Add multiple chemical sensitivity to the long list of chronic diseases that have been written off as psychosomatic for far too long. Chronic diseases are inherently complex and confusing for patients and doctors alike.
Fortunately, we live in a time where awareness for ‘invisible illnesses’ are on the rise. Hopefully, we can continue to spread awareness and get quality information into the hands of those that need it.
Today, I want to talk about multiple chemical sensitivity and dive deep into the science behind it.
What is Multiple Chemical Sensitivity?
Multiple chemical sensitivity is a condition that is activated by specific classes of chemicals which act along different pathways in the body and cause an increase in N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) activity. NMDA receptors are critical in neuroplasticity, which affects your memory and brain function. NMDA is an amino acid that mimics glutamate, which is the neurotransmitter that normally binds to NMDA receptors.
Another way of saying this is: instead of glutamate acting on the NMDA receptors (which helps with normal brain function), multiple chemical sensitivity causes a higher level of NMDA to replace the glutamate, which can cause brain dysfunction.
These reactions in the body are lowered by NMDA antagonists, which suggests that it’s our body’s way of dealing with these toxic chemicals. But when that’s not enough and the body can’t properly detox, it can initiate multiple chemical sensitivity.
Genetically, there are certain genes that have been associated with the metabolism of these chemicals, and they can indicate whether or not a person will be susceptible to developing multiple chemical sensitivity.
Symptoms of Multiple Chemical Sensitivity
When the NO/ONOO (nitric oxide and peroxynitrite) cycle is thrown off due to the elevated NMDA activity, it can cause:
- Energy metabolism dysfunction
- Blood-brain barrier breakdown
- Increased chemical sensitivity
- Increased TRVP1 activity
- Increased NMDA activity
- Oxidative stress
- Increased nitric oxide
- Increased peroxynitrite
- Increase inflammatory cytokines
- Increased levels of intracellular calcium
- Neurogenic inflammation
- Airway sensitivity
These can cause a wide variety of symptoms in individuals and may include:
- Heart palpitations
- Muscle pain
- Brain fog
- Memory problems
- Mood changes
- Sore throat
- Chest pain
- Breathing problems
What Types of Chemicals Trigger Multiple Chemical Sensitivity?
Because we are surrounded by tens of thousands of chemicals each day, it’s difficult to identify exactly where the chemicals that trigger multiple chemical sensitivity come from. The sheer number of chemicals combined with everybody’s unique body chemistry create an infinite number of combinations and potential reactions.
For a long time, researchers even argued that the diversity of chemicals made it unlikely that there would be a common response. So, defining multiple chemical sensitivity has been challenging.
That being said there are number of chemicals and toxins that have been identified in multiple chemical sensitivity, including:
- Organic solvents
- Organophosphorus pesticide (like glyphosate)
- Carbamate pesticides
- Organochlorine pesticides
- Pyrethroid Pesticides
- Hydrogen sulfide
- Carbon monoxide
You might look at this list and think, “what the heck are these?”
Unfortunately, most of these are pesticides and herbicides that end up in our food and water. These chemicals produce common toxic responses in the body and cause an elevation of NMDA activity, which result in perplexing symptoms.
Finally, there are lawsuits being waged against Monsanto for it’s misleading claims about glyphosate, hopefully something will come of it. I recently wrote about this and glyphosate, you can read that here: We Can No Longer Ignore Glyphosate.
Diagnosing and Treating Multiple Chemical Sensitivity
Similar to other chronic diseases, multiple chemical sensitivity causes widespread systemic responses that vary from person to person – therefore it’s not an obvious diagnosis.
There are 5 principles of multiple chemical sensitivity that set it apart from other chronic toxin related illnesses.
- Short-term stressors trigger multi-system responses by raising nitric oxide and other cycles.
- This trigger is converted into a chronic illness through long-term elevation of peroxynitrite and other cycle elements.
- Symptoms and signs of these illnesses include other mechanisms. Such as elevated levels of peroxynitrite, inflammatory cytokines, oxidative stress, elevated NMDA, TRPV1 receptor activity, ATP depletion, and BH4 depletion.
- The influence of these mechanisms occur on a local level via individual cells and biological tissues.
- Therapy should focus on down-regulating NO/ONOO (nitric oxide and peroxynitrite) cycle biochemistry.
When MCS is Mistaken for CFS/ME and Fibromyalgia
Multiple chemical sensitivity differs from chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis and fibromyalgia because it’s specifically triggered by the chemicals listed above. Though multiple chemical sensitivity might be mistaken for these conditions. Especially since they are also associated with increased nitric acid level oxide levels. The important distinction here is the mechanism that causes increased nitric acid level oxide levels in multiple chemical sensitivity is the increased NMDA activity.
So, if you’ve ever received a chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis or fibromyalgia diagnosis, it’s important that you make sure your doctor is aware of the growing research on multiple chemical sensitivity. These conditions are often mistaken for one another.
Work to Reduce Your Toxic Burden
I realize this is one of my more technical articles, but I wanted to include as much information as possible since there is a general lack of quality articles on multiple chemical sensitivity available online.
If you suspect you have multiple chemical sensitivity, remember you are your best advocate. It is possible that your doctor is not aware of this condition because it is a very complex illness involving multiple systems in the body. Researchers are still working to define its parameters and diagnostic procedures.
Just like so many other chronic illnesses, when it comes to multiple chemical sensitivity the name of the game is to reduce your overall toxic burden.
I believe environmental toxicity is one of the biggest contributors to the rise in chronic illness today. And yet, because doctors don’t really learn about chronic toxic burden in medical school, it’s now become somewhat of an elephant in the room.
