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The Devil Is In The Details – A Herpes Simplex Virus Inquiry For Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

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Reprinted with the kind permission of Cort Johnson and Health Rising

By Albert Chang

(As we await the outcome of the Pridgen antiviral herpes simplex trial in Fibromyalgia, Albert Chang takes a deeper look at herpes simplex viruses.)

Herpes simplex viruses have not generally been associated with ME/CFS or fibromyaglia,but that may change with the Pridgen study.

Two herpesviruses, Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) and HHV-6, have been of interest in chronic fatigue syndrome for decades. However, it was not until the Pridgen antiviral Fibromyalgia study put the spotlight on the Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) that it has shown up in a big way. Like other herpes viruses, HSV tends to reactivate during times of physical, hormonal and/or emotional stress.

Herpes Simplex is a dsDNA (double-stranded DNA) virus that belongs to the Herpesviridae family of human-infecting viruses. This virus subset comes in two forms: HSV-1, commonly referred to as “cold sores”, and HSV-2, commonly referred to as “genital herpes”. One of the distinguishing attributes of this virus is that it stays with the host for life by residing in the nerve ganglia, which are nerve clusters within the body that act as conduits between the central nervous system and the various functional components of our body: organs, glands, skin, blood vessels, and muscles.

Boring Away: A Termite Analogy

Let’s say that one day you and your friend (a termite expert) walk out into the backyard of your dream home, and notice some mud tubes running up the foundation of your home. No big deal, you proclaim. Your friend smashes one of the tubes and outcome termites, but you’re not worried because your house was pre-treated with termite protection.

Your friend, however, wonders why the termites are traveling up into the walls of your home. How would you know whether the termites are feasting on your home, and where?

What if it turned out, though, that more than 10 pockets spread out through your home PERMANENTLY housed termites that live virtually FOREVER, waiting for the opportune time to feast on unprotected lumber — and there is NOTHING you can do about them?

Let’s hope the pre-treatment lasts forever — with each piece of lumber.

Herpes Simplex

In truth it usually does. Our immune systems are generally so good at bottling up herpes simplex viruses that we tend to associate them with unpleasant but mostly innocuous problems such as cold sores, fever blisters and genital blisters. Cold sores are just a more common manifestation of a herpes simplex virus infection; many other possibilities exist.

But what if there was a really dark side to these viruses? What if these usually benign viruses were instead described as “permanently-infecting, neurotropic (nerve loving) viruses”. How would you feel then?

Let’s get something straight: viruses INFECT! That’s their hallmark. For the most part, they attach onto, and hijack, host cells, turning them into little factories to produce copies of themselves. Of course, each virus has its own set of nuances: what kind of cells they can infect, where, etc. Where’s the ganglions? Nervous system ganglia exist all over the body.

Most people with canker sores probably don’t know that herpes virus infection in and around the mouth typically results in the virus establishing permanent residence in the three nerves that run from the ear across the face (trigeminal ganglia).

The same is true with a herpes simplex infection in the genital area and the associated nerves (the dorsal root ganglia). Once you see evidence of a herpes simplex virus in the skin, it’s taken up permanent residence in the nerves associated with that area.

The skin is just the most outward manifestation of a herpes simplex infection, however. Our esophagus, heart, lungs, stomach, intestines, gall bladder, lips, tongue, brain, eyeballs, throat… in fact, every organ in our body is associated with ganglia or nerve bodies that herpes simplex and other herpesviruses can permanently hang out in.

If herpes simplex comes out of hiding, travels down a nerve pathway, and reactivates in the mouth area, it produces canker sores. If it reactivates in the genitals it produces genital herpes, in the eye it produces ocular herpes, in the brain it produces encephalitis, and those are just the areas we know about. Dr. Pridgen believes herpes simplex virus infections are causing gut and other symptoms in fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS), and irritable bowel syndrome. Michael VanElzakker PhD believes herpesvirus or other infections in nervous system ganglia are causing the flu-like symptoms in ME/CFS.

The Autonomic Nervous System

Autonomic nervous system (ANS) issues are rife in both ME/CFS and fibromyalgia, and herpes simplex viruses have long been known to the medical community. One cadaver study found HSV scattered throughout the nerve ganglia of about a third of the cadavers, and a short report suggests autonomic neuropathy can result from an active HSV infection.

My Immune System Has Me Covered, Doesn’t It?

We should know more about a possible connection between herpes simplex and fibromyalgia soon Despite the small set of categorizations for the immune system (immunocompetent, immunosuppressed, immunocompromised), and the overwhelming claims from doctors that infection elsewhere in the body was unlikely unless a host was “immunocompromised”, I present the following cases:

  1. Immunocompetent patients developing vocal cord-related paralysis following HSV infection
  2. Lower respiratory tract HSV infections even in immunologically sound patients
  3. HSV Bronchopneumonitis infections in immunocompetent patients
  4. A hypothesis suggesting HSV infects the smooth muscles of arterial walls

The point is that there’s a lot we don’t know about the Herpes Simplex Virus. Whether or not it plays a role in Fibromyalgia and/or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is simply speculation at this point. We’ll find out more about HSV and Fibromyalgia in March, though, when Dr. Pridgen begins releasing information on the Fibromyalgia antiviral trial targeting Herpes Simplex. This study includes examining gut tissues for evidence of the virus.

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5 thoughts on “The Devil Is In The Details – A Herpes Simplex Virus Inquiry For Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome”

  1. IanH says:

    There is evidence that the HSV-1 latent infection of the sensory ganglia actually alter the sensory neural gene expression particularly the Clk2 gene, and neurotransmission genes encoding potassium voltage-gated channels and one of the muscarinic acetylcholine receptors and possibly some of the neuropeptide genes.

  2. journaltruther says:

    We used to think of health/medical publication as including at least rudimentary vetting of facts or reasonable opinion.

    So now we have the rudimentary vetting of theories: this time, the herpes virus
    MIGHT cause CFS/ME. Not that it does. Only that one doctor thinks that it might.
    He has a theory.

    A theory, in a current thesaurus, is also a: ” hypothesis, thesis, conjecture, supposition, speculation, postulation, postulate, proposition, premise, surmise, assumption, presupposition; opinion, view, belief, contention.”

    I guess I don’t get it. One could question the value in acting as a continuing arm
    of the PR agency of an MD to increase one’s “clicks,” rise in google rankings and get more sales of proposed ancillary health care products.

    But that question really answer itself.

  3. jtre says:

    I commend the people promulgating the theory and hope, finally, we find the culprit. Every new development requires a hypothesis in order to study the issue and to work toward solving the problem.

    There are three of us in the family with CFS and two of the three also have fibromyalgia. At different times, all of us had a different trigger; an auto accident, chronic sinusitis, and the flu. We all experienced sky high EBV titers when we became ill.

    It is a devastating chronic illness that robs us of a productive life, even though we all have advanced degrees.

    To make matters worse, some doctors consider it a “wastebasket” diagnosis and some even deride the patient.Such arrogance should be curbed, as the same attitude was cast upon MS patients at one time. Obviously, current medicine doesn’t have all the answers.
    Let’s work toward helping people!

  4. gasufferer says:

    Fascinating! Does the viral theory address the higher incidence rate of FMS and CFS/ME in women compared to men? Is estrogen a factor?

  5. ssb7777 says:

    I have experienced this since childhood. Starts with a low grade fever, cold sore(HSV-1) and 3-4 weeks of fatigue. Will aciclovir/famcicolvir help?

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