Monday, September 12, 2016

Mold and Your Health. What you don't know can hurt you.

Many years ago I lived in  a mold infested house in  Portland Oregon.  I became quite ill and was diagnosed as having Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. The water-damaged building I lived in was never questioned as a cause and because the mold was mostly not visible, it was never considered as a causative factor.  In those days, no one understood that mycotoxins from toxic molds or toxins from toxic blue-green algae or other biotoxins could be as harmful as we now know they are or that they could cause chronic illness. I had managed fine in this house until I had an incident where a woman rear ended my car leaving me immobilized the next day and sending my autonomic nervous system into a tizzy. This was the initiating incident of  what would become a "chronic Fatigue Syndrome". Initially, I thought the only precipitating factor was this car accident. It took me years to realize what had fully taken place.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is a catch-all category used when the practitioner has no idea what is wrong with you but you have a specific set of symptoms. This diagnosis means they ruled everything else out and you are left with a diagnosis that has no known cause. Without a causative factor you are left treating the effects of body dysregulation as various issues arise. I was diagnosed with this as a student Doc and thought for sure I would figure out the actual cause of my symptoms before I graduated from school. However, after ruling out all the possible diseases known at that time to cause my symptoms, I gave up and accepted that there was no known cause for my health condition. The best I could do was learn how to manage it with diet, herbs and supplements. I actually did such a good job, that I just accepted how I felt and most people had no idea I had a health issue. I would eventually become so good at managing my illness, I myself would sometimes forget I had an issue.

Unknown to me, the thing I most needed to do,  was to remove myself from the mold infested house I lived in.  I did eventually move out of this house, however I still did not know the true hazards of mold and I moved into a beautiful, but once again moldy old craftsman home in Portland Oregon. Thankfully, I eventually moved into a safer habitat but I did not know I had a mold sensitivity issue and was genetically unable to fully remove the mycotoxins in my body on my own. Additionally, I did not know I needed to stay out of moldy buildings. So, the moldy house was gone, but the mycotoxins remained in my body. I continued to go into moldy homes of friends and family as well as moldy public buildings. So, I continued to have health issues. I should mention here what I mean by a moldy building. These are not usually visually moldy. However, many water-damaged buildings are not visually moldy, yet harbor mold and mycotoxins. That explanation will have to wait for another post.

Perhaps it was misfortune that I figured out how to live adequately with my disease. If I had not learned how to keep myself in good enough shape to cope, I would have been more diligent about finding a solution. Every once in a while I would check out the news in the Chronic Fatigue research arena to see if there was anything new. Each time I was disappointed to find out that there was really nothing new. Mostly, what was available was just bandaid medicine that never got to the heart of the matter as we did not know what caused the symptoms.  I knew if I could find the causative factor, there would be a solution to my affliction as well as other people with CFS illnesses.

Years later I and others in the medical world began to realize mold, bacteria,  and chemicals in water-damged buildings (50% of buildings in the United States are water-damaged according to some reports.) can cause disease. However, most of us still did not realize the full ramifications of how water-damaged buildings effects us. Additionally, most of us did not realize some people were genetically predisposed to become chronically ill when exposed to water damaged buildings.  In my attempt to help another Doc who was sure she was suffering from a mold induced illness I started reading every research article, lecture etc on mold related illness I could find.  This was not exactly a booming research area, so information was hard to find unless you wanted to read about moldy food research. Eventually, I ran onto the work of Dr. Ritchie Shoemaker. His personal clinical research articles and his books were a real eye opener for practitioners such as myself. Every practitioner should read his research and read his book called Surviving Mold. 

After all the investigating, I had an aha moment when I realized that many (not all, but many) of the  folks with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, and Myalgic encepahalomyelitis, chronic lymes , Morgellons and a few other illnesses were probably folks with a  biotoxin illnesses. Although there are a variety of biotoxin illnesses, many of these folks appeared to have a sensitivity to water-damaged buildings. This condition is called Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRSdue to a water-damaged building. Many people have this illness but do not realize it. About 25% of the population has a "mold" sensitivity due to genetics. Anyone who has a chronic illness that causes them severe fatigue and bizarre changeable symptoms who has not been able to find significant relief should read the book mentioned above and/or check out my website at this link.

