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The Curious Case of Epstein-Barr Virus

By Health_Freedoms at Jan. 20, 2016, 7:44 p.m., 23649 hits

by Daniel F. Royal, DO, HMD, JD

Epstein–Barr virus (“EBV”) is named after Michael Anthony Epstein and Yvonne Barr, who both discovered the virus particles in 1964 and published their existence in The Lancet. Today, we know that EBV is one of eight viruses in the herpes family, the most common virus in humans, and a cause for mononucleosis. It is estimated to be associated with approximately 200,000 cancer cases per year such as Hodgkin's lymphoma, Burkitt's lymphoma, stomach cancer, nasopharyngeal carcinoma, and human immunodeficiency virus. There is also evidence that infection with EBV is associated with a higher risk of autoimmune diseases such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, Sjögren's, and multiple sclerosis. In addition, EBV has been implicated also in neurological disorders such as Parkinson's disease and dementia.

When a physician wants to evaluate the presence of EBV he requests lab tests that typically include EBV Antibody Viral Capsid Antigen IgM, EBV Antibody Viral Capsid Antigen IgG, and EBV Nuclear Antigen Antibody IgG. However, there is another EBV test that is often overlooked. This is the EBV Early Antigen (“EA”) Antibody IgG. This antibody may not only be detected during an active EBV infection, such as in patients with mononucleosis, but it may also be found in patients who have chronic active or reactivated EBV infection. Thus, while EBV IgG levels typically indicate antibodies have formed as a result of past exposure, EBV IgM and/or EBV EA IgG antibodies may both be used to diagnose and/or monitor a current or recurrent case of EBV.

Nevertheless, EBV is often unrecognized and underdiagnosed by conventional physicians practicing traditional medicine. One reason conventional physicians may not look for the presence of an active EBV infection is because, once EBV has been identified, traditional medicine has no specific drug treatment for it. On the other hand, it is a fairly common practice for holistic physicians practicing alternative medicine to check for the presence of EBV activation. This is because, once an alternative physician has identified EBV there are many non-drug approaches that can be used for its treatment such as nutritional supplements, intravenous infusions, homeopathics, and so forth.

What follows are a couple of actual patient cases that may help to illustrate problems one might experience as a result of EBV activation:

Patient #1
A 59-year-old female patient presented to an emergency room (“ER”) complaining of pain in her middle back on right side. The patient described her pain as being similar to “gallbladder pain,” but she had no gallbladder" and “worse after eating.” Her laboratory work showed her liver enzymes to be elevated and pancreatic enzymes to be within normal limits. Ultrasound identified a “fatty liver.” She was given pain medication and sent home. Patient was subsequently seen in the office of an alternative physician where additional lab testing revealed the hepatitis virus to be negative but her EBV EA Antibody to be highly elevated. Although her CEA was negative a liver biopsy was performed to rule out cancer and/or metastasis, but it proved to be negative. The patient was treated with supplements and intravenous infusions for immune support. After a couple months, the patient’s liver enzymes all returned to normal. Her improvement correlated with a simultaneous drop in the EBV EA Antibody level.

Patient #2
An 18-year-old female patient presented to the ER complaining of tingling and paralysis “from the neck down.” In the ER, no cause for the sudden onset of her condition was identified. So, when the feeling in her arms and legs gradually began to return, she was released from the ER with a diagnosis of “hyperventilation” although no such event occurred prior to onset of her symptoms. Over the next three months the patient’s symptoms continued “in varying degrees and duration” along with fatigue and weakness. Each “episode” lasted approximately 4 hours. The patient followed up with her alternative physician who ordered additional blood work, MRIs of her brain, cervical spine, and thoracic spine, and electromyography (“EEG”) of her upper and lower extremities. MRIs were all negative. Lab results for autoimmune and thyroid markers were within normal limits. However, the patient’s EBV EA Antibody was elevated. She was prescribed supplements and intravenous infusions for immune support. Patient then moved to another state where she had an EMG performed but no nerve abnormalities were identified. In consultation with a specialist, the patient was questioned about recreational drug use and sexual activity, but the patient had no significant medical history of trauma (e.g., death), drug use, sexual activity, or sexual abuse. The specialist was unable to identify a cause for the patient’s medical condition. So, he told the patient that she must have a psychosomatic condition known as “conversion disorder,” despite the fact the patient did not meet the criteria for such a diagnosis. After five months, the patient’s neurological symptoms completely resolved. This improvement correlated with a decrease in the patient’s EBV EA Antibody.

What’s interesting to note about the foregoing cases is that both patients had unusual reactions that seemed to correlate with EBV activation. This also appears to be an area of medicine where alternative physicians have more to offer than conventional physicians because a viral condition can be more effectively treated with natural means that support immune function as opposed to antiviral medications for which none exist for the treatment of EBV. Most importantly, both types of physicians should remember to check the EBV EA antibody more routinely in more patients, especially in difficult cases where other more obvious causes have been eliminated.

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— Last Edited by Health_Freedoms at 2016-01-28 08:02:01 —

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