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Epstein-Barr Virus

by Dr. Jamie Kunkle

Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV), also known as human herpesvirus 4 (HHV-4), was first discovered in 1964 and today infects over 95% of the world’s population. EBV is considered a highly successful pathogen.

EBV is linked with infectious mononucleosis, autoimmune thyroiditis (Hashimoto’s), oral hairy leukoplakia, system lupus erythematosus (SLE), and multiple sclerosis (MS) among other correlated autoimmune conditions.

It is also associated with multiple types of cancer, including multiple lymphomas, epithelial cancers (including nasopharyngeal carcinoma), and a subset of gastric cancers.

In our practice, we are noticing a high rate of EBV reactivation post-COVID (infection and/or vaccination), and recent research has confirmed this observation.

Common symptoms of of Epstein-Barr Virus:

  • Significant fatigue of body (post-exertional malaise) and brain (brain fog and low capacity for mental exertion).
  • Muscle and body aches, sometimes joint pain.
  • Symptoms in head/neck (sometimes inner ear symptoms).
  • Sinuses, airways, gastrointestinal symptoms.
  • Lymph node enlargement.
  • Autonomic Dysregulation (ie, POTS).
  • Depression and psychiatric illness common.

Tissues most often affected by Epstein-Barr VIrus

  • Mucosa (sinuses, gut, airways)
  • Liver
  • Gastrointestinal system
  • Brain, central nervous system, autonomic nervous systems
  • Endothelium (blood vessels)

EBV dysregulates hormones (thyroid, adrenals, sex hormones) associated with:

  • Low progesterone in females, low testosterone in males
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Insomnia and cortisol disorders

The virus establishes life-long latency in the human host and is adept at evading host innate and adaptive immune responses.

There are THREE categories of EBV and herpes viral infections in general:

  • Acute INFECTION (mononucleosis or unrecognized)
  • Intermittent or circumstantial Reactivation (less complex)
  • Chronic persistent Reactivation (very complex)