Mold Toxicity Symptoms: Is This the Root Cause of Your Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and Histamine Intolerance?
For decades, I struggled with “mystery” health problems. I now know they were related to Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and Mold Toxicity.
Even the most experienced functional medicine doctor I saw couldn’t figure out what was wrong.
These issues started when I was 7.
That was when my family moved into an old farmhouse full of toxic mold.
As an adult, I learned those years in that moldy environment led to my asthma attacks, hypersensitivity, inflammatory responses, and many more symptoms of mold exposure.
Throughout my childhood, I dealt with what we thought were allergic reactions.
I suffered with:
- Runny nose
- Shortness of breath
- Asthma attacks
That was just the beginning.
By the time I was 28, I had crushing fatigue.
I couldn’t walk due to severe joint pain.
My period stopped.
My digestion was wrecked.
And my depression and anxiety were so severe I could barely leave my house.
I had numerous diagnoses:
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Urticaria (hives)
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Lyme Disease
I saw over 75 practitioners and spent over $350,000 in 15 years trying to get well.
But my major breakthroughs only came when I finally learned that Mold Toxicity was keeping me from healing.
Thankfully, once I got mold detox right, my body started to heal.
I can now work and enjoy my life.
So I’ve made it my mission to help others who are dealing with similar “mystery” health issues.
Keep reading to learn more about:
- Why Mold Toxicity is an epidemic
- The connections between Mold Toxicity, Mast Cell Activation Syndrome, and Histamine Intolerance
- What Mold Toxicity is
- Symptoms of Mold Toxicity
- What can be done if you have Mold Toxicity
Let’s start with how Mold Toxicity became epidemic.
How Mold Toxicity Has Become Epidemic
It’s important you know that this blog post is for informational and educational purposes. It’s not meant to treat any health condition or to be prescriptive for anyone. Always be sure to work with your healthcare practitioner.
Mold Toxicity has gotten worse in recent years.
Part of the mold problem started to happen with the new building codes put in place in the 1970s.
Buildings are more energy efficient now.
Part of the reason for that is reduced airflow in buildings. You’ll often find that there are higher humidity levels in buildings without good airflow as opposed to buildings with good airflow.
And these high humidity levels create a better environment for mold to grow.
Also, newer materials like drywall can grow mold more readily than concrete. Drywall can serve as a food source for mold.
But new builds aren’t the only way to be exposed to indoor mold.
Older homes often don’t have air conditioning. Now, just because you have an air conditioner doesn’t mean you won’t get mold.
But not having one may mean high levels of humidity, too.
TIP: I have a whole house dehumidifier now to help reduce humidity.
You can also help lower humidity levels with room dehumidifiers like this one.
And with an older home, you may be more likely to have water damage from water leaks over the years. Especially if a property hasn’t been well maintained.
Common toxic molds you may have been exposed to may include:
- Black mold (like Stachybotrys chartarum)
How Common Is Mold Toxicity?
In 2007, the EPA and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found that 47% of all homes in the US have water damage leading to toxic molds!
A study in 2002 by the EPA reported that 85% of commercial buildings have water damage that can grow mold. In 1995, the US government found 30% of schools have major mold growth.
If you are exposed to mold like this, research shows you are 30 to 50% more likely to develop major health problems from it. It can contribute to anything from weight gain to serious neurological symptoms.
Moldy buildings are more common now.
Molds and their toxins have become more aggressive, too. Why has this happened?
Preliminary studies and observations by top mold inspectors are pointing to EMFs (electromagnetic fields). These EMFs can come from WIFI routers and the tons of WIFI devices that are everywhere these days.
See, EMFs are unfamiliar to mold. So, the mold sees them as a threat.
And mold produces more toxins when it feels threatened.
Although studies are clear that mold toxins are dangerous, it has gone highly underrecognized.
Here’s the good news, though…
Addressing Mold Toxicity is the #1 breakthrough I see in my practice for people with mast cell and histamine issues.
Let’s look next at why mold triggers mast cells so much.
How Mold Toxins Are Connected to Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and Histamine Intolerance
Studies show that mold toxins (mycotoxins) are strong mast cell activators.
Mast cells are your frontline defender immune cells. Their job is to detect things that can harm you. Then, they cause reactions to deal with anything harmful.
They do this by releasing chemicals called mediators.
There are hundreds of these mediators. Histamine is one of the most well-known.
These mediators can activate the rest of the immune system. They can cause inflammation and tons of other symptoms, depending on which mast cells are affected.
