Post-Viral Syndrome

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Finding a good herbalist

Most of what's written in this article is entirely suitable for a person to work through themselves but, especially if things are quite bad, or you just know that you need further help, then there may be a great deal of benefit to you to go to whatever lengths necessary to find a good herbalist to guide you on to a safe and strong treatment program.
Some notes to suggest how you might go about finding such a person are found here

Treating an acute infection

Obviously, this article is focused on the chronic, post-viral syndrome but if you have come to it from looking into what can be done to help the infection of mononucleosis, or glandular fever, in its acute, fever-creating stage, then you will find some practical information to help here

Case Histories

I've been in full time practice in Christchurch, New Zealand since 1989. Many people with chronic glandular fever or some other form of the post-viral syndrome have come in over those years. There is little to nothing that conventional medicine can do to help, and they can be in a very bad way indeed.

Herbs and other natural methods have been seen to have a very high success rate and, whilst each case is different and needs an individualised approach, there is also much common ground between people and some general recommendations are discussed below.

Firstly however, from the clinic files, the following cases are shown to demonstrate how different kinds of approaches can be needed to get a good result.


Georgina, or Georgie, as she preferred to be called, was 24 when we first met. Hers is a very typical example of the post-viral syndrome as she had first contracted glandular fever when she was 17 and her health had never been right since.

She had gone on to finish a university degree and was now attempting to manage full-time work, but she was constantly tired, her glands were always at least a little swollen, she often felt too hot at night and would wake in a sweat and she would frequently get colds and flus that would take weeks to get over.

Georgie had been to her doctor numerous times and, after repeated blood tests showing nothing wrong, was eventually convinced by her doctor that she must be depressed. A diagnosis of depression is very common for the post-viral syndrome and at least half the patients I meet who have this condition are either currently on or have previously been prescribed anti-depressants. In Georgie's case, the antidepressant drugs had stopped her feeling so worried and sad about her state of existence, namely having no energy for a social life or keeping up any kind of activities or interests and literally just living to work, but she really wasn't feeling any more energy than before she started them. We got started with the following

The Prescription

Immune Formula

Echinacea 160mls
Astragalus 100mls
Withania root 100mls
Elder berry 60mls
Dandelion root 60mls
Licorice root 60mls

We make our own tinctures from organic dried herbs, so it might be important that you understand that the optimal dose range will vary with different preparations made by different companies or practitioners,

The above liquid extracts were combined into a formula to make 540mls. This will just fit into a 500ml amber pharm round bottle and is enough to last about 4 weeks if taken at the maximum safe and effective dose of 10mls twice a day, which is what we used.

The first 4 herbs are some of the best immune tonics in all of nature. The Dandelion root was there because Georgie was a 'Tiger' constitution (more about constitutions below) and this would be a good remedy to help her find her balance. The Licorice root is there to bind it all together as well as being an immune tonic in its own right. You can learn more about any of these allies in the A-Z found here

Cold & Flu tea

After using the immune formula for a few days. Georgie was to go through the arduous, but very effective, method of activating the immune system known as diaphoresis, or 'sweating therapy'. She was to do this treatment once a week over the month for a total of 3 sessions.

Sweating therapy is a common prescription for people who suffer from the post-viral syndrome. Fevers have become badly misunderstood and feared in the modern world, seen as undesirable side-effects of illnesses which should be squashed as quickly as possible with drugs. However, in many cases, nothing could be further from the truth!

Nature, and evolution, are not stupid, we have developed the ability to mount a fever simply because it is the fastest and most powerful way to activate an immune system to fight against whatever invader it has detected. Each degree your temperature rises the activity of your immune system practically doubles!

For a person who has clear signs of the post-viral syndrome, sweating therapy can be employed as a front-line approach to help get the condition improving as quickly as possible.

It's tough but it's highly effective and almost always worth the trouble. The recipe for the cold and flu tea is shown here and the process of the treatment is described in detail here


The Work

The first step in the healing journey comes from Nature. We come to a point where we are unable to fix ourselves and then these ancient allies, the herbs, can help us to get well.

The next step is the 'work'. It is what the patient does to help themselves. Underlying all the old ways of healing is an understanding that living organisms have the ability to self-repair, unless something is getting in the way. The 'work' is usually doing something to remove the obstacles that are getting in the way of that innate, self-healing intelligence.

