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Friday, April 11, 2014

Natural Remedies for Epstein-Barr Virus & a recipe for Epstein-Barr Tea



 


My husband, like many people, had mono as a kid. Mononucleosis is actually most often caused by the Epstein-Barr Virus (or EBV) which is essentially a recurring virus that can remain latent in the body, or can reactive / flare up throughout one’s life.

When EBV does reactivate for some people, the symptoms can be debilitating. Some of the symptoms include: exhaustion and fatigue (like chronic fatigue syndrome), swollen spleen and/or liver, brain fog, lack of appetite, swollen and sore glands, autoimmune problems, sinus infections, and more.

With my hubby, it most often flares up when he’s sleep deprived and stressed out. It also seems to be a seasonal thing, reactivating when the weather changes in spring and fall. Well the weather has changed, and my poor hubby has been tired and his glands are swollen. That’s usually a sign for us to get on the offensive.

So for anyone else out there struggling with this, I thought I would share some of the natural things we do to prevent his EBV from setting in, and when it does, how we prevent it from becoming a sinus infection or fatigue.


Please note that these are just home remedies, and although some of these remedies are doctor recommended, others are more like trial and error items that we’ve found to be helpful. If you have EBV, you should talk to your doctor about your specific issues. Depending on your situation some medications may be helpful in preventing more serious side effects of Epstein-Barr.

If you have any other ideas, I’d love to hear them!



To prevent Epstein-Barr Virus from flaring up:



Essentially the idea is to maintain optimal health and a strong immune system. Eat well, sleep well, and mediate stress. All of these things will help to keep the immune system strong to fend off the recurrence of the virus. Here’s what we do on a regular basis to fend off EBV:


*Go to bed and wake up at a regular time. Routine helps people with EBV to get in to regular sleep patterns. Fatigue can lower the body’s immune defences and make it more susceptible to flare-ups.

* Take time to exercise and relax. Both regular exercise and relaxation increase white blood cell count. White blood cells fight off infection, so maintaining a strong white blood cell count can help fight off EBV flare-ups.

* A balanced diet with lots of fruit and vegetables. This helps boost the immune system.  

* Stress management. Easier said than done, right? My hubby is doing his PhD. Stress is a constant state of existence. But exercise, regular sleep patterns, meditation, and a balanced diet can all help manage stress.



Natural remedies for managing Epstein-Barr Virus flare-ups



What to do when the glands start to swell? We get on it right away. Here's what we do: 

* Lots of fluids. The virus is essentially an infection that causes inflammation. Liquids, (particularly warm ones, given the painful swollen glands) can help sufferers stay hydrated and fighting off the virus.  

* Epstein-Barr Tea. Well that’s what I call it anyway. This is an antibacterial tea I concocted based around one I make for myself sometimes. As soon as hubby starts feeling like his glands are swollen, I make up a pot of this and he has a couple of cups. If we’re lucky, that alone will be enough to fend off the virus. The recipes is at the bottom of this post.

* Chicken Noodle Soup: I always keep a few containers of homemade Chicken Noodle Soup in the freezer for hubby in case of flare-ups. Along with the tea, I usually pull a container out right away to defrost. Sometimes people lose their appetites, or the swollen glands hurt too much to eat solids. Soup is a good way to get nutrients without pain. (The above is a link to my recipe)

* Sinus rinses when the sinuses get really stuffy. This is mostly if the virus has been active for a couple of days. The rinses seem to help drain the sinuses and prevent sinus infections. Netti pots or plastic sinus rinse bottles and the saline solution can be bought at most pharmacies for about $15-20.

* Sleep and rest. Your body needs to fight off a virus. Let it.

* Light exercise. Exercise can help boost white blood cell count, which can help fend off the virus.

* Aspirin: can help reduce inflammation of the lymph nodes and reduce pain.


Recipe for Epstein-Barr Tea



The basic ingredients are all considered to be strong anti-bacterial, immune building foods. Some studies suggest that ginger has antibacterial properties,[1] and can be helpful in combatting various forms of cancer and nausea as well as reducing arthritis symptoms.[2] Cinnamon is a strong antioxidant and regulates blood sugar levels and some tests have even shown that the smell alone can boost brain function!  Honey is well known for its anti-bacterial and immune building properties,[3] as is lemon juice.


Ingredients for antibacterial tea: (makes about 2 cups worth)

3 cups water
1 slice of ginger, approx.. 1" thick, peeled and thinly sliced
1 stick cinnamon
1 tbsp lemon juice or 1 half fresh lemon, scrubbed and thinly sliced
1 tbsp honey per cup of tea


Method:

Add the water, ginger, cinnamon, and lemon to a pot and bring to a boil.

