What's New in S.H.I.N.E. — Part 12: Viral Infections
I've spent 35 years watching "The Infection of the Month" show in CFS and fibromyalgia, where dozens (if not hundreds) of infections have been implicated as "The Cause" of CFS/FMS. During this time, I've seen people recover just fine in most cases without having to chase every infection. This experience with thousands — and at this point tens of thousands — of people with CFS/FMS has lead me repeatedly to a simple conclusion.
It is not some weird exotic bug that causes CFS. Instead, it is a weakened immune system that results in the person picking up numerous "hitchhiker infections." In addition, in those who had post-infectious CFS, like mine which occurred after a case of the "Drop Dead Flu," the issue is not which infection you had. Rather, it was any of a number of infections which, if your body was already on the ropes from stress or overachieving, was able to knock you out (or "blow a fuse" as I like to describe it).
So whether the bug triggered the CFS, or simply jumped on board afterwards, it doesn't really matter. And I don't recommend wasting thousands of dollars on tests that are not reliable.
There is a better way. And that is what this series on infections in CFS/FMS is about.
- Strengthen your immune system with SHINE. This may include using digestive enzymes, and definitely includes good nutritional support, including zinc.
- Then knock out the big bugs and problems that overwhelm your immune system. Relatively speaking, a bacterium is about 100x bigger than a virus; a Candida hyphae thread can be 50,000 times longer than a bacteria; and parasites can be much larger than Candida. So I kill off the big bullies first. This means addressing Candida for everyone with CFS/FMS, and addressing any parasites I find on stool testing.
- Then, in select cases, I will use antivirals and antibiotics. There are not any reliable tests for these chronic infections, so we mostly use a mix of symptoms (and a few inexact but still useful blood tests) to guide therapy choices. Last week we discussed addressing bacterial and other antibiotic sensitive infections. The viral infections may be small, but there can be a lot of the little bugs. So if symptoms persist despite "SHINE basic," especially if you have flu-like symptoms, post-exertional fatigue, or your illness began after a flu-like illness, it may be worth a trial of antivirals. These are expensive, prescription, and only work a small percent of the time, and often need to be taken long term when they do work. So we need new tools. The good news is that below I discuss one that is very promising!
The new therapy is called Lauricidin. Lauricidin is natural, safe, low cost, and can kill off both Candida and viral infections. It is an improved form of monolaurin that allows effective dosing while being easy on the stomach. One caution though. It is one of the few natural therapies powerful enough to cause a "die off" or herxheimer reaction as the infections are killed off. So start with a low dose, and work up. One to two containers will be enough to tell you if it's helping.
Lauricidin is a new form of a very helpful old tool called monolaurin — but Lauricidin delivers it in a micropellet form that makes it easy to get effective dosing. It works by dissolving the outer protective coat of viruses — and then by preventing them from growing and reproducing.
More good news is that monolaurin also has antifungal activity, making it very promising in most people with CFS/FMS. It can also be taken with other antivirals and antifungals, increasing their effectiveness.
Ready to kill off your viral (and Candida) infections. Here's how!
Lauricidin for Viral and Other Infections
Many common viruses that you had years ago can be active in CFS and fibromyalgia, including Epstein-Barr, CMV (cytomegalovirus), and HHV-6 (herpes virus 6). What's happening? The viruses are not the cause of the condition. Rather, in most people with CFS/FMS, they seem to be reactivation of old viruses that have been dormant. Basically, they are old viruses that have broken out of their "jail cells" in the face of a weakened immune system (called "viral reactivation"). In a small percentage of cases, CFS/FMS is triggered by the original viral infection. These can then drag you down.
One recent development along those lines is that it turns out that the XMRV virus — which many people speculated was the possible cause of CFS/FMS — was probably no more than an unimportant lab contaminant. That's good news, because it would have been a very difficult viral infection to address!
The key, then, is not necessarily to go after one particular virus — but instead to find new, effective, low-cost ways to cripple viruses while helping the immune system strengthen and recover.
