Mold and Mycotoxins: Often overlooked factors in Chronic Lyme Disease

“Lyme” Is More than Lyme Alone

Mold & mycotoxins can be linked to Lyme Disease

Mold & Mycotoxins – linked to Lyme Disease

In the recently released book “Why Can’t I Get Better?: Solving the Mystery of Lyme and Chronic Disease” by Richard I. Horowitz, MD, a compelling argument is made that there is much more to chronic Lyme disease than Lyme alone. In fact, Dr. Horowitz unveils his “16-Point Differential Diagnostic Map” which suggests numerous “nails” in the foot which must be explored in order to regain wellness. He further expands the concept of “chronic Lyme disease” by suggesting MSIDS, or Multiple Systemic Infectious Disease Syndrome, as a more encompassing term for the multiple underlying factors involved in chronic illness.

In my personal experience recovering from Lyme disease after a tick bite in 1996 in Northern California, the journey has been one of uncovering many stones and addressing numerous layers of issues that were impacting my health. While Borrelia, Bartonella, Babesia, Ehrlichia, and many other microbial factors did play a role, it was not until I read the book “Mold Warriors” by Ritchie Shoemaker MD in 2006 that I considered the possibility of mold as another key part of the systemic body burden that had unknowingly made me ill for so many years.

Upon further evaluation, it was determined that I had been living in an apartment for nearly ten years that was contaminated with numerous molds including Stachybotrys, better known as “toxic black mold”. Removing myself from this constant, daily exposure to an environment that was not conducive with my recovery was an important step to take. Moving to a safer environment was one of the best things that I did as part of my journey back to health. I do not think I would be where I am today if I had not discovered and addressed this ongoing, toxic environmental factor that was contributing to my then poor state of health.

The connection between those struggling with chronic Lyme disease and ongoing exposure to toxic molds and mycotoxins is quite clear. Dr. Wayne Anderson has found that exposure to Lyme disease can make one more susceptible to mold illness, and vice versa; exposure to mold can make one more susceptible to Lyme disease. Both have the potential to affect the immune system and make the other more difficult to treat.

Dr. Neil Nathan has found mold toxicity to be a big piece of the puzzle in a very significant portion of patients with chronic Lyme disease. Lisa Nagy MD has suggested that many Lyme patients have a damaged immune system resulting from mold or pesticide exposures and that a focus on Lyme and co-infections may not always be the right focus.

One of the downsides of “chronic Lyme disease” is that Lyme often becomes the focus of treatment when, in fact, it may not be the dominant stressor that the body is burdened by. The intent behind this article is to suggest a more expanded view of chronic Lyme disease and to consider that both environmental exposures to toxic molds and the production of mycotoxins resulting from fungal colonization in the body can be significant issues in terms of symptom presentation; as well as both the severity and duration of the illness.

What Are Molds and Mycotoxins?

Mold and yeast are both different types of fungi. Molds are multicellular fungi and grow in filamentous hyphae, or long thread-like branches. They produce airborne spores, and are often quite colorful. In nature, molds are the recyclers of organic waste. While they are closer to plants than animals, they cannot undergo photosynthesis and thus rely on organic matter for nutrition. They reproduce using both sexual and asexual methods. Yeasts are single-celled microscopic fungi that are round or oval in shape and are generally colorless in appearance.

They reproduce asexually via mitosis or budding. Yeasts are often used in fermentation of alcoholic beverages such as wine and beer and are used in baking. Some yeasts, such as Candida albicans, can be opportunistic infections in humans.

Mycotoxins are toxic chemicals produced by both molds and yeasts. They are believed to be used by fungal organisms as a protective mechanism; as a way to stake out their territory and to allow for further proliferation of the fungi. Additionally, within a host, they may be used by the fungi in order to weaken host defenses in support of persistence of the fungal organisms.

The environment in which the fungi live may be directly correlated to the output of mycotoxins. The more threatened the fungi are by the surrounding environment, the more they may utilize mycotoxin production as a protective weapon. Mycotoxins are not essential for the fungi to maintain their existence, but they do provide a competitive advantage. In some cases, humans get caught in the crossfire.

