The Threat of Mold to Your Health and Well Being: Part I
An Urgent Problem In recently years, mold contamination has taken center stage as the top environmental concern for both the healthcare and real estate industries. In the healthcare field, doctors are inundated with conditions ranging from mild allergic reactions to severe debilitating and sometimes, fatal incidents involving mold exposure and the subsequent fungal infection and immune suppression. To make matters worse, the home insurance industry has stopped writing policies covering mold contamination for homes and apartment dwellings, setting off further panic and confusion among real estate owners and occupants.
Mold is Everywhere
What is mold and how does it get into your environment and how does it affect your health? To begin with, we must understand that mold is the oldest organism in existence since the beginning of life on earth. The family of mold includes mushrooms, fungi, yeast, and the antibiotic penicillin.
Actually it’s hard to avoid mold because it’s everywhere. It grows on cheese, makes bread rise, and ferments beer, wine and vinegar. It resides in the soil of our yard, in the air on a foggy day, inside the water-damaged walls of our house or apartment.
Maintaining a Crucial Balance
So why is it a problem then if mold is so prevalent in our everyday life? The answer lies in relative balance. If our outer environment and inner bodies contain high levels of mold and yeast, and if our immune system is compromised and incapable of keeping the fungi population within our bodies under control, then you have the making of a potentially serious illness. On the other hand, if we keep our immune system strong and maintain an non-threatening level of mold and yeast in our surroundings and within, our health is unaffected by its presence. Many molds are relatively harmless so long as your immune system is strong. Some molds produce mycotoxin which can elicit strong reactions from your body, which in some people can be fatal.
Dampness—the Cause of Many Illnesses and as Progenitor of Mold
Chinese medical tradition has long recognized the harmful impact of mold and yeast on the human body. Mold and all of its cousins are dependent on one thing to thrive—moisture. That is why in damp places, one can smell the musty odors of mold readily. As one of six major environmental pathogenic causes of illness in Chinese medicine, dampness is considered the most difficult to deal with because of its prevalence and tenacity. Dampness is both internal and external to your body. Damp living quarters or weather condition will produce overgrowth of yeast in the human body easily injure your digestive track, throwing off the delicate balance of digestion, absorption and elimination functions. It can further overwhelm your immune system causing dysfunctions that may manifest as immunodeficiency or autoimmunity. Arthritis is one of many immune dysfunctions.
Dampness causes water retention, excessive mucus production, toxic accumulation which can collectively create damage to your lungs, kidneys, gall bladder, spleen, stomach, intestines and produce plaque that harms the walls of blood vessels. Dampness can overcome your metabolic fire leading to lethargy, overweight, obesity and formation of cysts, fibroids and tumors in your reproductive organs and elsewhere. Dampness slows the mind and the speed by which neurons relays messages. Neuropathy and depression are two examples. Finally, dampness may be at the root of many of our modern illnesses such as high cholesterol, cancer, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, allergies, environmental illness and candidiasis.
What I described in the above thus far are exactly the patterns of toxic mold condition. If you or someone you know of are suffering from the above, talk to your doctor about testing and treatment for toxic mold exposure. In part two of the next issue, I will outline prevention and treatment options including diet and environmental measures that you can undertake as well as Chinese medical therapies to strengthen your immune system and digestion and expel dampness and inhibit yeast proliferation in your body.