One of those ways is lauric acid from coconut oil, an old natural antiviral therapy that's getting a fresh look from scientists. It was first discovered as an antiviral and antibacterial compound in breast milk. Later studies showed it was more effective (and less likely to cause acid reflux) when combined with glycerol, forming monolaurin. Monolaurin is such a powerful antiviral that a 2011 scientific paper in the journal Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine touted it as a top natural agent for preventing Swine Flu (H1N1). It works, said the authors, by disintegrating the outer membrane of viruses — and possibly by interfering with viral "assembly" and "maturation."
More good news is that monolaurin also has antifungal activity, making it very promising in CFS/FMS.
In the past, monolaurin typically came as capsules, and it was hard to get the needed amounts. But there has been an important jump forward! Lauricidin is monolaurin in the form of easy-to-take, low-cost mini-pellets. Take it with or right after meals. You can place the mini-pellets in the mouth and swallow them with water. (But don't chew them or take them with hot liquid as both make Lauricidan taste oily or soapy).
An important point is that at a high dose, monolaurin is potent enough to trigger a die-off reaction (symptoms caused by having so many microorganisms suddenly perish inside your body). So you may want to begin slowly. One container of Lauricidin is often enough to tell if it's helping.
To give the infections a "one-two punch," add the immune stimulant thymic protein. This was shown to drop EBV viral antibody levels by 70% at 3 months.
Another prescription immune-boosting therapy for CFS is gamma globulin (GG) therapy, given either via SQ injections or IV. There are four subtypes of IgG gamma globulin — the antibodies the immune system uses to fight foreign invaders — and a large percentage of people with CFS/FMS have a deficiency in one of the four. (We've added testing for IgG subclass deficiency "Immunoglobulin G, subclasses 1-4, serum" as part of our lab panels.) Unfortunately, GG therapy is very expensive (often over $30,000 a year), and usually not feasible unless covered by insurance. (Low GG blood levels will sometimes result in coverage, but not always.) A new product called Hizentra allows a person to get GG infusions at home, administered by a home health nurse with a subcutaneous pump. But these are also very expensive. My preference? Using intramuscular GG (a series of 6 injections, once a week, for six weeks) which is a tiny fraction of the cost, and often helps to jumpstart the immune system. Unfortunately, most physicians can no longer get the IM gamma globulin for their patients, as the military gets first shot at the supplies.
I also recommend that everyone with CFS/FMS take 20 to 25 mg of zinc a day for three months — to "refill their tank." Although the zinc isn't a high-tech, glamorous therapy, it can be a major help in fighting hidden viral infections.
In addition to the gamma globulin testing above, I check IgG levels for CMV (Cytomegalovirus) and HHV 6. These tests will normally be elevated in most adults, simply showing that they had these infections in the past. Studies suggest that when these levels are very high though, they may suggest viral reactivation. So if the IgG level is over 4 (or for HHV 6, 1:640 or higher), it raises my suspicion that these viruses may be active. I start with the therapies in this article and SHINE, but will then consider Valcyte (an antiviral prescription) or other antivirals.
Other basics of strengthening the immune system and knocking out viral infections, include sleep; optimal adrenal support; eliminating Candida; and addressing bowel infections. (Your body can only fight so many wars at once. Addressing Candida and bowel infections frees up your body to eliminate the viral infections.)
For more information on addressing hidden viral infections, please see Addressing Hidden Viral Infections in CFS/FMS Can Sometimes Be Helpful.
"Potential of Complementary and Alternative Medicine in Preventive Management of Novel HINI Flu (Swine Flu) Pandemic: Thwarting Potential Disasters in the Bud," Arora R., Chawla R., et al, Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Volume 2011, Article ID 586506, 16 pages.
Jacob Teitelbaum, M.D. is one of the world's leading integrative medical authorities on fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue. He is the lead author of eight research studies on their effective treatments, and has published numerous health & wellness books, including the bestseller on fibromyalgia From Fatigued to Fantastic! and The Fatigue and Fibromyalgia Solution. Dr. Teitelbaum is one of the most frequently quoted fibromyalgia experts in the world and appears often as a guest on news and talk shows nationwide including Good Morning America, The Dr. Oz Show, Oprah & Friends, CNN, and Fox News Health.