Epstein-Barr virus - infections, diagnosis and treatment

Epstein-Barr virus - infections, diagnosis and treatment

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Triggers Pfeiffer's glandular fever and possible cause of cancer

The Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is a herpes virus and over 90 percent of adults are infected with it. Especially in children and adolescents, the virus can trigger Pfeiffer's glandular fever (mononucleosis). Named after its discoverers, the virologist and pathologist Sir Michael Anthony Epstein and his assistant Yvonne M. Barr Ph.D., the Epstein-Barr virus is now considered a possible cause of cancer.

Infection with the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)

Mononucleosis is mainly transmitted through contact or droplet infection, especially saliva contact, which is why it is also known as “kissing disease”. The Epstein-Barr virus can also be transmitted during sexual intercourse, especially if there are minor injuries in which blood is transmitted. However, a shared glass that still contains saliva remains is a possible transmission route.

After infection, the Epstein-Barr virus remains in the body. It is then located in the so-called B memory cells. These play an important role in immune defense. It is also possible for people who are infected with the Epstein-Barr virus to infect other people without symptoms.

Occurrence and symptoms of infections

Over 90 percent of adults carry the Epstein-Barr virus and it is believed that it is a risk factor for certain types of tumors (especially the nose and throat), which are very common in Asia. In the tropical regions of Africa, it is associated with Burkitt's lymphoma, a malignant tumor of the lymphatic system.

Whistling glandular fever or mononucleosis

As already mentioned, the virus can trigger Pfeiffer's glandular fever (infectious mononucleosis). This is named after the Wiesbaden pediatrician and internist Emil Pfeiffer (1846-1921). Children and adolescents are particularly affected, but since the disease is often mild, mononucleosis is often not recognized as such.

The symptoms of mononucleosis are flu-like, which means:

  • mild fever,
  • A headache,
  • Body aches,
  • Sore throat
  • and a general feeling of sickness

There may also be swelling of the lymph nodes, enlargement of the spleen and other symptoms. Since the so-called lymphatic pharynx ring is often infected, the tonsils (angina tonsillaris) and the throat (pharyngitis, pharyngitis) can become inflamed with whitish deposits (pseudomembranous tonsillitis). Small rashes also appeared in some patients.

In summary, it can be said that the direct secondary disease of the Epstein-Barr virus is rather harmless in Europe. Long-term disease courses can occasionally occur. In people whose immune system is not intact - for example in the context of HIV infections, the treatment of certain tumor diseases or artificial immune suppression in people after organ transplants - it can apparently favor certain tumor diseases of the lymphatic system. The viruses can also cause repeated complaints. These diseases, which occur repeatedly due to the virus, are not a sign of a new infection, because the virus remains in the organism and is reactivated, for example due to an immune deficiency.

Since 2016, a study on infectious mononucleosis in Munich (ICMM study), which includes children's and university clinics nationwide, has been researching which vaccination options against the Epstein-Barr virus are possible and which connections between an EBV infection and There are tumor diseases. Prof. Uta Behrends from the TU Munich: "We expect that with the data from this study and the tools we are developing, we can answer many questions about the different course of EBV infections." (See Federal Ministry of Education and Research) .

Also suspected relationships with the occurrence of Hodgkin's disease (a malignant tumor of the lymphatic system), multiple sclerosis, malaria, breast cancer and fibroadenomas of the breast (benign adhesions) are currently being investigated further.


Chronic exposure to the virus poses a medical challenge because the symptoms are delayed and cannot be adequately recognized using conventional diagnostic tools. Pfeiffer cells (T-lymphocytes) can be found in the blood smear under the microscope and serological tests such as the detection of IgG antibodies may help.

Fine-energy measurements, for example with electro-acupuncture or bioresonance methods, on the other hand, indicate viral loads in humans, without these being detectable in clinical laboratory tests, except in the form of the illness that has been passed through. Dark field microscopy can also reveal a corresponding load.

Naturopathic perspective: Chronic viral stress creates different clinical pictures

It is assumed that the original pathogen is converted into a so-called slow virus version, which can produce chronic symptoms that no longer correspond to the acute picture of the viral disease. The Epstein-Barr virus, which is frequently diagnosed with the measurement methods mentioned, is here, for example, associated with the clinical picture of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), with physical weakness, chronic headache, depression, neurological problems with the eyes and impaired thinking ability, as well as general Susceptibility to infection.

