Sep 22 2009

Epstein Barr Virus (mononucleosis and glandular fever) and Shingles

Published by at 5:25 am under Complications of mono

The link between Epstein Barr virus and shingles

Epstein Barr, the virus that causes mononucleosis or glandular fever, can weaken the immune system and lead to an outbreak of shingles or Herpes zoster.

Chicken pox and shingles are caused by the varicella-zoster virus. Like Epstein Barr virus, the varicella-zoster virus is a member of the herpes family. The virus may lie dormant in the spinal cord or nerve ganglia for years until triggered. Stress, illnesses like Epstein Barr virus, cancer and certain drugs can weaken immunity and trigger shingles.

Symptoms of Shingles

Shingles affects the nerve endings in the skin. An outbreak of shingles is often preceded by a few days of intense pain in the affected area. There may also be Epstein Barr virus type symptoms like fever, chills, fatigue, nausea, loose stools or difficulty urinating.

Numerous painful and itchy blisters then develop. These fluid-filled blisters usually appear on the skin of the abdomen, but can appear anywhere on the body. The blisters last between 7 and 14 days before forming crusty scabs and dropping off. If shingles develop near the eyes, the cornea can become infected, causing vision problems and possibly blindness.

After an attack of shingles, the pain can sometimes last for weeks or months, even though the blisters have cleared up. Chronic pain on the skin is called postherpetic neuralgia. It indicates that the virus is actively replicating.

Natural treatments for Shingles

There are numerous homeopathics which are effectively used for shingles. They include Hypericum, Arnica, Phytolaca, Rhus Tox and Agaricum. Some of these are also effective for Epstein Barr virus.

To help your recovery you need to have a diet high in Lysine. Lysine is an amino acid which is found naturally in protein foods like fish, chicken and meat. It helps to boost immunity and has been shown to be effective against the Herpes zoster virus. You should also take Lysine supplements at the first sign of an outbreak. It is good to take it in a supplement form of 500 mg two to three times a day.

You need to avoid the arginine rich foods like chocolate, grains and nuts which can encourage an outbreak. An immune boosting diet similar to that followed with Epstein Barr virus should be adhered to. This needs to include an abundance of raw fruit and vegetables, quality protein, natural fats and anti-viral foods like garlic and onions.

Some sufferers find that sunlight and heat can trigger an outbreak, so watch your reaction to these.

For shingles as well as Epstein Barr virus, stress reduction, drinking plenty of water, getting adequate sleep and taking the anti-viral supplements like vitamin C, zinc, garlic, selenium are important.

Cold compresses can reduce shingle pain. Cayenne capsules which contain capsaicin can relieve pain and aid healing. Capsaicin is also the active ingredient in some of the topical Shingle creams.

Anti-virals like Acyclovir from your doctor can be effective if taken early in the outbreak. After about 3 days these anti-virals appear not to be effective.

If you have developed shingles or Herpes zoster after Epstein Barr virus, then there is a lot you can do with natural therapies. For further information please refer to the mononucleosis treatment plan as discussed in the e-book “Nature’s Amazing Mononucleosis Cures” by qualified naturopath Elizabeth Noble.

26 responses so far

26 Responses to “Epstein Barr Virus (mononucleosis and glandular fever) and Shingles”

  1. Reyna Troike says:

    Thank You for sharing this one!

