Does Mold Affect The Brain


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Dr Ritchie Shoemaker Is Credited With The Introduction Of Mold Illness To The General Public

Molds, Mycotoxins, and the Brain: Part 2 – Webinar with Dr. Andrew Campbell

In 1996, Dr. Shoemaker was practicing Family Practice in Maryland on the banks of the Chesapeake Bay. Some of his long-time patients were coming to him with the symptom picture that I described above. He had heard about a toxin-producing algae-like germ called Pfiesteria that occurred in algae-blooms in the bay. One of his patients came in with severe diarrhea. He decided to treat her diarrhea with cholestyramine, an old medicine used to lower cholesterol by binding it in the intestine, which was one of his favorite diarrhea treatments. To his surprise and pleasure, the patient reported that within a few days her diarrhea was gone along with her memory loss, headache and cough. He later learned that similar toxins could be produced by many indoor molds and lead to a similar clinical picture. Over the years Dr. Shoemaker worked out many of the mechanisms that resulted in patients symptoms and he called the disease process Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome or CIRS based largely on the fact that most of the symptoms were the result of inflammation due to the immune systems response to the mycotoxins.

Your Brain On Toxic Mold: Seven Effects Of Mold Illness

A brain exposed to toxic indoor mold and mycotoxins is typically not a very happy brain. Research indicates that the spectrum of cognitive impairments caused by mold and mycotoxin exposure are extensive. Many of these mental health conditions are quite prevalent in our society. This should make us wonder how many of these cases might be due to toxic environmental exposures, such as mold.

Increased Anxiety And Depression

A large study involving over 5,000 adults found significantly higher rates of depression in those living in water-damaged buildings with mold compared to controls living in mold-free environments .

Some mycotoxins are neurotoxins, which means theyre especially harmful to the brain and nervous system. Theyre capable of causing lesions in the area of the brain known as the frontal cortex. This causes dysfunction with dopamine, leading to anxiety or depression .

Mold exposure can also cause an immune reaction, activating microglia that release cytokines in the central nervous system. This causes changes in behavior including malaise, pain, fatigue, and social withdrawal.

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Mycotoxins And The Brain: Mechanisms Of Action

There are several mechanisms by which mold and mycotoxins harm the brain and induce cognitive dysfunction.

  • Mycotoxins induce oxidative stress, instigating the release of reactive oxygen species from cells that cause damage to nervous system tissue.
  • Trichothecenes induce mitochondrial dysfunction, a phenomenon that has been found to underlie cognitive impairment.
  • Mycotoxins interact with the neuroimmune axis, a network of cells and signaling molecules that links the immune system with the central nervous system. Mycotoxins activate mast cells along this axis, triggering the release of inflammatory cytokines that cause neuroinflammation and cognitive dysfunction.
  • Mycotoxins impair neuronal plasticity by binding to proteins involved in synapse activity. Reduced neuronal plasticity is a contributing factor in cognitive dysfunction, depression, and anxiety, among other mental health issues.
  • Mycotoxins compromise the integrity of the bloodbrain barrier, crossing into the brain and exerting neurotoxic effects on neurons.

Symptoms Of Illness Differ Among People With Mold Illness And Lyme As A Result Of Differences In Sensitivity And Patterns Of Immune Response

Can Black Mold Affect Your Brain?

To successfully resolve symptoms, I have found that rule #1 is to identify and eliminate ongoing exposure to the toxins causing the problem. This may require inspecting for mold-toxin causing molds in the indoor environment. This may include testing for the presence of mold toxins and stealth infections in the body. Often tests to understand the BioTerrain are helpful in order to modify the individuals susceptibility to symptoms and inflammation. Finally the goal of treatment is to assist in the elimination or reduction of toxins, mycotoxins and harmful stealth germs such as the Lyme Borrelia from the body. There are quite a few tools that are used to accomplish this and I have found that these tools must be individualized from patient to patient. One size definitely does not fit all.

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What Disease Can Be Contracted From A Dirty Environment

Although the list of possible health problems is extensive, its almost all avoidable if your home is regularly cleaned .

While many people think that a dirty or unclean home is not as harmful as smoking cigarettes and driving without seatbelts is dangerous, there are some serious dangers.

The bacteria that can live in any home, even if its kept clean, is the biggest health threat. These germs can cause allergies and ear infections as well as make existing conditions worse. Dirty, polluted dust is one of many major sources of allergy problems. It can contain allergens like mites and mold. Unwashed dishes pose a risk because they may contain bacteria that can lead to food poisoning.

Most cases are not severe, but they can lead to serious illnesses. Another condition, toxic mold syndrome , can also be caused by breathing in the spores of some fungi that are present on damp building materials like cement and wood.

A thorough spring cleaning session once a month can help you avoid most health problems. However, if you find your house in an unacceptable state, there are many professional cleaning services that can help.

Diagnosing Digestive Problems From Mold Exposure

If youre having gastrointestinal problems, see your primary care physician. Let your doctor know if youve been exposed to mold or think your symptoms might be caused by mold exposure. Make sure to let your doctor know if youre experiencing any other symptoms of mold exposure, like coughing, sneezing, headaches, sore throats, shortness of breath, rashes or hives.

