Some will use the term “chronic EBV” or “chronic reactivated EBV.” That’s how little research is available on this topic. I’m using this term here because it seems to explain best what I’m talking about.

The Medical Medium Book (Truth, or Complete Nonsense?)

I have to admit, reading The Medical Medium (Hay House, 2015) was a big leap of faith for me. I believe in Spirit, but I also believe in science. I didn’t take the leap lightly, so I would invite you to read the entire book and see for yourself what you think. I almost quit after the second chapter, but I’m glad I didn’t.

Regardless of if you believe in his backstory, the information in that book is having a dramatic effect on the way western medical doctors (and alternative practitioners alike) are looking at autoimmune disease. Additionally, according to one of my naturopaths, this book is not the first time someone has hypothesized that autoimmune conditions can in fact be caused by chronic viruses (So maybe they’re onto something!).

Emerging Info about Epstein-Barr Virus Reactivation

In case you’re curious and think you might have a similar situation, here are some quick notes.

According to the National Institute of Health, the Epstein-Barr Virus is a “ubiquitous human lymphotropic herpesvirus,” meaning it: is a member of the herpes family of viruses, can cause lymphoma-type cancers, and is present in just about everyone. About 95% of the population carries the virus. Once infected with EBV, you carry the virus for the rest of your life.

EBV isn’t anything new. But, as I stated above, modern medicine barely understands it. Western medicine says that we all have it, that some of us get mononucleosis from it, and that it then lives in us, dormant, forever. Modern thought and progressive researchers are now starting to understand that it can reactivate and/or cause a whole host of chronic issues, including chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, and even some types of cancers.

Additionally, some researchers and health experts now believe that chronic active viral infections, such as EBV, may be the root cause of autoimmune conditions issues such as Hashimoto’s and lupus, and may be responsible for chronic illnesses like MS and Lyme disease. EBV can also be what’s considered a co-infection to Lyme disease.

One theory is that EBV becomes deeply embedded in your organ tissue over time. Then as your immune system tries to fight the virus, it appears to be attacking the organ.

Hello misdiagnosed autoimmune conditions. Which is what happened to me.

I had very slightly elevated thyroid antibodies at one point and was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, an autoimmune thyroid condition. I definitely had very low thyroid levels, but the idea of an autoimmune condition didn’t sit well with me. Why would my body attack itself? And none of the Hashimoto’s protocols or natural treatments made me feel any different. When I learned that my EBV antibodies were sky-high, it all made sense.

I didn’t have Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. I had an overzealous Epstein-Barr infection still lingering from mono 17 years previously.

My Current Epstein-Barr Reactivation Testing & Treatment

I’ve felt great for the last few years, but I’ve been extra-tired recently. I blamed it on my schedule, travel, and work (that I love!), but over the past month, I knew something was off.

A blood test in June showed very elevated EBV antibodies again (the type that shows a recent infection). There are only a few tests that even look for antibodies, and like I mentioned above, 95% of the population will show some sort of antibodies since we’re all infected with the virus. But if your antibodies pass a certain threshold, your body is actively trying to fight the virus (the reference range is below 9; mine was over 40).

Here’s where it gets tricky: there isn’t a standardized test for this. Different labs show different results. Some show a pass/fail/yes/no result, and some show a level-based result. I’ve written more about the EBV tests I’ve had and show you examples in my next post, because this blog post is already twice as long as most of my posts. 😉

Remember, healing is never linear. You are your own best health advocate. We must stay vigilant and pay attention to how we feel in our bodies, and advocate for proper testing and treatment if something feels off.

EBV Healing

Don’t feel discouraged if this post speaks to you! There are steps you can take. I’ll post more over the next few weeks with the details about testing and alternative treatments for EBV. Hang in there!

If you’ve been feeling really off, tired or sluggish, or have uncontrollable thyroid issues, consider working with a naturopath for an EBV test. Again, more on this in the next post.

How to Take Action:

1. Buy (or borrow) a copy and read The Medical Medium.

2. Leave a comment below and let us know if you’ve experienced similar issues, and/or if you suspect EBV is causing issues for you, too (or if you’ve already tested and gotten an answer!).

3. Stay on my email list for future updates, real food recipes, and healthy living inspiration. I share weekly-ish recipes, tips, and notes with my VIP email community. You can subscribe to my newsletter below this post to get your free recipe ebook and special updates.

