Is Hidden Mold Affecting Your Hormones?

In a previous episode of Integrative Wellness Radio, we interviewed a mold remediation specialist about hidden mold in your home. In this episode, Dr. Nicole and Brooke cover how mold can impact your body, more specifically, your hormones. Yes, mold can cause your PMS symptoms, PCOS, menopause symptoms, and more! Find out how functional medicine can help you learn more about the root cause of your hormone imbalances and help you feel better!


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Hey there. Welcome back to another episode of IWG Radio. You've got clinical nutritionist Brooke here, with Dr. Nicole. We're going to be following up on one of our previous podcasts where we discussed a little bit about hidden mold possibly in your home, and affecting your health. We wanted to dive a little bit deeper into this topic and give you a little bit more information, really about how to understand if you are someone who is suffering from mold, and how you can really start to turn things around for yourself.

I did want to interview Dr. Nicole today about some of the underlying things that happen when you are exposed to mold, how your body is really affected, and really putting a focus today on hormones. I think a lot of us are suffering from hormone imbalances, whether that's general PMS, whether that is having periods, whether it's PCOS, even early menopause, extreme menopause symptoms, and even maybe changes for men as well. So, high estrogen levels, low testosterone, and things like that. Dr. Nicole, why don't you give us a really good overview of really what it means to be affected by mold.

Dr. Nicole:
Well, I guess one classification that we want to create is more so that mold is not always just going to be in your home. There's definitely possibilities of mold in your car, especially if maybe you have a sun roof and there's been a leak in it in the past. There's also mold possibilities in your work place, as well as mold that could have been in schools that you've went to. Unfortunately, our public schools are a big culprit for why we are being exposed to mold, and why we could potentially having hormonal imbalances at such young ages, or in our teenage years.

Mold is definitely a possibility in other places outside of just your home. Just keeping that in mind when you're listening to this, because you might be thinking, "I live in a bran new construction. There's no possible way there's mold in my current home." You also can affected from past exposure. Some people on a genetic level will get exposed to mold and clear it, no problem. Other people will not clear it as easily and their body will hold onto it, primarily in the liver. With that being said, it will then have long term affects on their hormonal system.

Yeah, I think it's really important that you mention things like previous exposure because we see a lot of clients in here that say, like you mentioned, "I have a new home. There's no way." I think that sometimes people forget maybe they lived ... I know college homes are big culprits, even if you were ever renting an apartment or a home that was not your own.

It doesn't mean that the home needs to smell musty or seem wet in any way for there to be mold. It could be in the basement. It could be in the attic. You might not have any idea that it's there. It could be playing a role underlying some of the things that you're experiencing.

Dr. Nicole:
Definitely. There's definitely so many hidden sources of it in our ventilation systems, especially if you have forced hot air and the unit is down in the basement. If it's a crawl space or if it's even an unfinished basement, there's always strong possibilities because those areas tend to be more damp. Just taking into consideration all of the different elements. When we're talking about mold, we're really not talking about that black mold that you can visually see. Sometimes, it is hidden.

Yeah, and that's where I did want to mention the previous podcast we had done a while back. I'd like you to take a listen to that. If you are listening to this and relating to this, that podcast, I interviewed gentleman who is an inspector for mold. He uses a really comprehensive approach. He mentions a lot that you walk into the home, you really don't expect it. But, looking in certain areas, tell tale signs, you might see a little black spot somewhere or you might be able to go down into your basement and kind of visually assess what's going on.

It definitely is important if you are feeling like you relate to some of the things that we're going to talk about today. Why don't you give us some of the key, core symptoms of what somebody might be experiencing if they are exposed to mold.

Dr. Nicole:
Definitely. Some of the top things that you might notice is that you are experiencing some immune system issues. I know that when we think of mold, a lot of times we start to automatically think sinuses, upper respiratory, lungs, potential asthma. Don't get me wrong, those definitely can play a role, especially the sinuses. The sinuses doesn't mean you're always getting sinus infections, necessarily. It could be just general congestion, post nasal drip, that one nostril that you can't clear, or you wake up just a little bit stuffy. That's definitely one avenue that it can take.

