Could this common virus be the root cause of your autoimmune condition?

A Closer Look at Epstein-Barr

EBV: A Common Root Cause of Autoimmune Disease

If you are like most of the people who come in to see me, you are frustrated about having a chronic illness and the lack of any real help to correct it – beyond taking a prescription for it. You would also like to understand WHY you got this condition in the first place.

In my practice, I use Functional Medicine to help you look for the root cause of your health problems. Once we know the root – or multiple roots – we can start helping you heal. Just knowing where symptoms are coming from is a big step forward.

Did you know that there are about a hundred autoimmune conditions? Common ones are Hashimoto’s, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Fibromyalgia, and Lupus. Here’s the thing: ALL of these conditions can have the same root causes.

There are a number of possible causes, but right now I want to talk about one REALLY COMMON, but very overlooked root cause.

Epstein-Barr Virus

Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is also known as human herpes virus 4 (HHV-4). You may have heard the name because it’s connected to the common teen illness, mono. We know now that EBV is a common root cause of many autoimmune conditions.

I see it A LOT in my practice. But many doctors do not look for this.

The idea of an infection being connected to autoimmunity isn’t new. It’s widely known that people who develop Ankylosing Spondylitis often have an infection called Klebsiella.

Recently, researchers and doctors are talking more about Epstein-Barr being connected to autoimmunity. As an example, the connection between two thyroid related conditions is cited in a 2015 PubMed research paper (1):

We assume that high prevalence of EBV infection in cases of Hashimoto’s and Graves’ diseases imply a potential aetiological role of EBV in autoimmune thyroiditis.

Did you know that if you’ve ever had mono, you still carry EBV in your system? Also, you can carry EBV even if you’ve never had mono. It’s incredibly common.

It’s estimated that EBV lies dormant in 95% of all adults over 30! This is a problem because any stress or trauma can re-activate the virus. And who doesn’t have stress situations these days? This virus could be causing a lot of health issues that you aren’t even aware of.

Why does this matter?

The Epstein-Barr virus can live anywhere in your body. When the virus infiltrates your body, it starts to do damage to a gland or organ so your own tissues don’t work as well and become inflamed. Your immune system will try to kill the virus to protect you. Your own tissue can be collateral damage in this war, and that becomes an autoimmune condition – like Hashimoto’s, Graves’, Alzheimer’s or Hidradenitis.

What if you have Epstein-Barr creating your autoimmune problems?

If you have an autoimmune condition, it is imperative that you be checked for this virus, along with other possible low-grade, chronic infections.

Find a Functional Wellness practitioner who is aware of the EBV connection. Run the tests. If you do have EBV or any other virus, work with that practitioner to lower the viral load. This will slow down or stop the damage to the affected tissue, take the stress off your immune system, and help you rebuild the vitality of your body.

This isn’t a commonly addressed issue, but it is common. Addressing this potential root cause can make a huge difference in your health.


Photo: Steve McClanahan



1 Andrea Janegova, Pavol Janega, et al. The role of Epstein-Barr virus infection in the development of autoimmune thyroid diseases. Endokrynologia Polska 2015;66(2):132-136.