  2. Gail Poulsen says:

    Please give me some insight to why my daughter gets shingles. I realize stress plays a factor. But she did have mononucleosis at the age of 10, she is currently 28. After a bout with mono, she also had (about a year or 2 later )another virus, similar to mononucleois but they didn’t call it that. They told me she couldn’t go to school, I never new if it was because she was contagious or simply because she needed to rest. But…..they did have her go to 1/2 day or less sessions with a teacher who taught her at home? I feel really stupid because I don’t actually know what they called what she had. They just said it was similar to mono. As I am writing this…I know I will be making some phone calls to find out why it seemed so mysterious. I can’t actually remember her having chicken pox which I know is what triggers shingles. I thought all shingles were related to chicken pox and I am suprised to read that mono can also be a factor in getting shingles. I also as some of my relatives have had mono. My daughter also had a minor hair loss (dime Size) due to Alopecia when she was about 10 or 11. I currently have Alopeica Areota, I have had mono,& suspectected of internal shingles. My son has also had 2 episodes of shingles…but I can remember him having had a bad case of chicken pox. My son also had a case of herpes of the eye when he was about 5, I about passed out in the doctors office. No one in our family suffers from cold sores or has had herpes. The opthomologist who treated my son told me that his daughter later developed the same herpes of the eye. He said they should draw blood from them to develope a vaccine as they would most likely never get genital herpes. what’s going on here in this family… My Mother who is 92 also had shingles of the eye. Is there something we should know that know one is telling us…this all seems bizarre. Can you offer any insight…Please

  3. Elizabeth says:

    Hi Gail,
    Thanks for your post. Sorry to hear about your daughter’s experiences with shingles. It sounds like your family may have genetically weakened immune systems which predispose them to latent infections like the varicella-zoster virus (which causes chicken pox and shingles) and the Epstein Barr virus which causes mono. I would recommend your daughter consults with a good naturopath or wholistic doctor who can advise and monitor her progress. Boosting immunity with a fresh food diet, stress management and nutrients like zinc, vitamin C and selenium may avert future outbreaks.
    Best Wishes

  4. Kathy Gray says:

    Hi. I am 57 years of age. I believe I had glandular fever about 10-12 years ago. I’m not sure because by the time I went to the doctor I was over it but the marker that shows I had had it was shown in my blood tests.

    I had shingles in July 2010 and have had post hepatic neuralgia ever since. When I had that attack, at least until the main rash was established I had a lot of gas/wind discomfort in the stomach region. The rash was from mid chest above my breasts across to my left armpit and down the inside of my left arm to the elbow. There was also a patch of the rash left of center on my back.

    My question is, could there be a connection between the shingles and the gas?

  5. Elizabeth says:

    Hi Kathy,
    Sorry to hear you have suffered from the shingles and neuralgia. Gas and wind is not a classic symptom however I have had patients report similar experiences. I would recommend you work on balancing your gastrointestinal flora with some healthy probiotics like acidophillus and bifido bacteria. Eating a fresh food diet, drinking plenty of pure water and adding some digestive enzymes can also help. The gastrointestinal tract is the forefront of a healthy immune system so it is vital to keep it in good working order.
    Best Wishes

  6. Marnie Brown says:

    I had shingles about two mounths ago. My doctor told me i have Mono and i was woundering if they were related.

  7. Elizabeth says:

    Hi Marnie,
    Shingles and mono are caused by different viruses however having shingles can lower your immunity so you are more prone to picking up other viruses and bacteria. I would recommend you work on boosting your immune system with a fresh food diet, plenty of rest and some immune-boosting supplements like vitamin C, zinc, olive leaf extract etc.
    Best Wishes

  8. Tina says:


    I have epstein Barr I got sores down my back all the way to the no no special place. I haven’t had it since, but I have come in contact with someone with shingles am I more likey to contract this?

  9. Elizabeth says:

    Hi Tina,
    Epstein Barr can lower your immune system and leave you more prone to picking up secondary infections.
    The shingles virus can be spread by direct contact with the skin rash of infected people. This causes chickenpox in people who are not immune. If you have already had chickenpox you ahould be OK.

  10. Leni says:

    I have had shingles (diagnosed by doctors) five times over the past twenty years. I have recently been diagnosed with Epstein Barr. I have had mono symptoms twice in the last year. Please tell me if there is something that I can do so that the mono symptoms will not come back. Also…. Is there any use in getting the shingles shot? I have had it so much that am not sure if it will help. I am at a loss and I feel like I am fighting a war with a butter knife.

