Approximately 96% of the population carries antibodies to the Epstein barre virus. EBV is best known as the virus that causes mono. Many people have it and recover fully. Others have it and it seems to stick around ……sometimes forever. It is a member of the herpes family of viruses and like those, can have a cyclical nature in individuals who are susceptible. This, of course, is directly related to the individual constitution and to the internal landscape of each person of which there really isn’t a separation (we just talk about it like there is).
I am not going to touch on individual constitution, as that would lead us into talking about woundings and traumas, which would take us way back into early childhood (usually before age 5).
Instead I wanted to briefly write about EBV flares and give some helpful supports for those that may deal with them.
EBV manifests in a myriad of ways. It can show up as chronic fatigue. It may show up as certain thyroid disorders, such as Hashimoto’s. It has it’s tendrils in many autoimmune conditions and while I cannot say if it is the sole cause (there never is just one, is there….no matter how much we wish it to be), there are just too many factors, including Lyme and the 19 known co-infections that are also often components here. EBV sticks around. It can hang out in certain organs or systems and does tend to hangout in the cerebral spinal fluid.
While I personally deal with Babesia and Bartonella, EBV tends to be the trickiest one for me and the one that causes me the most distress.
EBV flares in cycles. Often when I first talk with people they can’t distinguish the cycles. They are often too lumped together to discern a beginning and an end point, or they overlap with other conditions. With some work and looking at patterns, we can begin to stretch out the time between the flares, the severity of them when they do happen, and their longevity. This is where the work lies when I work with clients and also the work I do with myself.
There are two main routes I work with. I work with flower essences and I also work with herbs in two different ways. Which I choose will vary depending on where I am at. There isn’t a RIGHT way, and this is where learning about your particular body and patterns is vital. The more we can reveal nuances, the more we can better choose which supports to lean into and when.
So what does an EBV flare feel like? Well it can feel different for each person, which will depend on so many things. I can share what it is like for me.
When I have an EBV flare, it usually follows some sort of taxing stress. This is usually emotional, but can occasionally be physically running myself down. I usually begin with a feeling like Im having seasonal allergies. A bit of a scratchy throat and maybe a bit of stuffiness. There is often a headache present. The telltale thing for me is that I can feel an edginess in my spinal column. I often refer to this as “my spine feels viral”. This is when I know that it is EBV and I am not catching something.
At this point I almost always use a capsicum patch on C7. This is a “wind gate” in acupuncture. It is a place where the wind comes in. I usually do this in the evening. I cut a 2 inch x 2 inch patch and place this on C7. I then get into bed. Through the night my body heats and I will sweat a lot. I often wake up in the morning either feeling completely fine or feeling that the flare has calmed a great deal.
I then have two routes that I may take with herbs. The first is really just supporting and nourishing my body in the way that I usually do but maybe increasing it a bit. This is with adrenal supporting herbs, liver supporting herbs, and usually some lung support. I also drink warming teas, since my EBV usually also accompanies a sort of funky temperature relation thing and Im usually finding myself chilled. I make sure the teas are warming in nature which means they usually contain things like ginger, cinnamon, clove, black pepper - think chais! They are perfect.
IF later in the day I feel that the flare is increasing in intensity or just sort of hanging on at a low level, I will bring in small amounts of herbs that tend to be anti-virals. This may be oregano, lomatium, baikal skullcap, thyme, or Houttuynia. I also like to add something to lower the inflammation that may be present, such as turmeric or Yerba mania.
Really this usually does the trick. It rarely lasts more than a day or two. I continue with the nourishing herbs at higher levels for a few days. I don’t love doing the anti-virals as my experience has been that they can keep us locked in flare cycles.
When you understand that EBV replicates when it is dormant, it very much makes sense. (This was something taught to me by one of my mentors, David Dalton.)
So what do you do about that? Well, this is where flower essences come into play and they work brilliantly at really shifting the cycles. I tend to use either a blend called EB Vitality from Delta Gardens or various of the pansy essences. I will use these 3x a day and while I will continue on with my regular nourishing herbs, I will not use ANY antiviral herbs and really won’t use any anti-inflammatories unless its a cup of golden milk.
Now this process takes a while. What is happening is that the essences are coaxing the virus out of dormancy. When this happens, we might feel kind of crappy. But then, as our vibration shifts, the environment is no longer hospitable to EBV and our EBV levels drop. We are not doing the same patterns of attacking the microbes, which causes them to retreat into dormancy, where they then replicate and then emerge again when we are run down. We are saying “Hey guys, come on out here, Ive got this cool thing to show you!” And the flower essences to their magic.
Once we decide that we would like to stop with the essences, we will find that our flares have shifted. They occur less often. Their duration is shorter. Their severity is lessened. Yeah, we did have to go through feeling a low level of kind of ick during this time, but the result is that we have shifted the patterns and will have a much easier time moving forward.
There are also all of the emotional components and things tied into this, which as I mentioned, I am not going to get into right now. This isn’t to diminish their importance, for the constitution and emotions ARE why these patterns get locked in. A lot of work around this is self/other work. It is just too big to discuss here and my intention was really to focus more on the physical and to share some ways in which I work with this.
With clients that are prone to flares, I often recommend Houttuynia at a low level on a regular basis. Gradually the flares start to give enough space in between to begin to distinguish the patterns, which can then be addressed.
Left to run unchecked, EBV can create so many issues that can really be quite debilitating. I spent nearly an entire year in bed very very ill, only to learn much later, that It was EBV that I was dealing with.
Unfortunately doctors don’t test for EBV outside of acute cases of mono, unless it is requested. And even then, many don’t know which test to select or may not even believe that chronic EBV is a thing. I also feel that this has something to do with the fact that western medicine has nothing really to offer EBV. Essentially, if they can’t go to war with it and try and kill it off, they don’t know what to do. AND, as I pointed out, going to war with EBV doesn’t work out well. It just hides.
It can be assumed that most people probably carry EBV antibodies.
Why then isn’t everyone sick with it? Well for one, we can’t say that they aren’t. We can say that it doesn’t affect everyone as severely as it does some people, and that would be due to the inner terrain. And that inner terrain is just as much emotional as it is physical.
EBV doesn’t get a lot of spotlight in the field of Western Medicine, primarily because there is not really any effective treatment available. I do suspect that when they develop one or a vaccine that we will start hearing more about EBV, just as we do with many other things. Follow the money. And if this ever is the case, look to the Lyme work to understand how treating chronic conditions doesn’t tend to work very well when using acute style therapies.
To sum it up and recap.I find both herbs and flower Essenes to be helpful for working with chronic EBV.
For Flower Essences look to the Pansies and in particular the Pansy set from Delta Gardens. For Herbs nourishment and restoration is needed with herbs for adrenals (ashwaganda, eluethero, Schizandra, etc.), the liver (burdock, dandelion, milk thistle, etc), and really any other area that has been deeply affected. We can also turn to other herbs during cycles to help break up the cycles and start to learn the partners (lomatium, baikal skullcap, thyme, oregano, Houttuynia.) and also to help reduce inflammation (turmeric, Yerba mansa, Houttuynia).
I highly recommend working with an herbalist and/or flower essence practitioner that is skilled in working with EBV and/or Lyme & Co. They know how to wade these ever changing waters, know the time that it takes to do so, and can support you along the way.