Since figuring this out, my life changed and the lives of others I have assisted has also changed. I am very grateful to the people I have assisted as they have been teachers for me as we have figured out how to heal ourselves one step at a time.  Chronic fatigue can have a variety of reasons but if you have ruled the every day factors out, it would behoove you to examine the possibility of your being sensitive to mold.

I would add that although many of us with this sensitivity to water-damaged buildings call it a "mold" sensitivity. It is really much more than that. We are reacting to mold, bacteria, chemicals in the building materials and their interactions with each other that cause them to release additional mycotoxins, bacterial endotoxins and volatile organic compounds. Some of the nasties you can find in a water-damaged building are mold, bacteria, actinomycetes and mycobacteria. Additionally, the chemicals in the building materials can create an environement that alters these organisms as well as add to the release of toxins. You can have a release of mycotoxins, bacterial endotoxins, beta glucans, mannans, proteinases, hemolysins, c-type lectins, spirocyclic drimanes, and volatile organic compounds. It is thought that the combination of these various toxins from a variety of organisms is what causes the illness. The World Health Organization identifies the following list as components associated with damp, water-damaged environments that are associated with poor health. It gives you an idea of how bad off some water-damaged buildings get. (Mold and mold spores, mycotoxins, bacteria, bacterial endotoxins and other cell wall components, protozoa (amoeba), increased presence of rodents, insects and dust mites, and increased deterioration of building materials with consequent off-gassing of toxic fumes such as formaldehyde.)

The people who are sensitive to water-damaged buildings have been shown to have some specific genetic characteristics in common. These inherited genetics lead  these people to being unable to remove some toxins, such as mycotoxins, from their body as readily as other individuals without these genetic characteristics. This leads to chronic inflammation. 

The thing about chronic inflammation is that it leads to even more susceptibility to other toxins as the bodies ability to protect itself is decreased as the inflammation builds up over time. These people can become more and more sensitive to all sorts of foods, environmental chemicals etc as time goes by. It becomes a living hell for many of them and some of them are so unhappy with how they feel that they take their own life when they can't find relief. 

Besides being "sensitive" to offending toxins, the body ends up running low on  key substances that are necessary for detoxification due to the increased burden of toxins in the environment. Soon, the body is overwhelmed by oxidation due to a lack of antioxidants. The body has trouble keeping up with the transformation of fat soluble toxins into water soluble toxins for removal. Even the efflux pumps can have trouble with removing the toxins from the cells.  The person is now "chemically sensitive". Their body is inflamed which leads to more things not working correctly. They have trouble with digestive enzymes, their liver is not turning out enough conjugated bile, their microbiome is messed up and they have a leaky gut. Now foods  that never bothered them before become an issue and they react to more and more things. We now know an inflamed gut leads to an inflamed blood brain barrier and a "leaky blood brain barrier". This means an inflamed brain and trouble with memory and cognition. Many of these folks think they are getting Alzheimer's and indeed a neurologist in California named Dale Bredesen is working with folks he says has inhalation alzheimer's disease and puts these "mold folks" into this category. (I think he is a genius. He is paying attention.) He also uses similar methods to heal them as those I myself use for "mold folks". 

Although, this person needs to remove themselves from the offending toxic environment and support their biotransformation/detox system as well as support organ systems that have been effected, this is not the whole answer.  We will all be in this situation eventually if we do not examine the toxins we are unleashing on our planet. It is just a matter of time before it is not just the 25% of genetically susceptible people who react this way, and everyone has an issue. At some point we all reach a tipping point where our bodies simply can't put up with the toxic environment. To learn more about toxins in the environment, check out EWG.

If people are interested, I will write additional articles on CIRS due to water-damaged buildings, inflammation from other causes, how they inter-relate and what we can do to support ourselves in a world that is using toxic methods to raise our food, build our buildings, and make products we use.  I already have a lot of data on my website, so I won't write more here unless I specifically get requests to do so and you tell me what you would like me to cover.

