Is There Really Such a Thing as a Thyroid Virus?

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by Elyse Tursi, DC

Whether you’ve been diagnosed with hypothyroidism, Hashimoto’s or Grave’s disease, there is a likely suspect lingering in the background of all these thyroid illnesses. This so-called suspect is a virus that loves to steal your cells’ energy and leave your body feeling chronically fatigued. The nature of this virus may result in immune system dysregulation later in life. The Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) falls into the human herpesvirus 4. It is estimated that approximately 95 percent of the human population has been exposed to this virus. An initial EBV infection occurs in early adolescent years and manifests itself mainly as fatigue, swollen glands and a low-grade fever. Normally, the virus remains in the body in a dormant state, causing no health concerns, as it is “sleeping”during this time.
Problems arise when the virus reactivates and starts to modify the body’s immune system. EBV is notorious for its immunomodulatory effects, meaning it changes your immune cells—namely the T cells, B cells and cytokines. Some Epstein-Barr-infected patients will create what is known as EBV autoreactive B cells that travel into the thyroid tissue. This is where the chaos begins because you now have EBV cells that have entered into the thyroid tissue and an immune system that’s watching this take place. Impaired virus control by the immune system creates symptoms such as fatigue, joint pain, swollen glands in the neck and swell- ing over the thyroid. A classic characteristic of all autoimmune disease is an increased CD4/CD8 ratio, which occurs from impaired viral load control occurring in the thyroid.
An easier way to say this is the virus has attached itself onto an immune cell that has traveled to the thyroid and the body enters attack mode to kill the virus, thereby destroying some thyroid tissue in the process. Any time tissue changes at the cellular level, the job of that organ now be- comes compromised, and in this case it’s the thyroid. How do we know if EBV is the culprit behind a newly diagnosed or chronic thyroid issue? Check your blood chemistry for a full Epstein-Barr panel.
Source: Dr. Elyse Tursi, a doctor of chiropractic and nutritionist at Pollack Wellness Institute, located at 100 Manetto Hill Rd., Ste. 307, in Plainview. For more information, call 516-299-9313 or visit
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