by Dr. Bill Rawls
Chronic Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) often seems to go hand in hand with Lyme disease and other chronic illnesses. Here, Dr. Bill Rawls discusses why some people struggle with the virus more than others and herbs you can take to help normalize your immune system functions. Check out our guide to EBV here.
Question: What is the best treatment for chronic Epstein-Barr virus?
Carin Gorrell: Let’s talk a little bit about EBV. This is one Epstein-Barr virus. We get a lot of questions about this one. We know a lot of people struggle with it. So Wendy asks, “What is the best treatment for chronic EBV since it’s a virus and not a bacteria?” I think that’s an interesting question.
Dr. Rawls: Well, that’s a nice thing about the herbs again, is you have really wonderful antiviral properties. Reishi mushrooms, which I consider mainly an immune-modulating or immune-balancing adaptogen, have some really nice antiviral properties that have been well documented. Andrographis, wonderful antiviral properties. Neem, wonderful antiviral properties against herpes-type viruses.
So when you have reactivation of many of these viruses like Epstein-Barr and CMV, the antiviral drugs don’t work for them anymore. They will for acute infections, and they do for certain chronic infections like genital herpes or herpes zoster with shingles, but they don’t work for Epstein-Barr, and they don’t work for CMV. It’s really because each of these viruses has particular characteristics of what types of cells they stay dormant in and where they’re located in the body.
So Epstein-Barr typically stays dormant in salivary tissue and lymphoid tissue in the body. But everybody’s got this thing. Most of it, we pick it up when we’re children. We don’t even know about it. If you happen to not get it as a child and get it as an adult when your immune system is down, you can end up with mononucleosis. Mononucleosis does respond to antiviral therapy.
Reactivation of Epstein-Barr as a chronic infection does not. So, typically, if you look for it, most people will have reactivation of Epstein-Barr, and it is because of this whole thing that once you disrupt the immune system, the immune system cannot contain these things anymore so they come back out. But it’s not just Epstein-Barr. It is other viruses, too. You’ve got a full range of viruses, and I think there are probably a lot of things that we don’t know about. Viruses are still undiscovered country. We’re just understanding viruses.
Our environment is littered with viruses. Every surface that you touch has viruses. There are viruses everywhere outdoors. Every time you take a breath, you get viruses that you inhale. Now, fortunately, the thing about viruses is they’re cell specific so most of the things that you pick up can’t connect with your cells, so they can’t do anything to you. But viruses have been loading up in the environment. They’re very resilient. The entire earth is covered in viruses.
But I think there are viruses that we don’t know about yet that do affect us that can cause chronic infections. So, again, that’s a really nice thing about the herbs. The herbs have some direct antiviral properties, but the big thing, the key to this thing is restoration of normal immune system function. So once you get your immune system back, it can contain these things again. You’re not going to eradicate them. I mean, that’s just all there is to it. You have to have a healthy immune system to contain these things. Remarkably important.