We all need to be in conversation about these issues and how we can make other choices. We, as a group have been the cause of where we currently find ourselves and We as a group are now becoming aware of the mess we have caused. Now, We as a group are learning which choices are healthy and which choices are unhealthy. As individuals We are striving to do the best we can. As a group, We will create a new paradise. Each of us need to make the healthy choices, as individuals, to get to the goal we desire. We need to join together as a team. Who is on board with me?

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Filter Out the PFAS In Our Water Supply

Water contamination is a major problem, but the United States is just beginning to examine it and  talk about how to deal with it. There are a huge variety of chemicals in our waters from conventional farming as well as from industry. Even the drugs people consume end up excreted into their feces and become a part of our water supply. Most of these chemicals are not looked for on a day to day basis and there are no mechanisms in place to remove it from the water supply.

A new study published Aug. 9 in the journal Environmental Science & Technology Letters, alerts people to the issue of polyfluoroalkyl and perfluoroalkyl (Perfluroalkyl substances = PFAS) that exceed the recommended safety levels in public drinking water. These chemicals disrupt the endocrine system and cause changes in our hormone levels. Additionally they have been found to disrupt the immune system.  They are linked with obesity, high cholesterol and cancer.

You can read further details here.

I use a Berkey water filter and it is what I usually suggest to others. If you check on Berkey's website they make the following statement about PFAS.

"PFAS's fall under the category of PFC's - Perfluorinated Chemicals. PFOA, PFOS, etc.  The Black Berkey elements that come standard with our Berkey systems do reduce these contaminates, to an Extreme Degree (in parts per trillion). Testing to back this up does exist and will be released soon."

The one I use is here: 

There are probably other water filters as good. This is just the one I have used and find does a good job.  I would never want to drink water from a municipal water system without filtering it. Even some country water needs to be filtered. Berkey sells filters for other things and if you have special needs I would suggest checking out their other types of filters. They also have some other sizes of Berkeys.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Phone App to Boycott GMOs

I realize many of you reading this do not eat GMOs and probably eat only organic food. However, you have friends, family and neighbors who do eat this stuff. They may not want to eat GMOs, but they are not sure how to know if their food has GMOs or not. Often, they are unable to put the effort into educating themselves as they do not have the time to learn which foods are safe. They may feel going completely organic is not possible for a variety of reasons.  Organic Consumers Association has come to their rescue by creating a phone App that will let them know. Anyone wanting to boycott GMOs or simply wanting to eat better should use this App if they  have a cell phone. It will help them choose safe foods.  Send this link to everyone you know. Friends, family, co-workers and your neighbors.

We may not be able to get our political representatives to supply a good GMO labeling bill, but we can refuse to buy GMOs if we know how to spot them. We can stop then dead in their path if we simply do not buy their toxic food. 

When you go shopping for food, you can use this app to scan food labels and see if you should boycott it or not. This link will take you to the Organic Consumers Association page with the cellphone App. 

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Herbal Constituent Kills Hospital Acquired Candida and It's Biofilm State

In the last post, I mentioned that western medicine is waking up to the realization that herbs may be the answer to the antibiotic resistant infectious diseases we created. Today, I will share a new research study with you that examines an herbal constituent called berberine. 

Berberine is found in Goldenseal - Hydrastis canadensis, Oregon grape and other species of Berberis  Phellodendron amurense, Gold thread - Coptis chinensis. Many of the antimicrobial, antifungal, antiparasitic actions of these herbs have been attributed to this one constituent. However, as I mentioned in the previous article, the whole herb is still necessary. We discussed how Berberis has a metabolite called 5-methoxyhydnocarpin-D (5'-MHC) that is needed for berberine to be more fully effective . 5'-MHC is a natural plant inhibitor of multidrug resistant pumps.  Although 5'-MHC has no antimicrobial activity of its own, the constituent berberine is much more effective when given in conjunction with the substance. 

So, this new research looks at the antifungal activity of berberine in fluconazole-resistant pathogenic yeasts. They specifically were looking at candida that is acquired in the hospital. This was really nasty hard to treat candida. Fluconazole is a fairly strong antifungal drug that use to work on candida but now there is the fluconazole-resistant candida that hospitals have bred and is living on equipment and various devises used in surgical procedures.

