Grapefruit Seed Extract

Oh the wonders of grapefruit seed extract.

We've used it as a nasal spray (highly diluted), taken it as a supplement, and this week I tried it on fungal rashes. I have developed an extreme rash that has taken over both hands. For the first time in 26 years of marriage, I have been unable to wear my wedding ring.

I've been happy to see the rash, actually. It showed up a month ago after acupuncture. More stuff trying to get out of my system. My traditional remedies of neem oil, tea tree oil, and coconut oil have done nothing. Ketaconazole cream helped mildly and only temporarily.

I tried grapefruit seed extract this week after reading the following excerpt in the book "Healing with Whole Foods" by Paul Pitchford. The rash and inflammation have decreased dramatically. The book itself is a blending of Asian tradition with modern nutrition. Notice the author's use of italics to point out the damp diagnosis which we have been attacking with acupuncture.

"Citrus seed extract, an extremely potent natural antibiotic derived primarily from the seeds of grapefruit, was developed after observing that citrus seeds do not readily decompose in nature from microbial action. Slightly warming in thermal nature and exceptionally bitter, citrus seed extract works in the body like most bitters, but more effectively for purposes of drying damp conditions in the body. (Pathogenic microbes can cause as well as feed off damp excesses in the body.)

This extract has been found to inhibit members of several classes of microbes and parasites, among them: protozoa, amoebas, bacteria, viruses, and at least thirty different types of fungi, including the candida yeast-like fungi.

Externally it is applied in various dilutions for warts, athlete's foot, nail fungus, dandruff and other scalp problems, and poison oak; specific liquid formulations containing the extract treat vaginal yeast infection, nasal and sinus problems, and ear infections. Uses in the home involve adding a few drops of the extract to water for soaking produce to remove parasites and pesticides, sterilizing laundry (used this way in hospitals), cleaning contaminating surfaces, kitchen utensils, and cutting boards, and ridding drinking, bathing, and swimming water of microbes."

I've been able to use the extract full strength on my hands. No stinging whatsoever. Others in our family have found it otherwise and used it only in a diluted form. Either way, grapefruit seed extract is a great addition to any home.

With our 27th anniversary coming up in 6 weeks, I'm grateful I can wear my wedding ring again.

I Think I Can

Here's what I've noticed about the recovery process. I will be singing one day and sobbing the next. Two steps forward and one giant step backward.

It's a roller coaster. It's a climb. It's the harsh reality of a toxic mold exposure.

It's been 10 months of solid recovery work. We went into this with a head start. We saw an orthospinologist (chiropractic specialist) for 4 months prior to leaving our home. I'm still grateful for that initial message to our bodies that it's time to unload the "junk" we had accumulated over the years through the mold exposure in our home, the foods, and our life in a toxic world.

We headed to Arizona and I soon realized that no doctor and no protocol will make us well. Our genetics combined with our high and prolonged exposure meant that dedication and determination would be essential if we were to unload enough to lead a "recovered" life.

So here we are 10 months later. With some new strategies and some old ones. We're still taking numerous supplements but nothing synthetic. No more cholestyramine. We seem to plateau at times. As if our bodies need a good kick to remind us what health looks like. Acupuncture, Chinese herbs, and the dietary changes have helped.

I've been thinking lately about the "Little Engine that Could." Such a simple story: A willing engine with a daunting task. Pulling another engine over a mountain to save the hearts of some children. I feel like that engine sometimes. Still climbing. Trying to believe I can get to the other side. Wondering what the other side looks like.

The engine makes it, unloads, and the children receive their gifts. And so the story ends,

And they learned one important lesson from the Little Engine. There are many things we can accomplish if only we would try. If only we would say, "I think I can."

Chug Chug. Puff Puff.

I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.

The Bullet Ant

We've been watching Discovery Channel's "Planet Earth." The report on fungus and the rainforest is particularly mesmerizing. The piece focuses on a lone bullet ant whose body is infiltrated with a parasitic fungus. His body and mind become so disoriented he clings to a tree.

His fellow workers find him, carry him away, and leave him to die. They remove him to avoid the deadly spores that will soon burst from his body. Spores that can wipe out the entire colony.

We stand to learn a great deal from the ants of the rainforest.

