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Natural Therapies for Glandular Fever

Immune, Teenages | February 21, 2017 | Author: Naturopath


Natural Therapies for Glandular Fever

Glandular fever, also referred to as mononucleosis, is an infection caused by the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). This virus is a member of the herpes virus family and is one of the most common human viruses worldwide. It is estimated that up to 95% of adults between the ages of 35 and 40 years have been infected. Children can also have an EBV infection and may have no symptoms or symptoms that are hard to differentiate from other common childhood illnesses. However, when EBV presents in teenagers and people in their 20’s, it leads to the more serious infectious glandular fever in 35-50% of cases.

Glandular fever is commonly referred to as the “kissing disease”. This is because the virus is commonly transferred by saliva. Less common forms of transferring the virus include sexual intercourse, blood transfusion or organ transplant. Once you have been infected the virus persists in your body for life. It can be reactivated without causing any symptoms and can contaminate saliva in otherwise healthy individuals. Therefore, it can be unknowingly passed onto the next person through kissing or sharing food.

Infection with EBV has also been implicated in the development of certain lymphomas, nasopharyngeal cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, as well as chronic fatigue syndrome.

Signs and symptoms

Signs and symptoms of glandular fever develop 4-6 weeks after coming into contact with the virus. Early symptoms resemble that of the flu but characteristically the fatigue can linger for many months.

  • Swollen glands and tonsils
  • Sore throat
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Severe fatigue
  • Spleen enlargement in 50% of cases
  • 5% develop a rash
  • May develop hepatitis and jaundice

Rare complications include meningitis or encephalitis in 1% of cases. Another rare finding in boys is an infection called X-linked lymphoproliferative syndrome.

It is important to seek medical attention if you are experiencing:

  • Extreme or prolonged fever
  • Severe abdominal pain (indicating potential spleen or liver enlargement)
  • Severe headache (may relate to meningitis or encephalitis)
  • Difficulty breathing and swelling of the airways
  • Jaundice (suggesting liver damage)

Lifestyle and dietary recommendations

It is important during active infection and while recovering, to allow the body adequate time to rest.

Resting helps the immune system to function better, so that you can recover quicker.

The diet should include foods that are fresh and unrefined. This includes eating lots of fruit and vegetables and wholegrains. Aim to eat good quality protein with every meal to give your immune system a further boost. This includes chicken, turkey, fish, nuts, seeds and legumes. It’s important to stay well hydrated by drinking 2-3 litres of water throughout the day. Soups, broths and herbal teas can also help to keep hydrated, while providing the body with essential nutrients in an easy to digest form. Avoiding alcohol is important, as liver complications can arise from glandular fever. It is also suggested to avoid caffeine and sugar.

Specific Herbal Medicines

Echinacea is the main indicated herb as it helps to boost the function of the immune system, while also providing antiviral, anti-inflammatory and lymphatic support. 

Try to find a product that uses only the root, with the preferred species being angustifolia. This ensures a good quality herbal medicine — more likely to have a positive result and less likely to cause adverse reactions. 

Herbs can be an effective and safe way to support the body during acute infection.

Other herbs that help to boost the immune system include:

  • astragalas
  • andrographis
  • olive leaf
  • mushrooms - cordyceps, coriolus and reishi.

The active constituent in andrographis has been shown to inhibit replication of the virus and has been suggested as a potentially useful compound to be used to treat EBV infection. A similar finding was found in an active constituent in green tea, suggesting a few cups of green tea throughout the day may also prove helpful. 

Specific anti-viral herbs include St John’s wort and propolis.  

Provide liver support to avoid complications with the herb St Mary’s thistle.

To help with the ongoing fatigue the herbs astragalas, rhodiola, Siberian ginseng or Korean ginseng can be taken.

Zinc and vitamin C powder taken in small doses throughout the day can help provide anti-viral support and give the immune system a helping hand. They are by far the most crucial nutrients needed by the body to help fight off infection.

Vitamin D is also essential for preventing and treating recurrent infections. If levels of this nutrient are too low, it makes it harder for your body to defend itself against these. Research has also shown that suboptimal vitamin D levels and infection with Epstein-Barr can put you at a higher risk of developing multiple sclerosis.

Nutrients to increase energy levels, and lift the lingering fatigue include coenzyme Q10, magnesium, green tea and B vitamins.

Natural Therapies for Glandular FeverConclusion

The Epstein-Barr virus stays in your body forever and can reactivate when the immune system is compromised.

This can happen from stress, inadequate nutrition and not enough rest or sleep.

It's "flu-like"  symptoms can come and go and last for months so it is important to stay vigilant with your health. Avoid contact with viruses, get adequate rest and relaxation and good quality sleep, don't stress and eat a nourishing diet. Supplemention with the above herbs and nurtents can help you achieve this.  Australia’s best online discount chemist


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Hechtman L (2014). Clinical Naturopathic Medicine. Churchill Livingstone, Australia

Lin TP, et al. Inhibition of the Epstein-barr virus lytic cycle by andrographalide. Biol Pharm Bull. 2008 Nov;31(11):2018-23

Chang LK, et al. Inhibition of Epstein-Barr virus lytic cycle by (-)- epigallocatechin gallate. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2003 Feb 21;301(4):1062-8

Holmoy T. Vitamin D status modulates the immune response to Epstein Barr virus: synergistic effect of risk factors in multiple sclerosis. Med Hypotheses. 2008;70(1):66-9

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