4. Be gentle with yourself. 🙂 And read the next posts in this series with tons more information.

Read The Next Posts In This Series:

 

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  1. Alicia says:

    Never had mono, but my mom and sister have MS. Have felt tired and freeze all my life. The doctor’s expected it was related to my thyroid but tests always came back normal. My very last thyroid test came back showing Hashimoto’s but my naturopath seemed perplexed as my white blood cell count is also through the roof. I found and read Anthony Williams Medical Medium books recently and was skeptical. Then I read The Epstein Barr Virus Solution by Kasia Kines. I went ahead and got tested. My EBV antibodies are sky high. There was a little note saying I likely contracted this from my mother during birth. With each page I read I was simultaneously thankful to have an answer and pissed at this particular insidious virus. This virus has already stolen so much. It’s 2024 – time to take back my health and my life!

  2. Kat says:

    I was diagnosed with EBV in June 2022. I’ve gone through two 6-week IV infusions of vitamin C. The second one was stronger than the first and the EBV went up. I am currently on several supplements and doing chelation. I received the EBV blood work this week that it went down from 23 to 22 but it needs to be at 11. I don’t understand all the numbers. I feel tired a lot and just want to sleep. It’s been hard for me to eat right being on a limited income because I retired last year because of my health. I am going to talk to my doctor about some of the things you mention and see if she has access to the blood oxidation and supplements that helped you. Thank you for sharing your experience!

  3. Steph Vincent says:

    Hi. I stumbled on this tonight, right when I’ve just found out I have reactivation of ebv….. again. It seems I can never get rid of it. The amount of people who tell me it’s impossible I’ve figured out have never had EBV before. I have lost count now how many times mine has reactivated. I first had mono for 2 straight years & now every 6 months or so I go through it again. So frustrating

  4. Delena Day says:

    So I actually found out about the EBV and Hashimotos relationship the end of April 2023. I bought a lifestyle/workout program from the Thyroid Trainer. It covered possible root causes of hashimotos. During 1 on 1 I was asked if I had ever been tested for EBV I told her I had mono in 3rd grade and it hospitalized me. I asked why and she said my brain fog and with my white blood cells always being high or high normal. So I called my functional doctor that I have been seeing since Dec 2021. She sent the lab orders in and said she didn’t know much about it. Well my bloodwork came back really high on all 3 that show reactivated EBV. So she put me on 2000 mg of buffered vitamin C and 2400 mg of monolaurin. I also have been taking a homeopathic drop. I think it might be working because for the last 16 years anytime I get bit by a bug I had to get steroid shots they would be giant welts. So this past weekend while cleaning my pool I got ate up by mosquitoes but the bites are super tiny. Really weird but I hope the medicine and dietary changes are helping.

  5. chloe says:

    Hi there!
    I’m wondering if there is a difference between chronic EBV and reactivated EBV?

    I got sick with mono at 22/23, now at 25 I recently got retested and showed a recent active infection but I haven’t had any symptoms (except for a swollen gland that never went down and easy colds if I run myself down) since when I first was infected! I read online that chronic ebv was often fatal within a few years! I just can’t believe that I would be in that predicament with very few symptoms besides a positive test….

  6. Linda DeMambro says:

    Good afternoon

    I have reactivated EBV. I am very interested in following your protocol. You don’t give specific amounts though. I cannot find your lemon balm tincture. Do you know if it is sold anywhere else? I’m curious, do you take Ashwaganda?

    • Allyson Strobel says:

      Linda and everyone who reads this!!!

      99% of the world have one or more herpe viruses, there are 60 of them per medical medium and we only know of 8 of them, these viruses causes thousands of diseases. Western medical doctors do not know of all this cause they were not taught this in school…it is all medical medium knowledge. He says we need to fix by fresh celery juice but if we have had the viruses for decades, we have to be on the celery juice for 4 years! I gagged my way through the first year but it was sooooo bitter I just could not stand it anymore. I found another cure TINCTURE OF TEASEL. Buy it from a reputable dealer. If you go to EBay “Herbdoc”, he cured himself of the herpes/Lymes disease and that is where I got it. Buy 3 -4 ozs bottles work up to 9 drops a day (1 drop 1st day, 2 drops 2nd day (am and pm) etc STAY ON FOR ONE YEAR and follow medical medium other protocols, no meat, no eggs while you are starving the viruses. Learn the antiviral foods to eat. I have found 3 people all wrote books or articles on themselves curing the viruses from tincture of teasel.. I am on it for my 3rd month. PLEASE SPREAD THE WORD TO FRIENDS AND RELATIVES TO DO THIS!!!! We as kids are bitten by insects that gave these viruses. As the decades go buy, we get more and more diseases due to the same viruses. Everyone needs to do this and if you are young do it every 5 years, especially if you live in bug infested areas!!!!! Share this with everyone!!!!! We need to heal, after this one year, then you need to detox your liver and get rid of the neurotoxins, rah medical medium!!!!