Basically, the study found that berberine not only killed the free floating candida planktonic yeast cells but also the biofilm forming cells. Since many biofilms are resistant to conventional antifungal agents this is exciting news to the researchers.

The Brief Details
This study exposed the candida to berberine and found it  caused loss of cellular membrane integrity resulting in cell membrane permeability and decreased the number of viable cells.
According to the data obtained in this study, berberine causes the death of fluconazole-resistant Candida spp. cells by apoptosis (cell suicide).

The results of this study showed that the berberine concentration necessary to inhibit both planktonic cells and preformed biofilm cells is similar. This indicates that berberine may reduce the growth of planktonic cells and inhibit the viability of cells in preformed biofilms at concentrations of 8 μg/ml and 37.5 μg/ml, respectively. This finding is relevant because biofilms are frequently associated with reduced sensitivity to conventional antifungal agents.

Hopefully, when used internally, they will know enough to use berberine in a whole plant base of Berberis spp.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Antimicrobials in Food and Herbs - Super Bugs Be Aware

This last May, a strain of E. coli was found in a Pennysylvaia woman that is antibiotic-resistant. It caused the CDC and others to go running around in a tizzy.

Each year in the United States, at least 2 million people become infected with various kinds of bacteria that are resistant to most antibiotics, and at least 23,000 people die each year as a result of those infections, according to the CDC.

Bacteria  have various methods to resist antibiotics. The more contact they have with an antibiotic, the more likely they are to figure out a way to resist it. The learned behavior of resisting one antibiotic can spill over and lead to resistant to other types of similar antibiotics. The bacteria that survive an antibiotic may learn how to pump the antibiotic out of their body or they may learn to neutralize the antibiotic before it harms them, or they may learn to change part of their body that is involved in the antibiotics lethality against them.

The overuse of antibiotics has allowed more antibiotic resistant microbes to evolve. This overuse is not just by the medical establishment. Many people now know that antibiotics are not useful against a virus, but still people do use them for viral infections sometimes.  Besides antibiotics being overused in the medical community, there is an even bigger problem with antibiotics being added to animal feed. Antibiotics help make animals fatter. There is a 3-5% rate of gain in beef feed lots when antibiotics are added to their food. So, you will find many feeds with antibiotics added into their food rations. The antibiotics are supposed to be pulled from the animals feed prior to slaughter to ensure the antibiotics are not in the food chain. However, they can be detected sometimes according to research studies.

Additionally, many people do not realize that glyphosate which is now poured onto conventional crops at the rate 128,000 tons annually in the U.S. ( according to government data in 2015) is an antibiotic as well as a weed killer. Yes, the first patent ever taken out on glyphosate was for use as an antibiotic. However, its use as a weed killer has made much more money for Monsanto than it could ever have brought in as an antibiotic. Now consider that RoundUp Ready crops of corn and soy are the main foods that conventional farm animals are being fed. RoundUp Ready means that the crop has been genetically modified to allow the farmer to spray glyphosate containing herbicide directly on that plant without hurting the plant. The farmer is spraying for weeds but since the weeds grow next to their crop, they spray everything. They don't have to be careful about keeping the glyphosate off the crops which is the point of RoundUp Ready crops. This means glyphosate is sprayed directly on the food that animals and humans eat. The government gives subsidies for growing these GMO soy and corn crops (Your tax dollars at work.) which means they can be sold at a decreased price in relation to non-subsidized crops, so they end up being the majority of what is fed in the cattle feed lots. (Also provides a nice dose of hidden antibiotic that may add to the animals growth.) It is additionally in chicken food and other animal food. Yes, it is in the majority of pet foods.  If you are not eating organic meat, you are eating meat from animals fed food that has had a lot of glyphosate poured onto it.  The majority of corn and soy grown in the U.S. is doused with glyphosate. That glyphosate has been found to accumulate in the tissues of animals. It is no wonder that glyphosate has been found in human bodily fluids when tested. So if you are eating non-organic meat you are almost assured of getting glyphosate in your meal. 