First, the bullet ant has a sting which is ranked as the most painful of all wasp, bee, or ant stings. Fungus, in the right setting, can debilitate the most powerful of creatures. Humans are no exception.

The narrator uses the word "disoriented" to describe the ant's irrational actions. The ant climbs up the tree and clings to it. Fungal exposure causes brain fog in humans. Disoriented is a good word.

In my mind, the key lesson lies in the fact that the ants know and understand the fungal threat. They take action to protect the colony.

The Bible tells us to learn from the ant. "Consider her ways and be wise." (Proverbs 6:6)

10 Tips for Staying Ahead of Mold Growth

Once you're confident your home is clear of toxic mold, here are some suggestions for keeping it that way.

1. Make sure your bathrooms have proper ventilation. Keep them dry and clean. Replace old fans if necessary. Open a window if possible. Use a small fan if necessary.

2. Squeegee the walls after a shower. Or wipe down with towels.

3. Do not hang wet towels in the bathroom. New towels are best for each shower or bath.

4. Use a lightweight fabric shower curtain liner. Wash frequently. Studies show that vinyl emits toxins and attracts mold. See this article for more information.

5. Keep your refrigerator clean. Keep only fresh foods.

6. Avoid wallpaper, especially in bathrooms.

7. Change cat litter daily.

8. Keep clutter to a minimum. Throw away piles of newspapers, magazines, etc.

9. Avoid swamp coolers. Keep dehumidifiers clean.

10. Check for leaks frequently. Fix all leaks immediately. Consider installing a moisture sensor alarm. If you leave your home for more than a few days consider turning off the main water valve.

Vaccine Controversy

The controversy surrounding vaccinations is rising steadily in our country. The H1N1 vaccine has taken center stage. While the primary purpose of my blog is to alert people to the dangers of toxic mold, I share the following information to help others sift through the conflicting information regarding human health.

Dr. Joseph Mercola has been a tremendous help to me in this regard. Controversies like these are daunting and require us to think for ourselves. But I would rather be overwhelmed than uninformed.

Dr. Mercola Swine Flu Update

Dr. Russell Blaylock, a neurosurgeon who recently retired to devote his full attention to nutritional studies and research, has written extensively on the issue of vaccination. He wrote this in his recent publication The Blaylock Wellness Report:

"The flu virus is supposed to cause a 'cytokine storm,' and this inflammatory overreaction is what causes the damage, not the virus itself. This is interesting because all vaccines also cause a cytokine storm, one that can last for decades. This is why vaccines are linked to sudden death, joint pains, depression, weakness and fatigue, mental cloudiness, seizures, neurological disorders, and autoimmune diseases."

My ears perk up when I hear the term "cytokine storm." Exposure to toxic mold and its contaminants causes a similar immune response. Cytokines recognize "invaders" and recruit additional cytokines in response to the attack.

Further, according to Dr. Blaylock,

"... there are a great number of natural substances that are also known to calm cytokine storms, but they are much less expensive and have virtually no serious side effects."

Dr. Blaylock lists numerous such substances like Vitamin D3, carotenoids, and buffered Vitamin C.

For specifics regarding these supplements, see his webpage The Truth about the Flu Shot.

An Imaginary Conversation

I had a conversation with our pediatrician recently. One regarding the first year we lived in our Colorado home. This conversation took place in my head. An imaginary dialogue that occurred in June of 2001, one year after we moved into the home.

Doctor: Well, Mrs. Fabry, I've noticed you've had all of your 8 children in the office this year with a variety of illnesses. Let's see, we have your 6-year-old daughter diagnosed with complex partial seizure disorder. I'm sorry to hear you had to make that midnight run to the emergency room, but I'm glad you're under the care of a trusted neurologist.

I notice your 16-year-old daughter's nut allergy has become severe in this last year.

I also see that your 2-year-old daughter, Kaitlyn, had an unusual hospitalization. Ileus is very uncommon in young children. I know I'm reiterating what you heard in the hospital, but indeed, this is very unique. I also see that you've had several of the kids in with strep this year. In fact, Shannon's case was extremely severe. You mentioned she was vomiting, the pain was so severe.

Andrea: Yes, it has been quite a year. In 16 years of parenting, I've never had a year like it, in fact. I've hardly been able to keep up with the level of care needed.