    • Jeff Meyers says:

      Go to Anthony William’s website and click on supplements you will find lemon balm Tinchure there

  7. Amanda says:

    My mom just sent me this post because I’ve struggled with chronic EBV for so long it seems. I had mono when I was 18 that eventually caused the removal of my tonsils at 19. They were literally rotting out of my throat as a result of mono. Since the first mono episode I’ve had flair ups 4-5 times a year. Sometimes I can’t do anything but sleep. It’s a struggle to even get out of bed. It’s always paired with pain in my throat and joint pain as well. I don’t even go get tested anymore because I know what it is and all my Doc will do is tell me to rest and get fluids. EBV has taken a toll on me.

  8. Elizabeth says:

    A Google search led me to this post. Why the search? Because I’m no stranger to EBV reactivation, and my MD just ordered tests for it again because five years later, I have symptoms again. Regardless of whether I have an active case right now, I know that EBV is very, very real, and it has always irked me how it often is brushed off as NBD when it is, in fact, a BFD. It’s very comforting to know WE ARE NOT ALONE. Keep fighting the good fight, people.

  9. ClIre says:

    Wow 😮
    I had EBV now have reactivation attacking my liver elevated GGT, finding it hard to find anyone to help!

  10. Sheryl says:

    Thank you for your blog. i can relate with much of what has been your experience.. i am now78 and have been troubled since a hospital stay last fall wherein a second bout with a herpes cancerous lump was removed. finally i am understanding the root cause for the symptoms i have had since. again, thank you.

  11. Johnnie says:

    I had a blood test that showed my EBR is over 600. I have been working with naturopath but she wants to use continue to prescribe medication that are harmful to my kidneys which show are harmed from the first round of double medication for 2 months.

  12. Connie says:

    I had mono when I was six. I am now 68. Over the past 30 years I’ve been diagnosed with Adrenal fatigue. Firomyalgia, Chronic Lyme. A year ago I had moderate case of Covid. I now have serious long covid on
    3LO2. 24/7. 16 days ago, I tested positive for Covid again.
    I received monoclonal antibodies. They made a difference in the symptoms. But I’ve been left with a fever and headache every day for 17 days. I’m on the 4th day of ivermectin. If this does not help, I’m going to ask to be tested for EBV.
    I am on an anti inflammatory diet– nothing fermented, 80% raw fruits and vegetables, and occasional water only 72 hour fasts. I also take nutritional supplements that have antiviral properties.
    I’ve already read the article on testing
    Thanks for making this info available

    • Eddie says:

      Naturopathic and Functional Medicine doctors are not call chronice fatigue a mitochondrial dysfunction. They say if you heal your mitochondria the fatigue will go away. There are numerous combo supplements that I’ve heard work well. Autophagy is a good way to get rid of old mitochondrial cells. Fasting is the only way to get your body in autophagy.

  13. Maegan says:

    I have been searching for answers and everything you described above has happened to me almost exactly the same. I am so thankful I happens across this!!

    • Martha Ridgeway says:

      I went down the reactivated ebv path buying all the hype and spending thousands on supplements and meds. It’s all bs made up by naturopaths to sell you this garbage when they can’t pinpoint what’s driving you’re fatigue. There is NO science behind it.

  14. Jane Lipmman says:

    This is all such BS, reactivated mono is one of the biggest money makers from NDs. There IS such a thing as Chronic Mono but it’s a VERY RARE and deadly disease affecting 1 in a million Chinese and even fewer Americans. Sadly, the naturopathic community has decided everyone with fatigue has both this and Lyme to see thousands of dollars worth of supplements and ozone treatments which is all junk science. Right up their with mold toxicity. It’s all hucksterism.

    • Bob says:

      Then apparently LabCorp must have faked my last 5 positive tests for reactivation, as well as the plethora of strange ailments I’ve fought for the last 17 years.

      The problem is real. Consider being a bit kinder to those of us that have had our lives greatly affected by it.

      • Lena Whitney says:

        I had the LabCorp tests as well. Early antigen the whole bit. It doesn’t mean anything. 90 percent of Americans will test positive for those tests but spend your money if you like.

  15. Sarah says:

    Does anyone get excessively dehydrated and constantly thirsty with their recurring EBV?

    I had glandular fever at 16, I’m now 38. At the time I was drinking so much water my mum was a bit alarmed. And now whenever I get run down I get a sore throat, tired, and often incredibly thirsty. Today I have drank 7 pints of water. I also seem to naturally need a lot more water than those around me. I’m just wondering if this is a symptom. I’m also wondering if I should give up drinking as everytime I do it seems to knock my immune system and create this fatigue and horrible feeling.

  16. Michelle Erickson says:

    Thank you for posting this! I was just diagnosed with EBV and I’m beyond frustrated. I’m exhausted and nothing has worked to combat my symptoms.

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Hi, I'm Elizabeth

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