The fact of the matter is when it comes to toxicity we mostly understand when it’s acute – when it causes sudden and definitive symptoms. However, most toxin exposures are chronic, involve more than one toxin, and happen after years, even decades of accumulation. This accumulation overloads the body’s detox mechanisms and causes symptoms such as:
- Memory disturbance
- Sleep issues
Over time, if the environmental toxicity and detox pathways aren’t addressed, the toxic burden can lead to conditions like:
- Autoimmune disease
- Neurodegenerative diseases
In a 2015 review in the prestigious journal Carcinogenesis, researchers found that lifestyle factors are responsible for a considerable portion of cancers worldwide. Concluding that 7-19% of all cancers are attributable to toxic environmental exposures. On top of this, they examined 85 chemicals and found 59% of them exerted low-dose effects.
In my personal practice, I’ve seen the devastating effects of environmental toxin exposure. Because the symptoms are chronic and multisystem it can lead to a perplexing situation for both the patient and the practitioner. I found the best method for helping a patient with a chronic condition is to reduce their levels of toxin exposure and improve detoxification to bring down their toxic burden.
So today I want to talk about different types of toxins, other factors that add to your burden, symptoms and conditions of suspected environmental toxicity, and detoxification.
17 Possible Environmental Toxins
Toxins can either be introduced to the body through external exposure or internal exposure. I break different exposures down into exotoxins (external) and endotoxins (internal). A huge part of reducing your toxic burden is being aware of different sources of toxins so that you can avoid potential exposures. With that in mind the list below is meant to be a resource for different areas of your life that should be considered when you work to reduce your toxic burden.
- Heavy metals – Can come from cookware, tap water, personal care products, and home furnishings.
- Solvents/VOCs – Can come from cleaning products or off gas from new furniture or carpet. Oftentimes are indoor air is more toxic than the air outside.
- Pesticides – As an exotoxin, pesticides affect people when they work with them either at their job or in their personal garden or lawn.
- BPA – BPA is an endocrine disruptor and also found in plastics.
- Phthalates – Can be found in personal care products, home cleaning products, and makeup.
- Parabens – Also found in personal care products, home cleaning products, and makeup.
- EMF radiation – This comes from electronics and Wi-Fi sources, so cell phones, smart TVs, microwaves, fitness trackers, routers, cell phone towers, and airplanes.
- Heterocyclic amines – These are chemicals that are released from animal products when they are cooked at high temperatures.
- Mold – Look Below
- Intestinal bacteria – Such as endotoxemia from LPS.
- Yeast/candida – Candida produce the toxin acetaldehyde.
- Other infectious diseases – Common ones include Epstein-Barr and Lyme disease.
- Food – Standard American Diet contributes to total toxic burden. Chemicals, food additives, and glyphosate all cause problems. When it comes to food your best bet is to eat as organic as possible.
- Insulin resistance – When insulin resistance climbs in your body it causes stress. Work to promote insulin sensitivity instead.
- Medications – Medications generally contribute to overall toxic burden.
- Stress – Stress is an extremely powerful influence in your overall health and yet it’s often not taken into consideration.
- Emotions – Emotions cause biochemical reactions in the body and are often overlooked.
What Else Can Add to Your Total Toxic Burden?
Besides toxins there are other things that can contribute to your total toxic burden that you might not have considered. This is because your total toxic burden includes all stressors on the body, which means things like emotional and psychological stress.
I mentioned stress and emotions above but it’s worth taking the time to dig a little deeper on each because they are all too commonly overlooked. They don’t fit our traditional idea of a toxin. A few potential stressors that are outright “toxins” include:
- Financial stress
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Career stress
- Toxic personal relationships
- Significant life events, such as a death in the family or divorce
- Unresolved emotional trauma
25 Symptoms of Environmental Toxicity
Over the years I’ve noticed there are some symptoms that are more commonly seen in patients with environmental toxicity. If someone comes into my office with a few of any of the following symptoms I immediately start checking for sources of toxins and for ways to reduce their overall toxic burden.
Here are 25 symptoms of environmental toxicity:
- Muscle aches
- Joint pain
- Sinus congestion
- Postnasal drip
- Foul-smelling stools
- Difficulty concentrating
- Food cravings
- Water retention
- Trouble losing weight
- Skin problems
- Canker sores
- Dark circles under the eyes
- Premenstrual syndrome
- Bad breath
In addition to these symptoms there are a few conditions that are major red flags to me. These include:
- Immune system dysfunction
- Chronic infection
- Autoimmune diseases
- Endocrine disorders
- Multiple chemical sensitivity
- Adverse reactions to medications
- Allergies and asthma
- Obvious industrial or agricultural exposure
- Poor caffeine tolerance
5 Methods of Detoxification Support
Here’s the deal, we all need detoxification support. This is because we live in a time when we are constantly bombarded with toxins unlike any other point in human history. Tens of thousands of chemicals are introduced via our products each day and there’s very little oversight. Basically, we’re all human guinea pigs and we need to take steps to reduce our routes of exposure and support our detoxification organs.
- Glutathione – A master antioxidant which can be taken orally or intravenously. Glutathione reduces oxidative stress, is an intracellular antioxidant, and helps with detoxification of environmental toxins.
- Reducing medication use – Genexa Health has come up with a line of natural products for various ailments. I recommend most of my patients do what they can to address the root causes of their conditions so they can limit the amount of medications they’re on. Genexa Health is a great way to get people off of over-the-counter medications such as Advil, which only contribute to leaky gut and inflammation.
- Make sure you’re going to the bathroom regularly – To properly eliminate toxins in the body you need to be sure you are not constipated. Consider using an Elimination Diet to find any food sensitivities.
- Use detox binders – I recommend using detox binders like activated charcoal and GI detox. These bind to toxins and help your body eliminate them more readily.
- Take detox supporting nutrients:
- Green Tea
- Active B complex
- Milk Thistle
- Calcium D-glucarate
- Probiotics 50 billion CFUs
I’ve put together a thorough guideline with more detail to help you through the process of reducing your toxin exposure. You can find that here: Reduce Your Daily Toxin Exposure.
