In recent years, many people with chronic Lyme disease have also been diagnosed by their doctors with mold toxicity. I’ve often wondered which came first in most people in this population – the mold or the Lyme disease? Regardless, many integrative doctors are finding that their patients heal much better and faster if they address their patients’ mold toxicity, and often, before Lyme disease treatment.
Treatment for mold toxicity, like Lyme disease, can be a lengthy process, as well as complicated, as most homes in the United States (and probably worldwide) are mold-contaminated, and healing requires living in a mold-free environment. This may be the most challenging aspect of mold treatment for most people.
Furthermore, not everyone responds well to mold treatments. The general consensus among mold-literate doctors seems to be that it’s important to treat not only the mold, but the toxins it generates, but not all people with mold can tolerate antimicrobial treatments or mold toxin binders. However, a few doctors have found that by starting their patients out slowly and on low dosages of antimicrobial treatments, they are able to tolerate mold treatment regimens.
Approaches To Mold Toxicity: Which Is Best?
For instance, mold and Lyme disease expert Neil Nathan, MD, in his recently released book, TOXIC, shares an effective and integral mold treatment approach for those who are sensitive and unable to tolerate typical mold regimens. He finds that his patients with mold and Lyme typically require 1-5 years of treatment, depending on their level of toxicity, sensitivity and compliance, among other factors—but that they do heal!
Other people have found that total mold avoidance in an area outside civilization; typically, in a wilderness setting away from the soup of chemical contaminants found in most towns and cities, is essential for healing. People who manage to successfully do total mold avoidance, such as Bryan Rosner, a former Lyme sufferer and publisher of multiple Lyme disease books – have found avoidance to be a hugely successful way for their bodies to automatically dump toxins on their own.
In an interview that I conducted with Bryan on mold toxicity, Bryan shares that he was unable to tolerate mold treatments until he pursued total mold avoidance. This meant leaving his home, which was moldy, and purchasing an RV, where he moved with his family into a toxin-free area in the desert. Within just a few months of doing this, his body began to automatically unload massive amounts of mold toxins, without the help of any treatments, and within a short time, he was feeling better than he ever had in his life.
I was so intrigued by Bryan’s story that I recently conducted an interview with him to learn more about his approach to avoidance, and to discuss other options to mold treatment. You can listen to our hour and a half discussion by clicking here.
In our interview, I brought up brain retraining, which is another popular approach to restoring the body from both mold and Lyme disease. Most brain retraining programs, such as Dynamic Neural Retraining System (DNRS), and Amygdala Retraining, were initially designed to help people recover from conditions such as ME/CFS, fibromyalgia and multiple chemical sensitivities (MCS); however, many people have found them to be surprisingly helpful for helping them to recover from Lyme disease symptoms and mold exposure, too.
Brain retraining programs are meant to re-wire the brain’s limbic system, which apparently gets stuck in a chronic fight-or-flight response when exposed to toxins or prolonged stress. The limbic system has a profound effect upon the body’s other systems, including the immune, endocrine and digestive systems. By retraining the brain to behave as it’s supposed to, the immune and other systems often come back “online.”
I suspect that brain retraining helps the body to function better on multiple levels; what remains unknown, however, is whether brain retraining effectively heals the detoxification pathways so that the body can now remove mold by itself. Some people who were diagnosed with mold illness have recovered with brain retraining alone—but what nobody knows is whether they are still harboring mold toxins (mycotoxins). If they feel well, then perhaps the body has eliminated them through the training, or at least stopped reacting to them.
Which brings up another question. Does brain retraining simply quell an overactive response to mold toxins, or does it train the body to function as it’s supposed to, so that it eventually eliminates mold toxins on its own? Perhaps both.
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Total mold avoidance and living away from a contaminated society to me, intuitively seems like the best way to heal. That said, the average person probably can’t sell their home and belongings and live forever as a nomad in the desert. Some people who pursue avoidance end up leaving society temporarily, until they get “cleaned out” and are then able to live in a low-mold environment, in less densely populated, cleaner towns and cities in states such as Nevada and New Mexico, but mold avoidance can be just as tricky as treatments. This is because any contact with mold or mycotoxins—such as from a patch of moldy air in a city that contaminates the air—can ruin the whole experiment, and you may have to find a way to live and survive outside of society—at least for a while.
At the same time, doing mold treatments is a lengthy, complicated process, although it does seem to be helpful for some people. At least, based on the contentions of some educated doctors that I’ve interviewed over the years.
I’ve also witnessed brain retraining as a powerful healing tool, but like all things, it may or may not be enough for some people.
Finally, the big elephant in the room that few people in the medical community seem to be talking about, is the fact that people can get sick from mold in the outdoor air. You don’t have to have water damage in your home. Case in point: I live in a newer townhome in the Dallas area that has been pretty thoroughly tested for mold. There is no history of water leaks, but we recently had some penicillium mold contamination from the outdoors. I did some research and discovered this mold lives in the outdoor air but enters the home whenever you open the door, and it easily colonizes on furniture. The only room in our place that tested high for penicillium was the room by the front door—which caused me think that the contamination was from outdoor air. And it is a dangerous mold, to be sure.
The conventional wisdom once seemed to be that outdoor molds were safe, but even outdoor molds can be dangerous when they are combined with chemical toxins. The problem nowadays isn’t that everyone is all of a sudden being exposed to mold. The problem is that there are thousands of toxic chemicals and manmade electromagnetic fields in our environment, that are making once-benign outdoor molds virulent and dangerous. Therefore, living in a mold-free home doesn’t necessarily guarantee that you will avoid getting sick from mold. You may have to live somewhere where the overall level of contamination, and mold species, are low—in the indoors, as well as outdoors. One advantage of avoidance is that for those who are able to do it, it provides a way to heal without having to take lots of toxin binders and other treatments, and it seems to be a much faster road to recovery, for those that are able to do it well.
But like all things, avoidance doesn’t work for everyone. Just as mold treatments and brain retraining don’t work for everyone. But they all work, to varying degrees. The bigger question we all probably need to be asking though is: what factors influence each approach to recovery? And of course, what approach is best for you?
I have to live in a big city right now. I live at the intersection of two major highways, and while I would much prefer to live in a pristine wilderness, life’s obligations require me to be here. However, I practice brain retraining and have found it to be incredibly beneficial for helping me to function well. Is it enough? I don’t know. What I do know, is that the world is getting increasingly toxic, and we will need better answers to healing from mold exposure and Lyme disease.
In the meantime, I would like to encourage you again to check out Bryan’s and my recent interview on mold avoidance. You just may find some tidbits in here that will be helpful for you in your healing journey!
This article was first published on ProHealth.com on February 15, 2019 and was updated on July 09, 2019
Connie Strasheim is the author or co-author of 13 wellness books, including the recently released New Paradigms in Lyme Disease Treatment: 10 Top Doctors Real Healing Strategies that Work. (October, 2016) and Happy, Healthy and Free: Spirit-Soul-Body Solutions for Healing from Depression. She is also a medical copywriter and an editor at ProHealth.com, as well as Editor of the Alternative Cancer Research Institute (ACRI). Her passion is to help people with complex chronic illnesses find freedom from disease and soul-spirit sickness using whole body medicine, and she collaborates with some of the world’s best integrative doctors to do this. In addition to Lyme disease and insomnia, Connie’s books focus on cancer, nutrition, detoxification and spiritual healing. To learn more about her work, see: www.ConnieStrasheim.org.