Is Epstein-Barr Virus the Root of Your Symptoms? [Podcast with Dr. Kasia Kines] - PCOS Diva
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Is Epstein-Barr Virus the Root of Your Symptoms? [Podcast with Dr. Kasia Kines]

PCOS Podcast 147 - Epstein-Barr Virus - root of PCOS

If you have Epstein-Barr virus, you have so many tools at your disposal, and there’s not something wrong with you.

When you provide the body what it needs, it will start shining for you. -Dr. Kasia Kines

If you have PCOS and also struggle with autoimmune issues like Hashimoto’s, IBS, celiac, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, or chronic fatigue syndrome, then this episode is for you. Dr. Kasia Kines, one of the world’s leading experts on the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) and Amy discuss the possible underlying factor of all of those autoimmune issues, as well as other symptoms that you haven’t really been able to get to the root of such as celiac, MS, rheumatoid arthritis, IBD, and diabetes. Did you have mononucleosis (mono) in your youth? Listen in (or read the transcript) as we discuss:

  • What is Epstein-Barr virus?
  • Could EBV be triggering some of your PCOS symptoms?
  • Possible EBV symptoms including chronic brain fog, achiness, autoimmune disorders, enlarged lymph nodes, headaches, low platelets, mouth ulceration, skin rashes, mast cell issues, or allergies
  • Steps you can take to recover
  • Suggested lab tests

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Mentioned in this podcast:

Complete Transcript:

Amy Medling:

If you’re a PCOS Diva and you struggle with additional autoimmune issues like Hashimoto’s, IBS, celiac, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, those are all autoimmune conditions that I hear women with PCOS talking about and complaining about, chronic fatigue syndrome, then this episode is for you. We are going to be talking about a possible underlying factor of all of those autoimmune issues, as well as maybe some symptoms that you haven’t really been able to get to the root of. And we’re going to be talking about Epstein-Barr virus, and I am talking to one of really the world’s experts on Epstein-Barr virus, Dr. Kasia Kines. So welcome, Dr. Kines to the PCOS Diva podcast.

Dr. Kasia Kines:

Hello, Divas. Hello, my dear Amy. I’m so delighted to be here. Thank you so.

Amy Medling:

Well, I’m so glad that you’re here. We have tried to record this podcast multiple times, and I’m just glad that we’re finally connected. And you are the CEO and founder of the Global Epstein-Barr Virus Institute. And as I mentioned, you’re really a global leader in recovery therapy for chronic EBV. You also have a fabulous book. It is just so comprehensive. It’s called The Epstein-Barr Virus Solution. You’re a wellness expert and a highly respected doctor of clinical nutrition. So, so excited to have you here to demystify Epstein-Barr virus for us.

Dr. Kasia Kines:

Yes, let’s do it. And thank you for a kind introduction. And I want to apologize if I have a scratchy voice, because we just found we have water damage and there’s some mold. We’re waiting for remediation. So, I actually started to wear a mask, but when I don’t, I may cough a little bit or have a little sore throat. So, I’ll say the quality of this conversation will not be affected.

Amy Medling:

I hope that you get that fixed soon. I know that what a problem that can be. That’s a whole nother podcast, right?

Dr. Kasia Kines:

Yeah, exactly. Exactly. I’m good. Thank you so much. Yeah, we’re working on it. So let’s talk about EBV. This is what we call it. What is the very first question that you would ask me to explain to your Divas?

Amy Medling:

I could probably venture to say that some Divas have never even heard the term Epstein-Barr virus. So let’s start there. Before I read your book, all I knew about it is it was connected to that condition that a lot of high school and college age kids get, which is mononucleosis. So that’s really all I knew about it, but you totally really opened my eyes. So why don’t we just start there? What is Epstein-Barr virus?

Dr. Kasia Kines:

Okay. Okay. So yeah, so we and probably most of the ladies listening, are familiar with the concept of mono. That’s exactly what you said. Mono is this really the worst flu in your life, and you’re in college, you don’t sleep, you eat junk, you overstudy, or over party, right? So you’re setting yourself for that. And so the virus has been on this planet for 1 million years. And so approximately 99, now we have it, I probably have it, you probably have it. So, in most people, it’s fine, it’s there, but it’s not doing much. But it is an opportunist, just like if you have a crack in the window, if the rain comes, the mold will start, which is exactly what’s happening in our house now. So if you have those cracks and the rain comes, the mold will grow, this is kind of like the EBV will grow.