  11. Elizabeth says:

    Hi Leni,
    Sorry to hear you have been suffering from shingles and mono. It sounds like your immune system is very run down. I would aim to boost up your immune system with nutrients like vitamin C, zinc, Lysine and immune boosting herbs. A fresh food diet based around good quality protein and lots of low carb vegetables and fruits is essential. Focus on reducing your stress levels as stress is an immune suppressant. If your symptoms return then a liver cleanse would be a good move. I would discuss the shingles shot with your doctors – they are the ones familiar with your history.
    Hope these ideas get you started.

  12. Neale du Toit says:

    I have been sick for about 2 weeks now on and off. In the first week I had a really bad throat infection for 4 days then after some antibiotics I got better. 2 Days later I was man down again seeing everything as blue and was very tired as in not able to move from bed, at first I thought it was the flu but had temperature so the doctor took some blood tests to see if I had glandular fever which came back negative thus I am stick sick and very tired and not knowing what I have and neither does the doctor. He thinks it may be mono or just a bad flu or still glandular fever which may show up later in the blood tests. I also had shingle 2 months earlier. I forgot to mention after the four days I broke out in a rash that covered my whole body.

    Thanks Neale

  13. Elizabeth says:

    Hi Neale,
    Sorry you have been feeling so ill. Sometimes in the early weeks of infection, mono does not show up in the blood tests. As the Epstein Barr antibodies build up in your blood, the test becomes more reliable.

    I would treat yourself as you would for a virus – lots of rest, a fresh food diet, plenty of water and some immune-boosting supplements like vitamin C, zinc, echinacea or olive leaf extract. Taking antibiotics during mono can cause a skin rash so with your last reaction I would be avoiding any further courses of antibiotics. Putting back the good gastrointestinal flora through some probiotics like acidophillus and bifido bacteria would be a good idea.

    I hope this helps.

  14. Kelli says:

    I had Epstein Barr about 5 yrs. ago. After a few months, I was fine. This week, I was diagnosed with Shingles–I have some bumps high on my back and under my arm creeping towards my elbow. This didn’t blister or anything and isn’t painful, so it must be mild. But it’s been 4 days since I started the medicine, and about 1.5weeks since this all started. This morning I woke up after a full night’s sleep feeling exhausted and my glands are swollen and my throat is sore. Might this be the Epstein Barr returning?

  15. Elizabeth says:

    Hi Kelli,
    Epstein Barr is a latent virus that can relapse when your immune system is under par. Fighting a virus like the Shingles will put your immune system under stress.

    Swollen glands, a sore throat and fatigue are typical of EBV. The swollen glands could also be a reaction to the Shingles so you may find they clear up quickly. You could always get a blood test from your doctor if you are concerned.

    Treatment for the Shingles and EBV is along the same lines – plenty of rest, fluids, pure foods and some immune-boosting supplements like vitamin C, zinc, echinacea etc.

    Best Wishes

  16. Jay C says:

    hi i am 32 yrs old, female, wife and mother, and had a really bad experience in the last 4-5 mths or so..since june.. It all started with an allergic reaction to my cat.. throat swelled up so bad,chest was tight, i was freaking out so i know there was a panic/asthma attack as well, i felt as though i could not breathe went to the ER. After that about the next day or so came down with really bad head cold and respitory infection and sinus infection that lasted about 6 – 7 wks or more, then tonsilitis, my immune system was so low it seemed as though my body was catching everything.. I have never had allergies this bad before, it seemed like my body was so incredibily sensitive even to certain foods. Doctor gave me antibiotics and prednisone was on 2 rounds of that, things just seemed like they weren’t healing normally. After dealing with sore throat, swelling lymph glands, sinus infection, fatigue, aches and pains.. the worse i’ve ever had.. i was a mess
    :( !! All of this was over 2-3 mths dealing with that stuff..

