This article was written for VitaSoul by Martina Suliman. She has previously written excellent articles on natural supplement and herbal medication suggestions, specifically during pregnancy illnesses and also in dealing with the auto immune condition of Fibromyalgia.
My name is Martina and I have been practicing in Cape Town, as a Functional Medicine Practitioner, Naturopathic Practitioner and Herbalist for the past 7 years.
My personal journey with my son’s health lead me to dig deeper into the Autism and mold connection, when several years ago, conventional medicine had little to offer.
We all know the saying:
“What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.”
This has proven to be true in many instances, but not with an uninvited guest in our homes – mold.
If you haven’t seen mold in your home as of yet, consider yourself very lucky. Your home is probably situated in a dry climate, has quality insulation and ventilation, which creates an unfavorable environment for the growth of different mold species.
But if you live in South Africa and see black spots of mold on your bathroom-ceilings, tile grouting, behind the furniture and inside bathroom cabinets, don’t take this lightly.
Chronic Mold Exposure may be killing you slowly…
What is Mold
Let’s start by exploring what mold is, which mold we should be concerned about, and what health complications you may face if chronically exposed to its spores over extended periods.
There are over 100 000 identified species of mold but not all of them are toxic. Some mold is beneficial, like Penicillin which produces the Penicillin Antibiotic.
Types of Molds and where they are found
The most common mold types found indoors are; Cladosporium, Aspergillus, Stachybotrys, Fusarium, Penicillium, and Alternaria.
The so-called Toxic Black Mold (Stachybotrys Chartarum), can make one seriously ill and even cause death, but is pretty rare and most probably, not the mold you find randomly in your home.
Mold thrives in moist and humid areas and thus it is very common to be observed in bathrooms with poor ventilation. However, it can grow almost anywhere, including ceilings with leaks, water pipes, the inside of garage doors, even behind your furniture, and inside your bed mattress.
Toxic Mold Syndrome
Chronic exposure to spores of mold, will without doubt lead to a myriad of negative health problems. It is a fungus, so can grow anywhere and your body is no exception.
First there are warning signs and symptoms:
- Upper and lower respiratory symptoms (cough, sneezing, post nasal drip, tight chest)
- Sinus infections
- Asthma or a sudden onset of respiratory distress
- Chronic dry cough
- Fatigue and irritability
- Gut issues, dysbiosis, mal-absorption
- Weakened immune system
When the exposure to mold persists we may start observing other symptoms of neurological and autoimmune nature:
- Cognitive impairment
- Depression and Anxiety
- Brain fog
- ADD, ADHA and Autism
- Thyroid problems (autoimmune)
- Autoimmune conditions
- Histamine intolerance and more
Although allergy and sensitivity to mold which produces allergic symptoms when exposed are well recognised. Toxic mold syndrome is for many practitioners still very much of a controversial topic.
What to do if you have Toxic Mold Syndrome
If you do suspect your chronic health issues may be linked to mold exposure, please seek help from an Integrative or Functional medicine practitioner. There are tests available using bio resonance techniques or specialised blood analysis to see if the mold found its way into the body and could have colonised sinuses, lungs, gut and even the brain.
If you do find mold growing in your home, unless it is in a small area, do not try to remove it yourself. Rather contact a professional mold assessment company that can help safely detect, diagnose, and remove the mold.
One has to be aware that dealing with mold illness can be a long road to recovery. This is especially the case of mold colonisation of the bodily tissues.
Some nutraceuticals and nutritional supplements can be used as a general mold detox, however, if your symptoms persist or are of a more severe nature, it is advisable to seek professional help.
But let’s start with the basics to healing…
Nutrition and diet
As our body produces more mucus, the more favorable it is to harbor mold.
Therefore a mucus-free diet is highly recommended. Excess mucus creates inflammation and allows for pathogenic bacteria, fungus, viruses and mold to thrive.
Although many symptoms of mold toxicity are due to mold directly, there is a link between mold and a weakened immune system which allows for chronic viral infections to cause further havoc.
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Eating a well-balanced whole food diet will be the first step to recovery. Filling up the plate with 1/2 portion of vegetables, 1/4 plate with lean, grass-fed protein and the other 1/4 with quality ancient grains and good quality fat (olive oil, avocado oil) is critical.
An elimination diet is key, where inflammatory foods are eliminated and an increase of anti-inflammatory foods and antioxidants help rebuild the immune system. A strong immune system is better equipped to detoxify even the most stubborn pathogens like mold.
If you struggle to obtain the daily recommended amount of antioxidants in the form of raw fruits and vegetables, a wholesome green foods supplement can replace the missing nutrients. DNA Greens contain a substance called chlorophyll which protects the DNA from damage caused by mycotoxins (poisonous substances produced by fungi and mold species).
The Gut microbiome needs extra attention too when dealing with mold and its co-infections. Talking about strengthening the immune defence and keeping the bodily internal ecosystem resilient, probiotics are essential to fight off mold colonisation in the gut. Dysbiosis is a common gut disorder in toxicogenic illnesses. Rhizo Health Probiotic, a soil-based probiotic extracted from organic untouched African forest soil, creates a super house of 43 groups of beneficial bacteria. Rhizo has been proven effective in keeping mold growth at bay when used as a mold guard on ceilings and window sills too.
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Sometimes, however, the fight with this uninvited opportunist creates a myriad of gut issues, most of which are caused by mycotoxins as well as other by-product toxins from co-infections. The Extracts of garlic named Allicin in the antibiotic complex Allibiotic, which contains herbals like rosemary will eradicate not only bacterial infection but its biofilms too.
Activated charcoal made of burnt coconut shells has been long used, not only to ease the symptoms but to effectively bind mycotoxins which are then flushed out of the body.
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Then we need to deal with the cellular support. Long-term exposure to mold can compromise the intracellular detoxification mechanism as well as the production of ATP ( energy). One needs to understand that mold illness does not happen overnight. While the cells are becoming depleted, neurotoxic effects will slowly manifest. Deficiency of B Vitamins has been common, thus supplementing with a good quality B-complex, as well as CoQ10 which will fight debilitating fatigue can improve the quality of life while healing.
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As we know, mycotoxins can penetrate cell membranes and mitochondria (the cell’s power plant) and affect the intracellular production of energy. DNA Mito Choice is a naturopathic formula composed of important phytonutrients (curcumin, BioPerine, Arjuna Bark). These are beneficial for the maintenance of a steady energy supply within the cells as they contain antioxidants, the free radical scavengers.
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Then you might have severe brain fog, slow thinking, irritability, forgetfulness, chronic fatigue but also cognitive implications, especially in those with Autism, ADD and ADHD, which too could be due to the mycotoxin effects on the brain and central nervous system.
Phosphatidyl Serine not only detoxifies mycotoxins from the brain but helps prevent further brain cell damage.
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All in all, mold illness is a debilitating condition often misdiagnosed or poorly understood. It can mimic several conditions like Fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome or even multiple sclerosis. Getting a proper diagnosis is the first step to finding the right nutraceutical protocol, which can help one feel better again.
If I had to give you just one piece of advice, it would be:
“Slow and steady.”
The healing certainly does not happen overnight. It’s rather a journey of self-discovery, rebirths, and coming back stronger than ever before.
For now, let’s get that mold check done at home!
Should you be suffering from any chronic conditions you think could be mold-induced then make contact with your Functional or Integrative Medical Practitioner or contact VitaSoul on finding the root cause and suggesting the best plan of action.
Yours in health,
Martina Suliman (Alterna Medica)