Because so many things can cause gastrointestinal symptoms, including viruses, parasites, food poisoning, ulcers, food allergies and sensitivities, irritable bowel syndrome and celiac disease, it can take some time for a doctor to figure out whats causing your gastrointestinal problems and whether or not its due to mold exposure. Your doctor may order some tests to help make a diagnosis, such as blood tests, an upper GI x-ray , a CT scan, an abdominal ultrasound, an endoscopy and/or colonoscopy , and laboratory analysis of a stool sample. You may be referred to a gastroenterologist, a doctor specializing in digestive problems, for some of these tests or for treatment of certain gastrointestinal conditions.

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The Glymphatic System: The Microscopic Cleaning System For Your Brain Works While You Sleep

Headaches and brain fog, along with memory problems and tremors, appear to be the most debilitating symptoms of mold sensitivity and truly scare patients. Cognitive symptoms and neurological motor function issues impact our ability to function as a family member, friend, or coworker. The inability to function scares patients the most. The thought that these symptoms resemble or could be the beginning of neurological diseases such as Alzheimers or Parkinsons can change a persons entire perspective on life. They impact every aspect of who we are. This topic deserves to be treated separately and it turns out that there are relatively new and exciting discoveries on the brain and how it detoxifies.

How To Prevent Mould

toxic mold affects your mental health

In severe cases, Prof Noakes said there are limits to what occupants can do.

However, in less serious cases, there are things that can help, from taking shorter showers to improving ventilation in the property.

The shorter the shower, the less moisture there is, Prof Noakes said.

She also suggests wiping down the shower afterwards, rather than leaving the water to evaporate.

Open kitchen windows or use an extractor fan when cooking.

It is also important to check for obvious problems such as leaky pipes or gutters which could be contributing to the problem.

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Brown University Study On Mold And Depression

Brown University Study on Mold and Depression!

In 2007, researchers at Brown University released a study showing a link between mold and depression.

The study, led by epidemiologist Edmond Shenassa, analyzed data from 5,882 adults in 2,982 households.

The data was collected by the World Health Organization in 2002 and 2003. Interviewers visited 1000s of homes in eight European cities and asked residents a series of questions to assess symptoms of depression, including symptoms of low appetite, self-esteem, and sleep disturbances. They also tried to visually verify the presence of mold by looking at spots on the wall and ceilings.

What they found was that symptoms of depression were up to 40% higher for residents living in visibly moldy households than for residents that did not have mold in their homes.

Based on this survey, they concluded that there is a definite connection between damp, moldy homes and depression.

The studies author, further concluded that:

Physical health, and perceptions of control, are linked with an elevated risk for depression, and that makes sense. If you are sick from mold, and feel you cant get rid of it, it may affect your mental health. Healthy homes promote healthy lives.

Despite the findings of this study, many in the scientific community consider this an anecdotal study because the researchers did not take actual air samples or swab samples of the suspected visual mold. Because of this, the conclusions of this study have been questioned.

Scientific Research Linking The Impact Of Mold On The Brain

I have patients who will walk into moldy places and their first sign that something is wrong is that they start thinking about suicide. I see that fairly frequently.

The Brown University study cited earlier was released in 2007 and was viewed as relatively anecdotal at the time of its release because it was based on a question and answer survey and then visual clues of mold, meaning the conclusions were based upon some subjective judgement. Since then, there has been further scientific study to show the link between mold and depression.

Dr. Ackerleys article provides much detail on the link between mold and brain disorders, which should be read by anyone that wants to explore this topic further.

In laymans terms, the simplest explanation of how mold affects the brain is as follows:

  • Toxins released by mold, mycotoxins, can pass directly into your brain.
  • The mold enters your body when you breathe the spores and even enters your body through the optic nerves and muscles in your eyes.
  • When you are exposed to mold it will enter your body through your nose and eyes via your olfactory neurons which directly communicate with your brain.
  • Once the mold toxins are in your brain, it causes neuroinflammation and impacts the function of the frontal cortex of the brain which is the pleasure center of the brain that rules emotion, which in turn leads to depression symptoms.
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    Is It Tbi Lyme Disease Or A Mold Infection

    Traumatic brain injuries, Lyme disease, and mold infections have very similar symptoms. These conditions are often associated with brain fog, memory loss, insomnia, and even nausea. Because TBIs are often painful and frightening, people tend to seek help more immediately.

    Symptoms of a TBI appear suddenly and can last for years, which is why many of these illnesses are misdiagnosed as something else.

    When a mold infection isnt misdiagnosed as Lyme or a TBI, its often diagnosed as other brain conditions because of the symptoms. The sudden brain fog and memory loss allows for people to simply write it off as getting older, while depression and anxiety symptoms seem to signal mental illness.

    How Does Mold Affect The Brain

    Brain &  Neurological Disorders

    It may be obvious that mold exposure can affect your lungs, but how does mold affect the brain? Long-term effects of toxic mold exposure can cause or complicate symptoms of depression, anxiety, and memory issues.