You're also going to notice that there's some issues with you immune system. You could have been diagnosed with an auto immune condition. Don't get me wrong, there's a lot of causes for that. This could be a player. So, maybe an auto immune condition like Hashimoto's, maybe Grave's. Unfortunately, Hashimoto's is so common, which is an auto immune condition against the thyroid. You might be just getting sick more often than the average person.

We actually did do a podcast that talks about the top three things crippling your immune system. We do go into mold and the primary role that it plays there. Another big thing is Lyme disease. It's very interesting. Dr. Klinghardt, who is pioneer in the world of Lyme, he mentioned that over the past forty years, the clients that he's been treating, one hundred percent of them have had mold exposure. Meaning, people that have Lyme.

I found that to be a really interesting statistic because it just really shows how crippling mold can be to your immune system. It's something to definitely take into consideration if you are combating Lyme or other viruses, maybe the Escobar virus or the herpes simplex virus. It definitely will open you up to a lot of different types of infections, especially if you are someone who has been battling candida. If you have been known that you have yeast in the gut and you've been trying to get rid of it, supplements, diet, et cetera, and it's just not clearing, you might want to consider what is affecting your immune system.

The other top thing is going to be your hormones. I know this can seem very disconnected. How can mold possibly be affecting my hormones? One of the primary organs that mold has been known to affect is actually the pituitary gland. This is part of the brain that actually controls your entire endocrine system. The pituitary will affect your thyroid. It will affect your adrenal glands, which produce your energy, and it will affect your reproductive organs.

Between the reproductive organs and the adrenals, those are the two organs that make all of your sex hormones. You're naturally going to start to have abnormalities in your estrogen levels, your progesterone levels, and your testosterone levels. Interesting enough, in women, we start to see an elevation or an increase in their testosterone levels, which leads to polycystic ovary syndrome, which means they're going to maybe have cysts on the ovaries. They might have excess hair growth on the face. They might start to develop thyroid issues.

With men, we tend to see low testosterone levels. It's hard to say exactly why that happens. In reality, the biggest thing to take away is the pituitary gland is dysfunctioning and it's not allowing the hormones to be produced properly. This can definitely induce adrenal fatigue. Some people I know have read up on that. Most people are like, "Oh my god. That's me." Really, adrenal fatigue is people having hormonal decline but also having fatigue that goes along with that.

The pituitary gland is the primary culprit. If you're someone battling with hormone problems, you're trying to address the hormones, and you're having limited success, or you're on supplements and then you come off of your supplements and you go right back to where you were, you have to really consider, is there something more? Is there something else going on? Is mold the culprit? You want to address, obviously, the underlying cause so you can successfully balance your hormones.

That is definitely, I think, eye opening to a lot of people. Like you said, there seems to be a big disconnect thinking mold and hormones. You wouldn't naturally think that that would be a correlation there. I think a lot of times, people think it's just related to ... My mom always had heavy periods or someone in my family had PCOS and we've always had hormone imbalances. I think it's really eye opening for a lot of people to think about the possibility that there is something underlying that.

Dr. Nicole:
As a quick side note, too, in reference to the pituitary gland, the pituitary doesn't just affect homes. The pituitary is an amazing part of the brain that affects a lot of different things. One of the symptoms of mold is actually frequent urination. The reason being your antidiuretic hormone is also made by the pituitary gland.

If you're not holding onto your electrolytes and you're not really able to hold onto fluids, you're going to start urinating frequently. Urinating frequently, we can obviously just blame it on, "Oh, I'm just drinking a lot of water, so that's why." If you're urinating every two to three hours, that's a pretty high amount of urination. That can definitely be a byproduct as well.

How do we figure out if there is mold exposure? We're saying definitely check your home, find out more about if it's in your home. Then, when we get to finding out if this is something that's happening in the body, I want you to tell our listeners a little bit more about the approach that we use in finding out if mold is a concern.

Dr. Nicole:
Definitely. Dr. Ritchie Shoemaker is a huge pioneer in the world of mold. He is someone who has put together the type of testing that gives you the most accurate reading for somebody's immune system and pituitary function to see if they have been exposed to mold or are currently being exposed to mold. We use a lot of similar markers.

Don't get me wrong, you can go and get certain types of testing to test if mold antibodies are actually in the body. Yes, that is important, but at the same time, you do want to test to see if mold is has been cleared, but you're still having a residual effect on the pituitary gland.

