The Invisible Enemy

mold“If, however, the mark breaks out again in the house after he has torn out the stones and scraped the house, and after it has been replastered, then the priest shall come in and make an inspection. If he sees that the mark has indeed spread in the house, it is a malignant mark in the house; it is unclean. “He shall therefore tear down the house, its stones, and its timbers, and all the plaster of the house, and he shall take them outside the city to an unclean place.” – New American Standard Bible

I apologize as I haven’t written a post for quite a few weeks. We’ve been dealing with a monster in the closet, so to speak. Actually, the monster is in the walls somewhere. I was very ill through April into May with a raging sinus infection that knocked me down and dragged me around for three weeks. On and off 103 degree fevers, I could not breathe through my nose, and I contemplated buying stock in Kleenex. The otolaryngologist put me on oral and injectable antibiotics for the haemophilus influenzae that came up in my nasal culture. For the first time since I beat cancer 15 years ago, I was actually scared. I thought I might end up in the hospital, but I mustered up the energy to make it through my work day and go home to lay in bed. To attempt to combat the warfare that the multiple antibiotics were going to wreak upon my intestinal flora, I forced myself to eat a yogurt each morning. That was all I had the appetite for, so I started losing weight too. My coworkers were very concerned about my health, every day they would ask me how I was doing. I got by on yogurt and lots of organic herbal teas that month.

The whole experience cost me time, my health, and quite a bit of money in doctor and pharmacy bills. I was barely functional for my son’s birthday in April, so I did not have a party for him this year. He also had a sinus infection, albeit much milder. I usually am dead set against any radiation exposure since my cancer experience, but I conceded and had a sinus CT scan. The report showed just maxillary sinus disease, which is typical of fungal sinusitis. Because I knew how much better I felt when we were in Arizona I decided against sinus surgery. I made the decision then that I was done with this house, with the humidity and wetness in NJ, and the only thing that kept me from leaving everything behind right now and driving to the desert with some clothing in a bag was our upcoming nuptials. Airline tickets were already purchased (non-refundable); plans were already in place, things that weighed heavily on how much more I was willing to take to get past this. I have been through hell before with my health before, so now I’m stressing over this whole situation. We have no family to stay with that have a clean(er) house. There are no guarantees that a nearby apartment will be any cleaner and the rent for a 1 bed in my town is 1500, plus you have to lock yourself into a long term lease. I don’t want to be locked into a lease in a state I don’t want to stay in. We decided it’s only a few months, we can make it right??

Two months after the sinus infection episode, my hair started falling out. Usually this would be an indicator of my thyroid being off, but I felt normal energy wise. My thyroid labs seemed ok to confound this even more. My physician thinks it could be a combination of the stress of the mold illness and the stress it has put on me mentally knowing what caused it. I upped my intake of vitamins and switched to a thinning hair shampoo to try to help my hair grow. It did stop falling out after about a month, but the damage had been done, and right before our wedding!

Four months after the episode with my sinus infection I got the ERMI test done from Mycometrics. It showed all 5 toxic black molds that are of the most concern in the home, along with some other nasty varieties like aspergillus niger.

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My Ikea Dresser

This was not a good sign, and meant that we would have to give away or trash most of our porous possessions. This is a hard thing to do, especially for me because I have tons of artwork I created growing up and lots of photographs from before we had digital cameras. I also amassed an extensive book collection over the years which I love, even autographed copies of books for my son. Paper is a big carrier of mycotoxins unfortunately, and impossible to clean. Photos and documents can be scanned at least, but the artwork is too large to scan most of it. Luckily for me, I had bought IKEA furniture for us, and it just so happens they are recalling all the dressers now. One less thing for me to worry about getting rid of! I’m trying to look at the positive side of joyful minimalism and getting rid of everything. (I have learned that over a long time the toxins can dissipate, so I will be saving the most sentimental paper items and things in a plastic tote.)

