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omen's Nutrition Detective

Beat Chronic Illness Caused by Mold and Other Toxins

© Nan Kathryn Fuchs PhD

The following is one in an ongoing series of columns entitled Women's Nutrition Detective by Nan Kathryn Fuchs PhD. View all columns in series
The information I’m about to share with you is controversial, even to some doctors of integrative medicine. Others, however, have told me that if this theory is accurate — and they think it is — it will change the way they practice medicine forever.

You’ve no doubt heard about Sick Building Syndrome — a group of symptoms associated with exposure to chemicals and microorganisms found in contaminated buildings. The symptoms may be mild or severe like chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia. Often, they are relieved when people leave the building. Sometimes they remain and get worse.

These symptoms can be caused by a number of contaminants in buildings. The contaminants can include bacteria, molds, pollen, and even viruses. The toxic substances from some species of molds and fungi including Stachybotrys, Aspergillus, and other organisms that grow in water-damaged buildings, are insidious. They’re extremely toxic and almost impossible to eradicate from buildings and people.

Why only some get sick
Some people get extremely sick from exposure to toxic molds, while others don’t. Why? Because our bodies have natural defense mechanisms that clear them out. In some people, this doesn’t work as well as in others.

Another reason is genetics. If you have a genetic defect, exposure to these toxic molds will make you sick. Your symptoms will never go away, and you will never feel better, unless you take specific steps to address it.

Dr. Ritchie C. Shoemaker, a Maryland physician and molecular biologist, found this genetic connection when he treated several patients exposed to toxin-forming algae. They had terrible diarrhea, headaches, and memory loss. What was puzzling was that their lab tests were normal and they didn’t respond to traditional treatments.

Dr. Shoemaker stumbled upon part of the solution when he gave his patients a cholesterol-lowering drug to stop their diarrhea. This medication reduced their other symptoms as well. Next, he treated patients exposed to toxic molds from their homes or office buildings. This same medication helped their symptoms. Dr. Shoemaker had discovered part of the solution, but it took a lot of research to discover why.

Failure to clear
The reason why many of us don’t get sick with exposure to various toxins is that your liver normally removes many harmful substances like biotoxins from your blood. Or they are attacked and broken down by a healthy immune system, then excreted.

But 24% of the population lacks a “toxin-removal” gene that makes antibodies against molds. It’s called HLA-DR. These genes tell your body to make antibodies to fight neurotoxins. Without them, your body doesn’t recognize these toxins as being foreign invaders. If you lack the genes needed to clear biotoxins, and you’re exposed to harmful molds and fungi, you’ll get sick and stay sick.

There are no routine lab tests that measure biotoxins. But you can measure their effects. Ken Hudnell, PhD, a neurotoxicologist at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found he could measure the effects of biotoxins on the brain with a visual contrast sensitivity (VCS) test. The VCS showed specific deficits only in people exposed to biotoxins.

This test measures the contrast between dark and light bars. Biotoxins affect your ability to see a particular group of these bars accurately. If you have unexplained symptoms, a positive VCS test, and think you have been exposed to biotoxins, you may be unable to clear these toxins. VCS scores correlate with the severity of symptoms and can be used to monitor your progress.

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About The Author
Nan Fuchs, Ph.D. is an authority on nutrition and the editor and writer of Women's Health Letter, the leading health advisory on nutritional healing for women. She is the author of the best-selling books, The Nutrition Detective: A Woman's Guide to Treating your Health Problems Through the Foods You Eat, Overcoming......more
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