We Appreciate the Penicillin, But … Mold’s Effect on Health
As we spring forward into the longer days of springtime, it is natural to feel more energized and alive. Have you instead been feeling more fatigued, achey, unmotivated and depressed? Are you more forgetful and having trouble clearing your head? Are you urinating more than normal? Is you sex drive non-existent? Are you feeling colder than normal? Are your bowel habits irregular and unpredictable? If you have been suffering with many of these problems and you can identify a definitive period of time when your health began to decline, you may be suffering from mold related illness.
Toxic mold grows in water-damaged areas of buildings and can flourish when conditions become favorable such as the transition from winter to spring. Be proactive. Check for leaks or water damage and get it fixed before mold colonies explode and spew toxic particles called mycotoxins throughout your home. Clean your gutters. Inspect your attic, garage (including the car) and under the house for visible mold and possible leaks. Mold also likes to grow under mattresses, around windowsills, in bathrooms and areas of your home that don’t get heated or cleaned regularly.
Toxic mold creates mycotoxins and can affect every system in your body. “Mold brain” is a real issue that keeps many otherwise smart people from realizing and dealing with a mold problem in their homes! It’s obvious when there is a dank, musty smell or black stuff growing on walls, but guess what? Toxic mold doesn’t necessarily have a smell at all and it’s often lurking unseen in hidden places.
Symptoms of mold toxicity can mimic other health conditions and some people are more sensitive than others because of genetic susceptibility. When a person is exposed to a biotoxin, it is normally ‘tagged’ and identified by the body’s adaptive immune system to be rapidly eliminated from the body. If you are lucky enough to have the right genetics, you may experience allergy symptoms when exposed, but likely won’t feel too sick, if you have any symptoms at all.
Unfortunately, about 30 percent of the population does not have the HLADR-DQ genes required for immune recognition. In these cases, the biotoxins remain in the body indefinitely as they accumulate in fat-soluble regions of the body such as cell membranes, glandular tissue and the nervous system. This condition is called Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS) and those afflicted become increasingly ill. To make matters worse, inhaled mold spores have the potential to colonize the sinuses causing those afflicted to literally carry the toxic mold with them wherever they go! Sleep disturbances, brain fog, gastrointestinal problems, chronic pain and prolonged illnesses ensue.
The most crucial first step in treating mold toxicity is avoidance and eliminating the source of exposure. Test your home for mold if you are suspicious. Fix leaks and remove the mold and water damage entirely. If the moldy area is larger than 10 square feet, hire a professional remediation company that specializes in mold removal to do it for you. The harsh reality is that if you are getting sicker in your home, you need to move out while remediation and repairs are completed and get rid of your old furniture and any items that could harbor mold spores. Air filters help some, but aren’t a solution. Retest your home afterwards to ensure the job was done properly.
If you feel like you are suffering from mold issues, see an educated health care professional that can help you decide what lab work and treatments are most appropriate for your situation. Naturopathic physician Dr. Cory Tichauer will share his extensive knowledge on the best tests and treatment options available for treating mold toxicity in PART 2 of this series in the next issue of RVM’s Wellness Column.
Dr. Margaret Philhower is a naturopathic doctor with a naturopathic family practice in Takilma next door to The Dome School and at The Bear Creek Naturopathic Medical Clinic located at 2612 E. Barnett Rd. in Medford. You can schedule an appointment in Takilma by calling 541-415-1549 or Medford by calling 541-770-5563 or visit her website at www.drmargaret.org.