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Is toxic mold causing your symptoms?

Mold is a type of fungus; it is different than bacteria, viruses, parasites. It is eukaryotic cell. It has nucleus mitochondria and other cellular organelles attached to its membrane. It derives its nutrition and energy from moist organic material and not from photosynthesis. There are nontoxic mold used for food, beverage production, pharmaceutical use, making antibiotics, or probiotics etc.

It is estimated that indoor air pollutants, including mold and mycotoxins may be contributing to many of our illnesses. Molds are ubiquitous in world and mold spores can be found in household and workplace dust. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported that after many hurricanes and major floods, excessive exposure to mold contaminated materials can cause adverse health effects in susceptible individual regardless of type of mold or extent of contamination.

Toxic Mold
Toxic Mold

When mold spores are present in abnormally high concentration they can present major health risks to humans. We get exposed to molds through the skin contact, or breathing. Water damaged or damp indoor environment like homes, schools, office buildings, hospitals, hotels, construction areas, renovations, flower shops, summer cottages, and damp areas, are associated with exposure to mold. The most common types of molds 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.

Mold Types
Mold Types

Molds can secrete mycotoxin that can be measured in urine .Exposure to mold and mycotoxin can trigger allergies, asthma, inflammation resulting into oxidative stress and immune dysfunction in humans and animals.

Molds have the ability to produce various symptoms like respiratory distress, inflammation, cognitive issue, neurological symptoms, immune suppression, skin rashes, fatigue, memory loss, brain fog, headaches, muscle stiffness and joint pain, unusual skin sensation, sinus complaints, loss of appetite and body temperature dysregulation, increased urinary frequency and thirst, red eye, abdominal symptoms with diarrhea bloating, static shocks, vertigo feeling lightheaded etc.

These symptoms have been misdiagnosed as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, multiple sclerosis, depression, stress, allergy, PTSD, somatization, IBS, ALS, multiple sclerosis, and have been treated, without much success. There are specific tests that can be performed that can point in the direction of mycotoxin and biotoxin being the cause.

If you suspect that toxic mold exposure may be causing symptoms, you should start with–

1. Get your home checked by reputable company for mold exposure.

2. Remove yourself completely from the contaminated environment.

3. Do not expose yourself with the items from environment like clothing, books, carpet.

4. Under medical supervision consider using charcoal, bile binding agent .

5. Consider getting evaluation for nutrition, and treating inflammation and oxidative stress that mold could have generated in your body.

6. Your gut can be colonizing mold, fungi, Candida, bacteria, so get tested and seek treatment. These infections can cause Leaky gut also. If so must consider treatment for the same.

7. Support your detoxification ability by increasing green leafy vegetable as smoothie, vitamin C, and methylation support. It is advisable this to be done under physician’s advice.

8. If you made decision to live in the same home, please consider having high-quality air filter.

9. Avoid common foods which could have mycotoxin.

Some examples of food with possible mycotoxins are– alcoholic beverage like wine and beer, peanuts, sorghum, cottonseed, some cheese, corn, wheat, barley, tree nuts, pistachio, Brazil nuts, dried fruits, fix, coffee, Coco, beans, bread.

10. Remember it is doable.

I want you to know you are not alone. You are not crazy. And this illness is not all in your head. It is a real illness that has destroyed lives. But, there is hope!
The first step is finding out what the problem is. People get their lives back and are armed with the knowledge they need to know to keep their bodies safe.
Do not give up, and know that there is help available for you.

Some Thoughts on Autoimmune Diseases

My thoughts on autoimmune diseases.

Autoimmune disease affects up to 50 million Americans, according to the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association (AARDA). The healthy human body is equipped with powerful set of tools for resisting invading foreign antigenic material, toxins and microorganisms (such as bacteria viruses and parasites.). It is called immune system. Sometimes immune system is misdirected and attacks the body itself. This misdirected response of immune system is called autoimmunity, which is demonstrated in body by presence of autoantibody or T lymphocyte reactivity to host cells.
Autoimmune disease is a major threat to health. There are more than 80 illnesses, caused by autoimmune process. Women constitute more than 75% of the population affected by these illnesses.

Practically all organs of the body can be affected by autoimmune disease. Thus symptoms vary widely and diagnoses and treatment are often difficult. Another problem is that diseases of autoimmune origin are allocated to different medical specialties based on organ system immediately affected. As for example, autoimmune conditions of brain and nerves are treated by neurologist, endocrine system by endocrinologist, joint and muscle by a rheumatologist.
Yet the basic principles governing one autoimmune disease are applicable to others. The common threads uniting the autoimmune diseases are the presence of an autoimmune response based on persons genetic risk factors combined with environmental factors( like food, infection, toxins, allergens, physical or mental stress) and increased permeability of the intestinal tract, called leaky gut.

