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Heather Hanks
Written by Heather Hanks

Reviewed by Dr Angelica L Dumapit and Physician Brandon Yew on December 16, 2022

Best TCM Remedies To Help With Mononucleosis Symptoms

Dubbed the "kissing disease," mononucleosis symptoms occur after coming into contact with an infected person's saliva. These treatments can soothe symptoms and help you heal fast.

Mono symptoms min scaled

Mononucleosis symptoms often pop up after coming into contact with an infected person’s saliva. Also known as the kissing disease, the condition is known for causing extreme fatigue, fever, rash, and swollen lymph nodes. It’s common among children, teenagers, and young adults.

Luckily, symptoms respond well to treatment, especially when Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is included in the plan. Learn more about what causes mononucleosis symptoms and how to manage them naturally here.

What Is Mononucleosis?

A young boy with a rash on his back
Mononucleosis symptoms may include a rash, especially in small children.

The term “mononucleosis” was first used in the 1920s when infected individuals showed an increase in an atypical type of white blood cell described as “mononuclear.”

About 95% of the world’s population would have carried the virus at some point by the time they reach adulthood, although infectious mononucleosis that presents with symptoms peaks primarily among 15 to 24-year-olds.

In TCM, infectious mononucleosis is considered a disease of pathogenic Dampness, Phlegm, and blood clots brought on by external pathogenic Wind and Fire. “If the infection is prolonged, damage to qi (vital life energy) and yin (cooling energy and body fluids) will ensue, resulting in their deficiencies.”

Senior TCM Physician Brandon Yew

What Causes Mononucleosis Symptoms?

Approximately 90% of mononucleosis cases are caused by the Epstein-Barr Virus, with the remaining cases attributed to the Cytomegalovirus (CMV), Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), Adenovirus, Hepatitis A Virus (HAV), Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV), Rubella virus, as well as the Toxoplasma parasite. 

The illness is spread through contact with bodily fluids, such as sneezing, coughing, kissing, or sharing drinks, food, and utensils. Occasionally, an infection may also occur due to sexual contact. Less common modes of transmission include organ transplants and blood transfusions. 

How severe are mononucleosis symptoms?

Incubation could take four to six weeks after being exposed to the virus. A symptomatic patient gradually presents with fever, swollen lymph nodes, a sore throat, and extreme fatigue lasting several weeks. Other symptoms may include body aches and weakness, rashesheadaches, loss of appetite, and enlarged Spleen or Liver.

However, severe mononucleosis symptoms can interfere with everyday life, especially for teenagers in secondary school or young adults recently entering the workforce. In some cases, the fatigue could linger for several months. Also, remember that asymptomatic individuals can still infect others, and immune-compromised individuals may develop serious complications from the infection. 

Treatment Options For Mononucleosis Symptoms

Your healthcare professional will be able to diagnose infectious mononucleosis from your symptoms. A blood test can confirm the diagnosis. Treatment focuses on symptom management of symptoms as follows: 

  • Avoid physical exertion: Mononucleosis can make you very fatigued, so physical exertion could over-tax your body. Moreover, one of the symptoms is an enlarged Spleen, which can rupture and cause serious complications if you over-exert yourself physically. Athletes are advised to contact their medical physician before they return to sports.
  • Keep hydrated: Drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration, which can further compromise your condition. 
  • Reduce fever and pain: Use nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to keep fever symptoms and body aches manageable. 
  • Get quality rest: Mononucleosis is a very draining infection. Make sure to get good rest and sleep to enable your body to fight the infection. 
  • Soothe your sore throat: A severe sore throat can be very painful. Gargle warm water mixed with salt and suck on throat lozenges. 

TCM Ways To Manage Mononucleosis Symptoms

A woman holding her swollen lymph nodes in pain
Along with a rash, swollen lymph nodes are a symptom of mononucelosis.

“TCM helps your body fight the infection through herbal medication, acupuncture, cuppingguasha (scraping), and blood-letting. All are formulated carefully by a TCM physician to address a patient’s unique body constitution, hence, it’s best to consult a TCM physician for a proper assessment,” advises Physician Yew. 

Herbal remedies

TCM herbal decoctions have been used for centuries to treat viral infections. A 2014 study of 81 children showed those treated with TCM decoctions had a shorter duration of symptoms than the control group, which received the conventional antiviral Ganciclovir and immunostimulant Pidotimod.