Doctor: Have you by any chance lost any pets this year?

Andrea: Funny you would mention that. We lost our bird Gabriel in February.

Doctor: How long have you lived in your current home?

Andrea: We moved in one year ago.

Doctor: Have you noticed any water stains or had any water leaks?

Andrea: Not that I'm aware of. There is a brown stain on our daughter's carpet right beside the bathroom. I'm not sure what that is. Why?

Doctor: Whenever I see a family with a variety of illnesses, I think immediately of environmental issues, specifically water intrusion. Some water leaks you don't see for years. But mold can grow behind the walls. You might check that out.

Andrea: That's an entirely new thought to me. I don't even know where to begin.

Doctor: I don't know much about mold and mycotoxin exposure. But there are hygienists who can help you determine if you have a problem. And doctors who know a lot more about it than I do. I'd be happy to help connect you with any one of them.

Andrea: Thank you, doctor. I believe you just saved our family 10 years of pain and heartache.

6 Key Questions

When health issues exist it's important to consider the environment. Radon, asbestos, and lead are commonly considered. Mold and its contaminants are not. Pesticide use is also critical. Toxicologist Dr. Jack Thrasher offers these six questions for anyone attempting to correlate an illness with the environment.

1. Have you used a pesticide applicator to treat for any type of insects and/or spiders? Inside the home or outside the home?

2. Are you on a septic tank system and do you have sewage-type odors?

3. Has there been water damage? If so, where was the water damage? Molds will grow in wall cavities where moisture accumulates and stays. Other hidden places are back side of carpeting, attic and crawl space. Have these areas been tested?

4. Is there a possibility that you have a defective water heater or heating system in the home? There is a possibility of carbon monoxide.

5. Has your home been tested for molds as follows: wall cavities, attic, crawl space, carpet dust, bulk samples? If so, has the lab determined both genus and species of the molds?

6. Has your home been tested for bacteria at the same time that testing for molds was done? Many of the bacteria present in water-damaged homes and buildings are potential human pathogens. They also produce toxins, and their toxins interact with mold toxins, making both more toxic.

Brain Fog and Jackie Blue

I was singing in the car the other day. I still can't believe it. It's been a pattern lately. A lighter heart and a much lighter brain.

It's hard to describe "brain fog." When I was in our home, at the height of our exposure, I found myself struggling with simple tasks. I would look at a pile of papers and simply stare at them. I would attempt to organize the pantry and stand motionless. Multi-tasking became impossible. Not to mention my high level of irritability and depression. My 10-year-old daughter sobbed one night, "I want my old Mommy back."

I didn't associate any of this with my environment. I dismissed all of it. Much like someone with decreased lung capacity simply lives with it. I know because that was me as well. I had a tough time walking up hills that I used to easily conquer.

The fog didn't lift after we left the house. I continued to struggle. Laundry would pile up. I couldn't clean. I missed more appointments. I was exhausted. My speech would slur and I would easily lose my train of thought.

We relocated to Arizona and began the long arduous journey of recovery. I learned about neurotoxins, brain inflammation, and mold exposure. I no longer denied my disability, simply wondered how, or when, or if, I would function as I once did.

I'm not where I'd like to be. I find myself taking a handful of supplements, moving to a different task, and wondering if I took them. I put hamburgers on the grill and forget.

Still, I see improvements. I don't get as overwhelmed. I can organize again. I put my clothes away in piles. I unpack groceries with less anxiety. The fog is lifting. And I find myself singing in the car.

The same daughter who wanted her Mommy back wrote this about one of our recent car rides:

We all sat in silence listening to song after song. You could tell that my mom liked some of the songs because she sang along. I watched the mountains slip away from my sight, the birds chirping happily, and the saguaros disappear.

I kept sitting in silence as we entered the city until a song came on called Jackie Blue.

"I loved this when I was 15!" my mom said in shock. She started flicking her wrist along to the beat, bobbing her head, and sang along. "Ooh-hoo Jackie Blue," she sang.

We all started to sing along with our mother happily. "Ooh-hoo Jackie Blue," we all said in unison. The song ended and my mom said, "We are listening to that on our way home."

As we listened to the song on our way home I thought about moments like this. It is moments like these that are the greatest. You don't need something fancy, all you need is your family.