    The more i researched and figured out that my immune system was a wreck, so i have been trying to build it up ever since and take it day by day.. I started taking colloidal silver and I have been taking lots of vit c, echinacea (for every other week), a multiple vitamin, b 12, lysine, acidolphilis and occasionally oil of oregano and things seem to be getting better.

    However, I am not 100% I hope I am on the right track, I just want to be rid of this stuff for good! I find it very interesting that mono is a virus caused by stress, I had been under quite a bit of stress since everything started, so i thought maybe thats what i had, maybe thats why the antibiotics didn’t work in the begining. What do u think ?
    For the most part now i have been able to kinda get back my focus and energy but still some days i am very exusted, i am trying so hard though! Wish me luck :)

    Right now still dealing with my lymphnodes not swollen or painful but still swelling at times and some congestion sometimes..

  17. Elizabeth says:

    Hi Jay,
    Thanks for your post. Sorry you have been struggling with immune and allergic symptoms over the last few months. It is possible that the Epstein Barr virus that causes mono is active in your system. It sounds like you are on track to rebuilding your immune system. Keep on those excellent supplements and make sure you are getting as much rest and quality sleep as possible too. I would focus on a low carb/higher protein fresh food diet to help minimise inflammation like the swollen glands, sore throat and body aches and pains. Adding foods like ginger, turmeric, fish oils and garlic may help.

    Allergies often stem from poor gastrointestinal and liver health so continue with the probiotic and perhaps start on a gentle liver cleanse. If stress is still a problem for you then adding a high dose magnesium and B complex would be advisable.

    Best wishes for a fast recovery.

  18. RayC says:

    Hello, im a 45 yr old with severe fybromyalgia, back in early Sept. i got Shingles which went into PHN, im still suffering with a large amount of pain, that seems like it wont go away, been going to a rheumatology Dr. for years, was sent to get blood work, it came back as positive for Epstine Barr virus ,also suffer with IBS, IC, High blood pressure, sever muscle and joint pain,does all of this go hand and hand, with the EBV,and shingles? Always looking for some help looking forward to hearing from you thanks, RC

  19. Elizabeth says:

    Hi Ray,

    Thank you for your post. Sorry to hear you are ill with Epstein Barr and other conditions. The Epstein Barr virus can lower the immune system to the point where secondary infections like the shingles can take hold.
    It can be a very frustrating time.

    Fortunately there is a lot you can do with natural therapies to boost your immunity and help your recovery. Your priority is to get your immune system fighting off the virus with high dose vitamin C, zinc, and vitamin A. You will also need to repair your adrenal glands with magnesium and the B complex. These nutrients should also help with your fibromyalgia and joint pains.

    A low carb, high protein diet with lots of fresh fruit, vegetables and pure water is important. Some anti-inflammatory foods and anti-viral herbs will also help. If your symptoms persist you may need to do some liver cleansing in order to clear the virus from your system.

    All these techniques are outlined in my e-book and have been used with good results by many patients who have had similar conditions. With the e-book, you also get free email support for 30 days if you
    need further guidance on your individual concerns. I hope this answers your questions.

    Kind Regards
    Elizabeth Noble

  20. Patty O says:

    Thank you!

    I now find that I had Epstein Barr in the past, never had full blown chicken pox as I was six weeks old and was given gamma globulin to stop it.

    I do have Spinal Stenosis. I already was dx’d with DJD and DDD and then twelve years later was exposed to shingles unknowingly and after that developed this burn along my spine with occasional bumps and must keep ice packs on my back constantly.

    While I have questioned this to the many doctors I have seen, none have addressed it, yet I always had this feeling it was somehow all related. Unfortunately, I now have tremors too and am permanently disabled, which began at age 42.

    Sure seems like you have the answer I have been looking for for so long. I am going to show this to my doc and see what they think.

