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Reactivation of Epstein-Barr Virus Linked to Adrenal Fatigue

May 4, 2021
By: Dr. Andrew Neville


Dr. Andrew Neville


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What’s Behind the Reactivation of Epstein-Barr Virus

There is a common misconception that Epstein-Barr Virus (aka EBV, mononucleosis, or mono) is a virus that can sometimes have recurring symptoms, even years after it strikes. Mainstream medicine often overlooks the role EBV may play in one’s overall health. And many integrative/holistic health practitioners have gone the opposite route, placing too much emphasis on the EBV virus itself.

The truth is that reactivation of Epstein-Barr virus only occurs if one’s bodily systems are already out of balance. And often, the underlying cause of this imbalance is Adrenal Fatigue.

Epstein-Barr Virus and Adrenal Fatigue

Many people get mono, or EBV, but most people aren’t chronically ill from it. This is because a healthy body can keep the virus dormant and symptom-free.

Chronic viruses and their severe symptoms are the result of an underlying condition. Attempting to treat the reactivation of Epstein-Barr Virus or other viruses alone wastes time, money, and energy.

Within my 18 years as a naturopathic doctor, I have found that treating the stress-response dysfunction, commonly known as Adrenal Fatigue, is what paves the path to immune health. A strong and functional immune system makes Epstein-Barr remain dormant for life.

Epstein-Barr Virus and Adrenal Fatigue

Epstein-Barr Virus is in the Herpes family of viruses. Epstein-Barr is a virus in the family line HHV-4.

There are 9 Herpes viruses known to infect humans. Some are known by name, some by number. Human Herpes Virus HHV-1, for instance, is the common cold-sore-causing virus.

All Herpes viruses have one thing in common: they infect the majority of people in the US, either in childhood or our teenage years. Once infection occurs, these viruses live dormant within the body forever. We are never actually free from these viruses.

Epstein-Barr Virus has an infection rate of approximately 95% of the country. That’s right! Ninety-five percent of us will test positive for having once been infected with EBV. The majority of us will test positive for having a past infection. This means that we once had the virus and our body fought it off. Now it’s dormant.

Can Epstein-Barr Virus be Cured?

Short answer: no. If you suffer from acute Epstein-Barr Virus fatigue, it may affect the way you feel in your daily activities.

Your adrenals are overwhelmed and under strain, making you feel physiologically stressed, and thus vulnerable to EBV reactivation.

The question is, can Epstein-Barr Virus be cured if one is currently infected? You can use antiviral medication to treat the virus’s symptoms. However, you’ll perpetually have to turn to antiviral meds…unless you address the underlying cause of immune suppression from Adrenal Fatigue.

So the real answer to the question is that Epstein-Barr Virus cannot be cured or eradicated, although it is possible to reduce its symptoms and eliminate them if properly diagnosed and treated.

When Adrenal Fatigue is properly diagnosed and treated, Epstein-Barr Virus can be dormant and harmless in the body.

The Epstein-Barr Virus is never fully eradicated. It remains in a dormant state throughout most of our lives, except during initial infection or reactivation. This is why people who are immunologically suppressed will most likely reactivate their body’s EBV effects in the form of Adrenal Fatigue.

Epstein-Barr Virus Manifestations

Infection of the Epstein-Barr Virus can look very different, based on one’s previous state of health.
  • In a third of us, our bodies fight it off without many symptoms.
  • In another third of us, it will cause a mild upper respiratory-type of infection that will come and go. We won’t even know we’ve been exposed to it.
  • In the final third of us, Epstein-Barr Virus will cause the typical mono-like symptoms that can be severe and debilitating.

Who’s at Most Risk of the Epstein-Barr Virus?

The Epstein-Barr Virus is never “cured.” It may be active or dormant. The goal is to keep it dormant.

People who are immunologically suppressed will most likely reactivate their body’s EBV effects in the form of Adrenal Fatigue.

During these times, the person will develop their particular EBV symptom “pattern,” be it extreme fatigue or more severe “mono” with long lasting flu-like symptoms.

