Tori Spelling’s Kids Sick with Mold Illness: The Mold and Brain Episode

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Tori Spelling’s Kids Sick with Mold Illness: The Mold and Brain Episode

Transcipt from podcast

Welcome back to another episode of Rethink It: The brain health and recovery podcast.

Since we had recently talked about oral health and the connection to brain health, my plan initially was to follow that episode a segment on the truth about fluoride and brain health, but there is so much valuable and relevant information that I need to share with you guys.

I want this content to be memorable and connect with you, so I’m bouncing off of some entertainment headlines that you may have seen recently. As I was doing the mindless Facebook scroll, I came across the headline: ” Tori Spelling: Mold is ‘Slowly Killing’ My family.”

Granted, I am a few months late, as this was an article from May 2023, but it caught my eye because mold is something I test for routinely in my clients with brain health issues. Mold exposure has a massive (and lasting) influence on the brain and the body if it is not properly addressed.

It affects all ages, but children have a unique risk factor because their brains are still developing, so an environmental toxin like mold has a more lasting impact. Since the goal of this podcast is to equip you with the information and tools to biohack your brain and preserve your independence throughout your life, I think this topic is incredibly relevant as it affects so many people.

As some of you know, I grew up in a town on the Atlantic coast that was below sea level and just beautiful. Moss hangs in the trees, marsh speckles the landscape, covered almost completely at high tide and revealing new ecosystems at low tide. I still love the smell of the marsh and salt water.

Maintaining a humidity that rarely dipped below 80% even in the winter, this beautiful town was and is a allergy nightmare for most non-natives and natives alike. I think the number one complaint of those who move there from somewhere else was the severe seasonal allergies they developed.

The ENT offices and allergy clinics all have waiting lists. But why do so many people have such a struggle with the allergies there? In this quaint town, the constant humidity, heat and lack of altitude mixed with marshland makes the air ripe for mold both outside the home and inside home- you literally cannot get away from it. On top of that, the beautiful 18th century Victorians that mark the downtown scene, having survived hurricanes and flooding to be updated and renovated and these are ripe for mold issues down to the subfloor of the homes.

But before you think you are immune mold if you don’t live a zip code below sea level, the statistic on mold exposure across the country will shock you- let’s look at a few:

At least 45 million buildings in the United States have unhealthy levels of mold. (Moldy, 2017) (Source: https://realtimelab.com/mold-statistics/)

The U.S. EPA BASE study of 100 randomly selected public and commercial office buildings across the U.S. conducted during 1994 through 1998 showed that 85% of the buildings experienced past water damage and 45% had current leakage problems.

  • A 2008 study of 831 residential homes from 75 different locations in the U.S. reported that 24% of surveyed homes had moisture or mold problems.
  • On top of that, the health impacts are well known. For example:

Infants who are exposed to mold in their living environments have nearly a 3X greater risk of becoming asthmatic than those who did not have extensive mold exposure in their first year of life. (Michael Pinto, 2018) (Source: https://realtimelab.com/mold-statistics/)

When you are used to living in this environment, you accept this as normal. I mean, IS YOUR NORMAL, so you really don’t have a reference point. You accept the constant drippy nose, itchy eyes, brain fog, skin issues, and emotional swings. You consider it normal for a toddler to have had several rounds of ear or sinus infections requiring antibiotics before they turn 2.

It may not come to mind that brain issues, like ADHD, memory issues or sleep issues have anything to do with your home, mold, or your the environment, but nothing could be farther from the truth.

In our family, mold was a major contributor to our health issues, including my son’s ADHD, my autoimmune issues, and my husbands heart issues, but it took a while to connect those dots.

I remember returning to that lovely town several years after moving away and noticing my heart racing, sleep issues, thinking issues and a host of other health issues return.

Mold has a huge impact on the body and the problem is that you can find mold in so many places. The thing you need to know about mold illness and mold toxicity is that mold exposure on it’s own, though not ideal, is not the only problem.

The problem is that some people have genetic gene alterations that lead to poor elimination of those mold spores and mycotoxins … and that leads to accumulation, inflammation, autoimmunity and ultimately organ dysfunction. Molds accumulation in the gut is also a challenge because of this film forms around the mold in the gut- we call it a biofilm– and that biofilm encourages the growth of other unwanted bacteria, yeast, and even candida.

Before we get ahead of ourselves, I need to point out one thing- mold and mycoTOXINS are 2 different things. Mold spores can be inflammatory in their own right, but mycotoxins, which result from the break down of mold and are far my damaging then the spores alone.

So, Molds reproduce by forming tiny spores that not visible to the naked eye. Mold spores are very hardy and can survive under conditions in which mold cannot grow, such as in dry and harsh environments. These spores travel through outdoor and indoor air. When mold spores land on a surface where moisture is present, mold can start to grow. This is why mold can still affect you in the Arizona desert!

