This is a very personal subject for me and one that is commonly overlooked or down-played. We are going to discuss the insidious health hazards that Toxic Mold can play on your body.
Over 20 years ago, I lived in a mold infested apartment without knowing mold was secretly lurking on the backside of the ceiling. Within weeks of moving in, I began having severe sinus symptoms. This was not an issue I struggled with prior. Eight months into trying to address the chronic sinus issue, I ended up at the dermatologist who tested me for allergies via a skin prick test. My arm lit up like a Christmas Tree and this triggered a two year journey of chronic idiopathic urticaria. Literally, the day I was tested for allergies, my sinus issue went away and formed itself into hives everyday for 24-hours for two years straight.
The doctor said I was allergic to every food he tested me for. He also did further testing saying I was allergic to my own blood. Thirty doctors later, having to go on disability, take high doses of steroids and low dose chemotherapy medications - still no one, including the medication could help me. In this time, my hormones went out of balance, I became hypothyroid (later Hashimotos), had a horrific candida problem and I became depressed, lethargic and extremely toxic.
Mold Illness, Biotoxic Illness/CIRS
During the time I lived in this apartment, we had a major rainstorm in which the roof caved in and there is when I found the source of my suffering (Stachybotrys/ Black Mold). No, I was not allergic to all foods or my own blood - I had become toxic from Toxic Mold Exposure. There are several names for this that are often interchanged: Mold Illness, Biotoxin Illness, also called CIRS (Chronic Inflammatory ResponseSyndrome). The definition of CIRS is is a multi-symptom, multi-system illness caused by exposure to biotoxins, or neurotoxins produced from a biological source.
Let's back up for a moment and let me clarify; I am not speaking of outdoor molds that are found in our everyday environment. I am discussing the molds found indoors - that thrive in a low circulation, damp, dark environment. Many of these molds produce toxic byproducts called mycotoxins. Some of the outdoor molds do produce mycotoxins, however, it is the enclosed, chronic exposure that raises the risk of an associated Biotoxic Illness. Simply put, mycotoxins are chemicals produced by fungi. These chemicals are toxic to other organisms including plants, other microbes and animals — including humans.
Health Effects Associated With Mycotoxins
There are multiple different health effects that are caused by mycotoxins, and these symptoms are influenced by genetics, sex, age of the patient and one's total toxic load. The number of mycotoxins patient’s absorbed and the type of mycotoxin also play a role in symptoms. However, common symptoms are: chronic fatigue, ADHD, rashes, COPD, allergies and histamine sensitivity, sinus and respiratory challenges, migraines, insomnia, adrenal and hormone disruptions and Psychiatric symptoms: depression, anxiety and panic attacks. Less common symptoms include: dementia, Parkinson’s, and cancer. Mycotoxins also weaken the immune system, which leads to other secondary infections to occur and an uptick in autoimmune issues.
What is really fascinating is you will find each family member exposed to these mycotoxins can present with very different symptoms and/or oftentimes no current symptoms at all. For example, sometimes the person exposed to the highest amount will not experience any outward health consequences, whereas, someone who had less exposure can become very ill. Genetics can play a role, as well as, women and children often tend to experience more health challenges.
Let's Talk About Total Toxic Load
One reason why everyone exposed to mycotoxins does not experience devastating health consequences is the concept of something called Total Toxic Load. The concept of Total Toxic Load is important when understanding who gets sick. It’s never just one thing. Mold/Biotoxin Illness usually happens because of multiple different exposures over time: toxins, infections and hormone disturbances. If your toxic “bucket” is already filled to the brim, an additional mold exposure is enough to have the total toxin load overwhelm your detoxification capacities, overflowing your bucket, leading to a myriad of symptoms.
Mycotoxins can stay present in fat cells and cell membranes for many years after
exposure, even after you address the moldy situation itself. In other words, a previous
exposure, such as growing up in a home with a moldy basement or a dorm in college,
may precede your sickness later in life. These fat soluble toxins can accumulate over
time, along with other exposures, until finally reaching a tipping point, after which many
notice a rapid decline in health.
What Can You Do?
The first approach is investigating if you have a current exposure happening. If so, you need to do your absolute best to remove yourself and your family members from that space, until the issue is resolved.
Think of it like you are in a boat and that boat springs a leak. Before you start scooping out the water - it is ideal to seal the leak. Sealing the leak is comparable to stopping the influx of the mold in your environment.
Next...In Part 2 will explore ways to investigate the mold source and testing your house, as well as, your body.
If you are experiencing a mold situation now and live on the Central Coast of CA, we recommend reaching out to: Pure Maintenance. They specialize in mold removal and indoor air quality.
If you are ready to deep dive and work with a specialist to support you in your journey, provide health testing and the next steps to remove mold from your body; then do not hesitate to reach out and set up your Free 20-Min Consultation.
Have A Nourishing Day!