What and Why?
Your lymph glands do much of the leg-work of your self-defence against infection and are only really obvious when they are working hard for you. Their efforts usually stop infections within at most a week or two, but they need to be well supported with essential energy and resources. If you are so exhausted that you cannot raise the effort to get better, your lymph glands are stuck in stalemate. There are several possible results of which glandular fever is the best established and myalgic encephalomyelitis — ME — the most fashionable.
According to current medical theory glandular fever is a specific infection caused by a virus known as the Epstein-Barr virus which belongs to the same family as cold sores, chicken pox and shingles. However this virus turns up in many situations (not all of them infections) and the whole family behaves in a way which scarcely fits into the traditional theory of infection at all. There is a serious possibility that all these viruses are the product of certain disease processes, rather than their cause.
This idea makes good sense in glandular fever and ME. Both conditions seem to start with an infection, often of the throat or liver in glandular fever but more ’flu-like in ME. However instead of getting better quickly as you usually would you just carry on being ill and tired for weeks on end — months or years in ME. Your lymph glands are enlarged all over your body and you are feverish, both of which indicate a large-scale and generalized immune effort that isn’t getting anywhere.
Both illnesses behave like infections and even epidemics because they are often based on them. Glandular fever commonly affects students and young adults, perhaps because of the rather low priority young people often give to good food compounded by their frequent reliance on cafes and canteens.
ME was first recognized as an epidemic in the Royal Free Hospital and is sometimes known as Royal Free Disease: it has certainly been taken more seriously, and scientifically researched as an infection, because of this epidemic under the very noses of top-flight research clinicians. Perhaps however it has always been there but unrecognized: the typical symptoms of profound lassitude, constant headaches (see also Meningitis) and allergy or intolerance are rather hard to impress on doctors, and in themselves make you less able to assert yourself.
ME and chemical pollution
ME may however be a genuinely new phenomenon that has arisen as chemical pollution, unacceptable levels of general stress and immune weakness based on devitalized food have become increasingly common — a twentieth century predicament. For example, something very like epidemics of ME has happened several times in local village communities after aerial crop-spraying incidents, but these have never been taken seriously enough by people in a position to research them adequately. Friends Of The Earth and The Soil Association have however made some brave attempts to fill this gap and both have published their findings.
What can I do?
Advice to maintain and maximise your health
1. Prevent: To prevent glandular fever and ME you have only to take your immunity and self-maintenance seriously. Eat the diet for health as an every-day habit and keep low on sugar, alcohol and tobacco. Take an active and positive interest in life and take the early symptoms of fatigue and disease seriously.
2. Home remedies: During infectious illness leave some energy over to get better with: inflammation requires an effort. Use the Honey Cider Vinegar and home-made Lemon Barley Water recipes instead of your usual drinks — they actively help you to cope with the illness and recover from it.
3. Rest: When the acute symptoms have gone allow time for proper convalescence — virus infections leave damage in their wake that your body must repair.
4. Supplementation: From the start of an infection take at least 250mg of food-state vitamin C twice or three times daily to reinforce your white blood cells — they have a lot of work to do. If your convalescence looks set to take time, add to this some high potency vitamin B complex and multimineral tablets to make sure your immune system does not run out of supplies in a sustained effort.
5. More advice: Even once you are recovered, which should be within one or two months if you act promptly, do not take your stamina and resistance for granted. Make extra allowances of time and energy for any special effort. Take tiredness or irritability as signs that you should hold back a little — say ‘no’ sometimes. Take no chances with your diet — live fresh vegetables are in, junk and alcohol are right out. If you know you are vulnerable to infection, take one tablet of food-state Vitamin C and one of Propolis each day, to help prevent this. It will be about a year before you can begin to relax your watchfulness and be sure of your stamina again.
- NHS Choices
Information and Advice on Glandular fever