Monday, September 12, 2016

Mold and Your Health. What you don't know can hurt you.

Many years ago I lived in  a mold infested house in  Portland Oregon.  I became quite ill and was diagnosed as having Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. The water-damaged building I lived in was never questioned as a cause and because the mold was mostly not visible, it was never considered as a causative factor.  In those days, no one understood that mycotoxins from toxic molds or toxins from toxic blue-green algae or other biotoxins could be as harmful as we now know they are or that they could cause chronic illness. I had managed fine in this house until I had an incident where a woman rear ended my car leaving me immobilized the next day and sending my autonomic nervous system into a tizzy. This was the initiating incident of  what would become a "chronic Fatigue Syndrome". Initially, I thought the only precipitating factor was this car accident. It took me years to realize what had fully taken place.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is a catch-all category used when the practitioner has no idea what is wrong with you but you have a specific set of symptoms. This diagnosis means they ruled everything else out and you are left with a diagnosis that has no known cause. Without a causative factor you are left treating the effects of body dysregulation as various issues arise. I was diagnosed with this as a student Doc and thought for sure I would figure out the actual cause of my symptoms before I graduated from school. However, after ruling out all the possible diseases known at that time to cause my symptoms, I gave up and accepted that there was no known cause for my health condition. The best I could do was learn how to manage it with diet, herbs and supplements. I actually did such a good job, that I just accepted how I felt and most people had no idea I had a health issue. I would eventually become so good at managing my illness, I myself would sometimes forget I had an issue.

Unknown to me, the thing I most needed to do,  was to remove myself from the mold infested house I lived in.  I did eventually move out of this house, however I still did not know the true hazards of mold and I moved into a beautiful, but once again moldy old craftsman home in Portland Oregon. Thankfully, I eventually moved into a safer habitat but I did not know I had a mold sensitivity issue and was genetically unable to fully remove the mycotoxins in my body on my own. Additionally, I did not know I needed to stay out of moldy buildings. So, the moldy house was gone, but the mycotoxins remained in my body. I continued to go into moldy homes of friends and family as well as moldy public buildings. So, I continued to have health issues. I should mention here what I mean by a moldy building. These are not usually visually moldy. However, many water-damaged buildings are not visually moldy, yet harbor mold and mycotoxins. That explanation will have to wait for another post.

Perhaps it was misfortune that I figured out how to live adequately with my disease. If I had not learned how to keep myself in good enough shape to cope, I would have been more diligent about finding a solution. Every once in a while I would check out the news in the Chronic Fatigue research arena to see if there was anything new. Each time I was disappointed to find out that there was really nothing new. Mostly, what was available was just bandaid medicine that never got to the heart of the matter as we did not know what caused the symptoms.  I knew if I could find the causative factor, there would be a solution to my affliction as well as other people with CFS illnesses.

Years later I and others in the medical world began to realize mold, bacteria,  and chemicals in water-damged buildings (50% of buildings in the United States are water-damaged according to some reports.) can cause disease. However, most of us still did not realize the full ramifications of how water-damaged buildings effects us. Additionally, most of us did not realize some people were genetically predisposed to become chronically ill when exposed to water damaged buildings.  In my attempt to help another Doc who was sure she was suffering from a mold induced illness I started reading every research article, lecture etc on mold related illness I could find.  This was not exactly a booming research area, so information was hard to find unless you wanted to read about moldy food research. Eventually, I ran onto the work of Dr. Ritchie Shoemaker. His personal clinical research articles and his books were a real eye opener for practitioners such as myself. Every practitioner should read his research and read his book called Surviving Mold. 

After all the investigating, I had an aha moment when I realized that many (not all, but many) of the  folks with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, and Myalgic encepahalomyelitis, chronic lymes , Morgellons and a few other illnesses were probably folks with a  biotoxin illnesses. Although there are a variety of biotoxin illnesses, many of these folks appeared to have a sensitivity to water-damaged buildings. This condition is called Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRSdue to a water-damaged building. Many people have this illness but do not realize it. About 25% of the population has a "mold" sensitivity due to genetics. Anyone who has a chronic illness that causes them severe fatigue and bizarre changeable symptoms who has not been able to find significant relief should read the book mentioned above and/or check out my website at this link.