You might be wondering, why would you want to detox in the first place?
Our bodies are exposed to more chemicals now than ever before. Every day new chemicals are added to our personal environments via food, pollution, plastics, furniture, food containers, cookware, carpets, electronics, personal care products, and more.
Some of these chemicals are newly created and their effects on the human body are entirely unknown. Others are only a few decades or even a couple of years old and we are still learning about their impacts.
Possibly the most concerning factor behind all these chemicals is that there are few to no barriers in the process which allows chemicals to be used in everyday items. Meaning your body is slowly taking in small amounts of new chemicals and toxic buildup over time.
It’s a war of attrition.
This constant chemical bombardment your body is fighting each day just to keep you healthy is why you should be interested in detox.
I’m not talking about a harsh detox that can sometimes put the body under more pressure and stress than necessary. Juice cleanses and powerful liver detoxes can backfire because they deprive your body of nutrients or place overwhelming stress on detox pathways.
We need to reduce our toxic burden wherever possible, support our body’s natural detox pathways, and incorporate detox binders into our health routine.
I want to focus on this last strategy – using binders for detox – because I’ve seen binders work well in my personal practice and I want to share them with you. Binders work by:
- Clearing out toxin buildup
- Inducing biofilm removal in the gut
- Alleviating gas and bloating
- Preventing acute poisonings
Detoxing to support your health
There are some toxins we should be worried about more than others. Some of the worst offenders are mold toxins, heavy metals, and bisphenol-A (BPA). When it comes to ridding our bodies of these chemicals, I’ve found there are two binders work particularly well:
GI Detox and Upgraded Coconut Charcoal are two effective binders that help you with daily detox from mold, heavy metals, and other toxins. They are also strong enough to use in more targeted therapies such as mold exposure treatments.
GI Detox is made from two binders – it consists of 75 percent Pyrophyllite clay and 25 percent activated charcoal.
Pyrophyllite clay a very rare clay that has been used medicinally for thousands of years. It’s richer in silica and quartz than other clays (such as bentonite) and works through both adsorbing (to bind to) and absorbing (to ‘swallow’ up) chemicals.
Phyrophyllite clay is negatively charged and binds readily to endotoxins from Gram negative bacteria, by-products of yeast and bacteria, and heavy metals. This process assists in restoring gut microbial balance and is recommended as an effective detox strategy that is also gentle enough to use daily.
Activated charcoal is one of the most effective binders known to man. Considered more effective than stomach pumping in poisoned patients, charcoal effectively rids the body of unwanted toxins. This is why I recommend using is on its own as well as in the GI Detox.
For normal use, I recommend taking one to two capsule of GI Detox once a day on an empty stomach – an hour before eating or two hours after.
Upgraded Coconut Charcoal
Activated charcoal works by binding to toxins through adsorption. Adsorption is different from absorption because the chemicals are trapped in the little holes of this porous substance rather than being soaked up. The charcoal isn’t absorbable by your body so it passes through the GI tract while taking unwanted toxins with it.
You can order Upgraded Coconut Charcoal here. For normal use, take Upgraded Coconut Charcoal with other binders on an empty stomach. You can also take your activated charcoal with food you know to be low quality.
Using Binders for Mold Detox
You can use both GI Detox and Upgraded Coconut Charcoal to fight daily toxins or in a mold treatment protocol. The toxins produced by toxic mold are called mycotoxins and ridding your body of these takes a comprehensive plan that lasts between six months to a year.
GI Detox – Take one to two capsules twice daily with Upgraded Coconut Charcoal.
Upgraded Coconut Charcoal – Take 1000 to 1500 mg (2-3 capsules) twice daily with water, GI Detox, and on an empty stomach.
and Do binders interfere with nutrient absorption?
Because of the effectiveness of binders in their absorption and adsorption of chemicals, it’s a completely logical concern to think they would also bind with beneficial nutrients. In general, we need more research on this subject but preliminary animal studies have found that adding charcoal to sheep’s diets did not decrease their nutrient levels. Also, toxins are predominantly positively charged, which is how the negatively charged binders are readily attracted to them.
You can reduce the chance your binders will work on the wrong particles through taking them on an empty stomach. All binders should be taken at the same time and either one hour before or two hours after medications and supplements.
Other Detox Strategies Worth Considering
We live in a time where we are exposed to more chemicals than ever before. Learning about detox strategies is now as important as learning to eat a healthy and balanced diet. Other detox strategies worth learning more about include:
- Infrared saunas ( See Below)
- Glutathione – Love this brand…. Bulletproof Liposomal Gluathione Force
- Calcium D-Glucarate
Each of these can be used on their own or together for a compounding effect. Also, each of these are included in A Mold Exposure Treatment Guide. Your_Complete_Mold_Exposure_Guide
Add Detox to Your Daily Routine
Toxins are a part of our daily lives. Fortunately, there steps you can take to reduce their overall impact on your health. I recommend incorporating GI Detox and activated charcoal into your daily health routine.
If you’re healthy, take both the GI Detox and Upgraded Coconut Charcoal to deal with daily toxins.
If you’ve been exposed to mold, you can take GI Detox and Upgraded Coconut Charcoal to help with a comprehensive Mold Exposure Treatment. Remember, these two binders are only part of a mold treatment protocol.
I recommend adding detox strategies to your daily routine to combat the unprecedented number of chemicals that bombard us each day.
The term sauna is typically used to refer to a Finnish sauna, which is a deeply ingrained part of the culture in Finland. In the United States very few people use saunas, though they are making somewhat of a stir in the health and wellness community due to their benefits. Infrared saunas have numerous health benefits including helping your body rid itself of toxins, reduce inflammation, and increase blood flow.