Oh the gift of a child's heart. I think she's forgiven me for my absence.

Mold Avoidance in Foods

Mold avoidance is a tall order. Whether you remediate or simply leave a contaminated environment, the decisions are complicated. And unending.

When it comes to mold avoidance in foods, the same is true. With dried fruit, fermented foods, sugars, sorghum, barley, to name a few, it feels like "mold is everywhere." Truly, mold and mycotoxin avoidance in the diet is as complicated as mold and mycotoxin avoidance in an indoor environment.

There's a good reason for this. We're not taught in health class that our grain supply is commonly contaminated with mycotoxins. We don't learn in a doctor's office that corn is "universally contaminated" with fumonism. And we certainly don't often hear about the 1993 study showing 24 types of colonized fungi inside peanut shells.

Thus an individual struggling with health issues resulting from a mold exposure, prolonged use of antibiotics (fungus-based drugs), or candida, must learn the truth about molds and mycotoxins in food. Healthy people, those with an intact immune system, can get away with eating a mix of healthy and unhealthy foods because the whole foods have antimycotic properties and cancel out the harmful foods.

It is a long, long journey to figure it out. It's trial and error. It's the error part I have difficulty reconciling. Our 13-year-old son has made great progress on a strict anti-fungal diet. We went out to dinner a week ago and he enjoyed a hamburger with a bun, ice cream, and the treat of all treats: a Luna Bar. His vertigo and tinnitus came back with a vengeance. He still hasn't fully recovered.

Yesterday I felt so discouraged about the food avoidance issue that after I woke up and took one look at the kitchen, I had to go right back to our air mattress.

Chris was on duty willingly overseeing the fruit smoothie production line. I felt overwhelmed by everything and lost sight of our progress.

The troops rallied and gave me a much-needed pep talk. Our oldest daughter made an interesting point. "When we were in the house I ate endless amounts of carbs and never felt full. I didn't even feel sick from food. Now my body lets me know."

It makes sense the digestive system would be such a vital part of healing. It represents more than half of the immune system. Bloating, gas, indigestion, reflux, and other irritable bowel problems are often a result of fungal exposure, either in the air or in foods. Here's another interesting fact.

90% of all serotonin in the body is found in the gastrointestinal system.If the digestive track is off so is the serotonin level. We dealt with bouts of depression in our home. No wonder.

The pep talk helped. I felt renewed hope and motivation. So much so that I made our first carrot/ ginger/ garlic juice concoction.

Who knows. With the alkaline boost, maybe today will be a better day.

High School Mold Controversy

Imagine this scenario. Your teenage daughter gets sick with mysterious symptoms. After careful research you take her to see a mold specialist. The specialist implicates your daughter's High School as the source for the mold exposure. The district conducts testing and determines the school is safe. You are convinced the testing is inadequate. You ask permission to pay for more specialized testing. The school district refuses.

This drama is being played out in Roswell, New Mexico. Paul Taylor sued the school district in the fall of 2008, asserting that mold contamination made his daughter seriously ill. He was not suing for money, but for the right to have Goddard High School tested properly. In May of this year a judge ordered the school to allow Mr. Taylor to conduct the testing. The results were made public on September 22nd.

"Laboratory results and photos show Goddard High School to be a heavily water damaged building or 'sick building' as the terms are sometimes interchangeable. Taylor’s experts report that some of these indicators include mold growth in the air conditioning system and within the breathable airways, inadequate maintenance of the exterior building envelope over a period of many years, multiple avenues of water intrusion in the exterior building, evidence of prolonged and continued water exposure throughout the school interior, evidence of microbial growth on interior surfaces and within the air conditioning system, evidence of respiratory irritants and cancer-causing material (asbestos fibers) in the airstream pathways, and evidence of ineffective attempts to repair and or mitigate moisture and water intrusion problems within the school."

Penicillium, aspergillus, and stachybotrys were all found. The inspection report states that conditions are present at GHS to support continued mold growth. The report further states, "A single mold spore that colonizes can produce billions of spores. When the colony is threatened (disturbed and/or dessicated i.e. dries out) the colony disperses its spores as an episodic event."

The report offers an educational opportunity for anyone interested in learning about air quality issues. Mr. Taylor has created a website complete with reports and photographs.