For some people, their key 'work' is to get their fitness back and, from once upon a time being an active teenager and keen on sports, Georgie knew that she was now horribly unfit and a big part of her health history was a pattern of trying to get back into a sport or even to simply go to the gym and then getting badly sick again. It would have been most unwise for her to try to get fit before the immune system was in much better health, so I advised her to stop trying to do any kind of vigorous exercise until she was much better.

Georgie was a good sleeper, albeit she said that she always woke up tired even if she had more than 10 hours sleep in a night. On questioning, the stand-out area in her life that might have been impairing her body's ability to heal itself was her diet, which was much too high in sugar.

Excess sugar has been clearly shown to depress immune function and, as well as a lack of sleep, it may be the great increase in the amount of sugar teenagers are able to get their hands on that may be a leading cause for why they so often fall prey to the post-viral syndrome.

Georgie's work, as well as taking the herbs and doing the sweating therapy, was to follow the cleansing diet to the best of her ability until we met again in a month's time, this diet is written up here

To her credit, she dived into all of it without any hesitation and, a month later, she came in like a different person. The first time she did the sweating therapy not a lot had happened (apart from getting extremely hot and sweating a lot!) but the second time she did it, a week later, all hell broke loose!

She worked up a profuse sweat that seemed like it just wouldn't stop and then woke up several times in the night with the sheets soaking around her. Her whole body ached, she felt like she had been hit by a bus and reported that it felt exactly like she had experienced the very first time she got sick. At last, we had achieved the 'therapeutic fever' that her body so badly needed to properly fight and win against the virus once and for all.

At the age of 17, her well-meaning parents had given her plenty of paracetamol and ibuprofen to make her more comfortable and, as a direct consequence, she had never properly got over the sickness until now, 7 years later, when she went through it without any holding back.

Georgie stopped her anti-depressants even before I saw her on her second visit. She just didn't feel she needed them any more and, after a short period of withdrawal (feeling weird, out-of-sorts) she was soon fine without them. The subject of depression talked about in a lot more depth here

Georgie's is a very typical example of a great many others that I have treated in a similar way. They don't always get such a dramatic therapeutic fever, but they do often improve rapidly when you get them on the right track.



I first met Andrew when he was 31 years old. He was an 'Eagle' constitution (again, more about that below) and had been a high flyer throughout his teens and 20s and in his career now too.

Four years earlier he had been travelling in South-East Asia and had contracted a severe bout of gastro-enteritis which led him to say that 'red-letter line' that must alert you to the possibility of the post-viral syndrome whereby he said he had 'never been right since...'

Hus gut health had seemed to return to normal, but he now suffered badly from fatigue and was getting infections like he had never had before in his life. He was also noticing that he was reacting to foods and was getting hay fever for the first time in his life. Andrew had always been a poor sleeper, since he was a child he said, and his main reason for coming in was actually to try to improve his sleep as he had become convinced that if he could only get a good night's sleep that everything would return to normal. He wasn't wrong about better sleep being helpful but, especially as this was a part of his pattern, as it is for many Eagles, we firstly needed to get his immune system in a better state for him to actually feel a lot better. We started with the following

The Prescription

Immune Formula

Echinacea 140mls
Astragalus 100mls
Withania root 100mls
St John's wort 80mls
Elder berry 60mls
Licorice root 60mls

Again, because we make our own medicines, it might be important that you understand that the optimal dose range will vary with different preparations made by different companies or practitioners,

The above liquid extracts were combined into a formula to make 540mls. This will just fit into a 500ml amber pharm round bottle and is enough to last about 4 weeks if taken at the maximum safe and effective dose of 10mls twice a day, which is what we used. You can see the addition of St John's wort in this formula, a particularly good 'nourishing' herb for Eagles in general and an immune tonic in its own right. Again, you can learn more about any of these allies in the herbal A-Z found here

Hawthorn & Reishi capsules

We also used the very high dose of four capsules, twice daily of concentrates of Hawthorn berry and Reishi mushroom. Hawthorn is a general tonic and Reishi mushroom has some marvellously supportive actions to the immune system and is especially good for Eagles.

Cold & Flu tea

Again, after using the immune formula for a few days. Andrew was to start a series of sweating therapy sessions, once a week for the next 2 or 3 weeks and again the how-to of this process is linked here

The Work

Andrew's work was a lot about learning how to get out of his own way so that he could well and truly 'land' each night before he went to sleep. It is a common fallacy that insomnia is something that happens when you go to bed. Really, in most cases, it is a condition of excess tension that exists most of the time, and the person only becomes properly aware of it when they are trying to sleep!