Plus, infrared saunas feel pretty amazing.
Infrared saunas versus saunas – what’s the difference?
In all saunas your body temperature is raised which induces sweating. With traditional wet or dry saunas the air is heated and you warm from the outside in. Infrared saunas cause your body temperature to rise, but the surrounding air remains the same – your body temperature rises from the inside out.
Two major benefits of infrared saunas are their cost and portability – they can be used in most homes and there are even some that pack down very small for easy storage. Infrared saunas also allow people to withstand the heating effects longer than a traditional sauna would and are therefore a good option for people sensitive to excess heat.
Infrared heat penetrates the body more deeply than heated air, which results in a more vigorous sweating at a lower temperature. The way your body sweats in infrared saunas compared to traditional saunas is believed to be more effective for delivering benefits to your body.
7 Benefits of Infrared Saunas
1. Flushes toxins
If you do a quick Google search you’ll find a lot of people knocking the ability of saunas to flush toxins, but we’ve known for a long time that sweating helps the body rid itself of toxins.
Studies have found that increased sweating, as experienced in a sauna, can help you excrete toxic metals like arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury. One study found “that body stores of trace metals may be depleted during prolonged exposure to heat.”
Another study found that “induced sweating in saunas can mobilize BPA in adipose tissue thus leading to enhanced excretion in sweat.” The science is there – sweating helps you eliminate toxins and infrared saunas can help you sweat at a much faster rate.
2. Fights dementia & Alzheimer’s disease
Saunas have been shown to improve vascular function, blood pressure, reduce inflammation, and boost cognition. One study found that Finnish men who frequently used saunas had a significant reduction in dementia and Alzheimer’s risk. With Alzheimer’s now clocking in as the third most common cause of death in the United States, any technique that can help resist the impacts of dementia onset adds hope.
3. Burns calories
The calorie burning effect of infrared saunas is one of the most sought after benefits. Infrared saunas are able to increase your body’s core temperature in a manner similar to working out. You can burn between 400 to 600 calories in a 30-minute session, which has led to the use of infrared saunas in weight loss programs.
4. Speeds up recovery
Studies have found that infrared saunas help your neuromuscular system recover faster. Athletes have found they are able to recover from endurance training more quickly while enjoying the pleasurable effects of an infrared sauna.
In most infrared sauna studies, researchers comment on the enjoyable and relaxing effects which are experienced on top of the healing outcomes.
5. Improves athletic performance
On top of the added recovery benefits infrared saunas can help improve overall athletic performance. Athletes who used saunas post-workout saw an improvement in plasma, red blood cell volumes, and an improvement in overall performance.
One study found that post-exercise sauna use produced a “worthwhile enhancement of endurance running performance” and researchers suggested it was due to an overall increase in blood volume.
6. Improves cardiovascular function
Using a sauna is often compared to working out because of the raised body temperature, sweating, released endorphins, and other similarities. Studies on the effects of infrared saunas on cardiovascular health typically find similar benefits.
One study that examined heart health and sauna use found that saunas reduce the risk of sudden cardiac death, coronary heart disease, fatal cardiovascular disease, and all-cause mortality.
7. Pain reduction
This is one of my favorite benefits of the infrared sauna.
Though it may sound counterintuitive, infrared saunas appear to help with inflammation and pain. Numerous studies have found that infrared saunas reduce pain caused by inflammation.
One study found infrared saunas reduced the pain experienced by fibromyalgia patients by half. Another study examining the impacts of infrared saunas on cardiovascular health found they were effective in reducing chronic pain. Infrared saunas have shown to be an effective treatment for those suffering from chronic lower back pain.
With the opioid crisis claiming more and more lives, it’s important that we explore all non-pharmaceutical pain relief options seriously. Though infrared saunas may require a steep initial investment, if used regularly they could quickly become a very worthwhile purchase. This is especially true for those suffering with chronic pain because infrared saunas are a potential pain solution that prevents the need for addictive substances such as opioids.
Why quality matters with infrared saunas
Infrared saunas are generally seen as a more convenient option for consumers. They are typically cheaper and easier to move than their wet and dry Finnish counterparts. You can even find one on Amazon for around $200, but I have concerns surrounding these cheaper models.
Electromagnetic fields are often radiated directly from electrical infrared saunas and can literally bathe you in harmful electromagnetic radiation. This is why I recommend High Tech Health International’s infrared saunas. They’ve addressed the EMF concern and more.
Next week, we will be digging deeper into the concerns behind EMF and why you should consider unplugging your Wi-Fi at night.
Thinking of getting your own sauna?!
Here are two brands I highly recommend:
Lowest total EMF from our in-house designed, patent-pending heaters
Healthy materials, very low-toxicity
2. Sunlighten M-Pulse 3 in 1 Sauna –
- Full-spectrum IR technology
- Customizable heaters
- Preset health programs
- LCD touch-screen control panel
- Five mPulse Infrared Sauna Models Available
Is Toxic Mold Exposure the Cause of Your Symptoms?
Are you one of the many people unknowingly living or working in water damaged building? Did you know it may be dramatically affecting your health? It’s estimated that indoor air pollutants, including mold and mycotoxins may be contributing to more than 50% of our patient’s illnesses. Typically we think of smog, smoke, and outdoor pollution as detrimental to our health but indoor air quality may be an even bigger risk to your health. Many patients are unaware that a toxic home or workplace is contributing to their symptoms.
Exposure to water-damaged indoor environments is associated with exposure to molds. The most common types of mold that are found indoors include Cladosporium, Penicillium, Alternaria, and Aspergillus. Stachybotrys chartarum (sometimes referred to as “toxic black mold”) is a greenish-black mold, which grows on household surfaces that have high cellulose content, such as wood, fiberboard, gypsum board, paper, dust, and lint and is usually an indicator that there has been elevated moisture present or previous water damage.
