Chronic Fatigue Syndrome vs. Epstein-Barr Virus vs. Mono

Last Updated: June 14, 2019 | First Published: June 18, 2017
Reviewed by: Dr. Viatcheslav Wlassoff, Ph.D.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Epstein-Barr Virus, and Mono - what's the difference, and how can Monolaurin help?

Monolaurin Chronic Fatigue EBV Glandular Fever

Epstein-Barr Virus

What is the difference between Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV), and infectious mononucleosis (Mono or Glandular fever)? All three can cause symptoms of weakness, fatigue, fever, and swollen lymph nodes, however each is different in its own way. We aim to separate these three conditions and help explain where Monolaurin may help.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome:

At the highest level, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a disorder characterized by a state of extreme fatigue that persists for more than 6 months and has (seemingly) no underlying medical condition. The cause of CFS is unknown, but because some people develop chronic fatigue syndrome after having a viral infection, researchers think some viruses might trigger the disorder. An Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) infection can lead to a state of chronic fatigue, but may not be the cause of CFS. Because CFS affects people in different ways, treatment is typically tailored for their symptoms.

Epstein-Barr Virus:

Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) is part of the herpes family of viruses and is extremely common. Most people who are exposed to EBV, especially during adolescence, acquire the infection that quickly becomes dormant. EBV can also cause symptoms of fatigue, fever, sore throat, and swollen nodes, some of which are similar to CFS. Once infected with EBV, the virus becomes latent (inactive) in your body and in some cases may reactivate. There is no vaccine or specific treatment for EBV.

Infectious Mononucleosis (“Mono” or Glandular Fever):

Mono (or Glandular fever) also causes symptoms of extreme fatigue, fever, sore throat, body aches, swollen nodes, etc. The most common virus to cause Mono is Epstein Barr Virus (EBV), but other viruses can also cause the disease. Similar to EBV, once you contract Mono you will always carry the virus which may become active later. There is no vaccine or specific treatment for Mono.

Monolaurin and Chronic Fatigue

Addressing Chronic Fatigue

Combating Chronic Fatigue:

The common thread among the three conditions appears to be Epstein Barr Virus (EBV). EBV clearly causes many of the symptoms associated with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) and Mono, and in some cases can directly contribute to the condition (as is the case with Mono).

Because EBV is an enveloped herpes family virus, it may respond to the dietary supplement Monolaurin, which is the subject of a variety of studies which purport the ability to inactivate herpes viruses in vitro. Monolaurin, a medium chain fatty acid found naturally in coconut oil, has been shown in the lab to disable enveloped and herpes viruses, including EBV. [Ref #1, 2] Learn more about other Monolaurin studies and examples in the Essential Guide to Monolaurin.

In studies, Monolaurin works to disrupt the lipid bilayer of a virus thus preventing attachment to susceptible host cells. Monolaurin inhibits the replication of viruses by interrupting the binding of virus to host cells and prevents uncoating of viruses necessary for replication and infection. Monolaurin may remove measurable infectivity by directly disintegrating the viral envelope, and Monolaurin binding to the viral envelope makes a virus more susceptible to host defenses (eg, your natural immune system) [Refs #1, 2, 3, 4, 5]

Inactivating the EBV virus may impact the symptoms of Chronic Fatigue or Mono. 

Those suffering from EBV may consider the observations by John W. Hill in his book "Natural Treatments for Genital Herpes, Cold Sores and Shingles: A Review of the Scientific and Medical Literature". Here, monolaurin is explored and recommended for its potential immune regulating properties. [Ref #6]

A therapeutic dose of monolaurin can be 1800mg to 2400 mg per day (3-4 600mg capsules per day), and will depend on the individual. [Ref #1] See additional detailed dosing information in the Dosing Guide

If this is your first time taking Monolaurin, be sure to note some of the important considerations when selecting your first Monolaurin product in the Buying Guide

Any new treatment should always be under the guidance and supervision of a health care professional.


  1. Lieberman, S. Antiviral Intervention for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Townsend Letter for Doctors & Patients. Feb/March 2014, P75.

  2. Lieberman S, Enig MG, Preuss HG. A Review of Monolaurin and Lauric Acid Natural Virucidal and Bactericidal Agents. Alternative & Complimentary Therapies, December 2006. 12(6): 310-314.

  3. Thormar H, Isaacs CE, Kim KS, Brown HR. Inactivation of visna virus and other enveloped viruses by free fatty acids and monoglycerides. Annals of the New York Academy of Science. 1994 June 6, 724:465–471.

  4. Sands J, Auperin D, Snipes W. Extreme sensitivity of enveloped viruses, including Herpes Simplex, to long chain unsaturated monoglycerides and alcohols. Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy. 15; 1:67-73, 1979.

  5. Isaacs CE and Schneidman K. (1991) Enveloped viruses in human and bovine milk are inactivated by added fatty acids (FAs) and monoglycerides (MGs). J FASEB 5: Abstract 5325, p.A1288.

  6. Hill, J. Natural Treatments for Genital Herpes, Cold Sores and Shingles: A Review of the Scientific and Medical Literature. Clear Springs Press; 2nd edition (January 7, 2012)