When patients enter our office with chronic health challenges one of the first big questions to ask is where is the problem coming from? For some patients, the answer is they are struggling with a chronic viral activation and they need an effective antiviral strategy to help their body recover. The most famous virus we can think of for this is and EBV (Epstein Barr Virus) which causes Mono.
Epstein Barr Virus (EBV) is a often hidden cause of chronic fatigue and abnormal neurological symptoms.
Many of us got chicken pox as children and know that this virus stays in our body our entire lives! The reason we know this is nearly 1/3 of us will suffer from a reactivation of chicken pox called shingles! When our immune system is weak this virus can come out and wreak havoc. This begs the question about other viral infections. Is it possible other viral infections can “come back” like Chicken Pox does? The answer is a definitive yes, but there is all kinds of controversy on how to diagnose and test for these “viral re-activations”. This article will not focus on the various testing modalities but rather on essential components of an antiviral strategy that can help you get better!
Stage 1 of Trifold: Chronic Antiviral Support Strategies
- Immunonutrition – Boost your immune system function safely with our antiviral support strategies using Vitamin A, Vitamin D, and Ganoderma.
- The key with immunonutriton is that stimulating TH1 side of the immune system is extremely common when trying to eliminate a viral infection, but can also be very dangerous in an autoimmune disease patient. If there is no autoimmunity then we do not have to worry about this. See article based on parts of the immune system for further reading. These bits of immunonutrition are specifically designed to help your immune system in a auto-immune safe way.
- The problem with doing ONLY this step of viral support and especially with doing step 2 before step 1 is the body will respond to a viral infection by raising interferon to stimulate your immune system to kill the virus. This is good….but you will feel absolutely awful while your body does this. Interferon is given as a drug to patients with hepatitis (liver damage due to a viral infection). The interferon literally has the highest suicide rate of any drug approved by the FDA. You will feel like you caught a terrible virus. By implementing the other 2 pieces of defending your own DNA and attacking the virus directly we can avoid the body simply raising interferon through the rough to deal with this problem.
- This step is important because it is likely you have a chronic infection because of a weakness or imbalance in the immune system. Thus the ultimate answer lies more in restoring order to the immune system than in simply beating down a virus.
- Antiviral – Attack the virus directly — Licorice and L-Lysine
- Licorice is my favorite antiviral support nutrients because of both its efficacy eliminating viral infections, and the myriad of other body functions it helps with. Licorice works directly to inhibit many different DNA and RNA based viruses[i]. The same article shows it irreversibly inactivates the herpes family of viruses so it is incredibly important to use licorice with patients suffering from herpes 1 (oral), 2 (genital), 3 (chicken pox/shingles) 4 (EBV/Mononucleosis), 5 (CMV), or 6 (No special name). Other studies have also found licorice to be an extremely potent anti-viral herb[ii].
- Other effects of licorice include it can help preserve cortisol activity in those suffering from adrenal fatigue. It is also known to help soothe the gut and heal the intestinal lining.
- L-Lysine has been shown to reduce the frequency and severity of HSV-1 outbreaks[iii]. It acts directly to inhibit the virus and is especially useful against the herpes family of viruses including EBV.
- Antireplication – Defend your DNA! — NAC/Glutathione, Methyl
- How do you protect your DNA against a virus infiltrating it? Methyl and glutathione. Well if those aren’t 2 huge topics I don’t know what is. In the alternative world glutathione and methyl are the size of blue whales right now. For more information on Methyl or glutathione please refer to their respective articles by clicking on the links. For the purpose of this article suffice it to say ensuring you have proper methylation and boosting glutathione directly or through precursors like NAC has been shown to protect your DNA from being attacked from the virus.
Stage 2 of Trifold: Chronic Antiviral Support Strategies
When someone has been through stage 1 of our antiviral support for 2-3 months we typically try to ramp up the aggressiveness of the program. These strategies are more aggressive and generally involve more stimulation of the TH1 side of the immune system (the side I call the “boys” because they do the killing). This is best done after the TH3 part of the immune system has been supported with glutathione, vitamin D, vitamin A, and ganoderma for a few months. The last sentence is important so I will repeat it. Do not do stage 2 before stage 1 or you are asking for a world of hurt and unpleasantness.
- Arabinogalactans: These are a fiber which helps the body produce Short Chain Fatty Acids and boost immune function through proper gut function.
- Vitamin C: One of the most famous immune system boosters helps to make the immune system more deadly in its pursuit of microbes living in your body
- Zinc: This is a common immune nutrient which directly inhibits a virus and helps the immune system properly resolve and calm down once the infection has subsided.
- L-Glutamine – This amino acid is frequently used to help any fast growing tissue repair. It’s most frequent uses are to help repair a leaky gut and for athletes it can be useful for muscle repair. Another high metabolic system that can utilize L-glutamine is the immune system as natural killer cells and cytotoxic T Lymphocytes can utilize this amino acid to make themselves a more deadly force against foreign invaders.
- Colostrum – While some research shows colostrum boosts the TH3 system, other studies suggest it may boost the TH2 wing that produces immunoglobulin. As a natural source of immunoglobulin this was the first food you ever received as a baby to help boost your own immune system as you encountered the world outside your mother’s womb for the first time.
- Lemon Balm (Melissa Officianalis) is an anti-viral nutrient that is highly effect at both stimulating the immune system towards the virus and directly inhibiting it. It also has calming effects as it aids the GABA system, the natural brake to the nervous system.
- Echinacea, Astragalus, and Andrographis, Cat’s Claw – All 3 of these herbs are strong TH1 immune system stimulators and can be very effective in helping the body eliminate a virus as long as the TH3 “regulator” system is strong.
Stage 3 of Trifold: Chronic Antiviral Support Strategies
- Once a patient has gone through with stage 1 and stage 2 of the trifold, antiviral support for 4-6 months we prefer to go get a micronutrient test. By this time patients often feel better, but they are still depleted from the chronic viral struggle. This way we can look at exactly what vitamins and trace minerals a person is lacking on an individual basis and rather than give general support, we can support a body in the missing nutrients the body needs to function specifically. Dr. Paul and Dr. Warren have found this test to be a terrific tool for helping patients when used to help specifically dial in nutrition.
- A whole food diet with vegetables, berries, and grass fed meats are preferred, but the most important dietary consideration for anyone suffering from a viral infection (acute or chronic) is to avoid excess sugar. We encourage a 0 added sugar diet for our patients when recovering from a viral infection. Sugar basically slows down you immune system and it particularly reduces the activity of the natural killer cells which are absolutely essential in your defense against viral infections.
In Closing, a chronic viral infection can absolutely devastate a patient’s energy, create neurological problems, and be an invasive intrusion to their lives. One of the most frequent questions we get is how long it takes patients to recover from this condition. Honestly, most patients see dramatic improvement in their symptoms within the 2-3 month window, but full recovery can take 9-12 months. Remember, you are rebuilding your nutrient reserves, and you’ve had a layered breakdown of multiple wings of your immune system that allowed this virus to flourish. Bringing your body all back on line takes some time and consistency, but you can have your health restored!
[i] Pompei R et al. Glycyrrhizic acid inhibis virus growth and inhibits virus particles. Nature. 1979 Oct 25;281(5733):690-690.
[ii] Flore C et al. Antivial effects of Glycyrrhiza species. Phytother Res 2008 Feb;22(2):141-8.
[iii] Griffith RS et al. Success of L-Lysine Therapy in Frequently Recurrent Herpes simple Infection. Pharmacology and Treatment. 1987, Vol. 175, No 4.
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