This common virus more than doubles Alzheimer’s risk

When you get a virus, you expect to feel lousy for a while, get better and then move on with your life.

But some viruses don’t go away when your symptoms do. They stick around silently for years and can put you at risk for serious diseases in the future.

Take the Epstein Barr virus (EBV) as an example.

This common virus causes mononucleosis (aka the kissing disease), which sweeps high school and college campuses every fall. Mononucleosis can keep you glued to the couch for days, weeks or even months. But eventually, the symptoms go away and you’re back to your normal self again.

The only problem is, once you get EBV, everything doesn’t go quite back to normal. EBV lies latent in your body for the rest of your life. And as a result, you have a much higher risk of major diseases like cancer and autoimmune diseases.

Now, the Epstein-Barr virus is a member of a larger family of viruses known as the herpesvirus family. And it turns out, EBV isn’t the only herpesvirus that can set you up for serious health problems down the road.

The latest research shows that several herpesviruses are connected to another major disease — Alzheimer’s.

Herpes increases Alzheimer’s risk

I already mentioned that mono is caused by a herpesvirus. But there are plenty of other herpesviruses besides EBV. In fact, there’s eight of them… human herpesvirus 1 (HHV-1) through human herpesvirus 8 (HHV-8). They cause everything from genital herpes to cold sores to chicken pox.

And now research shows these common viruses may increase your risk of Alzheimer’s…

A study published last month by researchers at Arizona State University and Icahn School of Medicine found that people with Alzheimer’s disease are more likely to have human herpesvirus-6A and human herpesvirus-7 (both of which cause the childhood disease roseola) in their brains.

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This discovery inspired researchers to look back at other studies on herpesviruses and dementia, and here’s what they uncovered…

A 2018 study and a 2017 study found that human herpesvirus-3 (the virus that causes chicken pox and shingles) increases dementia risk too.

Plus, another 2018 study found that human herpesvirus-1 and human herpesvirus-2 (the ones that cause cold sores and genital herpes) more than double the risk of dementia. People with these viruses were 2.5 times more likely to develop dementia than people without them.

Can antiviral treatment prevent Alzheimer’s?

After hearing about this alarming connection between common herpesviruses and Alzheimer’s, you’re probably wondering…

If herpesviruses increase the risk of dementia, can antivirals help prevent dementia?

And based on this latest study, the answer is yes.

People in the study who took antivirals to treat their herpes infections had a 10 times lower risk of Alzheimer’s. Pretty amazing, huh?

So, if you have a herpes infection of any kind, get it taken care of. If you prefer natural antivirals, my colleague Joyce Hollman recently wrote about six ways to cure the common cold sore, which is caused by a herpesvirus. She recommended antivirals and immune-boosters like:

  • Lysine
  • Licorice root
  • Peppermint oil
  • Vanilla oil or extract
  • Lemon balm
  • Manuka honey

She suggested applying these remedies to a cold sore topically. But they can be taken internally too. You can also try powerful, antiviral herbs like garlic, oregano, echinacea, olive leaf, astragalus and elderberry. Whatever approach you choose, do your brain a favor and get those herpesviruses in check before it’s too late.

Editor’s note: While you’re doing all the right things to protect your brain as you age, make sure you don’t make the mistake 38 million Americans do every day — by taking a drug that robs them of an essential brain nutrient! Click here to discover the truth about the Cholesterol Super-Brain!


  1. Alzheimer’s risk 10 times lower with herpes medication — Medical News Today.
  2. Herpes Viruses and Senile Dementia: First Population Evidence for a Causal LinkJournal of Alzheimer’s Disease.
  3. Alzheimer’s: ‘Strong evidence’ of virus involvement — Medical News Today.
  4. HerpesvirusesMedical Microbiology. 4th edition.
  5. Surviving virus season — Easy Health Options.
Jenny Smiechowski

By Jenny Smiechowski

Jenny Smiechowski is a Chicago-based freelance writer who specializes in health, nutrition and the environment. Her work has appeared in online and print publications like Chicagoland Gardening magazine, Organic Lifestyle Magazine, BetterLife Magazine,, and