Mold Toxicity Vs. Gluten Sensitivity – The Symptoms Can Be Similar…
Mold toxicity is becoming a more common problem for those struggling with mysterious chronic degenerative disease. Many people go gluten free, feel better, and then start feeling worse. If this has been your experience with the gluten free diet, you might want to investigate mold and mold toxins. Why? Mold and gluten can cause a lot of the same types of symptoms.
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Mold Vs. Yeast Vs. Mycotoxins
Before diving into the symptoms of mold toxicity, it is important to point out a few things for clarity. Yeast (sometimes referred to as Candida) is a type of mold that can inhabit the sinus cavities, the mouth, the GI tract, the lungs, skin, and other tissues of the body. An overgrowth of this type of yeast has been linked to human disease. That being said, there are other species of mold that can grown on and in humans that also contribute to disease.
There are also forms of environmental molds that can grow on foods and in the home. These molds can produce toxin byproducts often times referred to as mycotoxins. Mycotoxins have been linked to a number of health conditions to include immune suppression and cancer.
When thinking about mold toxicity, keep in mind that some people are allergic to mold, some have internal mold (yeast) infections that create symptoms, some have high levels of mold growing in their homes, and some people react to the mycotoxins…sometimes all four. So for clarity’s sake, the symptoms of mold toxicity can be related to all four.
What Are the Symptoms of Mold Toxicity?
Chronic sinus infections:
Many of us are unaware of the effects mold can have on our health. There are several symptoms you may be experiencing, that could actually be attributed to mold. The most common symptoms of mold toxicity are persistent allergies, chronic sinusitis (inflammation in the nasal passage), and nasal infections. Often times doctors will diagnose an upper respiratory infection, and prescribe an antibiotic. However, they don’t differentiate whether it’s a bacterial infection or a mold infection. Many of these infections are actually mold oriented, and an antibiotic won’t help. Your Doctor can actually order a culture swab, and send it out to be tested. This test will differentiate mold from bacteria, determining the best treatment moving forward.
Another symptom of chronic mold exposure is debilitating fatigue. People with extreme fatigue may sleep normally yet remain tired, or they may have extreme difficulty getting any sleep at all. If you’re suffering with chronic fatigue syndrome, consider mold as a possible culprit. Mold is not the only cause of chronic fatigue, but it can be one of the causes. If you find you are struggling with extreme fatigue that isn’t resolved by rest, you may want to consider mold as a possible culprit.
Are you the one amongst your friends and family who always seems to get sick? Do you tend to pick up every little infection, every little cold and every flu? This can be a sign of mold toxicity as well. Remember mold can suppress the immune system over time, and this can lead to recurring infections.
For many, the inflammation produced by chronic mold and mycotoxin exposure can cause headaches, muscle and joint pain, and even neurological pain symptoms.
Vaginal yeast infections and oral thrush are a yeast based form of mold, known as candida. Some symptoms of vaginal yeast infections are itchiness, pain, burning sensations, and odorless white discharge. You can also contract yeast infections in the gastrointestinal tract. Candida overgrowth is an example of gastrointestinal yeast. Some candida overgrowth symptoms are chronic sugar cravings and irregular periods. Mold exposure can also disrupt hormones and trigger migraine headaches, sleep issues, irritability and hormonal mood swings. This mold based hormone disruption can also trigger irregular periods in women.
7 Tips to Conquer Mold Toxicity
Aside from mold/yeast infections, many people suffer from mold reactions as a result of water damage to their home. Whether you have been in a hurricane, or had a roof leak or A/C or pipe busted in your house, what do you do to repair the water damage to prevent mold? It is important to take the correct and appropriate steps to make your house safe to live in again.
Here are the 7 steps I recommend taking:
1. Assess the damage:
First and foremost you want to assess the water damage. It’s very critical that you take the right steps. Assess where the leak is, how much and how far the water penetrated, and potentiate the growth of mold. Look and assess the damage (once the water is gone). The water damaged area needs to be completely removed. This includes all absorbent material. Do not try to cover up damaged areas with primer and paint. One of the worst things you can do is cover up the potential water damage, and just assume the mold won’t grow. You want to cut that area out (preferably two to three feet around that area).
2. Time, Air Out, and Dry:
Take the time to let everything air dry. Don’t just rip out the damaged area and then immediately replace the sheetrock. If the water and the humidity are still too high, you can still have the potential for mold to grow. Running a dehumidifier can also speed this process up. Fans help circulate the moisture out of the area. Don’t shortchange on the time here. You really want to let the area dry before you try to repair it, so that you minimize any potential for mold regrowth.
3. Proper testing on your home, and yourself to identify mold:
There are different types of tests that can evaluate whether the mold is growing in your environment. Insurance contractors can get a recommendation from Mold Remediation Specialists. These specialists can come out with sensors and equipment to help evaluate the quantity of air born mold spores in the environment. Although helpful, this type of testing is not always 100% accurate.
Although no one test is 100% accurate, one of the better types of tests that can be done is a mold collection, dust collection. The name of this test is called an ERMI, E-R-M-I. ERMI measures mold spore counts in the home, and unlike air testing, ERMI results are based on the quantity mold spores in house dust. This test can actually be very helpful as compared to just doing an air test alone. ERMI testing can be ordered online.
Test yourself for mycotoxins. Mold can produce biological toxins. Aflatoxin, ochratoxin, gliotoxin, and trichothecene are just examples of different forms of mold toxins. If you have mold growing in your home, mycotoxins can be produced in high enough concentrations to contribute to illness. Doctors can order mycotoxin testing to help rule out high levels of internally.