Mycotoxins are toxic chemicals that are present on spores and small fragments of mold and fungus that are released into the air. They are often released when mold spores are destroyed with natural or synthetic antifungals

Ok, so lets talk about how mold and mycotoxins affect the brain!

As we mentioned before, the health of the gut related directly to the health of the brain, so mold toxicity and accumulation in the gut will have a direct affect on the brain. There are several ways mold exposure can affect brain health.

First of all, mold can trigger a cascade of inflammatory responses in the brain. Research has shown that exposure to mycotoxins can trigger the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines, leading to chronic neuroinflammation. When the brain experiences inflammation, a harmful cycle begins. It starts with mycotoxins causing disruption of the tight cells that protectively surround in the brain called the blood brain barrier. When this happens, harmful substances are allowed to pass into the brain more readily and this leads to more inflammation, oxidative stress and ultimately scarring and loss of function. There was actually a study done in 2018 that demonstrated the link between mycotoxin exposure and elevated oxidative stress markers in brain tissue confirming this link. [1]

When oxidative stress and inflammation in the brain increases, it contributes to aggregation of something called amyloid-beta, a byproduct of neural metabolism, a hallmark finding in Alzheimer’s Disease. [2]

Another hallmark finding associated with dementia is something called neurofibrillary tangles, which is a protein folding abnormality, particularly in a specialized group of proteins called Tau proteins. Proteins are highly affected by a change in electron movement and oxidation, so it is not surprising that research is showing that mycotoxins are linked to abnormal protein folding and the development of neurofibrillary tangles. [5]

One thing I like to test my clients for routinely is the specific type of mold and mycotoxins they have stored in the body tissues. It is helpful to determine that likelihood of the mold causing brain issues.

For example, mycotoxins, such as trichothecenes, have been specifically linked to tau hyperphosphorylation and aggregation, (that protein folding issue we were talking about). This obviously accelerates the development of dementia and neurological decline.

Other mycotoxins that I commonly find in my chronic fatigue folks are aflatoxin and ochratoxin, which studies been shown to cause interference with neurotransmitter function. That’s a big deal because it basically shuts off communication between nerve cells. It’s like having the cube on your iphone stop connecting with your power cable-

Neurotransmitters are those chemical messengers like serotonin and dopamine that regulate thinking, impulsivity, and mood, among other important things. There was even a recent study from 2019 that demonstrated the direct impact of mycotoxins on synaptic transmission and plasticity, making a clear connecting between mold exposure and cognitive decline.[3]

About plasticity: In case this is a new term for you… You may have heard that its good to play puzzles, learn to dance or do aerobics as you age. This is to maintain those synaptic connections and flexibility of your neurons (for lack of a better way to say it). We call that flexibility- neuroplasticity. When we have poor neural plasticity, we have a hard time learning new concepts and skills. So, clearly chronic exposure to mold can trigger and lead to cognitive decline, memory deficits, and difficulties in concentration and focus.

The affect of mold on the brain as we age is complex and a lot of different factors affects the ability to clear those toxins. Some factors that might impede clearance of mold includes inherited detox gene mutations- up to 25% of the population has a genetic pre-disposition that makes them more susceptible to mold illness. Other factors include whether or not you have been or are being exposed to other toxins including pesticides, heavy metals, and silicone like found in breast implants.

The consumption of alcohol and where we are in our hormone journey an also has an effect on how well we clear mycotoxins. Menopause can cause a reduced ability to clear all toxins including mold.

Since we know that mold can lead to brain degenerative issues, we can safely conclude that brain development is also affected. There is a good bit of research that confirms the association of mold exposure, particularly during critical periods of neurodevelopment can lead to lasting damaging effects on brain structure and function. So far, the research is showing that prenatal exposure to mycotoxins can lead to abnormal neural migration, neural tube defects, altered brain architecture leading to neurodevelopmental issues like ADD/ADHD and Autism Spectrum disorders. So it’s not just that we need folate while we are pregnant to prevent neural tube development issues, our exposure to molds have a clear impact.

  • But the impact on mold is not limited to the brain. It really can have a systemic impact, leading to autoimmunity, heart issues and more. I was shocked to discover the massive impact that mold can have on the heart when listening to a lecture by Integrative Cardiologist, Dr. Jack Wolfson. He shared case study after case study of his patients that had heart issues ranging from the rare diagnosis of lupus related cardiomyopathy to more common illnesses like coronary artery disease which he linked to their exposure to mold.

Mold exposure and mold illness is not a minor thing, y’all.

