The Epstein Barr virus that causes mononucleosis or glandular fever, has the ability to establish a lifelong presence in the body. In the majority of people a healthy immune system keeps the virus in check. However about 6% of people get re-activated or recurrent Epstein Barr for weeks, months or years after the initial infection.
So why do some people get recurrent Epstein Barr? The bottom line is how healthy your immune system is. Your immune system may be suppressed from poor eating habits, stress, smoking or a chronic underlying disease. Your genes can also make you more susceptible to the disease.
Recurrent Epstein Barr and Nutrition
How well your immune system functions is closely linked to what you eat. A deficiency of even a single nutrient can impair your defenses, and trigger symptoms. Plenty of studies have linked weakened immunity and subsequent illness to deficiencies of vitamins A, C, E, zinc and selenium. The other nutrients crucial for immunity are iron, vitamin D and the B complex vitamins. These nutrients help your body make T- cells, B- cells, antibodies and other immune proteins that keep you healthy.
Recurrent Epstein Barr and Stress
Stress is a known trigger for infections like mononucleosis. A stressful event like a new job, divorce, the loss of someone close, moving house, major exams, money problems or relationship issues, can suppress your immunity and allow mono to flourish.
More recently there has been a belief that recurrent mononucleosis may be due to our mind’s emotional blocks and limiting ideas. According to Louise Hay, author of “You can heal your life”, mono is caused by pushing beyond one’s limits, and a fear of not being good enough. It can be activated by anger at not receiving love and attention. These emotional blocks can be tackled by chatting with a counselor or health professional.
Recurrent Epstein Barr and Other Illnesses
Secondary infections like mycoplasma, Ricketssia, Chlamydia pneumonia or Lymes disease can suppress your immunity to the point where it is difficult to recover from mono. Other conditions like anaemia, allergy, low blood sugar, an under active thyroid, liver problems and sarcoidosis are other conditions that can prolong the length and severity of the illness.
Recurrent Epstein Barr and Genes
Your genes can also play a part in recurrent Epstein Barr. Researchers from NSW University tested the activity of 30,000 genes in the blood of people who either recovered quickly after mono or developed a prolonged illness. The activity of a group of 35 genes was found to match symptoms from onset of the disease to recovery. Unfortunately you can’t swap your genes but you can bolster your immune system through lifestyle modifications.
Through general lifestyle practices like a healthy diet, stress reduction, regular exercise and taking some immune boosting supplements, you can strengthen your immunity and keep the symptoms of recurrent Epstein Barr at bay. These treatments are discussed in the e-book Nature’s Amazing Mononucleosis Cures by qualified naturopath Elizabeth Noble.