Mold Illness Is Beginning To Enter The Public Consciousness
Each day, the numbers in online “mold survival” groups grows. There is seemingly no end in sight.
And no wonder, with experts estimating over half of all buildings are dealing with moisture intrusion. In some areas, as many as 80% of buildings could harbor enough mold growth to cause health problems.
Many, many people are feeling poorly these days, and can’t seem to figure out why.
Could it be mold growth?
Mold Illness Looks Like…
Mold illness occurs when a person has been exposed to mold for 1) a long duration of time or 2) severe intensity, or 3) both. Mold illness can occur in isolation from other health issues or can exacerbate preexisting conditions — adding to the burden on the body.
How does mold affect people? Let’s explore what mold illness looks like.
CFS – Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
There is no test for CFS. Instead, it is diagnosed by symptoms and ruling out other diagnosable conditions.
- Debilitating fatigue.
- Brain fog.
- Poor sleep.
- Low exercise tolerance.
- Enlarged lymph nodes.
- Muscle and joint pain/ weakness.
Many theories. Nothing has been proven.
- Viral infections.
- Bacterial infections.
- Immune system problems.
- Pain medication.
- Antidepressant drugs.
- Slowly increasing exercise or activity intensity.
- Pacing yourself.
Thyroid hormone production slows to conserve energy and nutrients.
- Mild to extreme fatigue.
- Cold bodily temperature.
- Poor sleep.
- Hair loss.
- Unstable mood.
- Sluggish digestion.
- Chronic inflammation.
Simply speeding the metabolism by taking thyroid hormones — or other substances or restrictive diets — rarely address the root cause of this illness.
MCS – Multiple Chemical Sensitivity
a.k.a Chemical Intolerance (CI), or chemical hypersensitivity
- Chronic adverse reaction to most chemicals in the environment — even in small amounts
- Ex: Headaches, rashes, asthma, muscle/joint aches, fatigue, confusion, memory loss.
Causes are unknown, however, MCS has been linked to several other factors:
- Vitamin and mineral deficiencies
- Enzyme deficiencies
- Antipsychotic medication
- Counseling (coping mechanisms, depression)
Is MCS A Real Condition?
One study found measurable biological changes in the body during and after exposure to chemicals (and EMF). Biological observations were:
- Oxidative stress
- Autoimmune response
- Capsulothalamic hypoperfusion (poor blood flow in a part of the brain)
- Blood-Brain Barrer opening
Another study found brain dysfunction (decreased blood flow to the brain) in response to environmental chemicals, even at low concentration.
CIRS – Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome
Chronic high inflammation from biotoxins. Dr. Ritchie Shoemaker has pioneered the movement in understanding what’s happening in CIRS.
13 “Clusters” of symptoms.
- If a patient has symptoms present in 6 or more clusters, biotoxin illness is possible and “further testing and evaluation must be done.”
- Symptoms in 8 or more clusters denotes likely biotoxin illness
Exposure to biotoxins (mostly: mold. Also: toxic algae)
- Shoemaker Protocol
An infection caused by Borrelia burgdorferi (bacteria), carried by deer ticks — who spread the bacteria to mammals they bite.
- Joint pain & stiffness
- Heart palpitations
- Inflammation in nervous system
- Shooting pains, numbness, tingling
- Confusion, brain fog
- Tick bite
Antibiotics (doxycycline, or amoxicillin & cefuroxime)
10% of people don’t get better after antibiotics (30,000 people per year).
These Chronic Illnesses
Look Similar, Are Similar
You can accurately describe all of these diseases as having some measure of:
- Excessive bodily toxicity
- Ongoing infection
- Weakened immunity
- Dysbiosis of the gut
- Circadian rhythm disruption
- Nutrient deficiency
Quite clearly, the entire body is being affected — for the worse — and because all of these symptoms are so similar, there’s much overlap in terms of what works to improve the body’s health, once more.
When severe enough, mold illness can resemble near- or fully-debilitating impairment of a person’s energy, bodily health, and mental faculties.
Mold Illness Symptoms
If you talk to someone who has suffered from moderate-to-severe mold illness, they have most likely suffered many, if not all, of these symptoms.
- Gut/digestion problems
- Thyroid/metabolism issues
- Sleep disturbances
- Weak muscles
- Nervous system excitation
- Cardiovascular system issues
- Weight dysregulation
- Pin-prick sensations
- Memory problems
- Stiff neck (chronic)
- Bodily stiffness (chronic)
- Emotional dysregulation
- Learning/memory difficulties
- Chemical sensitivity
- Bed-wetting (children)
- Blurry vision
- Nutrient imbalances
- Frequent urination
- …and more.