Mycotoxins in the body may be the result of external exposure to molds or internal, colonizing fungal organisms. They are generally found intracellularly and may be stored in body fat, myelin, tissues, organs, and other body sites.

While there are hundreds of different mycotoxins that have been discovered, some of the more common ones include aflatoxin, ochratoxin, citrinin, ergot alkaloids, patulin, fumonisin, trichothecene, and zearalenone. The focus of this article will be on aflatoxin, ochratoxin A, and trichothecene given that these can be readily measured via laboratory testing performed on a urine sample; providing a useful tool for practitioners working with patients with mold-associated illnesses.

Ongoing mold and mycotoxin exposure can be a very serious issue creating illness in the genetically susceptible. Sadly, the importance of evaluating for the potential of mold illness and taking appropriate corrective actions is often overlooked by many practitioners and patients alike.

Shoemaker’s Mold Contributions

Ritchie C. Shoemaker MD deserves tremendous credit for being the voice that brought mold illness to our awareness. His “Biotoxin Pathway” and treatment protocol have been instrumental pieces of the puzzle for many struggling with chronic biotoxin illness. Biotoxins are toxins created by living organisms. Mycotoxins are a subset of biotoxins and are produced by fungal organisms.

Visual Contrast Sensitivity (VCS) testing is often a very useful biotoxin screening tool that can be performed online. Mycometrics ERMI (Environmental Relative Moldiness Index) is arguably one of the best evaluation tools for the presence of mold in an indoor environment. Numerous lab tests were brought to our attention by Dr. Shoemaker’s work including HLA testing, which looks for genetic predispositions to various biotoxin illnesses, and markers such as TGF-β1, C4a, C3a, MSH, VIP, VEGF, MMP-9, and others. The information that a trained practitioner can ascertain from the results of these tests is significant in their work to guide a biotoxin-illness patient back to a higher level of health.

Cholestyramine is used in many with Lyme disease and mold illness as a direct result of Dr. Shoemaker’s discoveries. Losartan, VIP nasal spray, and other useful therapeutic options have been introduced to biotoxin-illness sufferers through his work.

Dr. Shoemaker’s approach has benefited and will continue to benefit many suffering with otherwise unexplained illnesses. No article on the topic of mold illness would be complete without a mention of his important contributions, and while not the focus of this article, his work has been life changing for many; myself included. More information about his protocol, his books (Mold Warriors; 2005, Surviving Mold; 2010), and the recently introduced doctor certification program can be found on his web site. Several integrative practitioners now incorporate a combination of the Shoemaker Protocol with several of the other options discussed in this article.

Mold and Mycotoxin Symptoms and Associated Conditions

Symptoms produced in humans as a result of mold and mycotoxin exposure are widely varied and may range from no response or simple allergy to cancer or even death.

“Symptoms can be caused by mold allergy, mold colonization (or infection), or mold toxicity, or a combination of these. Until Dr. Shoemaker raised awareness around the toxicity component, we had focused exclusively on allergy and infection. It is the understanding that mold toxicity, with its marked, uncontrolled outpouring of inflammatory cytokines, produces the same wide array of unusual symptoms that we see in Lyme disease and its co-infections that has dramatically improved our ability to diagnose and treat a large subset of patients that had been previously struggling to get better,” said Dr. Neil Nathan.

The symptoms may be dependent on the types of molds and mycotoxins, the duration of the exposure, and the overall health of the exposed person. Mycotoxins damage the immune system and may make one more sensitive to bacterial endotoxins found on the outer membrane of bacterial cell walls. With an increased sensitivity, the body’s response to Borrelia burgdorferi, the causative agent of Lyme disease, and co-infections may be heightened and lead to a further exacerbation of overall symptoms.