Lower heat and simmer 10 minutes. 

Remove from heat and pour into a cup, add honey.  Mix until honey is dissolved.  Repeat with remaining tea.
 

Notes:
Both cinnamon and ginger induce sweating, which is very good for detoxifying when you are sick, and is used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to warm up people who are “cool.”  However, some people may have adverse reactions to too much ginger, so use in moderation until you are comfortable with it. 


Please share your Epstein-Barr virus stories here! I'd love to hear how you manage it, or if you know someone with it! 





References: 
[1] Karuppiah, Ponmurugan, and Shyamkumar Rajaram. "Antibacterial effect of< i> Allium sativum</i> cloves and< i> Zingiber officinale</i> rhizomes against multiple-drug resistant clinical pathogens." Asian Pacific journal of tropical biomedicine 2, no. 8 (2012): 597-601. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S222116911260104X



[3] Omoya, F. O., and F. C. Akharaiyi. "Mixture of honey and ginger extract for antibacterial assessment on some clinical isolates." Int J Pharma l Biomed Res 2, no. 1 (2011): 39-47.

 http://www.londoncss.co.uk/scientific-journals.co.uk/web_documents/1020517_honey_ginger_extract.pdf (This study used a combination of ginger and honey extract to examine their antibacterial properties. 


36 comments:

  1. Thank you for writing about this.....not something a lot of people are familiar with. I was diagnosed with re-occurring EBV. I now know that was just a part of what was wrong but it contributed to a lot of intolerable symptoms.

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    1. You're welcome, kygal, I hope you found it useful. We're lucky that it is really only an issue a couple of times a year when it flares up, but my understanding is that some people can have chronic EBV and that can be very debilitating. I hope you've found some relief from some of your symptoms :)

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  2. I was just diagnosed with EBV. Still learning and figuring things out. This was encouraging and helpful! Thank you.

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    1. You're welcome, Maureen, I'm so glad you found it helpful! I'd never heard of it until I met my husband, so it's been a learning curve for me / us, too.

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  3. Please go to heritageessentialoils.com and order a bottle of Plague Defense. It will kill any virus in the body. It can be taken in an empty capsule or applied to the bottoms of the feet. I promise you that it will be worth every penny.

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    1. Hi momma-lana, thank you for the suggestion, but chronic EBV is not a passing virus like a cold or flu. It is a virus that stays in the body for life, and so far there have been no proven, effective treatments for destroying the virus. As much as I like to advocate for natural therapies and remedies, unfortunately this one is not so simple.

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  4. I was so interested to read your post, Danielle. Although I had heard of Epstein Barr virus I did not realise it was what caused Mononucleosis, nor that it could continue to affect one later in life. You've provided some really good information here for anyone who is a sufferer, and both your tea and chicken noodle soup sound very restorative - as well as delicious! Thank you for being a part of the Hearth and Soul hop.

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    1. So glad you found it informative, April, and thanks so much for hosting the Hearth and Soul hop :)

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  5. I'm having an EBV flare up right now. We just moved cross country and I am on the search for a doctor in our area that understands what I'm going through and knows how to keep tabs on it like my previous doctor. This post was so validating after having a doctor tell me today that mono is not a reoccurring thing. I've been making lemon and honey tea, I'll have to try your recipe, it sounds soothing.

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    1. Hi Katie, I'm so sorry to hear that a doctor said that to you! Having multiple allergies I understand how disheartening it can be when a doctor makes you feel like you're imaging things, or that you're wrong when you know something is not right with your body. I hope you find one you can trust and who will support you.

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  6. After many many years of no answers I was diagnosed with EBV in November. I am trying to manage it but boy when you have 3 VERY active kids it is not easy. My falre ups will last weeks sometimes. Right now I am on week 3. I am working on changing my diet but is there anything else that I can do in the short amount of time I have?

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    1. So sorry to hear it's dragging on. Unfortunately I can't recommend a quick fix, but I do know that my husband feels better if he drinks lots of fluid (warm water, if your glands are swollen and sore, can be easier to swallow) and tries to rest as much as possible. If your nose is getting stuffed, steaming over hot water and sinus rinses might also help. And of course, trying to prevent a flare up in the first place with regular exercise and sleep patterns, meditation, and a balanced diet. Hope you feel better soon!

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    2. You can also add whole cloves or ground to the steaming water. It has some antibacterial properties but it also reduces the pain of sore throat and helps sinuses to drain.

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  7. Thank you. Finally diagnosed with this after suffering for five years. Debilitating at times. Coming off a cold, found this blog. Bought the ingredients and just made the tea. Drinking it now for the first time and it is so good!