Of note, and just my personal opinion on this- I believe that folks who struggle with methylation issues, like MTHFR are more likely affected by the mycotoxins. These are the folks who need to be supplementing with methyl-folate intentionally during pregnancy to ensure that they detox well. These are the folks that will experience neural tube defects if they do not supplement AND are exposed to mold. Hands down…

The affect of exposure to mold and mycotoxins has such a wide-ranging affect on the brain, which will obviously result, not only in thinking and memory issues, but also on emotional equilibrium. Mold exposure can be very disruptive on the mood.

What the studies have shown is a link between mycotoxin exposure and the endocrine system. This obviously leads to everything from thyroid dysfunction, female hormone imbalances and the neuroendocrine system dysfunction, leading to symptoms like anxiety, depression, irritability, aggression, and even personality changes. [4]

So that’s the skinny on mold exposure and its link to brain inflammation. A brain on fire is a brain that doesn’t develop well or a brain that starts to scar and decline. So, what do we do about it?

First of all, you need to know your risk factors. Are you living in a place that is endemic with mold, maybe a tropical area, maybe below sea level? Do you have known water damage to your home or shower? Do you have a wet basement that you often visit? Those are the environmental risks.

When it comes to assessing your unique health risks consider the following:

Do you have a known methylation mutation, like MTHFR?

Have you had issues with fertility?

Do you have severe post-operative anesthesia nausea and vomiting? (this points to poor detoxification)

Do you have a mouth full of amalgams?

Do you have saline breast implants- these have been specifically linked to mold illness, while silicone implants are linked to poor detoxification.

Do you have brain fog, irritability, fatigue or even heart arrhythmias, specifically when you are in certain environments?

Do you have chronic yeast issues on your skin, toes or vaginally?

These can all indicate that you may have issues clearing mold and mycotoxins.

So what do we do about it?

That IS the million dollar question. First of all, find your source if you are indeed exposed to mold.

Where is it? I am going a link in the show notes to a mold detector that is very sensitive at not just identifying IF you have mold, but also what kind of mold you have in your environment.

The next step (or maybe this is the first step) – have yourself tested for mold exposure.

Of course, the best course of action is to work with a functional health provider who will guide your process and tailor it to the type of mold you are exposed to and your unique detoxification considerations.

How to remediate mold in your body is a bit more complex:

To break up mold, you need to disrupt biofilm, which is best done with herbal products. Essential oils are great to kill mold spores, but remember that when mold spores are killed, they release the toxin. To be sure newly released toxins don’t harm you, you may want to add a binder like Cellore’s HMET binder to your picture. If you have severe mold issues, I will often recommend that you go for the big guns and get some activated charcoal to help bind up those toxins.

The basic steps in the protocol for mold mitigation in your body is to kill, bind and sweat out those toxins, as my colleague Dr. Jess would say.

Kill by using biofilm buster like caprilyic acid and oregano extract. Bind with things like zeolite, charcoal, or carbon technology from Cellcore. Sweat out those toxins that are stuck in your lymphatics with exercise and infrared saunas.

Caution to the ladies out there with breast implants – don’t make the mistake I did and do infrared saunas with implants unless you want to gain weight and further disrupt your hormones!

Do you think you have health issues from mold and mycotoxins? Let us know how mold has affected your health in the comments and lets build a community for the millions out there who continue to struggle with this issue! Of course, feel free to reach out to make an appointment if you want more intimate support using the links below!

Thank you guys for joining me for this episode of the Rethink It Podcast. I hope it has been a blessing to you. Remember to Like, Share and Comment to help our community grow! Til next time!

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References

    • [1] Zheng, Y., Wisecup, B., Elitsur, Y., & Storz, J. F. (2018). Mycotoxin-producing Penicillium spp. cause oxidative stress in human intestinal cell line Caco-2. Journal of Medical Microbiology, 67(11), 1645-1652.

    • [3] Li, D., Bobrovskaya, L., & Zhou, X. F. (2019). In vitro and in vivo models of Parkinson’s disease: The role of the gut-brain axis. Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, 10, 1-14.

    • [2] Yang, X., Fan, Y., Liang, J., & Li, X. (2020). Maternal mycotoxin exposure induces neural tube defects in the developing brain. Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology, 391, 114933.

    • [4] Smith, K. A., Bradley, A. S., & Stolzenberg, D. S. (2018). Emerging evidence suggests that mold and mycotoxins can influence mood: a biological basis for the mind-body connection. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 19(4), 1051.

    • [5] Balin, B. J., Broadley, S., & Petro, R. C. (2018). Mycotoxins and human disease: Making the connection. Toxins, 10(3), 111.

    • [6] Lim, S. L., Rodriguez-Ortiz, C. J., Kitazawa, M., & Inoue, T. (2021). Trichothecene mycotoxins promote tau pathology via microglial activation. The Journal of Biological Chemistry, 297, 100946.

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