Epstein-Barr Virus Reactivation and Chronic Fatigue Treatment

Woman fatigued with epstein barr virus

Epstein-Barr Virus Reactivation can cause symptoms that mimic other illnesses as well as trigger other long-term diseases

Fatigue is one of the top reasons people seek out functional medicine. I have found Epstein Barr virus to be one of the most common underlying root causes for chronic fatigue and illness. Epstein Barr virus and other “stealth infections” create an imbalance in the immune system allowing degradation in many areas of health. Epstein Barr treatment is an important aspect of recovery, so you can begin to thrive again.

What is Epstein Barr Virus?

You’ve probably heard of the ‘kissing disease’ mononucleosis–aka mono- at some point in your life. Its just one of several illnesses brought on by the Epstein -Barr Virus (EBV) which is part of the herpes virus family. This family of viruses is the most common in the world with 90-95% of people becoming infected with EBV sometime in their life (1).

Many people have unnoticeable or mild symptoms after experiencing EBV exposure, especially when exposed in childhood (2). The sneaky part is that this pathogen isn’t completely defeated by the immune system and can remain dormant for years. This isn’t an issue for most people with a strong, healthy immune system as the body can keep it in its dormant state. 

Unfortunately, if your immune system becomes compromised, EBV can be triggered and reactivated, causing a myriad of symptoms and complications. In fact, researchers are connecting reactivated EBV as one factor in triggering other chronic diseases, like autoimmune conditions, chronic fatigue, and many types of cancers (3,4).

The other issue is how EBV symptoms can mimic so many other illnesses, so conventional doctors can miss the potential connection between an EBV reactivation and other chronic diseases. This can delay diagnosis and treatment options for many patients.

Possible Symptoms of Epstein-Barr Reactivation:

  • Extreme or chronic fatigue
  • Low-grade Fever
  • Sore or inflamed throat
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the neck
  • Enlarged spleen or swollen liver
  • Weakness or muscle pain
  • Skin rashes
  • Brain fog

Causes of EBV Reactivation

As mentioned earlier, when your immune system is functioning well it will keep the virus in a dormant state. But when your immune system becomes compromised from things like stress, nutrient deficiencies, gut infections, environmental toxins, fighting another illness, or hormonal changes, EBV can rear its ugly head, reactivate, and start attacking your B cells (3). 

This is important because B cells are a type of white blood cell which can impact different tissues and organs in your body, and as mentioned earlier, can increase your risk of certain cancers like Hodgkin’s lymphoma, B cell lymphoma, Burkitt’s lymphoma, and more (3,4).

Similarly, EBV reactivation can be an underlying cause of other long-term, chronic diseases as researchers have found that EBV, along with other lifestyle factors, may be linked to “switching on” the expression of genes involved in several autoimmune disorders like (5):

  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Thyroid disease
  • Lupus 
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Inflammatory Bowel disease
  • Type 1 Diabetes
  • Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis
  • Celiac disease

Treatment for Epstein Barr Activated Chronic Fatigue 

Yes, it can be treated and bio-individuality is the key.

A vital aspect of healing is realizing that there is biochemical individuality based on your genetic and environmental uniqueness. There is no such thing as a truly “normal” individual. We are all biochemically unique and need to be treated as such. We all have a specific biochemistry, physical makeup, environment, and lifestyle factors which govern how our bodies function.

This is normally dismissed by doctors. Even many functional medicine practitioners are using the same cookie-cutter protocols with every person, but in order to heal, you must be treated as a unique individual.

Everyone with depression or autoimmune thyroid issues does not suffer from the same root causes, and everyone with a chronic condition will have a personal journey towards health and vitality.

A good example of this is the treatment of Epstein-Barr for chronic fatigue. Many doctors are now beginning to diagnose infections like Epstein Barr as a causative factor, and while that may be part of the story, 90% of people become infected with Epstein Barr at some point in their lives, but not everyone gets sick or gets a reactivated infection.

I’ve worked with numerous patients who came to me with elevated Epstein Barr markers or reactivated Epstein Barr, and I can tell you that each of them has required an individualized path of healing.  What works for one patient doesn’t necessarily work for the next person. Your individual biochemistry, root causes, and lifestyle must be considered for true healing to occur. There is no one right solution for everyone.

This means identical viral protocols for everyone are not enough to restore resilience and vitality. The question then becomes what is unique about YOU and why has your body lost resiliency against these types of infections?

Determining that involves: 

  •  The correct lab testing, often outside of conventional lab testing.
  • Testing interpretation that is taken into context with your personal history, environment, and lifestyle.
  • Application of these results and healing body systems in the right order to avoid causing more damage. 

With the proper framework, you can expedite the healing process and save years of trial and error. Through this systematic approach, you can fully heal and reach higher levels of well-being.

If you are ready to learn more and take your next step towards whole body healing please visit:  functionalmedicineforlife 


  1. rarediseases
  2. cdc
  3. nature
  4. cancer
  5. verywellhealth