So for most people, if you have EBV, as mono, may be bedridden, really awful achiness and aches and pains and headache and lymph nodes enlarged, and just being really miserable, kind of like a truck hit you over the head. After that, most people go to normal life. But some people don’t. And the problem with this virus is that it has two major risk areas, actually three. The most common is, number one, is developing a chronic brain fog and sometimes achiness. So that number one is a little bit like that flu, never going away completely. So after that mono, you just don’t go back to baseline. Your baseline shifts and suddenly you’re just never the thing. And that’s the story I hear again and again and again. So if any of the listeners remembers, “Oh yeah, I was 22. I got that bad, bad, bad mono,” or maybe that was just bad flu that immobilized you for a number of weeks and then afterwards you just never, never completely.

The second scenario, if that goes further, your chronic fatigue, your brain fog, now that becomes an opportunity for autoimmunity. And like you said, in some cases, PCOS comes together with the autoimmunity, like Hashimoto’s. You mentioned celiac and rheumatoid arthritis. And so number two is that mind of triggering autoimmune disorders.

And if you look on my website, there’s resources there, or in my book, I have a laundry list of autoimmune disorders, including those that you mentioned, Amy. And we have studies, like we have studies, new studies in particular, a study that looked at EBV triggering, turning on your genes for autoimmunity in your DNA, including celiac, including MS, including rheumatoid arthritis, including IBD, and also diabetes. There were seven conditions. Rheumatoid arthritis was on the list.

And I started noticing certain cases when people used to be okay with gluten. Maybe they had the celiac gene, but it wasn’t expressing. And then you have the virus going into that DNA area, that codes for autoimmunity, and turns on that particular gene and boom, suddenly you have sensitivity to gluten and it just throws you off. You get really sick and then you take gluten off, maybe you figure it out. But then you’re gluten-free and you’re still not recovering because the mastermind is EBV and it’s still pulling on the strings. So that’s the second scenario.

And the third scenario, the worst one that I don’t really like to talk about too much because it scares people and it’s not that frequent, is cancer. And so long, long term, there’s more damage, more autoimmunity. Eventually it can go into cancer. There are specific types of cancer related to your lymph nodes, your T-cell, so more to immune system. And I also list them on the website, if people are interested in the book.

10% of stomach cancer globally is caused by this virus, apparently, for example. And so there are people that die from cancer that is caused, 40,000 people die of cancer annually. Most people have this terrible chronic fatigue, horrible fatigue. You can’t really walk from one room to another. And another idea to ponder is how do you feel after you exercise? Because as a woman, you feel you have to exercise, you have to trim down. We were supposed to move, we’re stressed out. So exercise is good for you and for you mood. You have so much oxidation, if you exercise on top of it, exercise creates more oxidation. So after even a brief exercise, people with chronic EBV are bedridden again, for one, two days. They just don’t have that recovery and they feel much worse after exercise. So that’s kind of a red flag. If anybody’s in this position, then I say, “Ooh, you should look into that.” So this is a mapping of where the virus is. Does it make sense so far?

Amy Medling:

Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. And I think that a lot of women with PCOS do get fatigued after exercise. And I’ve always thought that it was kind of an adrenal issue because we tend to have some adrenal dysfunction. But you’re talking about a fatigue where it really puts you into bed after exercise, not just, not just a general fatigue. Okay.

Dr. Kasia Kines:

Yeah. Correct. Correct. There’s a good fatigue.

Amy Medling:

Yeah. I’m wondering if you could give us some other symptoms of chronic EBV. I know you have a quiz on your site. So if anything’s resonating with you as a listener, that you can go to your site for a quiz, and maybe you could talk about that and some other symptoms.

Dr. Kasia Kines:

Yeah. So symptoms can be really a laundry list. Let me see, lymph, if you have lymph nodes around your neck that are enlarged or if you feel like your throat is sore, or hoarse. Headaches, 70% of people actually present with headaches. People can have odd things like mosquito bites can cause inflammation and infection. So that sensitivity has been documented in medical literature. You can have nosebleeds, you can have low platelets, you can have a fever, of course. Aches and pains, unexplained, and then you can have also ulceration in your mouth, or you can have skin rashes, skin eruptions, skin itching. So people might think I have mast cell issues or allergy issues. So as you can see, it’s all over the map.