Glyphosate has been shown to kill off most bacteria, including those inhabiting your digestive system except for some nasty bacteria like Salmonella and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Additionally, it is absorbed into the body. In fact recent research has shown that glyphosate appears to be actively picked up by amino acid transporters and moved into the blood stream. This is probably because it is an analogue to the amino acid glycine. The body may think it is glycine and believe it is important to the body. (You can see a short article about this here.) Perhaps as a society we should begin a conversation about the fact that we have been pouring an antibiotic all over our food supply in larger and larger amounts since the 1990s. This is certainly discussed in the alternative medical community.

We can and have decreased our use of antibiotics in medicine and many in the medical community are better about using them only when necessary. Additionally, we have begun to take them out of our food supply to some extent.  The conversation about glyphosate in the feed is in it's beginning stages.  Even with all of this in motion, what about the fact that many microbes have and are already becoming resistant to antibiotics. We need some alternative answers to this predicament we have created. Perhaps, we should look at our friends the plants.

 The plants have not been taken seriously by main-stream medicine as agents to assist the body in resisting infectious disease. Past research on various plant antimicrobial constituents were shown to be weaker than the drug antibiotics in main-stream use today. This has lead to some people making the assumption that herbal medicines can't be used as a tool to protect the body from infectious organisms. However, the research has focused on individual constituents. Plants are not simply one constituent such as is usually found in an antimicrobial medication. Plant medicine consists of a kalidascopic mix of various supportive constituents that all work in harmony to bring about health. The plants antimicrobial properties rely upon a myriad of complementary constituents that all play a part in their ultimate antimicrobial symphonic activity. The researchers studying plants take out one constituent and look at the antimicrobial properties of that constituent by itself.  However, that is not how the plant works best as an antimicrobial. So, it is not a proper way to study what the whole plant does in the body.

In 2002 a researcher named Kim Lewis took a look at plant antimicrobials. He wondered why the 50,000 antimicrobial compounds that have been derived from plants have been found to be weak and have narrow specificity. He considered that over the millions of years of evolution the plants should have come up with something better to combat microbes. So, he began to look closer. The plant constituent extracts were able to invade the bacteria effectively but then they were rapidly excreted by the bacteria's multi-drug resistant pumps (MDRs). These are the same type of MDR pumps that bacteria use in humans to resist the antibiotics that we use in main-stream medicine. When a microbe like MRSA or pseudomonas aeruginosa is able to resist our antibiotics it is due to their MDR pumps pumping the medicine back out of their bodies. The bacteria build up a resistance through use of these pumps. The researcher thought there must be something the plant was doing to resist bacteria or they would not survive. But, what was it?

To understand the plants a little better and find out why they are able to defend themselves against bacteria we need to know that plants produce what are called secondary metabolites. It has long been thought that a significant part of secondary metabolites serve to protect plants against microbial pathogens. These plant substances are called  phytoanticipins, or phytoalexins. Phytoanticipins are normally in the plant at all times, while phytoalexin levels increase in response to microbial invasion. Plants with mutations that lack the phytoalexin that other similar plants have, may be prone to microbial invasion as has been shown in research. 

An example of how a plant uses one of these metabolites is shown in several of the Berberis  spp plants which contains the antimicrobial berberine. The metabolite is called 5
-methoxyhydnocarpin-D (5'-MHC). It is a natural plant inhibitor of MDR pumps.  Although 5'-MHC has no antimicrobial activity of its own, the constituent berberine is much more effective when given in conjunction with the substance. Researchers have found antimicrobial effectiveness of numerous plant extracts can increase several hundred-fold when studied in combination with the plant MDR pump inhibitor constituents at the same time. Yes, another case where using the whole plant makes perfect sense. 

So, the researchers proved what herbalists had been saying all along. The whole herb is important. You may not be able to get the desired effect from an herb if you take a single constituent out of the plant and try to use it. Now in some cases this does work. Drug companies have taken single constituents out of plants and sold them as drugs or have synthesized drugs that are very similar to certain single constituents in plants. However, nature has for the most part provided our medicine very well packaged, with the appropriate constituents that play well together.