As autoimmune condition is one in which a misdirected immune system starts attacking the body’s own tissue causing symptoms and diseases.

When you view the body from functional medicine perspective, illness is a process of continuum. It does not suddenly appear one fine morning. At the highest end of spectrum there are people with fully developed autoimmune conditions– like chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, psoriasis, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, Graves’ disease, rheumatoid arthritis. multiple sclerosis, cardiovascular diseases etc. At the milder and lower end of spectrum, people may present with multitude of symptoms— like allergies, food intolerance, foggy brain, memory problems, fatigue, fibromyalgia, rash, eczema, depression and anxiety, joint pain, muscle pain, headaches, migraine, fibrocystic breast disease, obesity, sleep disorder, multitude of digestive issue, B12 deficiency, uterine fibroid, and much more.

Conventional medicine viewpoint is that autoimmunity is genetic condition. As the genes evolve very slowly the incidence of autoimmune conditions should remain constant for a long time. That is not the case. In last 50 years, the incidence of autoimmunity in the United States has tripled, so there must be something in addition to genes causing this increase. Knowing this, it is conceivable to think that these conditions could have been prevented, and if one already has the disease, that can be improved.

. The overwhelming amount of chemicals in our air, water and food–toxins that we are exposed to virtually nonstop at home, and at work and in our environment, infections that we get exposed to with our changing gut microbiome, stress level in our lives, has stressed our immune systems to an unprecedented extent.

But there is hope. Functional medicine looks at autoimmune condition with different viewpoint, tries to find common thread and approaches accordingly.
Principles and mechanism of how autoimmunity happens and what can be done about it, we will be subject of another blog.

Gratitude and Science

Gratitude and Science

Our emotions are powerful enough to cause real change in our body’s physiology. It is not the thoughts but the reaction to the thoughts -those emotions that arise from the thoughts -that affects us and people around us. Emotions affect our neuro endocrine (brain and hormonal systems) system that in turn affects our physical, psychological, and social being. When brain, heart, and neuro endocrine system are in coherence, this actually enhances the body’s ability to clarify our thoughts and affect our emotion. Practice of gratitude allows us to put neuro endocrine and heart system in coherence.

Gratitude is affirmation of goodness in life. It does not mean life is perfect and without burdens. Gratitude also means to find out where the goodness is coming from and who one can be thankful to for that.
Robert A Emmons PhD, Professor of Psychology at UC Davis says, gratitude has power to heal, energize and change lives. It can heal from past hurts; gives hope and inspiration for future. It helps in turning mind from a focusing on what is lacking to what we have.

When he studied 1000 people, who practiced gratitude daily for 3 weeks they reported great deal of benefits.

Physical
• Stronger immune systems
• Less bothered by aches and pains
• Lower blood pressure
• Exercise more and take better care of their health
• Sleep longer and feel more refreshed upon waking

Psychological
• Higher levels of positive emotions
• More alert, alive, and awake
• More joy and pleasure
• More optimism and happiness

Social
• More helpful, generous, and compassionate
• More forgiving
• More outgoing
• Feel less lonely and isolated.

Short form of thanks is good gesture, but looking at life situation rom gratefulness and with gratitude is very powerful. One should put gratitude on line of continuum
From habit of saying thank you to deeper orientation of genuine feeling of gratitude towards life.

Regular practice of gratitude enhances power of looking at goodness in all situations.
–It makes one more stress resilient.
–It strengthens social ties and self-worth. One realizes past and present network of relations that have played a part in getting one where they are. One may have taken them for granted but not anymore.
–It makes to look at life as a satisfied person and not deprived
–It allows one to have appreciation and celebration of present.
–Blocks toxic emotions like envy, resentment, depression. Toxic emotions can destroy opportunity for happiness, calm peaceful life, and optimal functioning.

Gratitude is not another form of positive thinking. In gratitude one actually recognizes one’s dependence on others. To practice gratitude one has to be a good receive (of other people’s good actions) . Gratitude comes with obligation and responsibility

Gratitude does not make people complacent or passive and not motivated. Research has shown that people who practiced gratitude regularly feel well, are happy and are more motivated to succeed, are more productive and make progress.