Some molds secrete mycotoxins, that can be measured in the urine, such as ochratoxin, aflatoxin, and trichothecenes. Exposure to mold and mold components is well known to trigger inflammation, allergies and asthma, oxidative stress, and immune dysfunction in both human and animal studies. Mold spores, fungal fragments, and mycotoxins can be measured in the indoor environments of moldy buildings and in humans who are exposed to these environments. Most of the time, we are exposed to molds, like stachybotrys, through the skin contact, through ingestion, and by inhalation. Most common are reports of exposure involve water-damaged homes, schools, office buildings, court houses, hospitals, and hotels. It’s estimated that as many as 25% of buildings in the US have had some sort of water damage. Molds have the ability to produce various symptoms, such as skin rashes, respiratory distress, various types of inflammation, cognitive issues, neurological symptoms, and immune suppression. The most common symptoms associated with mold exposure are allergic rhinitis and new onset asthma.
How do you know if you’ve been exposed to mold or a water damaged building?
Top Symptoms Associated with Mold-Associated Illness:
- Fatigue and weakness
- Headache, light sensitivity
- Poor memory, difficult word finding
- Difficulty concentration
- Morning stiffness, joint pain
- Unusual skin sensations, tingling and numbness
- Shortness of breath, sinus congestion or chronic cough
- Appetite swings, body temperature regulation,
- Increased urinary frequency or increased thirst
- Red eyes, blurred vision, sweats, mood swings, sharp pains
- Abdominal pain, diarrhea, bloating
- Tearing, disorientation, metallic taste in mouth
- Static shocks
- Vertigo, feeling lightheaded
Checklist that might indicate mold exposure or mold sensitivity (from ECH website)
- Do musty odors bother you?
- Have you worked or lived in a building where the air vents or ceiling tiles were discolored?
- Have you noticed water damage or discoloration elsewhere?
- Has your home been flooded?
- Have you had leaks in the roof?
- Do you experience unusual shortness of breath?
- Do you experience recurring sinus infections?
- Do you experience recurring respiratory infections and coughing?
- Do you have frequent flu-like symptoms?
- Do your symptoms worsen on rainy days?
- Do you have frequent headaches?
- Are you fatigued and have a skin rash?
How do I Treat Mold/mycotoxin Exposure?
- Remove yourself from the contaminated environment first. (don’t even think about going on to other treatments until you get out of the contaminated environment)
- Avoid exposure to porous items (paper, clothing, etc) from the moldy environment.
- Use clay, charcoal, cholestyramine or other binders to bind internal mycotoxins
- The Shoemaker protocol has proven effectiveness for cholestyramine powder or prescription Welchol as off-label bile sequestering agents to decrease total toxic load of mold and other toxins from water damaged buildings.
- I also recommend Upgraded Coconut Charcoal or GI Detox to bind toxins in the gastrointestinal tract and Glutathione Force to support glutathione, which is often depleted in toxin-related illness.
- While you are using binders, you must maintain normal bowel function and avoid constipation. You can add magnesium citrate, buffered C powder, or even gentle laxatives if needed but constipation is the enemy of detoxification!
- Treat colonizing molds/fungal or bacterial infections in the body
- Common locations of colonization include sinuses, gut, bladder, vagina, lungs
- Test and treat for candida overgrowth – living in an environment with mold leads to immune dysregulation that allows candida to overgrow in the body in some immunocompromised patients
- Enhance detoxification support
- Some common supplements used to aid detox are liposomal glutathione, milk thistle, n-acetylcysteine, alpha lipoid acid, glycine, glutamine, and taurine. Methylation support is also key and involves optimal levels of methylcobalamin (B12), methyl-folate, B6, riboflavin, and minerals
- Invest in a high quality air filter and home and at work, like Austin Air Healthmate Plus
- Avoid common mycotoxin containing foods:
- Corn, wheat, barley, rye, peanuts, sorghum, cottonseed, some cheeses, and alcoholic beverages such as wine and beer. Others include oats, rice, tree nuts pistachios, brazil nuts, chiles, oil seeds, spices, black pepper, dried fruits, figs, coffee, cocoa, beans, bread.
Other Treatment Options
- Follow A Low Mold Diet – many patients to well on a paleo, grain-free diet since grains are often contaminated with mycotoxins and molds
THE LOW MOLD DIET
The Low Mold Diet. Use this guide to shift your diet away from high sugar and starchy foods to more fresh, whole foods. If you suspect you’ve been exposed to mold or mycotoxins, read on below.
Foods that must be avoided
Avoid sugar and sugar containing foods: Table sugar and all other simple, fast releasing sugars such as fructose, lactose, maltose, glucose, mannitol and sorbitol. This includes honey and natural sugar syrup type products such as maple syrup and molasses. This also includes all candies, sweets, cakes, cookies, and baked goods.
Sweetleaf whole leaf stevia concentrate may be used in moderation
High sugar fruits:
- Avoid pineapple, mango, banana, melons, oranges, and grapes
- Organic berries, apples and lemon/lime are ok
Packaged and processed foods:
- Avoid canned, bottled, boxed and otherwise processed and pre-packaged foods as they more often than not contain sugar of one type or another.
- Canned – Baked beans, soups, ready-made sauces.
- Bottled – Soft drinks, fruit juices, all condiments and sauces.
- Boxed/Packaged – Ready-made meals, breakfast cereals, chocolate/candy, ice cream, frozen foods.
Mold and yeast containing foods:
- Cheeses: all cheese, especially moldy cheeses like stilton are the worst, buttermilk, sour cream and sour milk products.
- Alcoholic drinks: beer, wine, cider, whiskey, brandy, gin and rum.
- Condiments: vinegar and foods containing vinegar, mayonnaise, pickles, soy sauce, mustard, relishes.
- Edible fungi: including all types of mushrooms and truffles.