Spores, Mycotoxins & VOCs
Mold has the ability to harm you in a couple of ways. Spores can be toxic and irritating and possibly even find their way into your digestive tract or nasal passages, where they can infect the body. VOCs are toxic fumes released into the air that can be absorbed into the body, causing bodily toxicity to become elevated.
Mold spores are microscopic, released from mold colonies to spread the species. Spores can be hardy and designed for specific purposes: Air-borne spores are lightweight and can hang in the air for extended lengths. Others have hard black shells to resist UV light. Spores can have a slimy exterior for water-dispersal, others can cling to fabric — and many have been known to survive extreme temperature and pressure.
Spores can irritate you directly, and can cause infection in the gut or nasal passages (or other orifices).
Mycotoxins & VOCs
The secondary metabolites produced by fungi known as mycotoxins, are capable of causing mycotoxicosis (diseases and death) in human and animals.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5834427/
Mycotoxins & VOC’s (Volatile Organic Compounds) are released by fungi into the air. It’s actually unknown why molds produce mycotoxins, but the best theory is that they weaken their host, thereby creating a better environment for the fungus to thrive in.
Mycotoxins & harmful VOC’s are inhaled and absorbed into the human body. These toxins can overwhelm the liver, and become stored in the bodily tissues.
When these toxins begin to overwhelm the body’s detoxification abilities, the body will begin storing these toxins in fat cells — where the toxins will do less damage.
This accelerated level of detoxification can use up — churn through, even — the body’s nutrients rather quickly. Minerals are especially used up in heavy detoxification. As gut health begins to suffer from high toxin exposure, nutrient absorption will plummet. This can bring on chronic nutrient deficiency rather swiftly. Nutrient deficiency then slows energy metabolism, leading to fatigue. Sleep and gut health will suffer soon.
Wasting nutrients + Not absorbing nutrients = Chronic nutrient deficiencies
Mold Toxins Interfere With Organ Function
Mold illness can cause severe impairment of any biological function, especially the major organs: the gut, the thyroid, the liver, the kidneys, the brain.
Mycotoxins & The Gut
“In addition, mycotoxins disrupt the gut microbiota balance, and thereby dysregulate intestinal functions and impair local immune response, which may eventually result in systemic toxicity that leads to chronic mycotoxicosis, HCC. The severity of HCC condition can be positively governed by restoration of gut microbiota balance and gut health via probiotics administration.”https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5834427/
Mycotoxins & The Liver
The aflatoxins are toxic, immunosuppressive, mutogenic, teratogenic, and carcinogenic, and their main target is the liver. Most have been classified as type 1 carcinogens (172). AFB1 is probably the most potent liver carcinogen for a variety of species, including humanshttps://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC145304/
Mycotoxins & The Thyroid
Exposure to volatile organic compounds present in water-damaged buildings including metabolic products of toxigenic fungi and mold-derived inflammatory agents can lead to a deficiency or imbalance of many hormones, such as active T3 hormone.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5545575/
Mold & The Brain
Proper function of major organs is VITAL to health. Any disruption to these systems can present a daunting challenge to your health.
Worsening Gut Health
…is a really big deal.
Chronic toxicity and detoxification (and possibly even old spores living in the gut) will cause the gut flora to become less and less healthy.
In a healthy gut, “good flora” digest your food and release nutrients (B vitamins, Vitamin K, butyric acid, and others). When your gut become compromised due to many factors (including mold exposures), “bad flora” digest your food and release “endotoxins” into your bloodstream. This only increases the body’s toxic load. Whereas the toxicity was from the environment — outside the body — now the toxicity is also coming from inside the body.
Poor gut health doesn’t have to only be a symptom of mold illness — it can also play a causative role. Folks with poor gut health will be much more susceptible to mold illness than healthy folks with robust gut health.
The severity of HCC condition can be positively governed by restoration of gut microbiota balance and gut health via probiotics administration.”https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5834427/
Inflammation Rises and Stays High
With mold illness, inflammation will stay high, and especially rise after eating (due to endotoxin). The body’s immune response will kick on and stay on 24/7. High inflammation & toxicity can cause blood sugar to plummet (or be unstable). Falling blood sugar, rising cortisol, and high inflammation will destroy sleep. Each passing day with worsening sleep leaves one further and further from health and healing.
Inflammation can also cause terrible mental problems — leaving you with difficulty concentrating, memory problems, and even formulating coherent sentences.
