We Appreciate the Mushrooms, But… Mold’s Effect on Health: Part II
So, you’ve done some deep thinking since the last article and you’re concerned that you might be suffering from symptoms of mold illness/chronic inflammatory response syndrome. You may have even identified an exposure time and place and can directly link it to an issue with water damage in that building. Now you’re wondering what the next steps are to get an official diagnosis and recover your health.
If you’re still living or spending significant time in the suspect building, the first step is to ensure that you aren’t currently being exposed to toxic mold. Healing cannot happen if you are living with the very thing responsible for your illness. An effective way to self test your home is through an Environmental Mold and Mycotoxin Assessment (EMMA test) which identifies both the type and quantity of mold spores and associated Mycotoxin found in the dust, filter or vacuum sample submitted to the lab. If there is a problem, steps for remediation of your home need to be taken before anything else is done. Work should not be wrapped up until all repeat testing returns normal.
While working to ensure your environment is clean, you can take an inexpensive test at home to further substantiate an exposure to biotoxins. This assessment, known as a Visual Contrast Sensitivity Test (VCS), looks at how toxins effect neurologic functioning by measuring visual processing from the optic nerve to the brain. Widely used and backed by a plethora of research, the test, while not diagnostic, functions as a very useful tool to both confirm mold illness and track effective treatment interventions by recording progressive improvement.
Establishing that symptoms are due to mold illness and making a diagnosis of Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome can be done through both direct and indirect testing. The later, based on the work of Richie Shoemaker, MD, is a complex topic that greatly exceeds the limitations of this article. It is based on assessing multiple lab markers which are commonly abnormal as a result of the disruptive effects of mycotoxin on our normal physiology. Direct testing, on the other hand, is more straight-forward and involves measuring the quantitative level of numerous mycotoxins in urine. Avoiding foods known to harbor mold such as grains, corn, cheeses, nuts and seeds as well as provoking a release of toxin with liposomal or IV glutathione can help to avoid both false positive and false negative results.
Based on the work of a prominent infectious disease specialist, we commonly also recommend a swab be done to assess for possible mold or fungal growth in the sinuses. As a dark, moist and hollow organ, it presents an ideal location for mold spores to take up residence. If found, appropriate nasal anti-fungal therapies are utilized to eliminate this foci of toxin production.
Once a diagnosis has been made, the goal is to detoxify the affected individual and address the affected organ systems in the body. Detoxification, as I tell my patients, involves both “pushing” and “pulling”. Pulling is the most historically well recognized portion of the treatment and involves the use of either natural or pharmaceutical binders to sequester mycotoxins in the bile, preventing it from being reabsorbed back into the blood stream through the bowel wall. Useful agents include cholestyramine, charcoal, calcium betonite, propolmannan, zeolite and chlorella.
Pushing, on the other hand, involves mobilizing toxin from its storage sites in fatty tissues and cell membranes. Sauna therapy is key in this regard and can be further supported with phospholipids, essential fatty acids, methylation support, butyrate, niacin, glutathione and other cellular and organ specific detoxifying agents. Once the toxic load has been effectively reduced as evidenced on repeat testing, the process of restoring mitochondrial and glandular function can begin. This, of course, is a topic for another article! Until then, I encourage you to seek the assistance of a physician proficient in mold illness if you have concerns.