By Dr. Candice Hall, DC and Dr. Wayne Greathouse, DC
Individuals with mold toxitcity and biotoxin illness require the attention of an experienced functional medicine practitioner.
Did you know that it only takes 24 hours for harmful molds to develop in a moisture-impaired environment?1 According to a study by the Federal Facilities Council, 43 percent of the buildings tested showed signs of water damage.2 That means in a single day, your home could potentially endanger you with the risk of mold toxicity and biotoxin illness.
Exposure to indoor mold can cause an individual to experience respiratory distress, such as coughing and wheezing. However, further research links mold illness and biotoxin illness to psychiatric symptoms (including depression and anxiety) and cognitive symptoms (including brain fog and memory loss). Some patients are misdiagnosed with a purely psychiatric or cognitive condition. As a result, they are prescribed medications that are not appropriate because biotoxin illness was not identified as the root cause of their symptoms.
But as with most illnesses, biotoxin illness doesn’t need to take over your life. Understanding what causes mold toxicity, learning to identify the symptoms, and seeking qualified treatment can help you conquer the debilitating effects of mold toxicity.
Understand the Cause of Mold Toxicity
Mold toxicity occurs when someone comes into contact with one of many “biotoxins.” These biotoxins are poisonous substances produced by living organisms, with some of the most prevalent being toxic mold spores.3
Since mold spores need moist environments to thrive, homes with a moisture problem are prime targets.4 Often due to small leaks, improper ventilation, or defective plumbing, water damage can occur with little awareness on the part of the occupants. An excess of moisture can result in dangerous fungi, bacteria actinomycetes, mycobacteria, mold spores, and endotoxins.
Environmental tests are available to measure the presence and levels of mold and mycotoxins in your home. Tests such as the ERMI and the HERTSME can provide information on the location and levels of mycotoxins.
Once the mold develops, it releases toxic spores (often called mycotoxins) to reproduce. People inhale or come into contact with them through flooring, surfaces, and food. Once inside your system, these toxic spores can cause widespread inflammation in the blood and tissue.5 When your immune system tries to reject the foreign entity, it can cause you to feel some of the above symptoms. Even worse, it can set in motion a chronic illness such as Alzheimer’s disease, type 2 diabetes, or autoimmunity.
Identify the Mold Toxicity Symptoms
A recent study indicates exposure to mold is responsible for 21 percent of asthma cases in the United States.6 When mold spores infiltrate the lungs, they cause common respiratory problems such as coughing and wheezing that resemble the effects of any other lung and sinus irritant (like pollen).
Interestingly, only 25 percent of the population is genetically vulnerable to mold toxicity.7 Their inability to fight off biotoxins means their weakened immune systems may suffer from symptoms for months, a year, or longer.8
However, you do not have to be genetically vulnerable to mold toxicity to be plagued by biotoxin illness. Anyone with exposure to biotoxins or mycotoxins can experience symptoms or develop a chronic health condition. Fortunately, there are tests to see if an individual is afflicted with mold toxicity. These evaluations include VCS (visual contrast sensitivity) testing, blood analysis, NeuroQuant (multidimensional MRI of the brain), and other tests to assess metabolic and cellular health.
Regardless of genetics, once mold debilitates the immune system, research indicates it may also produce mystery symptoms that physicians can’t explain.9 These manifestations include memory loss, insomnia, chronic fatigue, headaches, anxiety, depression, and confusion.
The effects go beyond causing mystery symptoms that often lead to misdiagnosis of the issue. Mold and biotoxin illness can also be the trigger incident to a chronic disease such as autoimmune disease (e.g., lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and psoriasis), metabolic disease such as type 2 diabetes, and psychiatric conditions including ADHD, depression, and anxiety. For example, Next Advanced Medicine, is currently treating a family that resides in a home where mycotoxins exist.10 The family suffers from autoimmunity, cognitive decline, and cancer. They are all now being treated for biotoxin illness to address the root cause of all their conditions.
By making yourself aware of these psychiatric and physical symptoms, you can identify biotoxin illness before it escalates to unmanageable discomfort.
Seek Qualified Treatment
If you suspect you may be suffering from biotoxin illness or desire to get tested, find a functional medicine practitioner that specializes in treating mold illness. After a thorough evaluation, your functional medicine practitioner will create a detoxification protocol custom designed to address the root cause and biological imbalances caused by mold toxicity.
The first step is to reduce inflammatory foods that are high in processed sugar, sodium, and wheat flour.11 Introducing more fresh and organic foods—with proper hydration—into a diet will minimize the strain on the digestive system while strengthening the immune system.
The next step is to enlist dietary supplements, which help fight foreign biotoxins and enhance the body’s natural healing processes. Doctors may prescribe one or more of the following:
- Liposomal vitamin C (with phosphatidylcholine and carnitine) to improve immune system functionality
- Liposomal glutathione to help detox the blood
- Omega 3 to help with internal inflammation
- CoQ10 to bolster mitochondria and help kickstart the healing process
- Binders such as cholestyramine (CSM) to help detoxify from the body
Finally, as with all illnesses, it’s essential to give the body plenty of time to rest. That means getting a solid seven to nine hours of sleep every night. Doing this will allow the body time to locate and fight the source of the illness.
Whether or not they’re aware of moisture in the home, everyone should be extra cautious of potential mold toxicity. By understanding the cause, identifying symptoms quickly, and choosing functional treatment options, we can overcome biotoxin illness.
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