Paul Taylor's Website with Inspection Reports

I admire Mr. Taylor's perseverance. He asked for this testing more than a year ago. He paid for it himself. And he has helped educate those of us in the audience as we watch the drama unfold.

Two Invaluable Products

If I were banished to a remote island and forced to take only two personal care products with me, I would have no trouble making my selection. A deserted island seems like a great idea, by the way. No indoor plumbing, no pesticide sprays, no weed killers.

Unfortunately, an island may not be the answer. Midway Island is 3100 miles from Los Angeles and 2400 miles from Tokyo and its population of black-footed albatrosses is contaminated with DDT, PCBs, and dioxins.

Back to my point. I could survive on a deserted island if I had clean water, a food source, my Internet (a fair request), and

Baking Soda and White Vinegar.

Both are anti-fungal. Both are safe. Both are cheap.

White vinegar is acetic acid which has been distilled and diluted. We use it for virtually all of our cleaning. We use it, along with baking soda or borax, for every load of laundry. We use diluted apple cider vinegar as a hair conditioner. The following is an excellent list.

1001 Uses for White Vinegar

Baking soda is sodium bicarbonate. If I had paid attention in Chemistry class I would know what that means. I do know that it is a component of the mineral natron and is found dissolved in many mineral springs. We make a paste with baking soda and water (or hydrogen peroxide) and use it as a shampoo, as toothpaste, and deodorant. We've used it as a facewash for acne with great results. The following article is titled "Baking Soda, the Most Useful Product Ever" and lists more than 100 uses.

Uses for Baking Soda

I just ordered 50 pounds of baking soda and paid 23 dollars. A case of white vinegar (at a website called Buy the Case) costs 30 dollars including shipping. I'm not sure of the shipping cost to my deserted island.

Anniversary Reflections

We celebrated our one-year anniversary yesterday. One year to the day since we walked away from our computers, stuffed animals, Christmas decorations, and thousands of memories. "Treat it as a fire," we were counseled. Below is our kitchen as we left it that night.

We took our cell phones with us. Mine was 2 months old. The battery burst two days after we left. The Verizon guy said he'd never seen anything like it.

We left our home without an air test or an ERMI test. We left because we were sick. We left because my tongue was black and Reagan's vertigo would not go away. We left because the migraines were no better and my memory was getting worse. We tried twice to remediate the mold. We replaced virtually all the carpet, re-tiled the bathrooms, replaced our clothes, cleaned the vents, and spent thousands of dollars. But the rashes remained.

We left on a Saturday night and Monday morning I took the kids to school from a hotel. Life would go on as normal. All we needed was to get away from the house and all would be well. I knew nothing about our genetic pre-disposition.

We moved into a rental home the next weekend. Much smaller, but brand new and safe. Our community graciously showered us with gift cards, furniture, and clothing. I had hesitations about the used clothing. The stress of creating a new environment was just beginning.

I found myself waking in the middle of the night with accusations piercing my soul. "You fool. You didn’t need to leave. Your kids aren't that sick. Your house is fine. What if people are helping you for no reason?" The doubts hovered relentlessly. Chris, who was tough to convince at first, became my voice of reason and truth. "Look at your timeline. Look at the symptoms."

The kids didn’t get better as hoped. My rash was improving but my depression was not. We took Colin to the emergency room 10 days after we vacated. His head was "exploding." I had numerous email exchanges with our toxicologist. He used phrases such as fungal colonization and chemical sensitivity. Foreign concepts to a mold rookie.

We needed medical help. I tried through our family physician. He knew something about mold. A relative's home was demolished because of it. I asked for specific lab tests. I set up a conference call with a mold specialist. Little response. Weeks went by. I tried our pediatrician. I begged her to write a referral to a mold specialist in Arizona. She chastised and scolded me. Discouraged me from "traipsing off to Arizona." Besides, she said, insurance won't cover this "in a million years."

She was right about the insurance company. Wrong about the help. I took Colin and Reagan to Arizona. Within the first hour of our first exam I got the answers I desperately needed. Pieces of the puzzle were coming together. We decided to "vacation" in Arizona for a few weeks to learn the new regimen of diet, supplements, and nasal sprays.

Weeks turned to months and obstacles came our way. One right after another. Slowly the older children made their way to the desert. And the reality of our mold exposure hit. We were sicker than we realized. Even Chris did not come through unscathed.