Andrew was a high achieving person who, like many Eagles, always needed for there to be a point to anything that he did. The great challenge for him was to allow himself to do things in the latter part of the evening that didn't have any point. Things like watching a movie, reading a book, listening to music. His 'relaxation' time was always competitive gaming, where he would be always trying to beat the other players. There is a lot of stimulation and excitement in this kind of activity that has an addictive nature for many people and it was certainly not helping him to land at night, quite the reverse!

We set a cut off point for 8pm whereby afterwards he was not allowed to do anything to keep him airborne and, naturally enough, he really struggled with this but got better over time.

When I met him for his second visit he said he was at least 70% better. Still getting too tired but feeling better in himself physically. We added a sleep formula (more about these in the article on insomnia here) and kept the immune program going for another month. I only needed to see Andrew one more time a month later where he said he was feeling 'dangerously healthy'. I see from his notes that he kept coming to get his herbs from time to time over the next 6 months or so but he is obviously now feeling well.


Constitutions & the Healing Cycle


I've mentioned that Georgie was a Tiger and that Andrew was an Eagle. On personal reflection, the cooler constitutions are definitely prone to getting the post-viral syndrome too, but I think it might be a little more common in the 'hotties'. In any case, this ancient way of understanding our differences, according to how we are naturally either hotter or cooler, and at the same time dryer or damper, underpins much of the approach to what kinds of foods, herbs etc, will best help a person.

If you, or someone you care for, are having troubles in this area, you can learn more about the general subject of the constitutions starting here, and then work out which constitution you or they are by going here

The Cycle of Healing

After getting a sense of whether a person is naturally cooler or hotter, dryer or damper, the next level of knowledge to take the kind of personal approach that can be essential to a great result is to look into the healing cycle.

This is a fascinating subject in itself and understanding it can give great insight into what needs to be done to treat the cause and help healing happen naturally. There are four stages in the cycle; cleansing, activation, nourishment and rest. To learn more about the cycle of healing read here

This chart can be seen in more detail in a PDF found here


General Recommendations

Use Sweating Therapy

I hope I have made this point clear enough in the case histories. In nearly every case, I consider this difficult but powerful treatment to be an essential part of the successful cure of the post-viral syndrome. When I am sure that the post-viral syndrome is the key underlying issue behind my patients fatigue and ill-health I ask them hopefully 'do you have a bath?'

If they say yes then I say that's great, and usually let them ponder why I have asked such a strange question for a little bit before I explain why (working with chronic illness can be a grim business, you find what subjects you can be light-hearted about where you can!) If they don't, then I ask if they have a friend or family member they can go to who have a bath. It will only be for 2 or 3 times in total and everyone has someone they can ask. Saunas are an acceptable alternative and they are certainly great for cleansing but, at least for some people, they just don't get the person hot enough to get that sustained therapeutic fever happening. If there is a difficulty here in obtaining a full body immersion bath, then it may be a matter of try and see a sauna if it works. Again, the process of how to do it is linked here


Rule out Food Intolerance

I haven't mentioned this in either of the case histories above, but I can tell you for a fact that a lot of people who get the post-vital syndrome have, as one of the deepest roots of the reason why they can't get better, an undiagnosed food allergy or intolerance.

If there is any history of eczema or asthma at any time in their health history then this almost should be assumed to be a part of the problem. If they frequently suffer from bloating, indigestion or disturbed bowel function then it should at least be suspected. Likewise, if the person themselves feels that they are reacting adversely to something they are eating, it is always wise to listen to what the body is trying to tell us.

Sometimes, the only way to know for sure is to remove one of the most common offenders (namely gluten or dairy products) and then re-introduce them after 7-10 days to see what difference it makes. This process, other forms of testing, and other matters in this important subject are described in detail in the article again linked here


Build Immunity

Many people who suffer from the post-viral syndrome have a lowered immune system at the root of the issue. Maybe because they have a food intolerance, perhaps because they need more of the sunshine vitamin (vit D) or vitamin C, perhaps because they need to improve their diet, get more sleep etc.

Chronic tiredness, frequent colds or other infections and slow healing from wounds or bruises are the classic signs that the immune system needs support and, if any of these are happening alongside the sinusitis, then it should be assumed that a deeper program of immune treatment will be needed for a lasting cure. The best of what has been seen to reliably help is written up in detail in the article on immunity found here

Echinacea angustifolia

Please understand that I cannot personally advise you without seeing you in my clinic.
This living 'book' is my labour of love so, wherever you are, I wish you peace & good health!



© 2011 R.J.Whelan Ltd