Five months passed now, I have been taking Cholestyramine powder to help bind the toxins. It causes some GI issues such as cramping, constipation, or diarrhea, but it is better than doing nothing. I started my son on activated charcoal and bentonite clay. Now it’s just a nightmarish waiting game of counting down the days to moving day, of being able to see Dr. Gray or Dr. Ackerley in Arizona to detox after the big move. I am praying for a clean space out there and dream of the nice dry warm air. We removed everything from the dressers to give them back to IKEA and I was horrified to see mold growing on the jewelry compartment that had never had a spill! I was so glad to get rid of those dressers.

These 5 molds are the worst of the worst; even one spore of stachybotrys chartarum could indicate a serious indoor mold problem:

  • Aspergillus penicillioides
  • Aspergillus versicolor
  • Chaetomium globosum
  • Stachybotrys chartarum
  • Wallemia sebi
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The ERMI test

Toxic black mold is extremely dangerous for everyone living in the building, even if they do not have the genetic susceptibility to be a canary in the coal mine as I am. I’m not sure if it’s a gift or a curse at times; where we are living there is no mold smell to tip us off. The only way I figured it out was my chronic sinusitis; I refused to listen to the doctors after a while when they would insist it’s not mold. I had a lightbulb moment one day listening to Bulletproof Radio and Dave Asprey discussed how he grew up in a moldy house and it messed him up; he had chronic sinus infections and autoimmune disease. Mold can suppress your immune system, cause inflammation, and damage the myelin sheath. Symptoms can vary so greatly from person to person, from acne or eczema to ulcerative colitis and chronic fatigue syndrome. I also believe that my eye floaters I have acquired more recently are due to the mold exposures, if you research the subject there is a lot to support this theory. I will have to find out if that goes away once I am detoxed, but I am optimistic.

 

Multiple Sclerosis is a rather common result of long term exposure of Stachybotrys or Chaetomium, according to studies they both can destroy the myelin sheath; the security system to your highway of nerves, which can lead to a host of permanent and severe health problems. When the World Health Organization recently convened, Dr. A.V. Costantini, head of the organization; an internist who modestly claims to be a “just a country doctor,” listed fourteen diseases wherein fungal (mold & Candida Albicans) forms of microorganisms have been found include the following: atherosclerosiscancer, AIDSdiabetes mellitus, rheumatoid arthritisSjogren’s syndromesystemic lupus erythematosusgoutCrohn’s diseasemultiple sclerosishyperactivity syndromeinfertilitypsoriasiscirrhosis of the liverAlzheimer’s disease, sclerodermaRaynaud’s Diseasesarcoidosiskidney stonesamyloidosis, vasculitis, and Cushing’s disease. The government and insurance companies offer little to no protection against this hidden menace, even though it can be just as damaging as a house fire. (Many people lose almost all of their possessions due to microscopic mycotoxin contamination.)

Things I’ve been utilizing to detox myself:

  1. Cholestyramine powder – This is a powdered resin that you have to drink in a liquid. Only available as a prescription, but has minimal side effects and is currently one of the best binders for mycotoxins. (That I know of.)
  2. Activated Charcoal – You can use any variety of activated charcoal, I use a powdered one in liquid for my son and we take the capsule form. Bulletproof offers a great activated charcoal.
  3. Diffusing Rocky Mountain oil’s Purify blend or my own version of Thieves oil. These essential oils help to combat biotoxins and bacteria in the air.
  4. HEPA air purifier – I’m not sure how well the one I currently have works, I plan to upgrade to a better one after we move.
  5. Supplements – I take a slew of supplements to help with inflammation: fish oil, reduced glutathione, turmeric, CoQ10, probiotics, Vitamin C, Vitamin D3 + K2, and a multivitamin. (All of my inflammation marker labs have turned up negative so I guess it is working!)
  6. Neti pot with salt, colloidal silver, oil of oregano, or Manuka honey dissolved in distilled water. I rotate these around as they are all powerful against microbes in their own ways.
  7. Nasal spray with Xylitol or Olive leaf extract. Xylitol helps break down biofilms so that other substances can get to the bacteria in the sinuses and eradicate them. Olive leaf is a great remedy against viruses and bacteria.
  8. Bentonite clay, salt, and essential oils in the bath to pull toxins.