- Processed and smoked meats: sausages, hot dogs, corned beef, pastrami, smoked fish, ham, bacon.
- Fruit juices: All packaged fruit juices may potentially contain molds.
- Dried fruits: raisins, apricots, prunes, figs, dates, etc.
Foods ok to be eaten in small amounts
- Gluten-free grains: brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat, millet, teff, certified gluten-free oats
- High starch vegetables and legumes: sweet corn, potatoes, beans and peas, lentils, sweet potatoes, squashes, turnips, parsnips.
- Fruits: low sugar types such as berries, apples, pears and peaches.
Foods to be eaten freely
- Organic pastured animal products: beef, bison, veal, lamb buffalo, wild-caught seafood, poultry, pastured eggs
- Low carbohydrate vegetables: broccoli, spinach, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, arugula, chard, cucumber, peppers, tomato (fresh only), onion, leek, asparagus, garlic, artichokes,
- Raw nuts and seeds: sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, chia seeds, almonds, low mold nuts (No peanuts, walnuts, pecans,cashews, brazil nuts, )
- Healthy Fats: Extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, coconut milk, ghee, avocado, organic butter
- Other: Tempeh, Miso, Apple Cider Vinegar
- Beverages: Filtered Water, non-fruity herbal teas, mineral water, fresh veggie juice
- Sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT)
- Anti-fungal herbs and medications
- Infared sauna
- Detoxification support – oral and IV
- Remediation procedures for environment and belongings
- Create a “safe” place, with little potential for mold/allergens and great filtration system – this could be a bedroom or other room that is mold and chemical free
- Some patients benefit from IV immunoglobulin therapy (IVIg)
- NEW Better Health Guy interview on MCAS and Mold
- NEW Video Interview with Jay Davidson on Mast Cell Activation, Mold, and Gut Health
- Podcast with The SpaDoctor, Dr. Trevor Cates on The Impact of Mold Exposure on Your Health
- Kirk Hamilton’s Podcast – Staying Healthy Today: CIRS and it’s affect on the Brain
- Podcast: Ultimate Health Podcast – Mold, SIBO, Mind-Body and more!
- Podcast: Mold Mycotoxins and Water Damaged Buildings Interview with Sean Croxton of Underground Wellness… LISTEN HERE
- CLASSIC INTERVIEW with Mike Mutzel of High Intensity Health: Testing for Mold Exposure
- Be sure to watch Dave Asprey’s documentary MOLDY here
More Helpful Resources:
- Read Experience Life Magazine May 2016 Article… It Could Be Mold!
- Guidance for Clinicians on the Recognition and Management of Health Effects Related to Mold Exposure and Moisture Indoors
- A Review of the Mechanism of Injury and Treatment Approaches for Illness Resulting from Exposure to Water-Damaged Buildings, Mold, and Mycotoxins
- Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome – Dr. Berndtson
- Slide Presentation on Mold Toxicity
- Paradigm Change – information on role of mold toxins in Chronic Neuroimmune Disease
- Real Time Labs – Urinary Mycotoxin Testing
- Fungal spore DNA detectible in tissue and body fluids of patients exposed to moldy buildings
- Stachybotrys chartarum: Review of Toxicology Literature
John Groopman, Ph.D.
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
NIEHS Grant P01ES006052, P30ES003819
Research funded in part by NIEHS has shown that drinking a broccoli sprout beverage daily can enhance the detoxification of some airborne pollutants. This inexpensive food-based intervention may provide a way to decrease the long-term health risks of air pollution.
The researchers conducted a clinical trial that included 291 men and women living in a rural farming community in Jiangsu Province, China, an area that experiences high levels of air pollution due to its proximity to Shanghai. Broccoli sprouts provide a good source of glucoraphanin, which is converted to sulforaphane when consumed. Sulforaphane has been shown to increase levels of enzymes involved in detoxification. During the 12-week trial, the researchers asked one group of study participants to drink a broccoli sprout-derived beverage that provided daily doses of 600 micromol glucoraphanin and 40 micromol sulforaphane while a control group of participants consumed a drink that did not contain broccoli sprouts.
For participants receiving the broccoli sprout beverage, the rate of excretion of the carcinogen benzene increased 61 percent on the first day and was maintained throughout the 12 weeks. The rate of excretion of the irritant acrolein rapidly increased 23 percent during the 12-week trial. Additional analyses indicated that sulforaphane might activate the signaling molecule NRF2, which increases the capacity to adapt to and survive a broad range of environmental toxins.
Citation: Egner PA, Chen JG, Zarth AT, Ng D, Wang J, Kensler KH, Jacobson LP, Munoz A, Johnson JL, Groopman JD, Fahey JW, Talalay P, Zhu J, Chen TY, Qian GS, Carmella SG, Hecht SS, Kensler TW. 2014. Rapid and Sustainable Detoxication of Airborne Pollutants by Broccoli Sprout Beverage: Results of a Randomized Clinical Trial in China. Cancer Prev Res (Phila); doi: 10.1158/1940-6207.CAPR-14-0103 [Online 9 June 2014].
The Mastocytosis Society, Inc.
*Inclusion on this list does not necessarily mean that we endorse the organization, group, or business. Before making any changes in your treatment, always be sure to consult your physician.
- Air & Water Sciences
- Gordon Medical Pinterest page on Mold Illness
- Moisture Consultants
- Paul Davis Remediation
- RestCon Environmental
*Inclusion on this list does not necessarily mean that we endorse the organization, group, or business. Before making any changes in your treatment, always be sure to consult your physician.
- Gordon Medical Pinterest page on Mold Illness
- Mycometrics – ERMI testing
- Ritchie Shoemaker – Surviving Mold
Mold and Biotixins Resources – Reading
*Inclusion on this list does not necessarily mean that we endorse the organization, group, or business. Before making any changes in your treatment, always be sure to consult your physician.