To practice gratitude one has to make an conscious effort. It does not come easily. We are not all abstract thinkers, so visual reminders that make us aware of creating a mindset of feeling grateful about our lives is needed. As for example, have visual of some pictures that have a specific meaning to you, or have a jar labeled “gratitude jar” in your eyesight. Practicing gratitude for few weeks can slowly become a second nature.

I invite you to write daily in your gratitude journal, brief reflection of moments for which you are thankful for, what you received and who was the giver of that action. I invite you to embrace this practice in your daily life and begin to heal yourself and radiate gratefulness to all those around you.

Leaky Gut

Leaky gut syndrome, is not generally recognized by conventional physicians, but evidence is accumulating that it is a real condition that affects the lining of the intestines. The theory is that leaky gut syndrome (also called increased intestinal permeability), is the result of damage to the intestinal lining. As a consequence, some bacteria and their toxins, incompletely digested proteins and fats, and waste not normally absorbed may “leak” out of the intestines into the blood stream and generate all sorts of chemical reaction, resulting in to illness.
This one layer intestinal physical barrier of our gut is as large as 2 tennis courts. Like our skin it is the principal interface between body and all what we eat and drink. Other factor that helps with gut integrity is ,gut microflora–microbiome–it helps the barrier by forming healthy biofilm. As shown in illustration below, gastric acid, mucus, some antibodies and enzymes and immunological barrier are all at the to protect our body and blood stream to get exposed to toxins.
Some of the Factors that the alter and damage both these barriers are stress, toxins, inflammation, infection, poor diet, chemicals, heavy metals, and much more, causing leaky gut–intestinal permeability.(fig-1)

Layers of Normal barrier (Fig 1) [with permission from IFM]
Layers of Normal barrier (Fig 1) [with permission from IFM]
As the barrier is compromised that allows foreign material into our body, tissue, blood stream and automatically our body starts the process to eliminate this foreign material. This causes inflammation and upper regulates our own immune system. In that process are body forearms immune complexes, they themselves with the chemical reaction, cause inflammation and damage organs. A lot of times these invading foreign material, antigen often mimics specific protein complex of specific organ( just to give you some examples,) thyroid tissue or joint tissue, resulting in to thyroiditis or arthritis.

Altered Intestinal Permeability
Altered Intestinal Permeability

This increased permeability does not just happen in intestinal tract. As different toxins get access into our body, because of increased intestinal permeability, it affects all membrane interface, such as blood brain barrier giving access to immune complex affecting our brain, resulting in to multiple symptoms like difficulty with memory, confusion, “foggy brain” etc. If it affects kidney it can cause renal problems, if it affects lung, it can cause allergy, asthma, and other conditions.

Healthy Gut
Healthy Gut

There is a great deal of research linking leaky gut and multi organ system failure.
Increased permeability or leaky In itself is not disease, but it is a dysfunction of the lining which in turn increase the toxic burden for body, and the process of dealing with this toxic burden causes myriads of symptoms and diseases.

Alessio Fasano, world leading researcher on celiac disease proposed without increased intestinal permeability (Leakey gut), genetic predisposition and antigenic load (Gluten), alone is not enough to cause celiac disease ( which is one of the autoimmune conditions ). All 3 conditions are needed for autoimmune illness.

Damaged Cell Junctions
Damaged Cell Junctions

Usually one may not think following conditions do not have any common link but they do, partly because of leaky gut being one of the major root causes of these symptoms and conditions (2,3)

Allergies, asthma,
Food sensitivities, and food allergies,
Digestive disorder, constipation, IBS, diarrhea, bloating, dyspepsia, abdominal pain
Arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis
Autoimmune conditions , chronic joint pain chronic muscle pain
Hashimoto thyroiditis,
Environment illnesses, multiple chemical sensitivities
Eczema, acne, rash, psoriasis, hives
Fatigue, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome
Sleep disturbances,
Fuzzy memory, foggy brain,
Cognitive disorder
Migraines,
Anxiety, depression, mood changes,
Food allergies and sensitivities.

Any one of these symptoms and illnesses can developed depending on your own susceptibilities determined by your own physiology, detoxication ability, genetics, nutrition…

Relatively noninvasive test exists to diagnose increased intestinal permeability. The test is performed by giving patient lactulose and mannitol. These are type of sugars. These sugars are not metabolized by our body so the amount absorbed is excreted in the urine over 6 hours. Because of their differential absorption, their ratio of excretion in the urine helps us determine possibility of leaky gut.

First step in approaching these conditions is to have a thorough knowledge about this condition and tools to approach this illness. Functional medicine approach is systematic way of thinking about your condition and personalized way to evaluate, and help you get to the recovery.