Chronic inflammation will also prevent nutrients from entering cells, and make proper digestion impossible.
The Brain Can’t Calm Down
One of the most common symptoms of mold exposure? You lose your sense of calm.
All that inflammation will keep your blood sugar unstable. You might be unable to sleep. All of this will leave your brain feeling fried.
Chronically elevated histamine levels in the body (due to terrible gut health — “dysbiosis”) will make you feel like you’re always having an episode of something: headaches, itchiness, fatigue, digestive problems, etc.
Glutamate is an important nervous system up-regulator, but when its levels are always high (common in poor gut health), you’ll feel like you just can’t relax. Your mind will race, your limbs will be restless, you’ll have anxiety, and you won’t be able to sleep.
Cortisol (hormone of stress) rises in response to falling blood sugar and poor sleep. Exposure to toxins can send cortisol/adrenaline even higher. This could be an innate response encouraging the body to leave the area — a response we don’t ever heed in our modern world of more “permanent” homes.
Lack of sleep prevents the brain from resetting (& cleansing) itself and lack of deep sleep prevents the brain from calming itself. Months and years of unrestful nights and chronic stress hormones (cortisol and adrenaline) leave the brain unable to calm down.
Nutrient and caloric deficiency (from poor digestion) also lead to chronically elevated stress hormones.
Months or years of elevated stress hormones, unstable blood sugar, poor sleep, and nutrient deficiency? The mold sufferer’s brain will feel fried.
Your Mood Is Unstable
Poor sleep, histamine, glutamate, inflammation, unstable blood sugar — ALL easily result in a chronic bad mood. This will inevitably look like angry emotions and frequent lashing out at people who may or may not deserve it.
It can be difficult to recognize this tendency when we feel “not ourselves” — but that’s actually the first step: realizing that this isn’t you. You’re dealing with powerful forces inside your body and this isn’t your fault.
If you don’t know mold is a factor in your life, you may think you’re beginning to lose your mind.
Ultimately — Debilitation
Over time, a mold sufferer may not be able to:
- Digest food
They probably won’t be doing much of anything well — other than surviving, which they’ll likely be a pro at.
Unfortunately, even the smallest tasks become dauntingly difficult and exhausting.
With no rest coming that night, the only guarantee is that tomorrow won’t be any better.
Mold Illness Could Be More Than “CIRS”
Too, you might need more than what’s included in CIRS treatment.
The CIRS designation doesn’t completely encompass the entirety of mold illness — nor does it accurately address all of the issues and problems. It describes what’s happening to the body from one vantage point. However, healing the body probably means addressing the illness from all tactical angles.
CIRS Is A Pretty New Concept
Make no mistake, the development of the CIRS diagnosis is a remarkable step forward in mold illness. It was developed by wonderful researchers and science-minded professionals.
More than that, CIRS as a condition isn’t very well-studied, and not many doctors are working on it. Those who are, are mostly following a variation of the Shoemaker Protocol — which is expensive for the patient and focuses very intensely on a few limited areas — such as binders, antibiotics, hormonal manipulation, “fixing” genes, and lots of expensive (and sometimes inconclusive) testing. The protocol is not based on decades of rigorous, proven, replicable science — but instead on a handfull of passionate doctors doing the best they can to understand this new epidemic.
Current mold illness protocols can also be a nightmare to endure. Heavy binder use has a litany of side effects that are somewhat underestimated. Building up the body is a multi-step, holistic process that involves gut health, circadian rhythms, light cycles, movement, nutrients, and more.
One of the more recent areas of emphasis is focusing on reducing EMF exposure; It’s a fantastic idea — and something you don’t need to pay someone else thousands of dollars to help you do.
I don’t mean to diminish any approach, except to say this:
My sincere hope is that you can, too, if that’s an idea that resonates with you.
Develop Your Own Thoughts
I’m not saying we shouldn’t seek medical attention.
Now, it’s widely acknowledged that the current state of modern medicine has not caught up to the problem of chronic illness. However, the few alternative therapies that exist for chronic/mold illness may not:
- Solve your problems
- Deserve your trust
- Deserve your dollars
I encourage you to take your health into your own hands as much as you can — and employ wise, safe practices to improve your health.
If You DO Work With Practitioners…
If you do find a practitioner that can really, truly help you — great! I’d suggest you keep in mind the skills YOU have — at your disposal — that can and should serve you even as you work with medical practitioners.
No matter the approach you take, ultimately we need to be finding a way to achieve the 5 Steps of Recovery.