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, and can be helpful in combatting various forms of cancer and nausea as well as reducing arthritis symptoms. 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, 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
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.
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.