We are thrilled to share our new Sanctuary Mold Guide: A Primer with those who are suffering from mold toxicity. While the full guide is available on its own website or to our patients (extended version), you can read a portion here. We hope this work contributes to your living a healthier more abundant life.
In addition to genetic variations causing differing toxin sensitivities, different combinations of toxins often synergize. Chronic infections and life stressors can also amplify or modify the intensity of the toxin’s effects on a person. Even with unfavorable mold detoxification genetics, some may not manifest symptoms if amplifying factors remain absent. The exposome, or the collective set of toxins in a person’s environment, may trigger mold illness when organic compounds or heavy metals tip over the immune system. It is basically a “1+1=3” situation. Either toxin alone might not trigger illness, but the two together pack a devastating punch.
Another amplifier of mold illness includes stress. Stress, in many forms, may work in concert with mold toxicity. Our patients tell life stories of emotional and physical abuse or traumatic events. The physical stress of a head trauma is one such example. We know that head trauma may trigger leaky brain or a chronic inflammatory state in the brain. This may allow mycotoxins or other toxins to reach deeper into the brain, triggering more damage than it could have done alone. Emotionally stressful events, between the surge in cortisol and the firing up of the fight or flight system, can also augment mold’s effects. Adding the direct chemical effects of mold toxins on the limbic system’s fight or flight response together with the emotional stressor sets the stage for chronic neurologic and emotional symptoms.
Types of Mold and Mycotoxins
Which species of mold happens to grow in a home or workplace also determines whether a person becomes ill. Many outdoor molds, either by their inherent nature or their environmental milieu, produce zero to minimal impact on human health. Yes, poisonous mushrooms do grow in the forest which intoxicate the foolish adventurer, but our primary concern lies with molds that grow on water damaged buildings and release volatile toxins into the indoor air. The outdoor molds garner more of a reputation for their ability to trigger allergic symptoms.
The water damaged building associated molds are more likely to produce toxins which harm both microscopic neighbors and other larger organisms like humans. Not only do they make toxic chemicals, they also inhabit closed environments – our homes, our offices, and other buildings – where their toxins can accumulate. If outdoors, even these molds may never concentrate enough airborne toxins due to winds and the sheer volume of space. Indoors, especially if ventilation is poor, they can accumulate to create a toxic punch for the unsuspecting and genetically vulnerable.
The indoor molds produce various classes of mold toxins based on their species. The classes vary immensely in their structure and complexity. Chemically, some are simple structures while others are quite complex. Some target mitochondria while others target hormonal systems. Some primarily dysregulate the immune system. While a very few aflatoxins, like those from peanuts, even increase cancer risks.
Go see the full guide here or stay tuned next week for another excerpt from the Mold Guide!