For those not aware of our Mold Symptom Therapy Guide website, let this “Rewriting Mold” series serve as a reminder of both what we offer our patients and what we offer the general public in terms of understanding mold toxicity illness. Over the coming weeks, I will be reviewing and reposting sections of our Mold Symptoms Therapy website one or two at a time. It has been over 3 years since I first wrote this 30 plus page guide and posted it online. A few things have changed since 2020 (yes, an understatement), but the basic principles I emphasized in 2020 continue with minimal change.
As this provides me an opportunity to update any advancements, it also offers the opportunity for you to ask questions and even contribute to edition number 2 of the Mold Guide. By leaving comments and questions, I can identify areas where I can offer even more to patients and the public in terms of education and empowerment over mold. Please take 2-3 minutes to be a part of helping others restore healthier more abundant lives with your questions and feedback. You can leave comments on Facebook or our website not only for each week’s section but for any section off the website which I have not addressed yet.
This week, Mold and the Nervous System.
1). Mold and the Nervous System
Like the immune system, the nervous system often becomes a prime battleground in the fight against mold toxicity syndrome. It is one of the main systems where the local and the distant effects of the toxins coalesce. Between effects on the energy cycle, direct inflammatory effects, secondary nutritional effects from the GI tract, secondary hormonal effects, and impaired connective tissue healing, the potential for neurological harm and suffering is substantial.
As these physiologic changes accumulate, the resulting symptoms can also make a substantial impact on the affected individual. Dysfunctional nerve pathways can manifest in a variety of ways with some form of pain being the most common. Beyond the pain, various cognitive and psychological symptoms develop. The variety of symptoms is best described as one walks through a consideration of how mold toxins disrupt the nervous system below.
Being second only to the muscular system in energy usage, the nervous system relies heavily on consistent energy production. When the cell’s energy furnace, the mitochondria, dysfunctions, the person may feel not only muscle fatigue but also brain fatigue. Just like affected muscles’ diminishing strength, the brain’s main function, thinking, slows. Brain fog and memory problems result. Beyond that, when one area of the brain slows before others, we may see specific emotional symptoms develop like anxiety or depression. If other areas slow, we may see ADHD symptoms in children or adults.
Furthermore, pathways for sensation (including pain sensation) extend from the skin’s surface going along peripheral nerves, through the spinal cord, and into the deep areas of the brain. Any number of steps along this intricate path can be affected by mold toxins direct or indirect effects. This may result in anything from numbness, to tingling, to itching, or many expressions of pain. One particularly common aspect of mold toxicity is its propensity to turn up the volume on other pain. In simple terms, a pain that would normally be rated as a 3 might get amplified to a 5 or 6.
Besides exhibiting various types of pain symptoms, the symptoms also fluctuate in intensity and location. This week, the patient’s left hand may be numb and/or tingling. Next week, their right face stings while the following week, both their ears ring. Adding more confusion and fear for the patient, muscle twitches and spasms along with internal vibrations can occur randomly. The internal vibration will feel exactly like something is buzzing or vibrating inside, but nothing is visible or objectively palpable. This can be a disturbing sensation especially if it persists. This pathway can lend itself to a variety of perplexing symptoms.
While the energy cycle provides for a sometimes rapidly changing storm of sensations via the nervous system, the inflammation which develops on-site in the brain and the peripheral system provides a steadier set of symptoms. Chronic pain in the form of headaches and typical migraines may settle in and be unresponsive to normally helpful therapies. If certain brain areas are affected by inflammation, constant anxiety or depression can occur. Commonly, the limbic system finds itself in the crosshairs, and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) set can set in. Sleep suffers. “Startles” last for hours or days. There is no rest for the wearied soul under such constant fight or flight feelings.
With the gastrointestinal (GI) dysfunction of mold toxicity (to be discussed below), the brain often experiences nutrient shortages beyond just energy deficiency issues. If vitamins or minerals are poorly absorbed in the GI tract, they cannot be transported to the brain for recovery of inflammation nor to supply daily neurotransmitter needs. Many vitamins and minerals are also critical for energy production. These nutritional deficits (B1, B2, B3, Vitamin D, minerals, and others) can nudge or shove patients towards brain fog, anxiety, depression, or memory impairment. To restore proper brain function, these GI based obstacles must be considered.
Next to last on the list of secondary system offenders, we find fluctuating hormone levels producing outward symptoms in the nervous system. While elevated cortisol hinders both short-term and long- term memory, low cortisol slows the brain’s function and may hinder blood flow to the brain. The effects of low thyroid production or misappropriation of thyroid hormone may slow the brain contributing to brain fog and memory problems. Diminishing reproductive hormones like progesterone, testosterone, and estrogen may have immediate effects on sleep and thinking or long-term consequences like dementia. Managing the immediate effects and restoring long term balance to hormones are critical aspects of preventing long term neurologic consequences.
Finally, the above-mentioned neurological effects will also be impacted by the effects of mold toxins on connective tissues in our bodies. As muscles, ligaments, and tendons undergo their normal daily wear and tear, they cannot heal as well and as fast when the energy cycle and our GI tract are not properly functioning. Then one adds the additional damage from ongoing inflammation and direct toxic effects. The potential for pain, especially chronic pain increases. From there, the above-mentioned amplification effect of mold toxins on pain pathways takes an initially mild situation and makes it intermittently unbearable. Disability and other downstream effects can result from these combined adverse effects.
Altogether, the nervous system as part of the wider whole person can contribute greatly to the suffering of mold toxic patients. Alleviating this suffering requires addressing both the mold detox and supporting these neurologic needs while detoxing the root cause. Once the detox is complete, often regenerative and repair therapies must clean up the leftover mess.
TAKE HOME POINTS
Another battleground for mold toxicity effects besides the immune system
Has a high need for energy production which is impaired in mold toxicity
Dysfunction may trigger
Anxiety or Depression
Unusual sensations like internal vibrations
Affected secondarily as mold toxins harm other systems
Inflammation – hinders energy production, causes neural misfirings
GI Systems – more inflammation and nutritional deficiencies
Hormones – either excesses or deficiencies
Successful therapy requires both detox and support followed by regeneration
Sanctuary Functional Medicine, under the direction of Dr Eric Potter, IFMCP MD, provides functional medicine services to Nashville, Middle Tennessee and beyond. We frequently treat patients from Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Ohio, Indiana, and more... offering the hope of healthier more abundant lives to those with chronic illness.