Mycotoxins can cause coughing, wheezing, asthma, shortness of breath, sneezing, burning in the throat and lungs, and sinusitis. Memory loss, confusion, brain fog, and cognitive impairment may present. Vision problems, eye irritation, headaches, swollen lymph nodes, ringing in the ears, dizziness, hearing loss, fatigue, muscle weakness, multiple chemical sensitivities, joint pain, muscle pain, irregular heartbeat, seizures, depression, anxiety, irritability, psoriasis, skin irritation, fever, chills, sleep disorders, coagulation abnormalities, and numerous other symptoms have all been associated with mycotoxin exposures.

According to Dr. Joseph Brewer at the 2013 ILADS annual meeting, mycotoxins bind to DNA and RNA, alter protein synthesis, increase oxidative stress, deplete antioxidants, alter cell membrane function, act as potent mitochondrial toxins, and alter apoptosis.

Molds and their mycotoxins may negatively impact the endocrine system including sex hormones, thyroid function, and adrenal function. Mold exposure may lead to food allergies and chemical sensitivity. In some cases, POTS (Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome) may be mold-induced.

Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome have both been associated with mycotoxin exposure. Other conditions that may have a mycotoxin component may include various cancers, diabetes, atherosclerosis, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, autism, rheumatoid arthritis, hyperlipidemia (elevated cholesterol), inflammatory bowel disease, Lupus, Sjögren’s syndrome, Crohn’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, Raynaud’s Disease, kidney stones, vasculitis, and others.

It has been suggested that elevated cholesterol may be a protective mechanism of the body as a response to mycotoxin exposure. Statin drugs have antifungal properties, and one of the mechanisms through which they may help to lower cholesterol is through the reduction of mycotoxins as systemic fungal populations are reduced.

In those with chronic Lyme disease, it is difficult to separate the symptoms associated with mold and mycotoxin exposure from those associated with Lyme disease or even those associated with heavy metal toxicity. The overlap is significant, and as a result, all of these items must be explored as symptoms believed to be associated with Lyme disease may not be entirely the result of Lyme itself.

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Where Should I Look For Mold?

Where Should I Look For Mold?
Spores can survive harsh environmental conditions, such as dryness, that do not support normal mold growth. In fact, many spores can lie dormant for decades until favorable conditions allow them to spring back to life.
Molds can be found almost anywhere and can grow on virtually any substance, provided moisture and oxygen are present. There are molds that can grow on wood, paper, carpet, tile, dry wall, insulation, leather, fabrics and foods. Molds survive by digesting what they are growing on.
There is no way to eliminate all mold and mold spores from your indoor environment. The only way to control indoor mold growth is to control moisture.
Here is a list of the most common areas where you will find mold growth:
1. Bathrooms and kitchens, especially under sinks–check for leaks and other moisture.
2. Behind or under appliances that hide slow plumbing leaks (refrigerators, dishwashers, washing machines, etc.)
3. Leaky roofs
4. Around windows where condensation collects
5. High humidity areas of your home, such as basements
6. Closet corners of exterior walls because humidity is attracted to the cold spots where the vapor barrier may be broken and/or a lack of insulation may be present. This causes humidity to be trapped behind clothing and/or other items, such as boxes and could cause mold to grow.
The first sign of a mold problem is a “musty” or “mildewy” odor. Other signs of mold include buckled floorboards, discolored carpet, a new water stain on your wall, or black or white specks—these are all signs you could be developing a mold problem.
If you find mold, we recommend that you do not disturb it because you could release more spores which will make the problem worse. The key to control mold growth is to contain it and prevent it from spreading to more areas of the home. Best piece of advice we can offer is to just Do Not Disturb the mold and then contact a professional to assess the concern further.
If you have questions, call us toll free, 1-888-909-6653 or use the form below.

Don’t Spray Mold!