See, mast cells are found all through your body. They are in your:
- Gut lining
- Nervous system
There are mast cells at every nerve ending in the body.
But for all this mast cell activation to occur, the mast cells have to be triggered by something.
Mold toxins (mycotoxins) are some of the nastiest triggers for mast cells.
And did you know that even past exposure to certain types of molds may be causing mast cell activation today?
That’s what can happen if you have Mold Colonization.
Did you know that mold can grow inside you? That’s why you may still be suffering even if you remove mold from your environment.
Here’s how Mold Colonization happens.
Mold reproduces by spores. These spores can get inside your body. And kind of like plant seeds, if you add water and food to mold spores – they grow mold.
When mold spores get into our bodies, they can colonize. This means they start growing in your body.
This is bad news for two reasons.
Reason 1 is that this mold growing inside you constantly releases those mold toxins, called mycotoxins.
The buildup of these mycotoxins in the body is what leads to Mold Toxicity.
But here’s reason 2. Mold decomposes your tissues to feed on nutrients. Yuck!
Think about the last time you left a piece of fruit sitting around too long and you saw mold growing on it.
The mold caused that food to deteriorate and break down.
This is what molds do in the human body, too. They start to decompose us.
First this happens on a microscopic level. This can go on for years without lab tests or blood tests showing anything outside of “normal” range.
Meanwhile, you feel awful!
Learn more about Mold Colonization in this Facebook Live replay!
Note: You do not need to have FB to view the video!
Look at the symptoms of mold exposure you can get that show up with Mold Toxicity.
Symptoms of Mold Exposure
Many of the nightmare symptoms I experienced over the years stemmed in some way from Mold Toxicity.
But symptoms can vary from person to person. That is why many healthcare practitioners have a tough time pinpointing what’s going on.
And that’s why, even with “normal” bloodwork, so many practitioners told me I was fine…even when I clearly wasn’t.
Of course, it’s very important to get a medical screening to rule out any other conditions!
Not everyone with Mold Toxicity has all of the symptoms listed below. But usually, they have at least 20 of these. Often, people have many more.
Do you have any tell-tale signs listed below?
Let’s look at the top tell-tale signs of Mold Toxicity I see in my Mast Cell 360 practice.
Tell-Tale Signs of Mold Toxicity (and possibly Bartonella)
A lot of different symptoms can be related to Mold Toxicity. The following ones you’ll read about are very specific to Mold Toxicity.
Now, the only other thing I’m aware of that can mimic these is Bartonella. So, this is why it’s important to get those medical screenings.
These symptoms are very specific to Mold Toxicity. I’d encourage you to look further into Mold Toxicity if you experience any of these:
- Internal vibration or tremor
- Nerve pain: lightning-bolt or ice-pick type pain
- Strange skin sensations
- Sensitivities to everything: foods, chemicals, supplements, medications, sound, light, touch, EMFs, etc.
- Static shocks
The best way to know if it’s Mold Toxicity is to do a mycotoxin urine kit for it.
Let’s look at those tell-tale symptoms in more depth next.
Internal Vibration or Tremor
Exposure to common molds can significantly mess up nervous system signaling.
It feels like you are trembling on the inside. But nothing is visible from the outside.
One of the unique and classic signs of Mold Toxicity is internal vibration and tremor.
It literally feels like a mild earthquake happening. If you’ve ever experienced this, you know what I’m talking about.
Nerve Pain: Lightning-Bolt or Ice-Pick Type Pain
Mold toxins can damage the nerves. They can also activate pain-sensing neurons.
A symptom unique to Mold Toxicity is what people call a lightning-bolt or ice-pick type pain.
This is a searing, intense pain that hits quickly and then goes away. It also moves around.
Weird Skin Sensations
The nerve issues in Mold Toxicity can extend to weird skin sensations.
People sometimes report that they feel like bugs are crawling on them. Other people have skin burning – without an actual burn.
I used to have this bug crawling sensation. It would drive me crazy. For years, I kept a flashlight by my bed at night to make sure I didn’t have bedbugs on me. *Shudder*
Are you hypersensitive to any of the following?
This hypersensitivity may be related to how mold toxins can hurt the nervous system.
The nervous system is very involved in sensitivities. In fact, with mast cells at every nerve ending, the nerves constantly talk to the mast cells. And vice versa.
When this nerve-mast cell communication gets messed up, sensitivities to all kinds of things can develop.
Some people can become very sensitive to light and sound. Some people have more trouble with supplements, medications, or foods.
Others can’t handle any EMFs. Still others can’t handle the smell of gasoline or fragrances.
