When you hear the word mold, do you think of the leftovers in the back of your fridge? Maybe the consequences from a flooded basement? All of us come into contact with mold regularly, whether it is in our homes, schools, workplaces or consumed in cereal, beer, wine, coffee, chocolate, dried fruit or even peanut butter! Mold is a type of fungus that thrives in damp environments, and loves living in sheetrock, fiberboard, and gypsum board- all things that are currently used to construct houses and buildings, and may cause mold toxicity.
Research shows 50% of residential and work environments have water damage, so it’s no surprise that mold and mold toxicity is a growing problem. According to the World Health Organization, the primary indicators for mold in an environment- besides seeing or smelling it- is condensation on surfaces, water damage (especially leaky plumbing, basement flooding, and exterior leaks) and poor ventilation. Many people are allergic to mold, but you don’t have to have an allergy to experience symptoms of mold toxicity.
For people with asthma, eczema, and chronic respiratory infections, mold can trigger these conditions or make them worse. In 25% of the population who have trouble clearing biotoxins, it can cause toxicity with both physical and psychological effects. Given the wide range of symptoms and underdiagnosis in the medical community, the number of people who unknowingly suffer from mold toxicity is substantial.
For those with mold sensitivity, any kind- not just black mold- can trigger symptoms and be potentially debilitating. In the 75% of people who do not have a mold sensitivity, large quantities of mold or the presence of black mold (Stachybotrys chartarum/ S. chartarum/ Stachybotrys atra.) will still cause illness. Mold can produce toxic substances called mycotoxins, which are secondary metabolites that can trigger pro-inflammatory cytokines, as well as microbial growth.
This releases spores, endotoxins, β-glucans and volatile organic compounds that once breathed in, travel from the respiratory passages to the rest of the body and induce inflammation. This creates an immune dysregulation that drives symptoms by triggering neural cytokine release. There are significant changes that can be seen in MRIs, showing volumetric abnormalities in the brain and in increased inflammatory markers in lab tests. In fact, neurologists could not differentiate between people with repeated exposure to moldy buildings and people with mild to moderate traumatic brain injury! Yikes!
When exposed to molds and mycotoxins, people can develop symptoms affecting multiple organs, including the lungs, musculoskeletal system, as well as the central and peripheral nervous systems. If you have certain conditions such as immune disorders, chronic inflammatory issues or other fungal infections, mold that would be otherwise harmless to you can become destructive. In lab studies, both nontoxic and toxic spores caused immune activation, with toxic spores producing stronger effects.
The most important thing is to find and remove mold from your body and your environment. At Meeting Point Health, we can help with such treatments as IV therapy, nebulizer treatments, prescription and herbal medicines, nasal sprays and infrared saunas. If you think you are experiencing mold toxicity, there are tests that Meeting Point Health can order for you which will not only tell you if you have this condition, but also what types you are being exposed to. We will develop a personalized plan to help you detoxify your body and strengthen your immune system. Recovering from mold toxicity is possible, and we’re here to help!
Here’s a brief summary of symptoms and treatments if you are just starting your healing journey:
EPA. (n.d.). A Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture and Your Home. EPA. Retrieved August 7, 2022, from https://www.epa.gov/mold/brief-guide-mold-moisture-and-your-home#:~:text=Molds%20reproduce%20by%20means%20of,grow%20without%20water%20or%20moisture.
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Pizzorno J. (2016). Is Mold Toxicity Really a Problem for Our Patients? Part I-Respiratory Conditions. Integrative medicine (Encinitas, Calif.), 15(2), 6–10.
Pizzorno, J., & Shippy, A. (2016). Is Mold Toxicity Really a Problem for Our Patients? Part 2-Nonrespiratory Conditions. Integrative medicine (Encinitas, Calif.), 15(3), 8–14.
Ratnaseelan, A. M., Tsilioni, I., & Theoharides, T. C. (2018). Effects of Mycotoxins on Neuropsychiatric Symptoms and Immune Processes. Clinical therapeutics, 40(6), 903–917. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.clinthera.2018.05.004
Shoemaker, R. C., House, D., & Ryan, J. C. (2014). Structural brain abnormalities in patients with inflammatory illness acquired following exposure to water-damaged buildings: a volumetric MRI study using NeuroQuant®. Neurotoxicology and teratology, 45, 18–26. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ntt.2014.06.004
Medically reviewed by Dr. Stephen Matta, DO, MBA CAQSM and Mary Anne Matta, MS, MA, LAC
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