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The Word No One Wants to Hear: Mold!

Updated: Dec 17, 2022

When I lost my hair 8 years ago, we had been living in our current home for about a year. The trigger for me was a round of antibiotics for a urinary tract infection, so I focused entirely on my gut, thinking that was the culprit. What I didn't think about was my 4 year old developing allergies soon after moving into the house. We had also moved states, so I thought that was the reason he'd developed allergies.

In 2021, I visited an allergist and requested skin allergen testing. I had mild seasonal allergies, but I was still looking for any root issues I could address to help my alopecia. The results came back indicating dust mites, some weeds, grasses, and mold were allergens for me. My allergist singled out mold as perhaps a factor in my autoimmune disease.

The next day I ordered an ERMI (environmental relative moldiness index) test. I collected dust from my house and sent it to the lab for analysis. The results came back super high for several strains of aspergillus, and low levels of some of the more dangerous molds, such as stachybotrys and wallemia.

Around the same time, I had an Organic Acids Test (OAT) done. The OAT is an amazing test that is useful for findings lots of issues, but in this case I'm going to focus on the yeast and fungal markers that the OAT reveals.

Markers 2, 4, 5, 6, and 9 indicate mold. Markers 1, 3, 7, and 8 indicate yeast. Tartaric acid was elevated for me, and when my son was tested, he had the same elevated marker. Given this test, my allergy test, and the high levels of mold found in the dust of my house, it was clear that mold was a big issue for me and potentially my family.

The next step was to find and remove the mold. We hired a company called Green Home Solutions. They did a full visual inspection of the house, and found mold growing in the basement. They also checked the walls and around windows with a moisture meter to find potential issues in the walls. Then they spent a full day on remediation. They removed visible mold, wiped surfaces with fungicide, and then fogged the entire house with an enzymatic mist to kill remaining mold. Over the next few weeks, we cleaned the house thoroughly. Fortunately, we'd had the HVAC's replaced recently, and the ducts were clean, so we didn't have to replace anything in the house. We did get rid of a lot of stuff, but I saw this as an opportunity to remove clutter from our lives that we didn't need anyway. We did not throw everything away.

After removing the mold from our house, we started working on removing it from our bodies. First we worked on our detoxification pathways, as I've explained before. Then we supported our bodies by addressing deficiencies found through testing. Then we added a gentle binder, taken on an empty stomach, once a day. That's it.

For some people, it's pretty straightforward- remove mold, symptoms improve, body recovers. For me, it was not that simple. I have some genetic mutations that became active due to mold exposure, and these activations needed to turn off before I could really heal.

The big one for me is CBS. When CBS becomes active, methylation takes a big hit. Homocysteine largely starts being shunted down the Transulfuration pathway instead of being recycled into methionine. It may do this because it needs extra glutathione, and Transulfuration results in the production of glutathione. When there is a high toxic burden on our bodies, in my case in the form of mycotoxins, the body will do whatever it can to protect itself. Glutathione is the body's master antioxidant, so if it thinks you need more of it, it will find a way to make it. In which case, we need to remove the toxin that is causing our body to need more glutathione, so we can get back to homeostasis. Removing the mold from the home was super important, and eventually my body would have removed it as well, but that can take a really long time, so adding the binders helps speed up the process.

Looking at past bloodwork, I can see that this mutation has likely been active since I lost my hair 8 years ago. I can see that it's been active for my son too, in the form of allergies. My husband and other son, whose genetics are both more favorable to being resistant to the effects of mold, have not had the same issues.

I have had several markers of impaired methylation, including low homocysteine, high MCV, and low serum glutamate. Recently my homocysteine has gone up to normal range, and a urinary amino acids test indicates CBS has turned off. It will take longer for MCV to go down, but I'm hopeful it will. My allergy symptoms have improved, and so have my son's. It took about a year from the time I found the mold to when I started seeing real progress in my healing journey. It takes time.

If you suspect mold, look at your symptoms. Allergy symptoms such as stuffy nose, itchy eyes, fatigue, brain fog, frequent sinus infections, post-nasal drip, vertigo, tinnitus, hair loss, and asthma. And for those of us who are susceptible, it can cause mitochondrial damage that can lead to autoimmune disease.

Nobody likes to hear they have mold. It's expensive, it's scary, but it's also fixable. Will removing mold reverse my autoimmune disease? I don't know, but I know it can only help. And I rest better knowing I'm hopefully preventing my kids from expressing autoimmunity in the future.

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