Could it be Mold?
Water seemed overabundant this season with the record rainfall and flooding. Witnessing this scene brought thoughts of mold, secondary to the devilish mosquitoes!
Mold is an underrated toxin often disregarded and underdiagnosed or misdiagnosed in many. Burgeoning evidence shows that mycotoxins, a metabolite of mold, is more toxic than pesticides in the body. Research is delving into the biochemical mechanisms that occur as a result of exposure in the cells.
Mycotoxins can have profound effects upon the kidneys, liver, immune and neurological systems. It can lead to increased allergens and with its teratogenic, mutagenic and carcinogenic effects make it a shoe-in for an agent of cancer!
Each species of mold produces a specific mycotoxin. Aflatoxin is an abundant metabolite of aspergillus. Aflotoxins are some of the most carcinogenic substances known. Ochratoxin A from aspergillus and penicillum families is known to have nephrotoxic (kidneys) and immunotoxic effects. Ochratoxin is also a huge contributor to cancer and is found often in water-damaged structures. Sterigmatocystin is produced from several species of penicillum and aspergillus. It is found as a contaminate in food. Roridin E is produced by stachybotrys, Myrothecium and fusarium species. A potent mycotoxin, low levels of exposure can have cause significant neurological damage, immunosuppression, GI distress and endocrine dysfunction. Verrucarin A also produced from stachybotrys, fusarium and Myrothecium is frequently found in water-damaged structures and contaminated grains. Gliotoxin is produced from aspergillus and contributes to significant immune dysfunction. Zearalenone is produced by fusarium and commonly found in grains and known to cause reproductive changes.
Fun fact: Contaminated grains remind me of St Anthony’s Fire in 1950’s Pont Saint Esprit, France. Where many members of the village were poisoned by ergot in rye flour and suffered devastating effects of hallucinations, neuropathy, pain and vomiting. The toxin would cause inflammation and constriction of blood vessels cutting off supply to the extremities. Villagers suffered intense burning and gangrene. Realizing this is a tangent, but it certainly drives home the profound symptoms of exposure!
We are all exposed to mold during our lives, it’s unavoidable. Most often exposures have no effect or mild effects at best. However, there are some who prove to be highly reactive with significant vulnerabilities. Those who are immune compromised, heavy toxin loads, genetic predispositions, children with developing neurological systems, elderly and those with significant and frequent exposures are at greater risk.
Mold is primarily aerosolized lending inhaled exposures as most common. Mold travels up the nasal mucous membranes to the olfactory nerve or trigeminal nerves and crosses over the blood brain barrier. The olfactory pathway is closely associated with the limbic system and could explain the significant mood and behavioral symptoms associated. Other exposures may occur thru contaminated food and water sources and contact with mucous membranes.
Symptoms are plentiful! Many describe fatigue, muscle/joint pain, neuropathy, fasciculations, dizziness/vertigo, chronic sinus infections, brain fog, memory loss, poor executive functioning and computational skills, ADD/ADHD, poor decision making, tremors, irritability, depression/anxiety/ocd, insomnia, night sweats, sugar cravings, urinary urgency, bloating, headaches, weight loss, increased allergies, tics, autoimmune diseases and the list goes on! Mycotoxins can have devastating effects upon the neurological system. Evidence suggests a link between autism and mold exposure as well as ADHD, lower IQ and some forms of anorexia.
If you think you’ve had significant exposures to mold, I would recommend seeking out the expertise of an integrative provider well versed in mold treatment and testing. There are urine tests available thru Great Plains labs that will screen for 11 different mycotoxins.
Having your home, place of work and/or school tested is imperative. Traditional air testing kits miss up to 75% of molds. Dust sampling and PCR surface testing is better. Also consider visual inspection/testing of air handling units, water reservoirs, basements and wallboards in the home.
Treatment is comprehensive and includes removing the exposure source, binding the toxin, repairing the gut, balancing hormones and adrenals and providing antioxidants to repair cells.
It’s difficult to rely upon others to “do the right thing”. I feel this is a major health issue and in some areas of epidemic proportion. Until all providers are well versed in screening and diagnosis, building guidelines are updated and better controls on foods occur we have to take a proactive approach in protecting ourselves!