You may be a part of the immunosuppressed population if you are:

  • HIV infected
  • An elderly person
  • An organ transplant patient
  • Anyone with a stressful lifestyle – and stress can look different for each person.

We can become immunosuppressed by stress alone. This is why it’s common for people to get sick after a difficult time at work or with family, or for students to develop a cold sore during exam time. Stress does it, almost every time.

What does Epstein-Barr Have to Do with Adrenal Fatigue?

For those suffering from a reactivation of Epstein-Barr Virus, it’s important to look out for symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue.

After a person is infected with Epstein-Barr Virus, here’s what we know happens:

  • The virus becomes dormant in the body.
  • In some of us, it’s likely that the virus may reactivate, with symptoms showing like those of a bad cold.
  • For those with weakened immune systems, the symptoms are more severe, and the accompanying fatigue can last for months.

But what does Epstein-Barr Virus have to do with Adrenal Fatigue?

Adrenal Fatigue patients have immunologic symptoms. Which means my focus should be toward patients within the immunosuppressed population.

The underlying troublemaker is the stress response system, which includes, but is not limited to, the adrenal glands.

Adrenal Fatigue is the result of chronic, perpetual stress. It is severe or prolonged enough to overwhelm one’s capacity to handle stress all-together.

If stress were to fill a “bucket” of tolerance, once the bucket is full, the body shifts into ongoing stress physiology or “fight or flight.” This is the opposite of “rest and digest” physiology. And our bodies were not meant to stay in perpetual “fight or flight” — it’s very hard on our system!

Prolonged Stress and Epstein-Barr Fatigue

When it comes to reactivation of Epstein-Barr Virus, the most common misconception is that stress doesn’t have anything to do with it.

This couldn’t be further from the truth.

The shift of the “rest and digest” function to “fight or flight” turns on the organs of stress response and turns off the organs of healing & repair.

Here are the main systems affected by rest & digest:

  • Immune system
  • Digestive system
  • Reproductive system
  • Thyroid function

If you’ve noticed issues with these systems, it may very well be you have to look deeper at what’s causing the reactivation of Epstein-Barr Virus.

Immunosuppression Occurrence with Epstein-Barr Virus Fatigue

Immunosuppression occurrence with reactivation of Epstein-Barr Virus happens because of the release of excess stress hormones.

The affects of the stress hormones cortisol & adrenaline are very well documented, researched, and predictable.

Fixing the dysfunctional stress response system (or healing Adrenal Fatigue) is vital in order to remove immunosuppression. Then, the immune system has a chance to recover.

Prevent Reactivation of Epstein-Barr Virus

We now know that Adrenal Fatigue can cause reactivation of Epstein-Barr Virus. The good news is that a strong, functional immune system can keep viruses from reactivating over and over. This will keep symptoms to a minimum.

By design, the stress response system was made for immediate response to an acute stressor. Imagine this scene: a tiger hunts you, and the stress-response kicks in telling the body to run so you don’t get eaten! When you’re safe and sound, the body returns to its usual function.

But what happens when you’re stressed — all the time?

Stressful moments like bankruptcy, a death in the family, or even being stuck in traffic for hours cause the same responses in our body as if we were being chased by that tiger. The body cannot discern one stressor from another. Again, “stress” is the culprit and the physiological reaction is the same.

How to Heal From Epstein-Barr Virus & Adrenal Fatigue

Understanding how to heal from Adrenal Fatigue is important. To do this, we need to know how the stress response system works. This will help you get started on healing.

Immune system imbalance, which causes the recurrence of Epstein Barr Virus and other infections, is a hallmark of Adrenal Fatigue. Together, my patients and I focus on this main underlying cause, so they heal at the deepest level possible.

Realizing there is hope can be a turning point for anyone who’s been suffering from Adrenal Fatigue and chronic infections for months… most likely years.

It’s possible to reverse Adrenal Fatigue and rebuild your immune system. This will prevent reactivation of the Epstein-Barr Virus since the virus will happily stay dormant in a healthy body. You’ll be able to enjoy life again with full vigor and a balanced, powerful body.


Dr. Andrew Neville


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