Amy Medling:

So I was just going to interrupt. I think you probably know her as well, Dr. Becky Campbell. She was on our podcast talking about histamine intolerance and mast cell issues. So that could possibly be triggered by EBV?

Dr. Kasia Kines:

It’s a good question and it’s a possibility because you’re talking about a virus that is a mastermind of just going into, basically what happens, this virus hides in your cells and travels inside those cells, and your cells are the immune cells. These are the cells that the virus targets. And the virus doesn’t live in your bloodstream, it travels in your bloodstream to organs. Basically, it likes to look for condos. It moves into a condo, whether it’s your thyroid, then you have autoimmunity and Hashimoto’s. That’s a big one for EBV. Or you can have inflamed liver and autoimmune hepatitis. It can go into your spleen. You can have a large spleen. So it can go into different organ systems and different systems. So I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the cases of mass cell issues could be triggered by EBV.

You want to test and figure it out. That’s the first thing. First thing on the quiz I developed on the website is less typical symptoms also medical conditions and also autoimmune conditions and also history of cancer. So it is an eye-opener. If you go through four pages, I think, you can kind of map your life and your history and your clinical medical history, “Oh, I’ve had this. I’ve had that. I had this, I’ve had that.” And so that is an eye opener. And then if you think you should investigate it, I would either read the book or just do the testing. And we have an explanation of what to test on the website as well. So I would just pursue it just to be exclude it.

Amy Medling:

So many women with PCOS have a frustration of going to a general practitioner or their OB GYN and they ask for certain testing. And it’s really hard to get the testing that we need. For instance, like a complete thyroid panel and to test for Hashimoto’s for those antibodies if you suspect. I’m wondering if this is the same case for testing for EBV. So you take your quiz. If you bring the suggestions for testing into your doctor, are they going to look at you with this sort of a glazed look on their face because they don’t really know what you’re talking about? What do you think? Is it hard to get that test in a non-functional medicine environment?

Dr. Kasia Kines:

Yes, it is exactly correct, the same story applies to EBV. They will roll their eyes. They will tell you, “Everybody has the antibodies, it’s a waste of your time and money,” and they will not test. And if they test, maybe they will test two or three markers and not all four. And it is humiliating, honestly, because doctors will send you to a psychiatrist, psychologist. They will attempt to put you on antidepressants. They will tell you it’s in your head. I’ve heard these stories all too many times, and it’s really the people that struggle and are suffering. So, we actually build a relationship with a direct to consumer lab that has created the CBC and total thyroid panel and EBV panel so that if people have problems getting a doctor to agree, the last thing you want is to go and knock from door to door and spend two years asking new doctors, trying to find a doctor who will agree to test this or that, and waste of our life and our resources and our energy.

And frankly, people need to know that there are labs direct to consumers. Excellent service, and you can go locally to a lab and you just have to know what to request. And yes, you will pay out of pocket, but at some point, it’s not going to break your bank, but it’s important to get your numbers and know where you are and be independent and advocate for yourself. It is a terrible disservice what’s happening. It’s getting a little better with EBV because maybe my book has something to do with it and my work. There’s also Medical Medium. So he’s written a couple of books. They’re very popular and people are storming doctors’ office says demanding, “I might have EBV too.”

So, I think from my perspective, I’m hearing more feedback that people actually are already tested. When I ask the same question to my audience, like a year ago, a lot of people still did not have testing. But now it’s shifting a little bit, at least from what I hear. But for traditional doctors, I’m sure it’s still the same answer, “No. Why would you test it? It’s a waste of time. I’m not going to test.” And on top of that, if an a doctor tests you, they need to do something about it. But in the traditional information and education they have on EBV is that there’s nothing you can do. You can get mono and that’s it. You cannot get mono again. Once you have mono that’s done, you’ll never have it. And if you have mono, you just have to rest, and that’s the end of the story. So for them, there’s really nothing they can do, right? That’s the scenario.

Amy Medling:

Well before we get into what you can do, if you have tested positive for EBV, can you back up and just tell us what lab has that patient direct panel that you like to use?

Dr. Kasia Kines:

It’s called, Ulta Lab Tests. And just for reference, if people want to know exactly which panel, they don’t have to use my lab, but on my website, there is a button, test your EBV, and it will show you the four antibodies right there. It’s for all consumers. They just created a couple of good panels up on my request.

