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Will Inexpensive Heart Drug Overcome Herpes Viruses?

Spironolactone, a diuretic that has been around since 1959, appears to keep Epstein Barr virus from multiplying and may help against other herpes viruses.

Fighting Epstein Barr Virus:

An inexpensive generic diuretic that is often prescribed for patients with heart failure shows antiviral activity against herpes viruses called Epstein Barr virus. This virus causes mononucleosis and has been associated with an increased risk of certain cancers. Infections caused by the Epstein Barr virus are especially problematic for transplant patients or other people with compromised immune systems.

What Does Spironolactone Do?

Spironolactone (Aldactone) is a potassium-preserving diuretic that has been used to control blood pressure or ease the symptoms of heart failure. Now scientists have uncovered a new activity for this drug.

Spironolactone apparently blocks the Epstein Barr virus from multiplying. It works differently from other antiviral drugs used to treat viruses in the herpes family. Apparently, similar diuretics do not have the same impact on the EB virus.

Epstein Barr Virus:

The Epstein Barr virus is linked to a number of serious consequences in addition to mononucleosis. It has been associated with autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, autoimmune thyroiditis, systemic lupus erythematous, oral lichen planus, rheumatoid arthritis, autoimmune hepatitis and Sjögren’s syndrome (Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology, Sep-Dec., 2015). The EB-related herpes viruses have also been implicated in the development of several cancers (Laboratory Investigation, March 7, 2016). That is why this newly-discovered activity of spironolactone has investigators excited.

The researchers are hopeful that this diuretic might open the door to new treatment options for other herpes viruses that are responsible for shingles, cold sores and genital herpes.

PNAS, March 14, 2016

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies..
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