There are also some immune tests that can be done, to determine whether or not you have a chronic mold exposure issues. One of those tests is called MSH, melanocyte-stimulating hormone. This hormone is often very low or nonexistent when people have chronic mold exposure. Another helpful blood test is transforming growth factor beta-1 or TGF beta-1. Keep in mind, if you are gluten sensitive, TGF beta-1 can also be elevated when you are chronically being exposed to gluten.
C4A (complement 4A) is another immune test that is often times elevated in those being exposed to mold. Doctors can also perform a nasal or oral culture to determine if there is mold. There is also GI tract stool testing, which can help identify or measure whether or not there’s mold growing or overgrowth inside the GI tract. Sometimes there are signs of mold overgrowth in the fingernails or toenails (see pictures below). Additionally, IgG, IgA, and IgM antibodies to Candida can be measured to help assess for mold issues.
4. Humidity and Air Quality Control:
Be proactive, and reduce mold growth in your home. This can be done by controlling the humidity in your home. Keep the humidity low, and understand that your air conditioner is a natural dehumidifier. If you live in a humid area, measure the humidity in your basement. Keeping the relative humidity under 55% is ideal for preventing mold growth.
When you’re trying to dry your home out, you want to run the humidifiers to get that humidity down below 30%, preferably in the 20% range. You’re trying to reduce the risk that mold is going to grow after that water damage is done. Keeping humidity low can be very helpful as a mold preventative. Ultra fine HEPA air filters are also great at capturing mold spores. These can also come with UV light attachments to capture and kill the spores.
5. Avoid High Mold Foods:
There are many different foods that you may be eating which are considered to be high-mold foods. The most common of the high-mold foods are the grains. In the US, we don’t really have any kind of mold or mycotoxin restriction on foods. Therefore, many of our grains are very high sources of mold toxins. If you’re mycotoxin-sensitive, avoiding these mold-heavy foods can be a very important strategy.
Coffee is also a high-mold food. The way coffee is grown and stored can produce mold. Any food that is stored for long periods of time before being processed, can produce mold. When you’re picking up your produce, make sure that you’re inspecting it for obvious visible signs of excessive mold. Sometimes there is a tiny bit growing on part of it that you didn’t pick up on, and that can become a problem. Store your produce in the refrigerator to help reduce mold growth on it.
6. Supplements to Aid in Detoxification:
***It is imperative that you understand that supplements to support your natural detoxification process are ineffective unless you first address the mold issue.
That being said there are some supplements that can help support detoxification from mold. One of them is Vitamin C, which helps with bile formation. One of the ways that we bind mold toxins is through bile. Bile can help bind mold toxins, mycotoxins in the intestine and excrete them out.
Another supplement that works well is quercetin. Quercetin is a compound found in number of different plants. Quercetin is anti-inflammatory, and helps to detoxify and mitigate a number of the inflammatory symptoms of mold toxicity.
One of my favorite supplements is activated charcoal. Activated carbon can be a great binder, and can help mitigate excessive mold coming in. Another binder known as EDTA, works extremely well. Not only does it work as a chelating agent to bind mycotoxins, it actually has been shown to be antibacterial and anti-fungal. EDTA can work extremely well in situations where chronic mold exposure is a problem.
Finally, support phase one and phase two liver detoxification. Using a supplement that contains heavy doses of N-acetyl cysteine, as well as Milk Thistle can be helpful in allowing your liver to help detoxify mold toxins, and excrete them from the body. If you plan to use supplements to aid in the removal of mold toxins, it’s important that you adhere to some general principles of intelligent detoxification. Make sure you’re drinking enough fluids, and peeing at least six times a day. Make sure that the bowels are moving as well. Don’t get into a situation where you’re constipated. when you’re trying to go through detoxification. You don’t want those toxins staying inside of you for any length of time.
Finally, it’s important to sweat. If you’re mold toxic, you might not have the capacity to exercise because you’re just too fatigued. One thing you can do is sweat, through the use of a sauna. My favorite device is an infrared sauna. Infrared can be very effective at cleansing the body of toxins, in conjunction with making sure you’re having ample urination.
Those are the seven mold strategies that I have for you. I hope you found this information helpful. Make sure to share this with a friend, a family member, a loved one so that we can help more people together!
Always looking out for you,
Dr. O – The Gluten Free Warrior
- Neurotoxicol Teratol. 2005 Jan-Feb;27(1):29-46. DOI: 10.1016/j.ntt.2004.07.005
- Arch Environ Health. 2003 Jun;58(6):324-36.
- J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2004 Feb;113(2):200-8; quiz 209. DOI: 10.1016/j.jaci.2003.12.018
4 thoughts on “Mold Toxicity Vs. Gluten Sensitivity”
Is cheese considered high mold?
Excellent article. I have done much research on Mold. It is a very difficult thing to diagnose. But Dr. O explains symptoms, diagnostic red flags and strategies to improve the condition of Mold poisoning in this brief article.
Susan from Toronto
Excellent information. How do I find a dr that could test my body for mold and mycotoxins. I’m in the Atlanta Georgia area. I have suffered from mold exposure for years. I have a gene mutation that does not allow me to detox well. I need a good environmental toxicity dr to help me get rid of the mold. I’ve got horrible migraine headaches and can’t sleep at night. I wake up every 90 minutes.
Consider contacting my office (281) 240-2229