When you hear the word mold, chances are you think of the fuzzy stuff growing on the leftovers in your fridge, or the shower scum that develops on your bathroom tile when you’ve slacked on cleaning. But the truth is, some mold isn’t just an icky sign of neglect — it can be toxic, even deadly.
Dave Asprey — the former Silicon Valley entrepreneur behind “The Bulletproof Executive” blog and Bulletproof Radio podcast — has released a new documentary called Moldy, which explores the hidden health dangers associated with mold toxicity. (A screening of the film is available for free now until June 14, and can then be purchased through the documentary’s website as a DVD or digital download).
The documentary is personal to Asprey who suffered from mold toxicity. He says it’s a problem that potentially impacts hundreds of millions of people — even if they don’t know that’s what is making them sick.
Here are five surprising facts to be aware of:
There are over 100 symptoms of mold toxicity
One of the things that makes mold toxicity so insidious is the myriad symptoms it can produce, such as brain fog, sleep problems, weight fluctuations, headaches, asthma, and fatigue — to name a few. Some of these symptoms may be more pronounced than others, which makes getting an accurate diagnosis tricky.
Mold toxicity can even change your personality
Extreme mood swing (like flying into a rage for no obvious reason) are also a potential sign that mold is harming you. This is due to mold damaging a part of the brain called the amygdala, which is an almond-shaped structure located underneath the temples and behind the eyes. “When that is damaged, people can have rage for no reason and it can devastate their relationships, it can devastate their work,” says Daniel Amen, MD, a psychiatrist and brain disorder specialist. “People will judge them as bad, when they’re really not bad. They’re sick.”
When it comes to mold exposure, 28 percent of people are "canaries in a coal mine”
Twenty-eight percent of the population is extra-sensitive to mold, experiencing severe symptoms that come on rapidly. However, that’s not to say that the other 72 percent of are “immune” to mold — their health is still at risk from exposure.
Just because you can’t see mold, that doesn’t mean it’s not there
Mold may not always be obvious or immediately visible. One woman featured in Moldy, for instance, didn’t have much mold in her home — but the contamination she did have was not in plain sight. Some grew near a leak under her bathtub, and some grew near the French doors in an upstairs room. “We didn’t have a big black fuzzy wall. We had mold behind a wall, that nobody ever saw, and it got in the air ducts,” she says in the documentary.
Mold can follow you around.
Remediating your home — or even moving out — doesn’t always solve the problem. Why? The airborne toxins can attach to your clothes and other personal items.That means you can inadvertently take mold with you. “When there’s mold in the environment, it contaminates your furniture, your clothes, and everything you own,” Asprey says in the documentary. “You and your family are exposed to the toxins.”
Fortunately, there are a series of steps you can take to get better if you think your health has been affected by mold, Mark Hyman, MD, medical director of the UltraWellness Center, says in the documentary. First, find and elminate the mold from your environment. Next, remove the mold toxins from your body and repair the damage done with the help of a practitioner who has experience with mold illness. “If you follow those steps and you’re focused and work with an experienced practitioner,” Hyman says, “you can get better.”
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