I hear some people say they feel like they are sensitive to everything. That’s how I felt!
This is an interesting one. It’s been proposed that this increase in static shocks common among those with Mold Toxicity may be related to your sweat glands dumping extra salt through the skin.
Salt in water can conduct electricity.
This may be happening because of the effects mold toxins have on organs such as the kidneys and hormones such as ADH (antidiuretic hormone) which regulate kidney function.
Do you often get shocks when you reach for a door handle? Or hug someone in a wool sweater? Or even pet your cat or dog?
I remember when I was really sick with Mold Toxicity, even touching my dog would shock me. My poor puppy.
People with Mold Toxicity don’t always have those tell-tale signs.
So, what if you don’t have any of those?
There can be some other clues.
Other Considerations for Mold Toxicity
Consider mold as a mast cell trigger if you have even just 1 of these:
- Stubborn SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth)
- Persistent Lyme or EBV (Epstein-Barre Virus)
- Anxiousness, low mood, or feeling on edge
- Chronic sinus issues
- Heavy metal toxicity
Chronic, Stubborn SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth)
How can mold toxins be involved in SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth)?
Well, there is a huge amount of the immune system in the gut. And it keeps bacteria levels in check so nothing gets out of balance.
This keeps any bacteria from overgrowing.
But mold toxins mess up this immune balance in the gut. And then bacteria start to overgrow.
Mold toxins also can take a toll on gut motility. This means the bowel movements can get sluggish. Which also increases bacterial growth.
Mold toxins affect the gut so much, many people with Mold Toxicity end up with SIBO.
For some people, even with repeated protocols and SIBO diets, SIBO comes back again and again.
When this is the case, there is a good chance that mold toxins are keeping the gut from fully recovering.
In these chronic, stubborn SIBO cases, consider checking your body for mold toxins. I’ll tell you at the end of the article how you can learn more about this.
Chronic, Persistent Lyme or EBV (Epstein-Barre Virus)
You’re probably wondering how Lyme, MCAS, and mold could be related.
Have you ever wondered why some people get bitten by a tick carrying Lyme and get very sick? But other people get bitten and never develop symptoms?
Mold toxins keep your immune system from being able to effectively fight off bacteria and viruses.
They also increase inflammation that can worsen Lyme and EBV (Epstein-Barre Virus) symptoms.
My mentor, Neil Nathan, MD, is a Mold Toxicity and Lyme expert. He has seen that many patients who have chronic Lyme, that just won’t go away, also have Mold Toxicity.
Mold toxins can make people very sensitive. That can also make it hard to handle harsh Lyme treatments.
Getting rid of Mold Toxicity allows the immune system to rebalance. Then it can be much easier to get rid of bacteria like Lyme or viruses like EBV.
Related Article: Non Toxic Tick Prevention for those with Sensitivities
Anxiousness, Low Mood, or Feeling on Edge
The effect of mold toxins on the nervous system can trigger anxiety or low moods.
These neurotransmitter and nerve signaling problems can make you feel on edge and panicky.
People start to feel like it’s their fault. Or they should be able to just snap out of it. But it’s hard to shake without getting rid of the mold toxins.
This is a common symptom I have observed among my clients with Mold Toxicity.
Hypermobility is when some or all joints are extra flexible. And this can cause joint pain.
These joints are held together by what are called connective tissues.
But Mold Toxicity (and Bartonella) can eat away at the connective tissue faster than the body can build it.
There are some genetic forms of hypermobility. And those can be harder to work with. But the kind caused by mold or Bartonella can often improve.
My own hypermobility has reversed by over 50% with detoxing mold.
Related Post: Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome
Chronic Sinus Issues
Mold toxins can irritate the sinuses and activate Mast Cells there. Mold can grow in the sinuses, too.
When this happens, there will be even higher levels of mold toxins from the colonized mold.
This can all trigger the mast cells in the sinuses to create swelling and extra mucous.
And, if you have sinus issues, you know how painful sinus swelling can be.
Heavy Metal Toxicity
Heavy metals, like mercury and lead, are highly toxic. Your body wants to make sure they are not in your bloodstream.
Normally your body will try to excrete heavy metals. But, if the detox pathways aren’t working well, your body stores them in your tissues instead.
So, if you have high levels of heavy metals, it likely means your body cannot move them out.
Mold toxins can slow down detoxification significantly. This is why mold toxins are often the reason people struggle to detoxify heavy metals well.
If someone can’t get rid of those heavy metals, it can make a big difference to check out whether mold toxins are causing problems.