Amy Medling:

Okay. We could put that in our show notes, to make that easy for people to find as well. Okay. So let’s run through the scenario that a Diva went on your page, took the quiz. She felt like she had a high probability that she could have EBV. Got the patient’s direct lab test, and now she has a results and they’re positive. Now what?

Dr. Kasia Kines:

Now what? Now you figure out what life challenges have stripped you off normal functioning. And so you set the goals, what are my biggest symptoms? Is it the fatigue? Is it the brain fog? Is it the joint pain? What is that that I have? Or is it my autoimmunity? I want to get from three out of 10 for my energy to eight out of 10 for my energy. So as you start the process, you know what you’re looking for. And then the first thing would be probably the website, because we created the website for free resources that are all evidence-based. So before you start going online and going to support groups and going to all kinds of webinars and this and that, you want to get the information that is accurate as a shortcut, right?

So that will open your eyes. And then we have different services and different programs. I have developed a consumer program called EBV Recovery Program. And recovery concept is a very unusual concept because nobody in the medical community thinks that you can recover from it, but indeed you can. And so that’s a complete program in itself that we have, and it’s on demand. So anybody can step into it when they’re ready. But I would say the first thing would be maybe to make a commitment. And I think the first thing that the book does is gives people hope and an overview, and a big zooming out and zooming in, into your past life, into what happened to you, kind of understanding, “Oh, it makes sense.” Kind of like what you said when you read the books, like, “Oh, that makes sense. I didn’t really know. All the pieces are put together.”

And there is a recovery process also lined up in the book. So you can do it yourself, people. Some people just take that book and many people that have the book still decide to jump into the program. I still am in the program once a month with a Q&A and coaching calls and then in our Facebook group. So they still have access to me. So this is a trajectory to build up your repertoire and the standing and see if you really feel that that may be it. You have some options. We’re working on more, we’re working on clinicians right now. We’re going to train more doctors and clinicians so everybody has tools.

Amy Medling:

Yeah, that’s fantastic. And your book is, gosh, it’s so comprehensive. It’s how many pages? It’s over 500 pages of content. And I think, with your background in clinical nutrition, food and lifestyle is really at the center of your recovery program, as it is for PCOS Diva.

Dr. Kasia Kines:

Oh, yes.

Amy Medling:

It just plays such a role in the healing process. And I loved seeing so many of your recommendations overlap mine, the importance of managing your stress and sleeping. And then I love even at the end of your book, you talk about bringing more joy, spirituality, and laughter into your life, which I think is just so overlooked as a healing measure.

Dr. Kasia Kines:

Oh my gosh, yes. It totally is overlooked. And we also have a whole module on that in the program. Our culture is so stress driven. We are literally addicted to stress and challenges. And especially as women, we don’t have a tribal culture. And so we’re not designed to be the wife, sex partner, mother, daughter, cook, cleaning maid, chauffeur for my kids. What else is there? All at the same time, or maybe also a business owner like you.

Amy Medling:

It’s a lot of hats to wear, that’s for sure.

Dr. Kasia Kines:

Yes. And I struggle with it as well, turning off the stress response. The joy is the shortcut to healing and the shortcut to stall the stress response. Because when you are in the joy, you actually cannot be in anger, frustration, or fear. And so when you are enjoying, you actually are opening the chemical avalanche, so to speak, that promotes healing. And it’s fun. If you do something that you love, I go, every Sunday, I spend a couple of hours with retired old ill horses in a sanctuary. And time stops and you’re just in this joy, and this is healing. This is what we need to do.

But as women, we forgot, we don’t have time, we don’t have resources. It’s challenging because we put ourselves last. And so sometimes it’s not just the diet and all that. Yeah, sure. The most difficult thing, for me too, is that aspect of I am good enough and therefore I am important enough for myself and therefore, because I am lovable and I am enough, I am a priority and I will take the time and I will take care of myself. That alone is a huge obstacle that we have as women.