Don’t Spray Mold!
There seems to be lots of mis-information on the Internet recommending that you spray chemicals on mold. This article explains why spraying mold will in fact make the situation worse.
Molds are a type of fungi and are neither plant nor animal. There are over 100,000 types of mold with at least 1,000 types found in North America and live in colonies growing on food, fabric, bathroom walls, construction materials, and soil. Mold proliferates through the release of spores into the air we breathe and are not visible to the naked eye.
Indoor molds cause two key problems.
1. They destroy the material that they feed on, including bathroom walls, carpets, insulation, and ceilings.
2. Exposure to high concentrations of certain types of mold creates health problems. For this reason, materials that are infected with mold need to be removed. In fact, mold is like a cancer, unless it is dealt with and removed, it will continue to grow. The only way to deal with mold is to eradicate it.
Most homes and buildings have mold because they offer the three ingredients mold needs to grow:
1. Food, which includes materials high in cellulose content such as paper and wood. Drywall, wallpaper, carpet, ceiling tiles, dust, and dirt, are also food sources for mold.
2. Temperatures of 5 degrees to 38 degrees present the perfect environment for mold.
3. Finally, water is the key ingredient. Mold can not grow without moisture. Where there is moisture, you will find mold. This is one of the reasons that leaking pipes, roofs and ceiling, sewer backups, floods, and condensation end up causing mold issues.
Mold is a growing concern because we spend up to 90 percent of our time indoors, creating a situation ripe for health issues.
Getting rid of mold by applying bleach or chemicals is NOT the answer to the problem because dead mold spores are just as harmful to the human lung as live spores. You may have read or heard about the myth of the “Mummy’s Curse” in which all of the Archaeologists that discovered King Tutankhamen’s Tomb eventually died. They, in fact, died from dead aspergillus mold spores that laid dormant for centuries!
In addition, mold spores like Aspergillus and Stachybotrys (black mold) are toxic in both a live form and a dead form. The key to proper mold removal is to remove all of the mold spores.
Mold is toxic and can cause many health issues. In fact, mold produces mycotoxins that are pathogenic to animals and humans. In 2011 we posted an article on the uses of mold as a biological weapon to illustrate just how toxic mold is.
In the words of our founder and President, James C. Watson:

“There is no chemical that should be sprayed on mold as the dead mold spores are just as harmful as the living mold spores. All standards and reference guides including the IICRC mold removal guideline frown upon spraying mold. It is all abut removal, air filtration and proper cleaning. When you spray stuff on mold it will release its spores into the air and the air is the last place you want a large contamination of mold spores“.
Well stated James! 🙂

Killing Mold Is Not The Answer

Killing Mold Is Not The Answer
There seems to be a misconception that getting rid of mold by applying bleach or chemicals is the answer to the problem. This is actually not the case because dead mold spores are just as harmful to the human lung as live spores.
There is actually a historical anecdote about the toxic nature of dead mold spores. You probably have heard of the myth of the “Mummy’s Curse” in which all of the Archaeologists that discovered King Tutankhamen’s Tomb eventually died. In 1922, a team of British archeologists in Egypt found the tomb and by 1929, the eleven people associated with the tomb died of early and “unnatural” causes and this is how the myth of the “Mummy’s Curse” evolved. In reality, the actual cause of death of was the result of inhaling dead Aspergillus mold spores and this is the reason that Archaeologists today wear respirators and suits when they are on a dig site.
In addition, mold spores like Aspergillus and Stachybotrys (black mold) are toxic in both a live form and a dead form. The key to proper mold removal is to remove all of the mold spores. This is what Got Mold? does and the reason we follow an Eight Step Process on all of our projects. Our ultimate goal is to provide Health & Longevity to our clients, their friends, and family.
If you discover mold in your home, don’t take this issue lightly and review one of our earlier articles on Mold Do’s and Don’ts. We give you straight forward information to help you stay healthy and to prevent further spread of spores in your home or business.
Mold is toxic and can cause many health issues. In fact, mold produces mycotoxins that are pathogenic to animals and humans. In 2011 we posted an article on the uses of mold as a biological weapon to illustrate just how toxic mold is.
If you discover mold in your home or business, just remember that some molds can be toxic and that it is best not to disturb the mold which could inadvertently release spores in the air and create even more problems. We recommend that you contact us for a professional assessment. Our goal is to provide you with peace of mind.

Mold in the News: Issue 5

Mold in the News: Issue 5
At Got Mold? our goal is to keep our followers aware of mold related news stories. Each day, we scour the internet looking for relevant information. Here are some stories we thought may interest you!