Other Symptoms Linked to Mold Toxicity
There have been numerous research studies linking Mold Toxicity to these symptoms:
- Pain disorders
- Interstitial cystitis
- Genital pain
- Brain fog
- Autoimmune diseases
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Hormonal problems
Does any of this sound familiar to you?
If so, Mold Toxicity may be contributing to your conditions. Testing and detoxing mold correctly could be extremely helpful.
Correctly testing and detoxing mold brought breakthroughs in my healing after decades of suffering. I’ve also found this to be key for my clients.
There are many other symptoms you can have with Mold Toxicity, too.
Mold Illness Symptoms
I had a lot of mystery symptoms. Meaning no one could figure out why I was having these symptoms.
There were a lot of guesses made. You read about some of my diagnoses (and mis-diagnoses) earlier.
It can be hard to pinpoint what’s going on when blood tests are normal.
That’s why we often look at symptoms and then get mycotoxin testing.
In the Mast Cell 360 practice, we see Mold Toxicity as a root cause of MCAS in almost 99% of our clients.
Here are some other symptoms that can be related to Mold Toxicity.
Nervous System Symptoms
Some people will experience nervous system symptoms, such as:
- Pain in muscles, joints, or nerves without clear causes (like without an injury)
- Cognition and memory issues
- Problems with balance and coordination
- Tics and twitches
- Low blood pressure
- POTS (Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome)
- Sensitivities to lights, sounds, or touch
- Sensitivity to foods, supplements, and/or meds
Many people have experienced persistent allergy-like symptoms, such as:
- Sinus issues
- Throat closing
Headaches and Migraines
Mold toxins can irritate the nerves in the face.
This can cause headaches.
Even people who have not had chronic headaches or migraines previously can develop migraines after mold exposure.
People exposed to mold in their homes are much more likely to have chronic sleep problems.
In a study of 11,318 European adults, those with dampness and mold at home showed increased risk of insomnia, snoring, and excessive daytime sleepiness.
Histamine is also involved in sleep issues.
And mold can trigger the mast cells to over-release histamine. This can disrupt sleep.
Also, the sinus and lung problems caused by mold toxins may disrupt breathing during sleep, making good, restorative rest challenging.
This is another issue I struggled with as far back as childhood.
There were times when I slept only 2-3 hours each night. My doctor didn’t believe I could be functioning on this little sleep.
Getting rid of the Mold Toxicity went a long way in fixing my sleep.
Getting good, deep sleep is something I fully appreciate more than ever now!
Gut problems are among the most common symptoms I see with my clients. And mold is often the root cause.
Mold toxins can activate mast cells in the gut mucosal lining.
This can lead to a leaky gut. And leaky gut can contribute to all kinds of trouble in the rest of the body – like food sensitivities and even autoimmunity.
Mold toxins also mess up the immune balance in the gut. This gut immune balance should keep bacteria levels in check.
But Mold Toxicity can lead to bacterial overgrowth in the gut. This is very uncomfortable.
Additionally, if mold toxins damage the vagus nerve, the result can be abnormal gut motility. When that happens, you are more like to see conditions like:
- Slow stomach emptying
- Slow GI motility
- Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO)
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
I’ve had more than enough dealings with all of the above! And my clients have experienced this, too.
You might be able to relate to “Alicia” (name changed to protect privacy).
Alicia dealt with IBS and diarrhea for years. It started affecting her job. She did contract work for events like weddings.
And her job meant she had to be “on” all evening long to not miss a thing. But sometimes, even just eating a few veggies from the appetizer tray sent her right to the bathroom.
She was embarrassed that guests or the bridal party would hear her in the bathroom.
But more than that, she had to worry about missing some of the couple’s critical moments.
She didn’t know that musty smell in her basement was toxic mold. And it was making her sick.
But she finally learned mold was making her gut a mess.
When she got the Mold Toxicity handled, her gut issues cleared up fairly quickly!
Histamine Intolerance is what happens when your body can’t keep up with breaking down histamine in your body.
One of the main enzymes that break down histamine in the gut is diamine oxidase (DAO). This enzyme is in your gut lining.
Mold toxins can inflame and damage the gut lining. The chronic inflammation from mold can also damage the gut.
This can contribute to Histamine Intolerance because the damaged gut lining cannot produce enough DAO.
As a result, it can cause you to develop histamine reactions to high histamine foods.
Also, Mold Toxicity causes the body to make more histamine as well. Which can cause a lot of mast cell activation.
Another problem common in Mold Toxicity is Salicylate Intolerance.