Looking at a couple different things in reference to the immune system, one of them is called C3. The other one is called C4A. These are parameters of the immune system to tell you if you are potentially having a response to mold. C4A also can give you information about Lyme disease.

You never want to just run that by itself and say, "Okay, you have mold." You always want to do something called TGF beta 1. That is the most accurate parameter for testing for mold. That is something that is actually only done through lab work.

You can definitely run it through your insurance, which is fantastic. Outside of that, it's actually a pretty reasonable test. I think it's around one hundred dollars if you do the cash route. The TGF beta 1 is really something that will give you a lot of information about if you're being exposed to mold currently or have had past exposure. We do also test other parameters of the pituitary gland. We make sure to test something called melanocyte stimulating hormone. We test something called Vasopressin, or the antidiuretic hormone.

Really, in reality, I know a lot of people might be like, "What does all of this mean?" You want to look at the pituitary gland to see what's dysfunctioning, what's not. More importantly, you want to look at the immune system's reaction. You want to look at that C3, C4A, and the TGF beta 1. Unfortunately, if you go with this list and you go to your average practitioner, they are probably not going to run the test. They've probably never heard of them. They probably will say that mold is not something that is that big of a deal.

Unfortunately, that's not true. In my practice, I was treating tons of auto immunity. I still am, but I came to a place where people were hitting a plateau. It wasn't a lot of people, but there was those select few cases that were very difficult cases. They just were not progressing. It didn't make sense because we found things in their labs. We were treating their infections. We were treating what needed to be treated according to their labs, but they were not progressing.

The way that I function it was, "Okay, it's not that this person's just doomed and they can't heal." It was, "what do I not know about yet?" I ended up exploring the possibility of mold and what that can potentially do to the body. That's really when I came across Dr. Shoemaker's work. It just was, like, "Oh my god. This is exactly what is happening in these people."

I did the testing. All of them came up positive. Then, after we had that information, we were able to help treat them for their mold and other infections. That was what got them over the hump. It's definitely been a game changer in how I treat my patients. I just can't believe how many people are affected by mold. It's mind blowing.

I really think that a big culprit is our work places as well as our schools. I keep hearing a lot of older schools being shut down for mold remediation. In reality, how long has the mold been there? It's been there probably a long time. These are kids being affected that are developing allergies. They're developing but allergies, seasonal allergies. How many people have allergies nowadays? It's way too common. Again, I'm not saying mold is the only culprit, but I think it's a big player in why the immune system is compromised in the first place.

Yeah, and I think that's really important that you mentioned the general practitioner that you might be seeing. This type of thing is not necessarily something that when you go for a physical and have some basic blood work done, it's not something that, even if the physicians were trained on this information, in that basic type of blood work, there's not really a whole lot eluding to this actual mold exposure.

It's definitely something that, if you're relating to any of this, you do want to take a little bit deeper of a dive and address. I know we wanted to mention a hair analysis, which is something that we frequently do along with our blood work, to give us more information about heavy metals and how that can be playing a role. Why don't you give a little bit more information about that.

Dr. Nicole:
Yeah. This is a really important piece of information. Again, when you go to your average or general practitioner, chances are they're not doing any testing for heavy metals. Heavy metal testing through the blood really is not the most accurate anyway because heavy metals don't live in the blood. If you had mercury floating around in your blood, you would be very ill. You would not be able to think. You really wouldn't be able to function.

Typically, your body tries to get rid of these types of toxins, heavy metals. Whatever it can't get rid of, it stores in your tissues. It buries it, pretty much. With that being said, one of the best ways of testing for heavy metals is actually a hair analysis. We always do a hair analysis because if somebody is coming up positive for mold, then one of the most interesting things is heavy metals and mold bind to each other. Typically, they bind to each other and they live within the bile of the liver and gall bladder.

If you try to help someone to get rid of just their heavy metals or just their mold, you're actually going to have pretty limited success because you have to address both at the same time, and that will allow the bile to be released and allow this person to release the mold and the heavy metals, and really decrease that toxic burden on them.

Yes. Expand upon the mechanism within the body of how the mold kind of travels through.