Have you ever experienced mold problems before? I would love to hear from you and how you dealt with it. And please share this if you found it helpful, I fear many people have chronic health issues or children with asthma and they have no idea that it could be their home or work causing their health problems, especially in humid climates.

If you would like more information visit:

http://www.momsaware.com

http://www.survivingtoxicmold.com

http://www.paradigmchange.me

http://www.survivingmold.com

http://www.moldymovie.com (This documentary featured more than one person from NJ!)

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My Thoughts on Supplementation 

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A beautiful bounty of organic produce

I went back and forth on whether or not to take supplements as I grew up. The media tends to confuse us with the back and forth studies: Multivitamins will raise mortality rates, no wait, vitamins are good for you! The thing I’ve come to realize over time and much researching is that the Type and Quality of the supplements you take matter. You can indeed cause harm by taking the wrong type of supplements or the wrong doses. Vitamin A in beta carotene form is way different than Vitamin A in retinol form. Vitamin C as ascorbic acid is very different from whole food Vitamin C derived from oranges.

So, what do we take for supplementation? Should you supplement? What about children?

It’s also important to understand your body’s unique needs and genetics. If you can afford to do it, I highly recommend getting your genome test done from a site such as 23andme.com. This allows you to better understand what your body’s individual needs are. For example, if you have a defect in the MTFHR gene you should be taking methyl folate. What you take will also be based on your dietary needs as well. Supplementation is meant to enhance and supplement your healthy diet, not supplant a bad diet.

From the time I thought about possibly having a baby, I took a multivitamin only with a separate fish oil supplement. I did this throughout my pregnancy. I did not want to use the prescription prenatal with all of the additives and artificial colors. I used New Chapter Perfect Prenatal organic whole food derived vitamins, and Garden of Life Ocean’s Mom 3 Prenatal fish oil supplement. Optimally, you would skip the multivitamin and try to buy each supplement you need individually. This is not the easiest route and it takes more research and money, but if you can do it, go for it!

What do I take today? A slew of supplements, which I understand is not a fit for everyone, but it works for me to keep my health optimal. It is costly and you have to put in the effort to swallow 20 pills a day. This is my current list of vitamins:

  1. Gotu Kola by Nature’s Way – I heard of this from Wim Hof, it is good for the skin sag I have from the rapid wasting I had in the hospital on chemo.
  2. Caprylic Acid by Now – This is good antifungal and has many uses. From PubMed: Caprylic acid is superior to & less expensive than Diflucan, & has potential application for anti-cancer, anti-aging, anti-Alzheimer’s disease, anti-Autism, anti-infection, & general circulatory improvement.
  3. Hawthorn Extract by Now – This has been studied many times on PubMed for use in treating CHF, or heart failure. It is also good for Hypertension. Anyone who has been through cancer treatments knows that your cardiovascular system could use some support!
  4. Organic Olive Leaf Oil by Barlean’s – The oleuropein, and other compound found in olive leaf, have a unique feature that makes the leaves particularly effective in fighting against various micro-organisms such as bacteria and viruses. These substances impair the ability of the viruses to create amino acids, thus preventing their ability to reproduce and multiply. It has been found that oleuropein is able to relax the blood vessels, lower blood pressure and even prevent the formation of blood clots. In addition, olive leaf also helps to stop irregular heartbeat, improve blood flow in the coronary arteries and balances blood sugar levels.
  5. Super Ubiquinol CoQ10 by Life Extension – I have been taking CoQ10 for a long time to offset the hardships my body endured from chemo. Recently I have stepped it up with this CoQ10 + Ubiquinol. Super Ubiquinol CoQ10 with BioPQQ® contains shilajit (which studies have shown doubles CoQ10 levels in the mitochondria) plus the breakthrough compound PQQ (shown to support the spontaneous generation of new mitochondria in aging cells). This represents a three-way strategy for enhanced mitochondrial support.
  6. Ultra-C 400 by MegaFoodA landmark study published in 2004 in the Journal of American College of Nutrition studied U.S. Department of Agriculture nutritional data from both 1950 and 1999 for 43 different vegetables and fruits, finding “reliable declines” in the amount of protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron, riboflavin (vitamin B2), and vitamin C over the past half century.  Today’s fruits and veggies were found to contain 30% less vitamin C than your grandparents’ fruits and vegetables.
  7. EGCg by Now – From PubMed: Intervention studies using similar amounts of green tea, containing 200-300 mg ofEGCG, have demonstrated its usefulness for maintaining cardiovascular and metabolic health.
  8. Organic Evening Primrose Oil by Barlean’s – I take this for its health benefit for hypothyroidism and hair loss/brittleness. It does seem to help with hair and skin!
  9. Vital Proteins Collagen – Collagen peptides contain the same amino acids as gelatin which is identical to the protein found in skin, nails, hair, bones, cartilage, and joints. You can add this grass fed, pasture raised collagen to any liquid or yogurt for extra nutrition.
  10. Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega – Fish oil is well studied to help with inflammation and cell function. (30% of your brain is made of DHA) I also eat fish every week. Nordic Naturals uses nitrogen to process their fish oil and keep it from oxidizing. Make sure to refrigerate these!
  11. Vitamin Code Raw Calcium by Garden of Life – I was low in calcium after pregnancy so I spent time researching calcium supplements. I found that vitamin D, magnesium and K2 are very important for your body to be able to use calcium, they work synergistically. This supplement uses plant calcium along with vitamin D3, MK-7 from natto (converts to K2 in the body), magnesium, and other naturally occurring minerals and trace elements.
  12. Vitamin D3 by Life ExtensionVitamin D3 can be synthesized by humans in the skin upon exposure to ultraviolet-B (UVB) radiation from sunlight. But, due to the winter season, weather conditions, and sun block, the body’s ability to produce optimal vitamin D levels may be inhibited. I take this D3 along with the D3 in my calcium supplement to keep my D level optimal. I do not live in a sunny state (yet!) so I have my D tested regularly.
  13. Probiotic with FOS by Jarrow – Probiotics are well known to benefit gut health, the immune system, and possibly even brain health. It contains strains that help protect and maintain a balanced intestinal microflora, and support immune function and intestinal health. (FOS is a natural prebiotic fiber that enhances the growth of beneficial bacteria in the intestinal tract.) They must be kept refrigerated.
  14. Turmeric Strength by MegaFoods – Curcumin is the potent anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer active ingredient in turmeric. It has been well studied to be full of awesome, with minimal contraindications. Look for products standardized for 95% curcuminoids.

For my toddler, I give him a few things to supplement his diet and picky on and off toddler eating.

  1. Rainbow Light chewable multivitamin – My integrative medicine pediatrician recommended these over gummies. Are they organic? No. But so far it is hard to find a great vitamin for kids.
  2. Nordic Naturals Omega-3 gummies – Fish oil is important for good health and brain development, and this is one of the best brands out there for fish oil. It also doesn’t smell or taste fishy. (So that kids will eat them!)
  3. Green Pastures Blue Ice Infused Organic Coconut Oil – Each serving has 65% min coconut oil, 2+/-ml of Blue Ice Fermented Cod Liver Oil, and .5ml +/- of X-Factor Gold High Vitamin Butter oil and / or Blue Ice Skate Liver Oil. I mix this in warm juice so that my little one will take it and get his healthy fats.
  4. Udo’s Choice Flora Infant’s Probiotic -includes 6 strains of beneficial bacteria for infants and toddlers 0-5 years old. One serving per day helps maintain healthy intestinal flora, support the immune system, synthesize important B vitamins necessary for development, and is ideal for travelers to maintain healthy flora while away from home. I have used this since my son was born, I would mix it in breastmilk and now in his drinks. I use extra whenever he isn’t feeling well.

Always do your research on vitamins before you start. Some people may not need to supplement if they are getting all of their nutrients from food. It is of my opinion that most people nowadays are very busy, we get old food from grocery stores that could have lost some nutrition, and we have poisoned and depleted much of our soil that it is not up to its full potential to create nutrient dense foods. For these reasons and more, I feel very comfortable taking vitamins. Nutrition is important, and we all do the best we can with what we know.

Do you supplement? What are some of your favorite supplements? Comment below, I would love to hear your thoughts!