    When mycotoxins from toxic mold are inhaled, they can block the production of dopaminethe happy chemicalin the prefrontal cortex. When this happens, depression sets in or grows worse.

    Mold can also increase anxiety by pumping too many stimulating chemicals into the brain. Glutamate and phenylethylamine normally boost energy and stimulate the brain. However, black mold toxins cause the brain to produce an excess of these chemicals, leading to heightened anxiety.

    Black molds effect on memory is a surprisingly powerful one. Our memories depend on the prefrontal cortex of the brain, which is protected by a layer called the myelin sheath. When youre exposed to toxic mold over a period of time, it begins to break down the myelin sheath, leading to memory issues.

    In a study by the City University of New York, psychiatrists exposed mice to mold spores three times a week. About three weeks later, the mice showed memory issues and confusion. Despite this study being animal-focused, it shows how just a small amount of mold exposure can affect the brain.

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    What Part Of The Brain Does Mold Affect

    A new study found that people affected by mold illness experienced: Brain inflammation in the hippocampus, the area of the brain that governs memory, learning, and the sleep-wake cycle. Decreased neurogenesis, or the formation of new brain cells.

    How do you test for mold toxicity?

    A blood test, sometimes called the radioallergosorbent test, can measure your immune systems response to mold by measuring the amount of certain antibodies in your bloodstream known as immunoglobulin E antibodies.

    Mold Can Cause Irritable Bowel Syndrome

    Mold can be difficult to detect because it can be very small. It can even be in your food. Once it is found, you may notice some of the following symptoms: watery diarrhea, cramping, bloating and constipation. This is known as Irritable Bowel Syndrome. It can be difficult to diagnose, and while there are multiple causes, the most common is a fungal infection. Some of the fungi that can cause Irritable Bowel Syndrome are Basidiomycetes and Ascomycetes. These types of fungi can cause a reaction called hypersensitivity to these fungi. What does this mean? It means that you can be allergic to a certain fungus and feel ill after exposure to it. Also known as allergic shingles. Some people are allergic to mold in their homes, so the mold is the cause. Another cause of Irritable Bowel Syndrome can be the bacteria Clostridium difficile . However, C. difficile can also be found in a healthy individuals gut. Therefore, the presence of it does not always mean that it is causing disease.

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    What Are The Mental & Neurological Symptoms Associated With Black Mold Exposure

    Black mold produces toxins that can kill neurons in the brain and can impair a persons mental faculties. Exposure to black mold toxins may cause mental & neurological conditions, like nervous disorders. Symptoms of mental & neurological effects of black mold exposure include altered behavior, mood swings, and irritability.

    What Are The Symptoms Of Mold In The Home

    Breathing in mould spores causes anxiety, memory deficits and increases pain perception

    Mold Neurological Symptoms. When exposed to household mold, neurological symptoms may result as well as the more common respiratory symptoms such as coughing, sneezing, runny nose, difficulty breathing, asthma attacks, bronchitis, sinusitis and pneumonia.

    What causes neuropathy caused by exposure to mold?

    National Library of Medicine has shown it can also be caused by exposure to mold. Other possible causes of peripheral neuropathy include alcoholism, autoimmune disorders, Lyme disease, some medications used to treat cancer, exposure to heavy metals, and disorders affecting the bone marrow .

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    Mold Survivors Explain Impact Of Mold On Their Brains

    On the surface, it would appear that the Brown study is anecdotal because it failed to take actual tests of the mold to verify the species and spore count. This is one of the biggest criticisms of the study. That being said, this study does show a link between the the homes environment and the mental health of the occupants.

    To further demonstrate the link between mold and depression, one can also look at actual testimonials of individuals that have suffered from mold illnesses. In 2015, Wonder Makers Environmental, a Michigan based environmental company, launched a website,, dedicated to educating restoration contractors, physicians, and patients about mold. One of the goals of the website was to interview toxic mold survivors and record their answers to a series of questions.

    One of the common themes in each interview was the sense of hopelessness and depression that they all felt because of the chronic exposure to the mold. Mold does affect ones brain and continued exposure to mold contributes to symptoms of depression. These are some of the symptoms reported by survivors, whose brains were impacted:

    My ears were ringing and it felt as if my head was about to explode.

    I had anxiety, brain fog, memory and cognition problems, difficult concentrating and speaking.

    I developed chronic headaches and migraines, fatigue, muscle weakness, dizziness, memory issues, and mood swings.

    Symptoms Of Mold Illness

    Symptoms of mold illness vary from person to person, although mold has been correlated with a significant increase in asthma.

    People who live, work, or go to school in moldy buildings complain of pain, fatigue, increased anxiety, depression, and cognitive defects such as memory loss. Researchers say the symptoms are similar to those from bacterial or viral infections, due to the inflammatory cascades mold triggers.

    The effects of mold illness on the brain have gone largely dismissed by the standard health care model due to insufficient research on the neurological effects of mold illness.

    However, this study demonstrates what people with mold illness already know it messes with your brain. Hopefully similar studies will follow.

    In the study, researchers observed that mice inoculated with mold spores showed increased inflammation in the hippocampus, causing notable losses of memory, increased pain, and more anxious behavior compared to mice inoculated with saline.

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