Dr. Nicole:
I think we always hear that our liver is our detox organ. It's kind of the filtration. There's a lot of things the liver does. Overall, the liver produces bile. That bile is what binds up all of the toxins. In a perfect world, that bile gets released in the gut, the gastro intestinal system, moves through, and then leaves our body via our stool. That is one of the primary ways that we release toxins, pesticides, heavy metals, whatever it is.

It doesn't always work that way. The reason being is because the heavy metals and the toxic burden can cause the bile to not be released efficiently anymore. Then, if somebody also has gut infections. Then, is the bile is released into the gut, now it has an obstacle course to get through. It can't always just get out of the body efficiently and leave the body via the stool. You really want to support somebody's ability to produce bile. This is something I think can hit home with a lot of people.

When we think of constipation, we automatically think, "What's going on in my gut? What is happening?" There is a huge component to our liver and bile production that plays a role in constipation. If your bile is all gunked up with a bunch of toxins, mold, and whatever it is, and it's not really being released into your gut, then you have no lubrication anymore. You have no way of allowing your body to move things through the gastro intestinal system, and you become constipated.

If you are someone who's constipated, you have to consider what is affecting your bile. Is it just toxic overload? Is it mold? Again, through the testing that we're talking about, the blood testing giving you the information about mold, and then the hair sample, you get a lot of information as to why you might be constipated and not releasing these things.

All of this is good. But now, what can we give our listeners as tips and tricks if they think that they're experiencing this? What can they do for themselves?

Dr. Nicole:
First and foremost, if you suspect mold, I would definitely say look into the proper testing for your home. I know that the traditional testing is air quality. You can go to Home Depot or you can get an ERMI test online. Those do give good information. You also want to consider doing a swab test. There's a company called Real Time Labs, and they do an environmental test. They give you the directions on how to do it. You can swab parts of your home as well as cut out a portion of your air filter, send that in, and they will send you back letting you know if there are different types of micro toxins, which are the toxins given off by mold.

That is a fantastic test to do along side of an air quality test. It's about three hundred dollars, so it's reasonable in comparison to bringing somebody in. Obviously, if these tests come out positive, you do need to then seek out the proper modality of getting your house cleaned up. Getting the work done on yourself to see if you are someone who is experiencing mold and not releasing it.

Then, in addition, there are definitely certain things you can do dietary wise that can improve your liver function and get your bile flowing better. The one category of foods is called cruciferous vegetables. Cruciferous vegetables are things like broccoli, cauliflower, bok choy, kale ...

Brussel sprouts.

Dr. Nicole:
Brussel sprouts, horse radish, kohlarabi. With that being said, utilizing those foods on a daily basis actually will start to promote liver detoxification. It can really get your bile working better. Another bile promoting food is beets. I know, not necessarily not everyone's favorite, but if you roast beets, it's actually pretty delicious. You can actually check out the eat for your gut cook book. It's on Amazon and that will give you some really good beet recipes. We've made beet hash before. If you make beets the right way, I promise they can be delicious.

Those are some really important things to consider. If you are someone who suspects you have heavy metals or know that you have heavy metals. Maybe you're a big sushi person. Maybe you've eaten a ton of fish in your life, you would also want to consider taking something like chlorella. The chlorella that we recommend is definitely by BioPure. It's the best. You really can't get a better form of Chlorella.

Interesting enough, chlorella is a sea veggie. It's known to have mold if you get the wrong type, so really be cautious. BioPure chlorella is the best. Using that is fantastic because if you're eating these foods that are promoting the bile and you start to move things out, the last thing that you want is the mold or the heavy metals to get reabsorbed in your gut. Chlorella is the binder. It binds everything up so it gets out of your body efficiently.

I think those could be some really, really great starting points. Then, obviously, there's more to it than that, but starting there and then seeking out the right testing so you can really get a custom plan made for yourself, because there might be other co-infections that are happening.

Yeah, and I think that's really the most important take home, is if you're finding that you implement some of these things, you feel a little it better, but maybe not one hundred percent, there's definitely the possibility of some of these other co-infections, viruses, heavy metals, and all of this that you need a little bit stronger of an approach to help to get rid of from the body.

With that being said, we always offer a free strategy call with myself. If you are listening and you do want to learn more about really how we help or if we can guide you to the best place. As always, please feel free to subscribe. Give us a rating and a review, and we will talk to you next time. Thank you.