(Editor’s Note: By popular demand, we are re-posting this story which ran in the Davis Clipper last summer on Tristina Bown’s battle with the Epstein-Barr virus. She can be reached for more information at the email listed in the story).
By TOM HARALDSEN
BOUNTIFUL—Until 1968, the medical world had never heard of the Epstein-Barr virus. Until she was 21 years old, neither had Tristina Bown. But the work of two English scientists led to the discovery of the virus’ existence nearly 50 years ago, and Tristina has spent 34 years finding ways to overcome it.
A few years ago, we told Tristina’s story in the Davis Clipper. When she was 20, this physically active young woman, who had just given birth to her first son, was battling another challenge—a husband with an addiction. She said, “In trying to save him, I was making myself sick. I was depleting my immune system, running myself ragged, and up all night worrying about where he was.”
Those deteriorating immunities left her vulnerable for what happened after the birth of her second son four years later—panic attacks, anxiety attacks, and much more. Not knowing what was wrong, she turned to Dr. Leroy Taylor, who practiced in Bountiful for many years until he passed away in 2015.
“Dr. Taylor checked me for everything, and I had a battery of tests,” Tristina said. “We worked on this together for over six months, eliminating one thing or another, until he found it was the virus. It was still fairly new, there weren’t any specific tests for it then, and he was just learning more about it. And he said to me, ‘You’re not going to feel better for at least six months.’”
Try five years.
It took Tristina that long to overcome the debilitating effects of Epstein-Barr, which also include chronic sore throats, fatigue and body aches; insomnia, swollen glands in the neck, fevers, and weakness and sore muscles, plus lack of energy. It didn’t help that many in the medical field confused EBV with mononucleosis or even multiple sclerosis. Diagnoses were inaccurate, and treatment plans undefined.
“There are tests now for measuring EBV titers,” she said. “But the tests are pretty expensive, and it can take up to a week to get results back. A lot of people don’t get those tests done, so they still may not know what they have.”
Her EBV went into remission, but six years later, a second bout occurred. This time, Tristina knew what to do. Even though she was raising two young sons (ages 11 and 7) alone after a divorce, she read a book that Dr. Michael A. Epstein wrote on the virus he discovered along with Yvonne Barr. It helped her form a game plan, “a recipe” as she calls it, for combating Epstein-Barr.
“I formed a group for others who had EBV,” she recalled. “I felt there were other people out there who were at their wits end. I was thinking that I could help people, but they in turn actually helped me just as much.”
She knew that others suffering with EBV “at times feel like a hypochondriac. That’s totally normal with all of the symptoms and long suffering they endure, and the effect it can have on your brain. It’s hard to concentrate and try to have a positive day to get through it all—it seems impossible.”
The group met weekly, discussing alternative things they were doing. It’s where Tristina first heard of blue-green algae, harvested out of the Upper Klamath Lake in Oregon and a supplement she takes regularly along with a strict diet and exercise. She realized that she could become an important team member to help others with their healing process.
“The whole thing about EBV is you have to get your body well,” she said. “The only thing that’s going to cure you is your own body. Now I’ve developed that recipe, and now being in my 50s, I feel better than I ever did in my 20s.”
Tristina Bown is both a certified nursing assistant and a licensed massage therapist. For the past five years, she has owned and operated Therapeutic Healing Arts. Her patients benefit from her healing techniques for both body and soul.
“After the first story in the Clipper appeared, my phone literally ran off the hook for nine months,” she said. “I would meet with patients to share stories, and tell them what I had been dealing with and what I’d learned. They wanted hope, and I help them learn about the power of energy, diet, essential oils, and the power of touch.”
She knows that having the Epstein-Barr virus doesn’t mean a life sentence of suffering and endless worry, and that’s the message she wants to share with anyone else who has it, or thinks they might have it.
“I want to help others, to be a facilitator in their process of curing their bodies,” she said. “I’m here for them.”
You can reach Tristina by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.