Pain Issues and Support
- Environmentally Friendly Mold Remediation Techniques That Significantly Reduce Childhood Asthma
- Locating Hidden Toxic Mold: Revised Edition
- Mold Warriors
- My House Is Killing Me!: The Home Guide for Families with Allergies and Asthma
- My Office Is Killing Me!: The Sick Building Survival Guide
- Surviving Mold: Life in the Era of Dangerous Buildings
- The Mold Survival Guide: For Your Home and for Your Health
Mast Cell Disease Resources (MCAS, Mastocytosis, MCAD)
- California CFS and FMS Support Group Directory
- CFIDS and Fibromyalgia Self Help
- Egoscue: A Revolutionary Method for Stopping Chronic Pain
- Frequency Specific Microcurrent
- How Doctors Take Women’s Pain Less Seriously
- ProHealth Fibromyalgia, ME/CFS and Lyme Disease Forums
- The Rocky Mountain CFS/ME & FM Association
- Fibromyalgia and Chronic Myofascial Pain: A Survival Manual (2nd Edition)
- Frequency Specific Microcurrent in Pain Management
- Gordon Medical blog articles on Fibromyalgia
- Gordon Medical blog articles on Pain
- Gordon Medical blog articles on Pain Relief
- Gordon Medical Pinterest page on Pain Management
- Healing through Trigger Point Therapy: A Guide to Fibromyalgia, Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction
- ME/CFS Knowledge Center Video Library
- Metabolomics Research News
- Pain Free: A Revolutionary Method for Stopping Chronic Pain
- Pain Free for Women: The Revolutionary Program for Ending Chronic Pain
- Recovery Potentially Possible: Naviaux Talks on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS)
- Sick and Tired of Feeling Sick and Tired: Living with Invisible Chronic Illness (New Edition)
- The Girl Who Cried Pain: A Bias Against Women in the Treatment of Pain
- The Fibromyalgia Advocate: Getting the Support You Need to Cope with Fibromyalgia and Myofascial Pain Syndrome
- The Mastocytosis Society Area Support Groups for Mast Cell Disorders
- Dr. T. C. Theoharides presents Mast Cell Disorders
- Mast Cell Activation Symptomatology (Part 1 of 3)
- Mast Cell Activation Symptomatology (Part 2 of 3)
- Mast Cell Activation Symptomatology (Part 3 of 3)
- Mast Cell Diseases Unite – Mastocytosis, MCAS, and Mast Cell Disease Support Community
- Mast Cell Disorders”, Webinar, T. C. Theoharides, PhD, MD,
- Mast Cell Master – T. C. Theoharides, PhD, MD
- Episode #58: Mast Cell Master with Dr. T.C. Theoharides, PhD, MD – Better Health Guy interview
- Mast Cell Research – Dr. Lawrence Afrin
- ‘Never Bet Against Occam: Mast Cell Activation Disease and the Modern Epidemics of Chronic Illness and Medical Complexity’ by Lawrence B. Afrin, M.D.
- Northern California Mastocytosis Support Group – Michelle Lamanna – firstname.lastname@example.org
- Symptoms and Triggers of Mast Cell Activation – TMS
- TMS Mast Cell Conference 2011 Breakout Sessions
- What is Mast Cell Activation Syndrome?
- What is Mastocytosis?
- What is MCAD? by Mast Attack
Associated Conditions Often Seen in Mast Cell DisordersMental Health Resources
- 10 Strategies to Try When You’re Sick of Being Sick
- 10 Things to Try When You’re Feeling Lonely
- 15 Tips from 15 Years Sick
- A Secret for Surviving a Rough Day
- Alcohol Abuse and Crisis Intervention – 1 (800)234-0246
- Al-Anon 1-888-4AL-ANON (1-888-425-2666)
- American Foundation For Suicide Prevention
- Carson J Spencer Foundation
- Drinkline, the National Alcoholism Helpline – UK – 0800 917 8282
- Grieving Chronic Illness and Injury — Infinite Losses
- Lyme, Depression, and Suicide Lyme Rage: Suicide Prevention
- National Alliance on Mental Illness
- National Drug Information Treatment and Referral Hotline – 1 (800) 662-HELP (41-800-662357)
- NIMH~ National Institute of Mental Health
- Pacing: The Chronically Ill Person’s Best Friend Second Wind Fund of Metro Denver – children and teens
- Screen Mental Health
- Sources of Strength
- The 9 Most Frustrating Things About Being Chronically Ill
- Turning Straw Into Gold When You’re Chronically Ill: “Giving Up” Versus “Giving In”
WAIT! Before you get started, make sure to access your FREE guide to mold exposure HERE.
Mast cells are an important part of your immune system, without them you would never heal from an injury. However, there is a condition where they become overactive and cause serious problems in the body – this condition is called mast cell activation syndrome (MCAS).
Mast cell activation syndrome is different from mastocytosis because mast cells aren’t accumulating in various organs. With mastocytosis, there is a proliferation or growth of mast cells, like a cancer. Mastocytosis is also very rare and not usually triggered by an irritant.
On the other hand, MCAS is characterized by overactive mast cells. MCAS can be imagined as though something rubbed up against your mast cells wrong, causing them to become aggravated. Another important difference between MCAS and mastocytosis is that MCAS patients will often come up normal during lab work.
Many things can trigger MCAS, including:
- Heavy metals
From what I’ve seen in my practice and have heard from my colleagues, mold is probably the number one trigger of MCAS, followed by infections. Once these cells are activated they start pouring out all sorts of inflammatory agents, such as histamine, and cytokines.
Up until recently, when anything to do with mast cells where mentioned, histamine was the main inflammatory mediator that came to mind. However, we’ve come to realize that histamine is a very small part of the story.