Amy Medling:

Oh my gosh. I think that is one of the biggest roadblocks, is believing that you are worthy of the time, energy, effort, money that it takes to heal and that you are enough. That’s my daily mantra. And so I love that you are very much aligned with that holistic healing. And honestly the book, just your protocol itself, it would be helpful for PCOS Divas with or without EBV. So I definitely want to give your book a plug again, that’s called The Epstein-Barr Virus Solution. And I picked up my copy on Amazon. So it’s readily available. And Dr. Kines, can you tell us a little bit more about your consumer program and where we can learn more about your work?

Dr. Kasia Kines:

First of all, I’m so excited in that what you’re teaching and I’m teaching is aligned because that’s the kind of truth. If you had EBV, you have so many tools, just like if you have PCOS, you have so many tools in your hands and there’s not something wrong with you. It’s just that when you provide the body what it needs, it will start shining for you. I just wanted to convey that message. I often say that the body just wants to shine for you. And just don’t think for a minute that you’re broken and that something in you is wrong. And like you said, I agree, we both agree, Amy, that it’s not just the physical healing that we’re after. It’s almost a deeper personal healing because you can break a leg and that will heal.

But if you break a person’s spirit, there’s nothing you can do. And I don’t want any woman to feel that there’s something broken in her emotionally, like we were saying, “I’m not good enough.” And so I think the diet, the lifestyle, all that is so easy, that we are lovable, that we are not broken and that the body doesn’t deceive us, that the body is our friend, that it’s fighting for us and that it’s all worth it. I just wanted to put a ribbon, a pretty ribbon, on that conversation we’re having.

Amy Medling:

No, that’s really beautiful. And it does offer so much hope and that’s why I wanted to bring you on the podcast because there’s so many women that are frustrated, they feel like they’ve kind of hit a dead end and this is just another, something else to look into. And you might find an answer with EBV, you might not. But either way, this message of hope and healing is important for all of us.

Dr. Kasia Kines:

Yeah. Exactly, exactly. Thank you for saying that. So keep up your good work.

Amy Medling:

Oh, thanks.

Dr. Kasia Kines:

So the program is, of course, it’s a 10 week program. However, modules are all open and you can do it at your pace, and you have access for one year and then people can re-entry, our alumni have a very inexpensive re-entry whenever they want to. We also have five additional bonus modules that talk about complications and co-infections, things that stall the virus. And that can also be appropriate with PCOS, when you’re not getting better, you’re hitting the wall. It could be molds, it could be heavy metals. It could be co-infections. So I have different extra modules on that. We have different projects. We have modules on stress, on sleep, because that’s a big problem. On toxicity, that’s a big problem, on specific environmental toxins that can reactivate the virus, on protocols with diet, the kitchen, the healing kitchen, the herbal teas, the culinary spices, simple recipe. Much apropos of PCOS, exactly.

And then you have a robust module on supplements. Supplements, actually, once you have a chronic EBV and you’re disabled, supplements, the appropriate supplements, aggressive enough, actually are the first key to start moving the needle. So people can think more clearly and can have a little bit more energy to do anything.

So we have everything strategically planned and we have monthly coaching calls and a wonderful community, a private community, of our current students and tons of resources and tons of recorded Q&A calls with all our previous students, also recordings of our, we used to call it a love seat and then EBV hero spotlight, 20 minutes or 30 minutes, one-on-one with a student while everybody else were watching, contributing and learning resources there and how to travel when you’re ill, what to do with antibiotics if you have to take them, all kinds of dental health support, all kinds of support for a person that is ill, that I feel is important even outside of direct EBV work. So if the book is comprehensive, this is a very comprehensive program, completely covering different areas of your life to recover and live your life purposefully, happily, and energetic, not just physical healing.

Amy Medling:

Well that sounds excellent. It’s also really nice to be able to be in community and walk alongside other women that are going through the same thing. So speaking of walking alongside other women, it’s just been a pleasure being with you all again, for another episode of the PCOS Diva podcast and with you, Dr. Kines. Thank you for sharing your wisdom and knowledge about EBV with us.

Dr. Kasia Kines:

Amy, thank you so much for giving me this opportunity to share with your women, your tribe, your Divas. If it changes one person’s life, I am so thrilled, over the moon. This is why I’m here. And if I can support your community in any other way, bring me back, I will talk your head off. And please never stop your advocacy. Your work is so precious and so important. And so I’m just so impressed with what you’ve done.

Amy Medling:

Well, thank you. That feels really good. Well, I just wanted to sign off and look forward to being with everyone again soon. Thanks so much for listening. Bye-bye.

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