Since figuring this out, my life changed and the lives of others I have assisted has also changed. I am very grateful to the people I have assisted as they have been teachers for me as we have figured out how to heal ourselves one step at a time.  Chronic fatigue can have a variety of reasons but if you have ruled the every day factors out, it would behoove you to examine the possibility of your being sensitive to mold.

I would add that although many of us with this sensitivity to water-damaged buildings call it a "mold" sensitivity. It is really much more than that. We are reacting to mold, bacteria, chemicals in the building materials and their interactions with each other that cause them to release additional mycotoxins, bacterial endotoxins and volatile organic compounds. Some of the nasties you can find in a water-damaged building are mold, bacteria, actinomycetes and mycobacteria. Additionally, the chemicals in the building materials can create an environement that alters these organisms as well as add to the release of toxins. You can have a release of mycotoxins, bacterial endotoxins, beta glucans, mannans, proteinases, hemolysins, c-type lectins, spirocyclic drimanes, and volatile organic compounds. It is thought that the combination of these various toxins from a variety of organisms is what causes the illness. The World Health Organization identifies the following list as components associated with damp, water-damaged environments that are associated with poor health. It gives you an idea of how bad off some water-damaged buildings get. (Mold and mold spores, mycotoxins, bacteria, bacterial endotoxins and other cell wall components, protozoa (amoeba), increased presence of rodents, insects and dust mites, and increased deterioration of building materials with consequent off-gassing of toxic fumes such as formaldehyde.)

The people who are sensitive to water-damaged buildings have been shown to have some specific genetic characteristics in common. These inherited genetics lead  these people to being unable to remove some toxins, such as mycotoxins, from their body as readily as other individuals without these genetic characteristics. This leads to chronic inflammation. 

The thing about chronic inflammation is that it leads to even more susceptibility to other toxins as the bodies ability to protect itself is decreased as the inflammation builds up over time. These people can become more and more sensitive to all sorts of foods, environmental chemicals etc as time goes by. It becomes a living hell for many of them and some of them are so unhappy with how they feel that they take their own life when they can't find relief. 

Besides being "sensitive" to offending toxins, the body ends up running low on  key substances that are necessary for detoxification due to the increased burden of toxins in the environment. Soon, the body is overwhelmed by oxidation due to a lack of antioxidants. The body has trouble keeping up with the transformation of fat soluble toxins into water soluble toxins for removal. Even the efflux pumps can have trouble with removing the toxins from the cells.  The person is now "chemically sensitive". Their body is inflamed which leads to more things not working correctly. They have trouble with digestive enzymes, their liver is not turning out enough conjugated bile, their microbiome is messed up and they have a leaky gut. Now foods  that never bothered them before become an issue and they react to more and more things. We now know an inflamed gut leads to an inflamed blood brain barrier and a "leaky blood brain barrier". This means an inflamed brain and trouble with memory and cognition. Many of these folks think they are getting Alzheimer's and indeed a neurologist in California named Dale Bredesen is working with folks he says has inhalation alzheimer's disease and puts these "mold folks" into this category. (I think he is a genius. He is paying attention.) He also uses similar methods to heal them as those I myself use for "mold folks". 

Although, this person needs to remove themselves from the offending toxic environment and support their biotransformation/detox system as well as support organ systems that have been effected, this is not the whole answer.  We will all be in this situation eventually if we do not examine the toxins we are unleashing on our planet. It is just a matter of time before it is not just the 25% of genetically susceptible people who react this way, and everyone has an issue. At some point we all reach a tipping point where our bodies simply can't put up with the toxic environment. To learn more about toxins in the environment, check out EWG.

If people are interested, I will write additional articles on CIRS due to water-damaged buildings, inflammation from other causes, how they inter-relate and what we can do to support ourselves in a world that is using toxic methods to raise our food, build our buildings, and make products we use.  I already have a lot of data on my website, so I won't write more here unless I specifically get requests to do so and you tell me what you would like me to cover.

We all need to be in conversation about these issues and how we can make other choices. We, as a group have been the cause of where we currently find ourselves and We as a group are now becoming aware of the mess we have caused. Now, We as a group are learning which choices are healthy and which choices are unhealthy. As individuals We are striving to do the best we can. As a group, We will create a new paradise. Each of us need to make the healthy choices, as individuals, to get to the goal we desire. We need to join together as a team. Who is on board with me?