    Good Luck to all and Take Care,


  21. Patty O says:

    Oh, and I was also dx’d with fibro twenty years ago and lead a very high stress life with a disabled adult child and now a final break with my parents who don’t know how to be supportive and believe there is nothing wrong with me. Yeah, they also waited 4 days to come see me in the hospital after I was hit by a car while walking across the highway.

    Bless you all and lots of positive energy to all of you suffering, may you feel better soon …


  22. Elizabeth says:

    Hi Patty,
    Thanks for your posts. Sounds like you are having a tough time with your health as well as your son’s. Keep up the good work with your positive energy and optimism. Focus on a pure diet, healthy lifestyle, graded exercise and the addition of some supplements like vitamin C, zinc, magnesium and the B complex to help control your symptoms. Let us know how you progress.

  23. Penny says:

    Hi Elizabeth, I do hope you will respond to this! I am a 64 year old female who was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia about 16 years ago after breaking some vertabrea in my back from a horsebackriding accident. I then developed Chronic Fatigue and have lived with this for all these years.

    A few months ago I had some blood work done and diagnosed with EBV and adreanl “fatigue or dysfunction”. I’m just not sure my internist is doing all that can be done. I am SO fatigued all day long, not sleeping as well as I used to, usually waking up between 4 or 5 AM, after going to bed by 10 PM. Not only am I SO fatigued, I am also very very nervous. I eat well as my husband and I believe in lots of fresh fruits, veggies and gluten free as much as possible.

    My Dr. has me taking 1mg of Prednisone daily, not wanting me to get any more anxious than I already am. I did have 3 years of EXTREME family stress, day in and day out and I felt I just couldn’t take anymore, even though my husband and I were drawn into a family crisis that we could not ignore.

    Now I am terribly worried!! I am more stressed by this illness than any daily stress. The family crisis is over but hangs on with me.

    Would it be even better for me to see an endocrinologist and get a 2nd opinion, at least to possibly ease my mind? I have alll the support in the world from my husband and friends but I don’t want to live the rest of my life worrying about this.

    I understand also that problems with adrenal glands can lead to tumors and cancer. PLEASE help me with ANY ideas. It woudl be deeply appreciated!

  24. admin says:

    Hi Penny,

    Thanks for your post. I am sorry to hear you have been suffering with fatigue and anxiety. These symptoms are common after EBV when the adrenals can get run down.

    Your priority should be to repair your adrenal glands with high dose magnesium, vitamin C and the B complex. The omega 3 oils like those found in fish oils have also be shown in research trials to help fatigue. CoQ10 is also useful to boost the energy supply in your cells.

    Epsom salt baths are also worth a try (2 cups to a hot bath before bed). They will help relax you and ensure a good night’s sleep.

    Many of my patients get good results with their energy levels on the higher protein diet outlined in my e-book. Also make sure you are drinking at least
    2 – 3 litres of water a day to flush out the virus and toxins in your system. Keep up your intake of fresh vegetables and fruits as these are good for alkalising your system and reducing anxiety.

    If your fatigue continues despite the above advice, you may need to do a liver cleanse. The liver is often sluggish or congested in cases of chronic tiredness. Even just starting on lemon juice in warm water on rising would be a positive step.

    Personally I would recommend you find a holistic doctor or naturopath who can help you with your recovery.

    Best Wishes

  25. Deborah says:

    My friend of thirty years has had EBV for several years. As a child she never contracted chickenpox from any of her brothers. We discussed her talking with her primary doc. You mentioned being in contact with someone infected can give someone the shingles. My question is: Should she get the shingles vacuine?

  26. admin says:

    Hi Deborah,

    With a weakened immune system from EBV, I would not recommend the shingles vaccination because of potential adverse side effects. Boosting the immune system naturally with a fresh food diet, immune nutrients like vitamin C and zinc, graded exercise, plenty of rest and quality sleep is a safer approach.


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