Molds and Fungi: Part One
A while ago I did a blog (3 parts) on the subject of Alzheimer’s Disease (AD), called “The Real Cause of Alzheimer’s Disease”. That blog was based on a study which examined brain tissue from 18 subjects, all of whom died with fully developed AD. To quote from the study, “100% of the AD patients analyzed thus far by our laboratory present fungal cells and fungal material in brain sections”.Thank you for reading this post, don't forget to subscribe!
I went on to discuss which fungus were found in these dissected brains, where they occurred in modern life, and some options for killing them. I primarily examined the use of coconut and MCT oils, which are used to treat AD, and may be effective because they carry antifungal agents (lauric acid, caprylic acid) across the blood brain barrier.
(The Real Cause of Alzheimer’s Disease)
In my previous blog, I looked at the new theory that amyloid plaque is not the cause of Alzheimer’s, but is in fact the body’s way of protecting the brain from invasive bacteria, microbes, and fungi. The brain forms this plaque as a way of isolating, and killing, these pathogens that have wormed their way into the brain.
This subject has continued to fascinate me as I believe mold to be a major health issue that is only now coming to the fore. It is important that we understand the dangers presented by mold and fungi given that studies have shown they grow faster, and more virulent, when exposed to electromagnetic pollution: something that is becoming omnipresent. (Source)
This will be a three part blog, beginning with a look at the prevalence, and sources, of mold and fungi in modern life. (Mold is a multicellular form of fungus.) Part two will look at natural approaches to killing these invasive lifeforms, and part three will focus on the blood-brain barrier, and killing agents that can cross this barrier, helping to protect us from Alzheimer’s and other brain-related ailments.
Symptoms of Mold Toxicity
When mold toxins enter our bodies (by way of food, the skin, or air), the result is damage and disruption to many of the organs, including the brain. Even before we get to the potential for causing Alzheimer’s disease, mold infections can negatively affect cognitive functions, leading to brain fog, and mood disorders.
In the past, before mold toxicity entered the medical lexicon, doctors and neurologists often assumed certain patients had a traumatic brain injury, when in fact they had mold toxicity; so close are the neurological and cognitive symptoms.
In fact, traumatic brain injuries, mold infections, and Lyme disease, all have similar symptoms, which can include anxiety, brain fog, depression, insomnia, and memory loss.
Often, if mold infection is not misdiagnosed as brain trauma or Lyme disease, the symptoms are dismissed by medical professionals as a result of aging, or signs of mental illness. (Source)
Other physical symptoms of mold toxicity, sometimes confused with an allergic response, include breathing problems, digestive disturbances, fatigue, coordination problems, muscle weakness, nausea, and vertigo. (Source)
Those who are concerned that they are showing symptoms which may be mold-related, should get a proper evaluation, and treatment from experts. One place to start is this website, www.survivingmold.com
It has been determined that about 40% of U.S. building are moldy, (we will assume that the percentage is similar in Canada). This prevalence of mold occurs because fungi are able to grow on almost any medium, even more so if the environment is wet and warm. They easily grow on gypsum (drywall), fiberglass insulation, ceiling tiles, wall paper, etc.
Fungi, once fully developed, become even more dangerous by releasing “mycotoxins” into the environment. These byproducts of fungi are even more damaging than the fungus itself.
A mycotoxin (from the Greek mykes, “fungus” and toxikon, “poison”) is a toxic, secondary metabolite, produced by fungi and molds, and is dangerous to both humans and animals. (Source)
One of the worst sources of mycotoxins in modern times, are grain products. Up to 25% of all grains may be contaminated with mycotoxins, and both conventional and organic grains are susceptible. The mycotoxin most people have heard of is aflatoxin, as it made the news a few years ago when it was found to be a contaminant in much of the peanut butter available in North America (in both commercial and organic peanut butters). Aflatoxins are also found in high amounts in cornmeal.
Unfortunately, cooking grains (or other foods) contaminated with mycotoxins, does not destroy them, leaving many sensitive people with no alternative but moving away from grain consumption. Such an approach requires focussing on high nutrient vegetables (such as kale), and choosing fresh produce (which can include fresh grain, in the case of corn on the cob).
One of the worst mycotoxins found in grains is zearalenone, which has estrogenic properties, and has been found to affect sexual development in young people who have too much of it in their blood.
Fortunately, garlic can destroy aflatoxins and zearalenone, so frequent use of garlic with grain-based dishes, can be most protective. (Cook the garlic as little as possible.) (Source)
Many other spices also have the ability to mitigate the damage caused by mold and mycotoxins. This is one reason spices have been used in cooking, and food preservation, around the world, and throughout recorded history. Spices of value here include, basil, cinnamon, cloves, oregano oil, rosemary, sage, and thyme. (Source)
Now, let’s take a closer look at mycotoxins, those dangerous byproducts of molds and fungi. Mycotoxins are prevalent in the environment, infesting buildings, food, and vehicles, and the majority of infection occurs through airborne exposure, or food ingestion. European studies have found around 20% of all grains to be contaminated with mycotoxins, and, unfortunately, mycotoxins are resistant to heat, as well as most disinfecting and sanitizing procedures (unlike mold, which is relatively easy to kill).
Diseases and symptoms linked to mycotoxin exposure include anxiety, ADHD, asthma, cancer, chronic fatigue, cognition problems, depression, fever, heart disease, liver damage, lung ailments, rheumatic disease, sinusitis, skin rashes, and vision loss.
