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Mold toxicity is an acute or chronic illness caused by exposure to “toxic mold” or other associated toxic compounds most often in water damaged buildings. It may present as symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, multiple chemical sensitivity, headaches, neuropathy, asthma, chronic pain, gastrointestinal symptoms, and much more. At Aspen Integrative Medical Center, Dr. Paul Despres specializes in the diagnosis and management of mold toxicity because he’s seen it be the root cause of many symptoms. Dr. Despres has studied extensively the works of other leaders in this field including Dr. Christopher Shoemaker, Dr. Neil Nathan, Dr. Jill Crista, and many others. The treatment of mold toxicity can be quite complex and overwhelming, so please give us a call to establish care with Dr. Despres to receive the right guidance on your road to recovery.
Which molds cause mold toxicity?
Mold toxicity is caused by exposure to Stachybotrys (black mold), Aspergillus (which also can be black, so don’t let that fool you), Penicillium, Fusarium, Alternaria, and Walemia.
Mold toxicity can occur when exposed (inhaled, eaten) to the mold itself, but also mold spore fragments, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), microorganisms Actinomycetes and Mycobacteria which are usually found along with toxic mold species, as well as beta glucans, hemolysins, mannans and proteinases.
How do these molds cause such severe symptoms?
Once mold toxins enter the body, they can easily dissolve into fat AND water solutions. This allows them to essentially move through any body tissue, cell membrane, and insidiously influence biochemical processes in a number of harmful ways. Their ability to disperse in the body disrupts multiple bodily systems, most notably the immune system and endocrine system (hormones). Unfortunately 22% of the population are genetically susceptible to not making the right antibodies and clearing the toxins as they should. This leads to a prolonged pro-inflammatory response and very chronic, debilitating symptoms. For further information about this process, please check out our webpage about Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS).
What are the symptoms of mold toxicity?
Patients of mold toxicity may experience a wide range of symptoms depending on which organ systems have been affected. The list of symptoms includes:
- Acute or chronic fatigue – includes brain fog, cognitive impairment
- Muscle aches and cramping
- Unusual pains – “ice pick” or “lightening bolt”
- Abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhea
- Sensitivity to bright light, tearing, blurred vision
- Chronic sinus congestion
- Cough, chest pain, shortness of breath
- Joint pain with morning stiffness
- Skin sensitivity to light
- Appetite swings and weight gain
- Mood swings
- Numbness and tingling, often in unusual patterns
- Night sweats
- Frequent urination
- Temperature dysregulation
- Sensitivity to static electrical shocks
- Metallic taste in the mouth
- Excessive thirst
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding
How is mold toxicity diagnosed?
There is no one diagnostic test or marker for mold toxicity. Diagnosis is often based on numerous factors including:
- Evidence of mold toxin exposure
- Symptom presentation and physical examination
- Urine mycotoxin test – Mosaic Diagnostics, RealTime Labs
- Response to treatment
How do you treat mold toxicity?
The management of of mold toxicity is a rapidly emerging field of medicine. Treatment must be individualized for each patient according to their degree of sensitivity and impairment especially if CIRS is suspected. That being said the treatment plan frequently includes:
- Reducing further exposure
- Detoxification supports
- Mycotoxin binders
- Anti-inflammatories and immune system modulators
- Infrared sauna therapy
- IV ozone therapy
- Lymphatic supports
- Address mycotoxins in the respiratory system – sinuses, nasal cavity, lungs
- Dietary and lifestyle changes
- Botanical medicine
- Anti-fungal medications