However, the Epstein-Barr virus is only a partial cause. The prerequisite for the outbreak and type of disorder rather depend on the basic exposure of those affected, which is due to factors such as acidification, over-proteinization, heavy metal and environmental pollution, trouble spots (especially teeth), and deficiency based on trace elements and the constitution of the person concerned.

Conventional therapy

In the event of a disease with the virus and the onset of Pfeiffer's glandular fever, conventional medicine recommends protection, in the case of long-lasting courses with swelling of the spleen (because of the risk of a tear) and drug therapy of (rather rarely) occurring complications, namely inflammation of other organ systems such as Example:

  • of the heart muscle (myocarditis),
  • of the eyes,
  • the kidneys (nephritis),
  • the liver (hepatitis),
  • of the brain (encephalitis),
  • the lungs (pneumonia)
  • or abnormal changes in blood (thromobocytopenia, agranulocytosis).

Treatment in naturopathy

In acute form, mononucleosis is easily accessible to naturopathic measures. Depending on the therapeutic direction, physical measures, medicinal plants, homeopathic medicines and preparations from bacteria and fungi are used to support the self-healing powers, alleviate symptoms and strengthen the immune system.

The goal of therapy is not primarily to destroy viruses

Accordingly, the therapy does not aim to destroy the viruses, but to change the inner milieu (blood, tissue, intestine, cellular respiration) in order to stop further virus development and to strengthen the immune system. Important pillars of this are a constant change in diet as well as the administration of (herbal) medication, minerals, vitamin preparations, possibly the cleansing of the intestine, dentures by the dentist, the strengthening of weakened organs and much more - always with regard to the constitution of those affected.

In addition, herbs with an antiviral effect can of course be used, such as:

  • Garlic,
  • Echinacea,
  • Licorice root,
  • Lemon balm or
  • Ginger.

Liquorice root (Glycyrrhiza glabra; also known as the basis for licorice) is said to be highly effective against herpes viruses, which include the Epstein-Baar virus. Echinacea, on the other hand, is not only antiviral, it also strengthens the immune system.

In connection with chronic viral infections, naturopathy and holistic doctors also point out that it is sensible to strengthen the detoxification organs and immune system prophylactically in order to prevent acute and chronic infections with the Epstein-Barr virus and other frequently found viruses such as herpes zoster. Avoid virus, herpes simplex virus, measles virus, the cytomegalovirus, dme parotitis virus or influenza viruses.

Synonyms for the virus and diseases

EBV, Human Herpes Virus 4, HHV 4, Kissing Disease, Kiss Disease, Pfeiffer's Disease, Pfeiffer's Glandular Fever, Infectious Mononucleosis, Monocyte Angina, Mononucleosis Infectiosa. (tf, jvs, fp, ok)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.

Dipl. Geogr. Fabian Peters, Dr. med. Andreas Schilling


  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: About Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) (access: July 10, 2019), cdc.gov
  • Mayo Clinic: Mononucleosis and Epstein-Barr: What's the connection? (Accessed: 10.07.2019), mayoclinic.org
  • German Center for Infection Research: Epstein-Barr viruses: carcinogenic in a new way (accessed: 10.07.2019), dzif.de
  • Shumilov, Anatoliy / Tsai, Ming-Han / Schlosser, Yvonne T. / u.a .: Epstein – Barr virus particles induce centrosome amplification and chromosomal instability, Nature Communications, 2017, nature.com
  • German professional association of ear, nose and throat specialists: Pfeiffer's glandular fever - causes and risks (accessed: 10.07.2019), hno-aerzte-im-netz.de
  • National Institutes of Health: Epstein-Barr virus protein can “switch on” risk genes for autoimmune diseases (accessed: 10.07.2019), nih.gov
  • German Cancer Research Center: New vaccination strategy against Epstein-Barr viruses (accessed: July 10, 2019), dkfz.de

ICD codes for this disease: B27ICD codes are internationally valid encodings for medical diagnoses. You can find yourself e.g. in doctor's letters or on disability certificates.

Video: 3. Chronic EBV (September 2022).


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