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    1. So glad you like the tea, and glad to hear you finally got a diagnosis. At least now you know what you're dealing with!

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  8. Thank you for the recipe. Do you strain the tea before you drink it? Thanks!

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    1. My husband usually just drinks it as is and works around the ginger slices, but you can strain it if you like!

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  9. I found out thru a blood test at Center for New Medicine in Irvine, CA that I had EBV, it was very high. I had a series of UVLRX intravenous treatments with immune IV afterwards for 10 wks, one a week and am virtually free of the virus now.

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    1. Interesting, thanks for sharing that. This isn't standard in Canada (and in fact I don't think they do it at all here). I believe it's still in the testing and research phase, correct?

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  10. Dear Danielle,
    I found your site by chance. Thank you for the tea recipe. I will definitely try it. I contracted the EPV virus through a friend of my son who sneezed on my lunch 2 years ago. I was finally recovering. It has been an antagonizing time as my doctor was not well versed on it and told me it would go away. I recently changed doctors and she is sending me to an infectious disease specialist. I think I was recently reinfected by same person who I saw 3 weeks ago as my symptoms are those that you describe for your husband. My symptoms are less than the first time when my shoulder was paralyzed but the swollen glands and trouble swallowing are very uncomfortable. I am going to doctor tomorrow and demand a EPV test. When your husband has his flare ups does he get retested and how are his numbers? Thank you for being there. Claudia

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    1. Hi Claudia, I don't think it's possible to get "reinfected" so much as that it flares up periodically because, as far as I'm aware, EBV doesn't actually go away, it remains in your system forever as it's a strain of the herpes virus. Once the acute phase is over (after the first infection) symptoms apparently aren't always as strong as the first time. And yes, the swollen glands and pain with swallowing is pretty common with a flare-up, along with exhaustion.

      But a good doctor should be able to suggest some things you can do to help mediate symptoms and flare-ups (like I do above). I hope your new doctor is a little more helpful!

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    2. Dear Danielle,
      I don't know if my previous thanks reach you. Thank you so very much for answering me and foe the tea. I have been having it once a week and it seems to help. I had to have some blood test redone and I drank some the night before and not only were my electrolytes perfect my epv results were much better. Your are a miracle worker. Not too much luck with infectous disease doctor. Your help and explanations were better than his.
      Can I give my mother your recipe . She was on cortisone for 6 months for her arthritis and now is vey exhausted and has no energy.
      Thank you again so very much

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    3. Hi Claudia, glad you've found the tea useful and sorry to hear the doctor wasn't very helpful. Of course you can share the recipe, although I'm not sure how well it works for arthritis. Ginger is suggested to be anti-inflammatory, which might help to reduce some of her symptoms. Again, it's always good to check with a doctor first and try things in moderation :)

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    4. Dear Danielle,
      Again I thank you for being such a good listener and helper with the epv virus. What a difference you have made for me to know that there is someone who believes and understands what many of us are going thru with the virus. One question. How often can I have the tea. It might not be related but I was suffering from night sweats ( I know of a male epv sufferer who also has those ) and since having your tea they have diminished considerably. Thank you again.
      Claudia
      ps sent the recipe to my mom in France. She will talk to her dr. there. She was diagnosed with polymyalgia rheumatic.

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    5. Hi, I'm sorry but I really can't say how often to have it, it's not exactly a prescription. I only make it for my husband to have a cup or two a day while he has a flare-up, so not longer than a couple of days in a row at any given time. Personally I find that too much ginger and cinnamon is a bit warming, and can induce sweating, so I wouldn't be drinking it all day long or anything like that.

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  11. forgot to sign,
    Claudia

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  12. Going through an EBV re-activation flare now...just wrote a blog about it.
    I am a holistic health coach who suffers with this and other auto-immune issues. So tired of being sick and tired...lot of pain and left side feels tender, rash, etc etc.
    Trying the tea now.
    Penny(I follow you on Pinterest as well) had no idea about your husband.
    <3

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    1. I'm sorry to hear that, Penny, I hope the tea makes you feel a little better :)

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  13. Aren't you confusing "anti bacterial" with "anti viral"? Epstein Barr is a viral infection, not a bacterial infection.

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  14. I have EBV and CFS my tea recipe is very similar but I also add an equal amount of turmeric (as ginger) and a pinch of cayenne pepper (makes the turmeric more potent). It is great for reducing inflammation and pain as well as being antiviral. Master Tonic is also a great antibiotic (also called fire cider).

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  17. I just saw your recipe for the tea, i cant wait to try it was diag wih ebv a few years ago and when it reactivates i drag, i have it right now, the past couple weeks ive been so tired and foggy, im like a differnet person when this happens i hate it :(

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