Please share this information so that we can continue to increase awareness of mold and mold related illnesses. Follow us on twitter because we tweet important mold related news as we find it. Our facebook page is also full of mold related information…please LIKE us; our founder, James C. Watson, is donating $0.50 for every new LIKE we get to Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. Thanks for your support.
$9.2 million plan to upgrade three schools that were closed by a mold infestation last fall: The school district has proposed a $9.2 million plan to upgrade three schools that were closed by a mold infestation last fall. The plan, which will go before local voters on March 13, is intended to address chronic problems that led to the mold problem, said Newin Schoener, the district’s superintendent. A mold cleanup shut the district’s elementary schools: Atco, Thomas Richards and Waterford for five days in October.
Tricks For Removing Mold: I have traces of mold across parts of my basement walls. What is the best way to kill and remove it, and then to prevent it from coming back? – Jeff B., Indianapolis Dear Jeff: Before you try to remove the mold, you should first figure out the source of the mold to prevent it from coming back. Highly rated mold remediators I’ve talked to over the years have all said the same thing: “You don’t have a mold problem. You have a moisture problem.”
Video: Walls crumbling from mould infestation on B.C. reserve: Residents of a First Nations reserve on northern Vancouver Island say that mould is eating away at their walls and destroying their homes. On Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw land near Port Hardy, community members say that nearly half of the homes are being degraded by mould. “This one has mould issues, and then this one has mould issues, and the next one has mould issues. We don’t have enough money to bring our houses up to code,” band manager Les Taylor told CTV News.
Mold Specialist in Passaic Teams with SEO Marketer to Guarantee Mold Removal in the Tri-State Area: Web users in the Tri-State region will soon have a shortcut to guaranteed mold removal. As part of an online push to boost its mold remediation business, Everest Environmental, LLC, has announced a recent partnership with leading Internet marketer Prospect Genius.
Public Housing Residents — One With Her Mold Brush — Sue the City: Sharon Davis-Knight shows off the toothbrush that she uses to clear away mold in the bathroom of her apartment in the Farragut Houses. She’s one of several tenants who sued the city on Thursday. Residents of a trio of Fort Greene housing projects — including one woman showing off the a toothbrush she uses to fight persistent mold — sued the city on Thursday, claiming that the Housing Authority is a “slumlord” that violates laws that mandate timely repairs.
Get independent lab to test air before mold cleanup: Few things scare homeowners more than learning they have mold in their home. Mold is a common problem that could cause health risks and diminish your home’s value. Though most mold remediators are honest and reliable, some unscrupulous companies try to scare homeowners into spending thousands of dollars unnecessarily. One tactic these companies use is revealing results an air quality test the company conducts itself, which shows mold present in the home.
Common Toxins in Our Homes, Schools and Workplaces: The Global Indoor Health Network is releasing its position statement highlighting the main threats to human health hidden in our homes, schools and workplaces. It is time for our national and world leaders to develop a comprehensive health response. Henderson, NV, March 03, 2012 –(– Today, the Global Indoor Health Network released its position statement titled “Common Toxins in our Homes, Schools and Workplaces.”
School District Saves Thousands of Dollars with Mold Screen Check: A recent Finnish Institute of Occupational Health study concluded that indoor dampness and mold shows “new evidence of the relation between workplace exposure to indoor molds and the development of asthma in adulthood.” Aspergillus sp., Penicillium sp., Fusarium sp., Stachybotrys sp., Alternaria sp.; the list goes on. These are the names of many pathogens and mycotoxins that have become household names in recent years that many business owners and homeowners are having to deal with each and everyday.
Recognizing Toxic Mold Symptoms: Detecting toxic mold symptoms is essential as mold has been resulting in severe medical problems in human beings. These toxic kinds of mold can really exist in moist conditions in the home or workplace with out us even knowing it. In the last 10 years, there was numerous accounts involving toxic molds causing serious and many times fatal outcomes for babies and sensitive individuals. The medical concerns of toxic mold range between rashes to respiratory system difficulties.