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Glandular fever, or Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV), is a commonly spread human herpes virus, which can cause mononucleosis (an abnormally high proportion of monocytes in the blood) — but usually it doesn’t manifest in everyone that has EBV.

The infection generally causes no signs or symptoms, except in teenagers and young adults. In that age group, at least a quarter of infections lead to mononucleosis.

Mononucleosis is characterised by symptoms such as swollen lymph glands, fever and/or flu-like symptoms, body ache, sore throat, extreme fatigue, non-itchy rash, weakness, swelling and puffiness around the eyes, nausea and/or loss of appetite. The condition can also cause enlarged lymph nodes, enlarged spleen and in rare cases hepatitis and jaundice, due to mild inflammation of the liver. The jaundice and hepatitis normally disappear as the individual recovers from glandular fever.

Beyond EBV, cytomegalovirus and rubella (German measles), can also cause glandular fever. Additionally, an individual may develop similar symptoms if they have toxoplasmosis (parasitic infection).

EBV is often spread through contact with infected saliva. Symptoms can take between 4-6 weeks to manifest, and usually does not last more than four months.

Complications of glandular fever are rare, but they can be serious, which can include:

  • Damage to the spleen
  • A secondary infection, such as pneumonia, meningitis, or one that causes heart inflammation
  • Anaemia
  • A neurological condition, e.g. Guillain-Barre syndrome or Bell’s palsy
  • Upper airway obstruction

Recent scientific studies have now demonstrated that specific proteins encoded by EBV could contribute to the immune and neurological abnormalities exhibited by a subgroup of patients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (1).

Conventional Treatments:
There is no treatment for glandular fever, other than rest, drink sufficient water, take pain relief medication, gargling with salt-water solution or taking lozenges for a sore throat, and corticosteroid medication if the tonsils become inflamed.

Ayurvedic Approach to EBV:
According to Ayurveda, doshic imbalances, improper digestive capacity and the presence of Ama in the GI tract or in the body can lead one to be more susceptible to developing symptoms and complications from viral infections – with the strength the immune system playing a role in a person’s immune response.

EPV is a contagious virus, and as such the first line of treatment is to control the virulence of the virus, prevent complications and boost immunity.

Vata Pitta Balancing: Guduchi, turmeric, triphala, fresh ginger, licorice
Vata Kapha Balancing: Guduchi, turmeric, triphala, fresh ginger, ashwaganda, pippali, garlic
Pitta Vata Balancing: Guduchi, turmeric, triphala, fresh ginger, licorice, shatavari
Pitta Kapha Balancing: Guduchi, turmeric, triphala, fresh ginger, katuka
Kapha Vata Balancing: Guduchi, turmeric, triphala, fresh ginger, ashwaganda, pippali, black pepper, shatavari, garlic
Kapha Pitta Balancing: Guduchi, turmeric, triphala, fresh ginger, katuka

Traditional Ayurvedic Treatment(s) for EPV:
Ayurvedic treatment approach(es) are individualised and are fully dependant on a full consultation with an individual, the current imbalances, their age, strength, severity of the condition, and if other conditions are also present. Treatment approaches can include:

  • Control virulence of the virus
  • Balance Jataragni (digestive fire) and digestion as needed
  • Gently remove Ama (toxins within the digestive tract) if present
  • Balance doshic imbalances through diet/lifestyle/herbs
  • Intake of clean, wholefood, organic eating as much as possible
  • Build Immunity
  • Prevent complications through the above

General Ayurvedic Nutritional Guidelines for EBV:
Ayurvedic nutritional approach(es) are individualised and are fully dependant on a full consultation with an individual. One should eat compatible foods, and in accordance to one's imbalances. Some additional general guidelines include:

  • One should eat the foods that one does not react to.
  • One should eat according to the digestive capacity, keeping meals light, cooked, warm moist and easy to digest. As a guide, eat to fill the stomach 1/3 with solid food, 1/3 with liquid and leaving 1/3 empty to allow room for digestive secretions in the stomach.
  • One should eat at regular times/intervals. Avoid skipping meals.
  • One should eat wholegrains and non-processed foods.
  • Foods to avoid: Cold foods, raw foods, leftover foods (24 hours), frozen foods, cold water, processed and packaged foods, soft drinks, high fat foods, greasy foods. Minimise the intake of hot chilli type foods.
  • Organic bone brother can be highly beneficial, either on their own or as a base in cooking soups or stews.
  • One should avoid overeating. Allow 6 hours between meals and snack 3 hours after a meal and eat only if hungry. If digestion is poor, then 4 light meals per day is advisable in place of three regular meals.
  • Breakfast should be easy to digest, lunch the main meal, and dinner should be lighter than lunch.
  • A small amount of buttermilk consumed after meals is advisable.
  • Eat home cooked meals, preferably made on the same day as being prepared.
  • Water should be drunk warm in the cooler months and room temperature in the summer months. Avoid chilled water.
  • Use all of the five senses at mealtimes. Savour the food that you are eating.
  • Eat in a pleasant environment. Eat seated and try to avoid TV and electronic devices whilst eating.
  • Eat slowly, eat with respect/reverence for what you are eating, chew thoroughly. 

General Ayurvedic Lifestyle Guidelines for EPV:
Ayurvedic lifestyle approach(es) are individualised and are fully dependant on a full consultation with an individual. Some general guidelines include:

  • Allow for sufficient rest and sleep. Go to bed at a regular time each day, and best before 10pm. Avoid also sleeping during the day.
  • Keep to a routine as much as possible during the day.
  • Get sufficient daily gentle exercise (according to capabilities), such as stretching, meditation, yoga and pranayama can also be highly beneficial.. Gradually increase exercise as energy levels increase.
  • Avoid stress, anxiety, fear and tension. Look at counselling for self-care and working through any stress, anxiety, anger or any other mental health and/or emotional issues.
  • Deep breathing for 10 minutes a day is very beneficial. 
  • Make sure to be well rugged up in winter, especially when going outside.
  • Avoid smoking and alcohol and minimise caffeine intake.
  • One should avoid constipation and supressing natural urges (passing stools, gas, burping etc).
  • Avoid over-exerting the eyes through too much screen time.

If you have any concerns about your health please be sure to consult an Ayurvedic Practitioner or your local health physician. See our Ayurvedic Practitioner Services and Consultation Page for more information.

Reference: Ariza ME. Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: The Human Herpesviruses Are Back! Biomolecules. 2021 Jan 29;11(2):185. doi: 10.3390/biom11020185. PMID: 33572802; PMCID: PMC7912523.


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The above information is for information and educational purposes. As such we are not, diagnosing, treating, curing, mitigating, or preventing any type of disease or medical condition. Before taking any form of natural, integrative or conventional treatment regimen, it is advisable to seek the advice of a licensed healthcare professional.


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