Two nights ago we gathered as a family and talked about this last year. The 5 houses, the decisions, and our progress.

"We haven't had to go to the hospital in a long time."

"The ringing in my ear has gone down."

"I can read again."

"Mom's memory is better."

"I can sleep."

I no longer wonder if it was a good decision to leave. I can't imagine if we hadn't. I marvel that we have a new chance at life.

And I look at the lessons so painfully learned. Symptoms are a gift. We have to be proactive when it comes to our health. An open mind is a necessity. Environmental illness is rampant.

Obstacles can be a source of despair. Or opportunity.

I don't know what this next year holds for our family. Uncertainties abound and health issues remain. Roadblocks are surely just ahead. I take heart in these words of Henry Ward Beecher,

"Affliction comes to us all, not to make us sad, but sober; not to make us sorry, but to make us wise; not to make us despondent, but by its darkness to refresh us as the night refreshes the day; not to impoverish, but to enrich us."

Fungal Hypersensitivity, Part 2

This is a continuation of the article on Fungal Hypersensitivity by the late Dr. Vincent Marinkovich.

These are only excerpts. I highly recommend reading the article in its entirety.

V. Symptoms

While the symptoms seen in patients exposed to high ambient levels of fungal elements can vary a great deal among different individuals, a fairly consistent pattern of illness is seen in patients presenting with sufficient symptoms to warrant seeing a physician. Most patients describe a progression of symptoms beginning a few months to a few years after the onset of exposure (e.g., moving into a mold-infested house). Initially the complaints are nasopharyngeal (sore throats, hoarseness, stuffy nose, transient hearing loss) or pulmonary (cough, wheezing, shortness of breath). With time, symptoms progress to include headaches, fatigue, rashes, vertigo, muscle and joint pain, fever, recurrent sinus or ear infections, etc. (Rylander, 1994). Many of these symptoms are the result of an overactive immune system trying desperately to overcome what it perceives to be an overwhelming infection. The immune system generates antibodies to the absorbed materials (or antigens). These antibodies react with the antigens to form immune complexes, which is all part of the body’s normal immune elimination function. These complexes are quickly taken up by scavenger cells, which remove the complexes from the circulation, thus limiting their inflammatory effects. When complex formation continues over a long period of time, this clearing mechanism can become overloaded. The complexes then remain in the blood stream, causing myriad symptoms, known to clinical immunologists as serum sickness or immune complex disease (Cochrane et al., 1973). To the patient, the symptoms appear to be a severe, unrelenting flu syndrome. When one looks up in the older literature the classical symptoms seen in serum sickness, they are exactly those symptoms the patients with fungal illness describe to their physician (Von Pirquet, 1951).

Since hypersensitivity states develop only after relatively long exposure times, normal children under 10 years of age do not have significant antibody titers to fungi. However, when children experience very high exposure levels in the home or school, measurable antibody levels appear rather quickly—that is, within a few months of exposure. Normal mature adults living in temperate or tropical climates commonly show antibody activity toward fungi and experience symptoms following unusual exposures. The onset of symptoms often follows exposures by 1 or 2 days, the symptoms are not recognized for what they are, and the symptoms are likely to be diagnosed as a virus infection.

VI. Mycotoxins

Mycotoxins are the most respected of fungal products for their potential to cause serious illness through their direct biochemical action on key body functions (Croft et al., 1986; Johanning et al., 1996; Leino et al., 2003). The immune system is not involved. One of these, aflatoxin, is known to be among the most potent of carcinogens. Another group, trichothecenes, are toxins released by the fungus Stachybotrys atra (also known as chartarum) as well as others. There is controversy regarding the role of trichothecene mycotoxins in pulmonary hemosideroisis (Dearborn et al., 1999). Other toxins can affect various hormonal, neurological, and other body functions to produce serious health effects (Sorenson, 1999). They are so effective in certain biological activities that they have been harnessed by the pharmaceutical and food industries for commercial use such as antibiotics, immune suppressants to control graft rejection, medicine for cholesterol control, and enzymes used in food processing and preservation. Mycotoxins are produced by fungi under specific growth conditions, and their role in human illness is not well understood. Exposure to certain mycotoxins producing organisms such as Stachybotrys seem to cause neurological damage seen as short-term memory loss, cognitive dysfunction, inability to concentrate, and "fuzzy thinking." There are common complaints of patients with fungal illness. The changes seem to be reversible, at least in part, but they can take years to resolve. Hyperactive immune systems responding to the influx of fungal antigens following chronic exposures are much more likely to be a cause of symptoms in most individuals.