Great Plains Laboratory has a test for mycotoxins (MycoTOX Profile), whereby they can identify mycotoxin exposures, after which they will offer recommendations for detoxification treatments. Their MycoTOX test screens for eleven different mycotoxins, from 40 species of mold, in one urine sample.
Great Plains have found a particular focus in patients with autism and Parkinson’s disease, finding many patients that exhibit symptoms of either of these ailments to also show colonization with mold. “Results indicate that treatment with antifungal therapies has greatly improved the symptoms of patients in these categories, which strongly suggest that mold exposure may play a role in exacerbating both autism and other neurological disorders.” (Great Plains Laboratory)
Treatment for Mold Exposure
Specialists in treating those contaminated with mold use a variety of approaches to treatment. This includes suggesting a diet heavy on certain foods that can reduce the carcinogenic effects of mold, including carrots, celery, parsley, and parsnips (more powerful when taken in juice form).
They also recommend extra water intake to prevent dehydration, ingesting bentonite and zeolite clays to reduce the absorption of mold found in food, and using supplements that have shown to reduce the oxidative effects of mold. Such supplements include vitamins, A, C, E, chlorophyll, NAC, rosmarinic acid, and liposomal glutathione. (The next blog will look at supplements in more detail.)
Some specialists will even recommend the drug Oltipraz, which can increase glutathione conjugation of mold toxins, while inhibiting oxidation, reducing liver toxicity, and helping the body to eliminate the mold. (Source)
Fungal infections can occur in different areas of the body, the most common being the intestines, lungs, and sinus cavities. One study found that 96% of patients with chronic sinusitis had fungal growth in their sinuses. (A popular treatment for this is xylitol nasal spray; also effective is colloidal silver nasal spray, and probiotics derived from Kimchi).
When people show high levels of mycotoxins in their bodies, it is usually a result of fungal infection and colonization (since mycotoxins are metabolites of molds and fungi).
Glutathione is one of the most powerful tools we have to cope with the damage caused by mold infections, and resulting mycotoxin contamination. And, as we saw above, the drug Oltipraz is often used, and it works by increasing glutathione conjugation of mold toxins (allowing the body to easily remove such toxins).
For those who are in general good health (and are not poor methylators), glutathione precursors can be used. These include vitamin C (500 mg or more), N-acetyl cysteine (600 mg), milk thistle (250 mg, standardized), and/or whey protein.
For those in poor health, or with a heavy load of mold and fungus in the body, taking liposomal glutathione is advised. “An in vitro model of Parkinson’s disease in rats showed that oral liposomal GSH was 100 times more potent than non-liposomal GSH at replenishing intracellular GSH.” (Study)
Other options, provided by medical professionals, include intravenous, intranasal, nebulized, or transdermal forms of glutathione.
Intranasal delivery of medications can bypass the blood-brain barrier and has long been used to treat diseases such as depression, schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Health professionals have successfully used intranasal glutathione to treat neurocognitive symptoms resulting from exposure to water-damaged buildings, mold, and mycotoxins. (Study)
Blood Brain Barrier
Aside from its ability to remove mold and mold byproducts from the body and brain, glutathione has one other related benefit.
Studies have shown cerebral glutathione plays an important role in maintaining the blood brain barrier. A rodent study showed that glutathione depletion was associated with blood-brain barrier dysfunction, and treatment with N-acetyl cysteine, methionine, and glutathione, provided protection against glutathione depletion, and blood-brain barrier dysfunction.
(In part three of this blog, I will take a closer look at the blood brain barrier, and agents that will cross that barrier and attack invasive microbes and fungi.)
Because treatment with glutathione will increase the mobilization of mycotoxins in the bloodstream (as the body begins the elimination process), it is important that one take sequestering agents.
Sequestering agents refer to non-absorbable materials capable of binding toxins in the gastrointestinal tract, thus reducing recirculation of toxins.
Frequently prescribed sequestering agents include activated charcoal, sodium bentonite clay, and montmorillonite clay. Of the clays, the trademarked product Novasil has been clinically proven to decrease levels of aflatoxins, the naturally occurring toxic metabolites produced by many species of fungus. (Source)
(Chlorophyll and chlorophyllin, a derivative of chlorophyll, have also been found to have beneficial effects against aflatoxin toxicity, as well as having anticancer properties.) Source
While the pharmaceutical approach to health issues should be the last option, when we are dealing with the dangerous health issues arising from exposure to mold and mycotoxins, we need to be aware of all our options, including drugs.
And, in fact, antifungal medications have proven to be effective for eliminating mycotoxins (which are much harder to kill than the mold, or fungus, that spawned them).
Many studies show success using amphotericin B for treating fungal infections. Other useful antifungal agents include fluconazole, itraconazole, and ketoconazole. For intestinal fungal infections, nystatin, or liposomal nystatin has proven effective. (Source)
One of the most commonly used antifungal drugs is Cholestyramine (CSM), which has shown to be safe and well tolerated even by children. CSM works as a bile acid sequestering agent, and has been widely studied for its role in reducing recirculation of fat-soluble toxins, including mycotoxins, and endotoxins (bacterial toxins consisting of lipids located within a cell).
CSM is usually combined with sequestering agents, and given together, 2 to 4 times per day (away from medication and supplements). (Source)
In part two of this series, I will examine a wide range of natural approaches to killing fungi, mold, and mycotoxins.