This is where people can have a lot of symptoms after eating colorful fruits and veggies, which are loaded in what are called salicylates.
Salicylate Intolerance can cause trouble breathing, ear ringing, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and even hives.
So how can Mold Toxicity cause Salicylate Intolerance?
It has to do with detox.
Both salicylates and mold toxins require phase 2 detoxification in the liver to detox them.
Mold toxins can slow down phase 2 detoxification by hogging up those phase 2 detox enzymes. When this happens, your body can’t move salicylates out.
Many common substances, foods, and medications contain salicylates, or are similar to salicylates, such as:
- Spices (most)
- Most herbs, both medicinal and culinary
Ear ringing is also called tinnitus.
Salicylate Intolerance can cause ear ringing.
Mold toxins can trigger nerve endings in the ears to create ear ringing, too.
Mold exposure can cause Mold Colonization in the ears. This can also cause you to hear ringing in your ears caused by inflammation to the nerves in the ears, including the vagal nerve branches.
Many people get relief by working through a comprehensive, but gentle, mold detox protocol.
So often, we can get run down by any number of things, like stress, lack of sleep, or over-exertion, just to name a few. But fatigue can start inside the body, too.
Mold toxins and overgrowth can cause long-term inflammation, leading to persistent fatigue. And they can also cause something called Cell Danger Response.
This is where your body shuts different processes down to try to survive. It includes energy production.
Therefore, chronic fatigue is common among people with mold exposure.
Some of my clients are highly motivated by their families. Some are motivated to get back their purpose in life. Either way, they want energy again.
They want to have the energy to enjoy a vacation. They want to be able to cook homemade meals. They want to be able to go back to work.
There was a time when I could only work five hours a week. And what I thought was my purpose (going to medical school) fell apart completely. I couldn’t even make it to a class that started before 11am.
But I wanted to work. I wanted to have purpose and independence.
Fatigue played a huge role in me not going after what I initially thought was my purpose. In the long run, I think the bigger purpose found me.
Now, I am fulfilled in my work helping others. And I have energy to work full time…and I’m able to go on adventures like hiking and even scuba diving!
I want you to get back to having adventures, too.
What Can You Do About Mold Toxicity?
Every week, someone reaches out to me saying that they are down to tolerating 10 foods or fewer. Or they can’t walk through the detergent aisle at the store without feeling nauseated.
But many of my clients start to see improvements once they get the mast cells calmed down and once they start addressing Mold Toxicity.
I have worked with many clients who were house bound.
I remember one client, “Madelyn.” She hadn’t left her house in over a year because of how sick she was.
She’d been trying to recover her health for 10 years. But she kept getting worse.
We figured out she had Mold Toxicity. And she started on a very gentle, customized mold detox.
16 months later, she got out of the house. Big time! She went on a trip to Sedona! This was only a dream 2 years before.
Is Gentle Mold Detox Right for You?
I’ve found that 99% of my clients have Mold Toxicity. But, once they detoxify mold correctly, they can significantly reduce their mast cell activation.
A lot of advice out there for people with major health issues, though, doesn’t consider Mold Toxicity.
Many people with Mold Toxicity are often highly sensitive and have trouble detoxifying. If you don’t follow a mast cell friendly protocol, it can go poorly.
As a result, they tend to not get better from that advice. Worse yet, it can make them even sicker.
I have taken the wrong advice and suffered badly from the consequences many times. I don’t want that to happen to you.
If you have some of the symptoms above, it is likely that you have inflammation and toxicity from mold. So, I recommend getting tested and addressing mold toxins.
However, it is important to do it correctly and slowly, step-by-step. Detoxifying mold in the wrong order or too fast can make you very sick.
My MC360™ Precision Mold Detox Protocol is science-based and optimized through working with over 600 very sensitive clients with Mold Toxicity.
Currently, Mast Cell 360 has a long wait list for all practitioners.
But I know there are people who need this information who can’t wait a year. So, I’m teaching my detox method in my MC360™ Precision Mold Master Class.
I have a basic option that will empower anyone.
And there is an advanced option for practitioners, and anyone else who wants more science and research.
I spent 3 years designing this course to help you address Mold Toxicity in the right order for MCAS. And I’ve taught hundreds of practitioners about this as well.
Get started with my comprehensive, guided course right now.
I’ve laid it all out in an easy to follow, step-by-step plan. It takes you from A to Z and explains how to do everything in simple steps.
I want you to experience your own health breakthroughs, just like I did. I want you to get back to living your best life!
Learn how to reclaim your health from mold in the MC360™ Precision Mold Master Class.
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