Understanding Mold Toxicity and CIRS

Understanding Mold Toxicity and CIRS

Aside from having to toss the occasional loaf of bread that has gone past its prime, most people don’t spend much time thinking about mold. But for those dealing with health issues like mold toxicity and chronic inflammatory response syndrome (CIRS), the threat of mold exposure is a constant concern.

At My Pure MD, we’ve seen firsthand the toll mold toxicity and CIRS can take on a person’s physical and mental wellbeing. Let’s take a closer look at these conditions and explore some steps you can take to prevent and treat them.

How common is mold exposure?

Whether growing in your shower or floating through the air, mold can be found anywhere there is moisture. While a certain amount of mold is inevitable and generally harmless, too much of it has been associated with a wide variety of health issues.

In 2009, the World Health Organization (WHO) released a detailed report estimating that between 10 and 50 percent of indoor environments in North America, Europe, Japan, Australia, and India have significant mold problems.

How does the mold in our homes, schools, and workplaces affect our bodies? Some of the most common symptoms associated with mold exposure include:

  • Coughing
  • Nasal and throat irritation
  • Wheezing
  • Asthma/worsening of asthma
  • Respiratory infections
  • Allergic rhinitis (stuffy, runny nose)

Because symptoms of mold exposure may mimic those of other illnesses, their true cause may be difficult to diagnose. But the dangers posed by moldy environments should not be underestimated—one study of 1,300 office workers found that a whopping 67 percent of adult onset asthma occurred after employment in a water-damaged building.

What is mold toxicity?

Less common but even more serious than general exposure to mold is a condition known as mold toxicity. Caused by the poisonous substances some molds produce, mold toxicity can impact every system of the body. People affected by mold toxicity may experience the following symptoms:

  • Fatigue
  • Joint pain
  • Headaches
  • Brain fog
  • Anxiety
  • Chronic infections
  • Allergies
  • Asthma
  • Difficulty managing weight
  • Bloating
  • Autoimmune disorders

Most practitioners aren’t trained to spot the symptoms of mold toxicity, which can make this potentially debilitating condition even more difficult. As functional medicine experts, we’ve done extensive research on mold toxicity and have experience with diagnosing and treating it.

What’s the connection between mold and CIRS?

CIRS is an illness that’s believed to be triggered by exposure to biotoxins , including mold. (Tick bites and contaminated water are also possible triggers.) When a person who is genetically susceptible to CIRS spends time in a water-damaged building, that person’s immune system may not be able to recognize the mold biotoxins being inhaled. Instead of binding to and removing them from the body, the immune system allows the biotoxins to circulate—potentially indefinitely.

After being exposed to mold biotoxins, a person who is predisposed to CIRS may develop symptoms similar to those of mold toxicity. And, as with mold toxicity, CIRS can be incredibly difficult to diagnose unless you’re working with a professional who knows how to recognize it.

How can I prevent mold exposure?

You’ll never be able to completely eliminate mold, but there are some things you can do to reduce it. Here are some suggestions for preventing mold growth:

  • Maintain a humidity level no higher than 50 percent at home
  • Perform annual inspections of areas where water could leak (bathrooms, kitchens, basements, windows, etc.) and repair as needed
  • Use an air purifier at home and at work to help remove mold toxins

If you suspect mold may already be a problem in your house, consider a mold test. Contact a reputable company that can come to your home, or work with a lab that offers Environmental Relative Moldiness index (ERMI) testing.

How is mold toxicity treated?

In addition to working with a trained provider like those of us at My Pure MD to treat mold toxicity, you can make lifestyle changes to support your body and help it recover. Try incorporating some of these steps into your wellness routine:

  • Take supplements like activated charcoal, bentonite clay, glutathione, and milk thistle that may help with detoxification. Probiotics, immune-supporting supplements, and anti-inflammatories like omega-3 fatty acids and turmeric can also be useful.
  • Engage in detoxifying practices like visiting an infrared sauna once or twice a week.
  • Modify your diet to include foods that support detoxification and reduce inflammation. These include cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, alliums like garlic and onions, leafy greens, berries, beets, artichokes, and flax seeds.

You’re not alone

Mold toxicity and CIRS can be frightening, especially when it feels like no one understands what you’re going through. At My Pure MD, we’re here to offer you the guidance and treatment you need to feel like yourself again.

September 13, 2019