Hundreds of chemicals have been associated with mast cells and they all have different actions in the body. Mediators include:
Symptoms of MCAS
Currently, the most common illness associated with mold is chronic inflammatory response syndrome (CIRS) but we are finding MCAS is another disease often triggered by mold exposure. Similar to CIRS, MCAS has widespread symptoms that affect nearly every system of the body. This adds to the difficult nature of diagnosing MCAS properly.
Here some of the most common symptoms of MCAS:
- Poor memory
- Brain fog
- Inability to focus
- Mood disorders
- Low blood pressure
- Heart racing
- Becomes lightheaded when they stand up quickly
- Abdominal pain
- Strong PMS symptoms
- Allergy-like symptoms
- Shortness of breath
It’s a common misconception that patients with MCAS have skin problems as the primary symptom. The number one sign of MCAS are neurological symptoms. However, they may also have skin reactions especially if there are a mold patient. Most of my mold patients have hives, flushing, and other skin reactions. This is especially true if they are coming in direct contact with mold or if they are detoxing from mold.
It is possible for a patient with CIRS to also have MCAS. You can tell this is happening when CIRS is correctly and systematically treated, yet the patient doesn’t get well. This is when doctors tend to notice things like flushing and rashes, which are all signs of classical histamine reactions.
Histamine is problematic because it causes blood-brain barrier permeability and gut permeability. Usually, this is accompanied by food allergies and sensitivities. Chronic conditions such as MCAS are inherently complex, this makes diagnosis a process of elimination.
When I see suspected MCAS patients, we have to systematically work through multiple potential diagnoses until we rule out each disease individually. Ultimately, we come to the conclusion that they are struggling with MCAS by ruling out other possibilities.
My Personal Experience with Mold and Mast Cells
In 2014, my office flooded and we had massive mold issues which I didn’t realize for several months. When I realized, I implemented the Shoemaker Protocol immediately. I started taking binders, used other detox methods, and removed myself from the mold exposure.
Shortly after, my body broke out in very severe hives. I took an anti-histamine to deal with the hives but realized what was happening was a massive mast cell activation in detox. My body was detoxing from mold through my treatments and by removing myself from the exposure, but it was causing mast cell activation symptoms. I experiences brain fog, respiratory issues, gastrointestinal distress, and my skin was covered in hives.
I’ve experienced firsthand mast cell activation – it can be very scary. What this means for me is that my body is going to continue to be more sensitive to environmental changes and toxin exposures than the average person. I am more prone to getting hives to exposures like VOCs and other triggers. While this is somewhat unfortunate, there is a lot that can be done for MCAS. Though MCAS treatment does require vigilance, it is possible to live a relatively normal life.
Biomarkers for MCAS
Though there is no definitive test for MCAS there are numerous tests you can combine to support your diagnosis. In the figure below, you’ll find the most common biomarker testing recommended for those suspected of having MCAS. There’s no one lab that does all of these tests, you’ll need to use both LabCorp and Quest.
When it comes to MCAS that’s triggered by mold, there are few biomarkers that are more common than others. These include:
- MMP – 9
- C4a (C4b is usually seen bacterial trigger)
- TGF beta
Also, you need to be sure that your doctor and the lab both know how to carefully handle samples for accurate results. Ultimately, blood test can’t really confirm or deny the presence of an illness. The best way to know if you have MCAS or not, is by ruling out other illnesses through a comprehensive process of elimination. Lab testing helps this process but it’s not the full solution.
MTHFR status and MCAS
When people have MTHFR, A1298C and C677T, They have impaired methylation. If they don’t have enough active methylfolate or active methyl B12 or P5P or Riboflavin they’re prone to have problems with methylation. This is especially important with anyone suspected of having MCAS,
Because methylation is one of the most important pathways our body uses to break down histamine.
In the situation where a patient has impaired methylation, deficiencies and B vitamins, and the MTHFR genetic mutation, this can complicate problems with excess histamine in the body. This is because the body is unable to break down histamine well. If I find a patient is positive for the MTHFR status, we can add methyl B12 and methylfolate.
Other ways the body breaks down histamine include the DAO and MAO enzymes.
Reducing mold exposure is the name of the game
If you suspect you have CIRS or MCAS, it’s important to check for mold exposure. without identifying mold exposure symptoms will only continue to get worse and treatments will be ineffective. this may mean removing yourself from the water damage building.
However, even when you fully remove yourself from a mold exposure your mass cells still might remain active. This is because they need assistance to detox and to return to a stable state.
When it comes to treating MCAS that’s been triggered by mold, you must eliminate mold exposure. Imagine your MCAS like a bucket, the more factors you have contributing to your activated mast cells, the worse your symptoms are.
You need to reduce the number of factors contributing to your MCAS. This is what I mean when I say you need to reduce your toxin burden. You might be surprised at how big of a difference it can make to get yourself into clean air and eating clean food. I always recommend eating as organic as possible, using a water filter, and an air purifier.
At first I can feel overwhelming, but if you change a little at a time, eventually you can make the overhaul necessary to live a full and healthy life. My patients often asked me if everything needs to be done with a hundred percent accuracy. When it comes to mold you really do need to remove yourself completely from the mold filled environment. In other areas of your life you might not necessarily need to be as strict after a while. However, it pays to be as strict as possible when you’re working to stabilize your mast cells initially.
There are a number of supplements you can take to help MCAS, these include natural antihistamines and mast cell stabilizers.
- Ascorbic acid
- Omega 3s
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin C
- Diamine Oxidase enzymes (DAO)
- Umbrellux DAO
- Lactobacillus rhamnosus
- Bifidobacterium spp
If you suspect you have mast cell activation syndrome, I recommend you find an experiences functional medicine doctor who you like working with and trust. Because working to get a chronic condition under control takes time and patience. The good news is – it is possible to live a full and healthy live with MCAS.