A recent 2021 study published in the Pharmaceutical Biology journal showed, through animal models, that the Si Miao Qing Wen Bai Du decoction inhibits replication of the Epstein-Barr virus.

Physician Yew shares a list of herbal remedies your TCM healthcare practitioner may choose. 

For treating symptoms of the infection: 

  • Yin Qiao San: Dispels Wind and Fire  
  • Bai Hu Tang: Dispels Fire  
  • Qing Ying Tang: Dispels Fire and dissipates blood clots, nourishes yin 
  • Er Chen Tang: Dispels Dampness and Phlegm 
  • Xiao Luo Wan: Dissipates Phlegm, clears Fire, and replenishes yin 
  • Yin Chen Hao Tang: Purges Fire and dispels Dampness

For restoring health after infection:

  • Sheng Mai San: Replenishes qi and yin 
  • Qing Hao Bie Jia Tang: Dispels residual Fire and blood clots, replenishes yin  
  • Qing Gu San: Dispels residual Fire and replenishes yin 
  • Dang Gui Liu Huang Tang: Dispels residual Fire and Dampness, replenishes yin 
  • Gan Lu Yin: Dispels residual Fire and Dampness, replenishes yin  

According to one study, Cordyceps contains an anti-viral compound that suppresses the Epstein-Barr Virus, which is one of the primary causes of mononucleosis. You can also take edible bird’s nest to boost immunity and protect against viral infections.


Physician Yew also shares you can perform acupressure on yourself by massaging the following acupoints using fingers or a blunt object like a massage stick.

Apply an appropriate amount of pressure to elicit a tolerable sensation of soreness or tenderness. At the same time, massage in both the clockwise and anticlockwise directions using a circular motion, 20 times each way. Repeat for at least three minutes per acupoint. 

For restoring health after infection:

  • Qu Chi (LI11)
  • He Gu (LI4) 
  • Yu Ji (LU10)
  • Nei Guan (PC6) 
  • Guan Yuan (RN4)
  • Qi Hai (RN6) 
  • Xue Hai (SP10)
  • Yin Ling Quan (SP9)
  • Zu San Li (ST36)
  • Feng Long (ST40)
  • San Yin Jiao (SP6)  
  • Tai Chong (LR3)

Speak To A TCM Physician About Mono

Physician Yew strongly advises against self-diagnosis and self-medicating with TCM regimens without consulting a certified TCM professional first. A qualified TCM physician will assess your unique body constitution and current medical state before advising you.

If symptoms worsen or become severe, speak to your doctor immediately. Fortunately, most cases of infectious mononucleosis reach recovery on their own using proper symptom management, rest, and immunity building.


  1. Cleveland Clinic. 2020. Mononucleosis. [online] Available at: <https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/13974-mononucleosis
  2. National Center for Biotechnology Information. 2014. Treatment of children with EB virus infection by Chinese medicine: a clinical study. [online] Available at: <https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24672940/
  3. StatPearls. 2022. Mononucleosis. [online] Available at: <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK470387/
  4. Pharmaceutical Biology. 2021. Simiao Qingwen Baidu decoction inhibits Epstein–Barr virus-induced B lymphoproliferative disease and lytic viral replication. [online] Available at: <https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13880209.2021.1934038
  5. Dietary Chinese Herbs. 2015. Lonicera japonica Thunb (Jinyinhua, Honey Suckle). [online] Available at: <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7120270/
  6. Dictionary.com. Mononucleosis. [online] Available at: <https://www.dictionary.com/browse/mononucleosis
  7. Oncoscience. 2014. Cordycepin is a novel chemical suppressor of Epstein-Barr virus replication.

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Reviews (1)

AnnApr 22 2023

New information to me about Cordyceps. I used with Dang Gui Bu Xue Tang: Astragalus membranaceus (root) 83.33% Angelica sinensis (root) 16.67% I now understand why it worked so well because the Cordyceps is anti viral, and I had been experiencing shortness of breath. Now all is resolved. Cordyceps very powerful. The combination suggested by Dr Kimble Chatfeild in his book Astragalus: Ancient Herb for Modern Times.

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