Dr. Marinkovich goes on to talk about immune complexes, food molds, colonization and the use of antifungals. His conclusion is as follows:

The best treatment for health problems arising from exposure to high fungal levels is prevention. A key prerequisite to prevention is education. Information about the nature of fungi, their presence in foods, their rapid proliferation after water intrusion in homes, workplaces, and schools, and their potential for health effects must be made easily available to the general public. The Internet has already provided such information to millions who use computers. Insurance companies are excluding mold damage from the coverage provided in homeowner policies, and this may alert the homeowner to the danger and to his/her responsibility to move rapidly to minimize the effects of water leaks. Reports in the media of litigation by celebrities experiencing fungal illness also helps increase public awareness of the problem. Public health service organizations have to date been more concerned to quell the public’s concern about mold problems by suggesting that it is not an important issue. This is a disservice. It would be far better to acknowledge the potential health effects of mold exposure along with suggestions for controlling mold levels in homes, workplaces, and schools.

Fungal Hypersensitivity, Part 1

The following is an excerpt of an article written by renowned allergist and immunologist Dr. Vincent Marinkovich. Dr. Marinkovich was known as Dr. Mold up until his death two years ago at the age of 74. This article is titled Fungal Hypersensitivity: Pathophysiology, Diagnosis, Therapy and represents one of numerous peer-reviewed scientific explanations of the health hazards associated with mold exposure.

"Fungal exposure itself can produce a confounding array of symptoms as different elements of the body’s defense systems are triggered. Early in the course of exposure, the innate immune system can be activated as endotoxins or fungal elements enter the body tissues. This inflammation can proceed without any involvement of the adaptive immune system with its antibodies and activated T-cells (Kauffman et al., 2000).

However, after a few days or weeks of antigen presentation on an inflamed mucosa, the adaptive system is likely to become involved as antibodies and T-cells specifically reactive to fungal antigens are generated. This will add to the inflammation of the affected tissues. Finally, fungal elements become directly involved if mycotoxins or other inflammatory triggers are formed that can cause toxic injury to specific organ systems. One need only be reminded of such fungal compounds as alcohol, lysergic acid (LSD), antibiotics, cyclosporin, or mushroom toxins to appreciate the ability of such organic molecules to cause symptoms.

Physicians who treat patients with mold-related problems are often challenged by the variations in the disease symptoms and the multiorgan involvement that are presumably the result of exposure to environments heavily contaminated with fungi. They may accept the likelihood that fungal exposure is the cause of their patient’s symptoms but not understand the underlying pathophysiology. Still, an attempt is made to treat the patient, essentially by utilizing various programs that remove the patient from the fungi. Over time, they learn that the clinical patterns seen in such patients are consistent, the diagnosis can be accurately made, and the response to therapy is very good.

There are other physicians who deny that fungi as encountered in homes or office-type work spaces are capable of causing illness. These physicians generally are not primary caregivers and can dismiss the patient’s complaints because of their apparent complexity without a consequence. They are better designated as theorists who base their negativity on arguments that the lack of sufficient evidence-based proof of a causal relationship of fungal exposure to human disease proves that such a relationship is not possible. They dismiss all case reports (Marinkovich et al., 1975) (Fink et al., 1971), epidemiological studies (Dearborne, 2002) (Etzel et al., 1998), and clinical observations of experienced clinicians as worthless and such patients as malingerers or psychiatrically disturbed (Hardin et al., 2003).

They seem to lack the vision to accept the challenge of the possibility that injury to multiple organ systems may result from exposure to large amounts of fungus-derived materials (such as spores and/or mycotoxins) in a home or office environment. They are wrong, and they can do a great deal of harm. First in denying the patient’s symptoms, and second by blocking disability requests from such patients injured by exposure to fungi in their workplaces. They are guilty of using poor scientific logic because it is closed-minded. Such thinking has no place in a medical setting where there are sick patients who need help."

More next time.