Is Toxic Mold making you sick?
MOLD TOXINS and Mycotoxin illness
April 26, 2020 by Dr. Will Mora, M.D.
All homes and work places harbor at least a small amount of indoor mold. Water-damaged buildings allow for excessive growth of mold in drywall, ceilings, sub-flooring, and bed mattresses. Exposure to mold toxins causes mycotoxin illness in susceptible humans. Symptoms can range from fatigue, to fibromyalgia, sinus congestion, achy joints, depression, anxiety, depression, insomnia, muscle twitches, food intolerances, and frequent urination. Mycotoxin illness distracts the immune system from dealing with hidden infections. Mycotoxin illness is different than mold allergy. Some people with mycotoxin illness have mold growth (colonization) of their nasal sinuses or intestinal tract. The mold lives in a fungal biofilm and is an internal source of mycotoxin production.
Making the Diagnosis
Our understanding of mycotoxin illness is still in its early stages. Unfortunately there are no well-validated tests to prove the existence of illness due to mold exposure. Some physicians test for high levels of mold toxins (“mycotoxins”) in a urine sample. Two laboratories than are commonly used for this testing are Great Plains Laboratory and RealTime Lab. ELISA IgG testing for mold species may be an indicator for prior exposure.
Home testing to determine the presence of indoor mold is essential. The 2 most commonly used techniques are “air sampling” and “ERMI” (environmental related moldiness index) testing.
Air sampling is commonly used but false negative tests are common. Hardware stores and home centers sell inexpensive DIY mold plates (mold test kits). These mold plates are the same “petri dishes” used by some mold inspectors and industrial hygienists. Expose the plates to air for one hour after closing up house for 4 hours. Incubate the plates at an appropriate temperature for 5 days. If mold growth occurs, send the plates in for analysis.
ERMI is a quantitative DNA test for 36 commonly found indoor mold species. It is more accurate but more expensive than air testing. ERMI testing is standardized and well-studied. Mycometrics (www.mycometrics.com) is a reliable lab that offers ERMI testing.
OTHER TESTS TO CONSIDER
The tests mentioned below are indicators of inflammation but are not specific for mycotoxin illness. I rely more on response to treatment if I have a high index of suspicion for mold-related illness.
1.C4a (Quest Lab sends it to National Jewish Lab):. If C4a is high, treatment with cholestyramine will cause C4a levels to drop.
2.Other blood markers that may suggest inflammation from mold-induced illness include high TGFB1, low ADH, low VEGF, low MSH, low VIP, and high MMP-9.
3.“NeuroQuant” is a separate analysis of brain MRI, which is often characteristically abnormal with mycotoxin illness.
The big 10 steps to take for Mold-induced illness
1.Avoid further exposure to moldy environments. The first tenet of environmental medicine is to “Remove the source”. If possible, move out of your home as the first remedy, to see if you feel any improvement. “Remediation” is the process of physically removing mold growth from your home by licensed contractors. Remediation is not always effective. Wash non-porous household items with a non-toxic household cleaner. Personal items that cannot be effectively cleaned may need to be discarded. For example books really cannot be effectively cleaned. Either give away your books or put them into a plastic box and only open them up outdoors.
2.Start taking intestinal “binders”. The medical term for binders is “sequestering agents”. Binders are non-absorbed by the intestinal tract. They have a magnetic affinity for mold toxins and the binders escort the toxins out of the body. Cholestyramine (CSM) is a prescription drug that was previously used to lower cholesterol levels in humans. CSM is the most commonly recommended binder but it is constipating, so give Magnesium to encourage regular bowel movements. Take 4 grams once or twice daily. Non-prescription binders include activated charcoal (up to 6 capsules daily) and chlorella (up to 16 tablets daily). Take binders for several days before starting other treatments. Take binders 1-2 hours apart from other medications and supplements.
3.Take phosphatidyl choline (PC), a key detoxifier of mold toxins. Begin with low doses, and slowly increase the dose of oral PC. Phosphatidyl choline can also be given once a week intravenously followed by IV glutathione.
If someone has side effects from taking PC, it likely indicates a need for further detox (detoxification) support.
4.For further detox support, take Alpha Lipoic Acid 300-600 mg daily and liposomal Glutathione 250 mg-500 mg daily.
5.Eat a healthy diet and drink plenty of pure water. Juice whole foods including leafy green vegetables. Avoid sugar and eat more broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, bitter green vegetables and garlic. Some people benefit from eating a low mold diet (e.g. avoiding certain cheeses, vinegar, beer, wine, edible mushrooms, etc.)
6.Consider taking oral itraconazole or Nystatin, but start with a low dose because of possible “die-off” reactions.
7.Consider taking nasal sprays with silver or nystatin plus EDTA, if colonization of the sinuses is suspected.
8.Take a probiotic supplement.
9.Take the oral enzyme “Serrapeptidase” and low dose DMSA or EDTA to break up biofilm in the intestinal tract and sinuses.
10. Make your bedroom a sanctuary. Use a standalone HEPA air filter in your bedroom. Avoid electromagnetic field (EMF) exposure by removing electrical devices and cell phones from your bedroom. EMF may aggravate insomnia.
1.For fatigue, restore cell energy by supporting mitochondrial function with CoQ10, Krebs- cycle intermediates, D-Ribose, L-carnitine, and phosphatidyl choline (PC). PC is present in all cell membranes, including mitochondrial membranes.
2.Take methylated B-vitamins if testing indicates a need, for example methyl B12 or methyl folate.
3.Soak in a warm bath with 2 cups of Epsom salts per bathtub.
4.Use a Far-infrared Sauna. Start with shorter times and lower temperatures. Drink plenty of water beforehand and afterwards.
5.Consider coffee enemas or colonics.
6.Consider using VIP (Vasoactive Intestinal Peptide) after ongoing mold exposure has ceased and the repeat ERMI score has dropped to < 2.