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Mold Exposure and Lyme Disease: The Hidden Link

Mold Growth Can Be Caused by Over-Cleaning: Here's Why | Wood tick on a thumbnail

There is a clear connection between mold exposure and Lyme disease. Disruptions to your immune system resulting from exposure to mold can make you more likely to both contract Lyme disease and have medical complications with it. Beyond the typical precautions against tick bites, you can also help avoid it with simple household actions: Prevent mold exposure and Lyme disease risks are reduced.

Mold Exposure Can Make You More Susceptible to Lyme Disease

May is National Lyme Disease month, which means that many clinicians, advocates, and researchers will be sharing facts to help increase awareness. Lyme disease affects approximately 30,000 Americans each year. Although it’s a highly treatable disease, it has a high potential to become chronic for many people 1. Also, Lyme disease often occurs in combination with other immune compromising conditions such as autoimmune disorders, allergies, celiac disease, Epstein Barr virus, and other infections 2.

However, did you know that mold toxicity is also an important issue for people with Lyme disease? Unfortunately, the immune-compromising effects of mold toxicity can make you more susceptible to contracting Lyme disease. Also, once infected with the Lyme bacteria, mold illness can make you more likely to have chronic issues with Lyme disease.

Mold growthHow Mold Affects the Immune System

The most common household mold species are Aspergillus, Penicillium, and Cladosporium. But there are thousands of other different kinds of mold species. Although many of them are not harmful in most situations, some can cause serious illness 3. The problem with certain mold species is that they produce substances called mycotoxins which are harmful to human health.

The symptoms of mold illness range from mild to severe depending on the health status, immune system, and genetic factors of different people.

At the very least, the effects of mycotoxins on human tissues can cause mild allergic symptoms. But sometimes it can lead to more severe respiratory or other systemic problems that can cause chronic illness and even death 3,4,5. The main problem with mold and human health is that it causes severe disruptions in the immune system resulting in either an over-reaction or under-reaction 6.

The main problem with mold and human health is that it causes severe disruptions in the immune system resulting in either an over-reaction or under-reaction Click To Tweet

What this means is that mold may be a factor in the development of autoimmune issues as well as immune-deficiency problems. Either of these conditions can make it difficult for a human body to deal with other infections, such as Lyme disease 4,5,6.

Several studies have shown that people living in damp and moldy environments are more prone to inflammatory illnesses or infections that result from immune deficiency. This is especially true if their living environments lack surrounding biodiversity that is void of other helpful microbes 5,6,7,8,9. This is the reason why people with mysterious inflammatory issues and other chronic health problems often test with high levels of mycotoxins.

Further tests often reveal other infections such as Lyme disease. This is no coincidence. Instead, it reveals immune systems that are unable to cope, and mold toxicity may be a massive piece of the puzzle.

How Lyme Disease Affects the Human Body

Lyme disease is caused by a spirochete bacteria that is transmitted through tick bites. A tick needs to be attached to the human body for at least 24 hours to transmit the disease. This is why most health education is aimed at early prevention by instructing people how to quickly and adequately remove a tick 1,2. The problem is that many people are under the impression that they can prevent Lyme disease since a tick is easy to find. Tick bites are relatively irritating to the skin. Also, the tick swells, which may make it easy to detect. Therefore, people feel that they can remove it before 24 hours are up.

Unfortunately, most people don’t remove ticks properly. Instead, they pull it out and leave the mouthparts behind. The problem is that those mouthparts stay embedded in the skin where they can continue to transmit the Lyme spirochete 1,2.

Lyme disease initially causes fever, skin rash, joint pain, muscle pain, and headaches. If treated rapidly, a person can make a full recovery. However, Lyme disease has been known to turn chronic, especially if early treatment wasn’t initiated. And even with early treatment, many people still go on to develop chronic Lyme disease symptoms 1,2,10.

Lyme disease initially causes fever, skin rash, joint pain, muscle pain, and headaches. If treated rapidly, a person can make a full recovery. However, Lyme disease has been known to turn chronic, especially if early treatment wasn't… Click To Tweet

What’s interesting is that chronic Lyme disease symptoms are very similar to the signs of mold toxicity. Also, chronic Lyme symptoms are similar to many diseases of the immune system. When this occurs, the clinical picture can become confusing to both the patient and doctors 4,10,11. Symptoms of chronic Lyme disease range from digestive issues, neurological problems, heart damage, and severe musculoskeletal pain 1,2.

Indeed, many people who present with multiple and chronic health issues are often investigated for co-morbid and related conditions such as mold illness and Lyme disease.

The Connection Between Mold & Lyme Disease

As discussed above, the main problem with mold is that it renders our immune system less capable of coping with other infections. Indeed, many people exposed to tick bites don’t actually get sick. And if they do, the illness is short-lived and doesn’t turn chronic.

However, the problem lies when a person gets bit by a Lyme infected tick, and their immune system is already preoccupied with fighting off mold toxicity. Unfortunately, they may be unable to fight off this new infection 11,12,13,14.

Also, even with antibiotic treatment, an immunocompromised host may still go on to develop chronic Lyme-related health issues.

Many people with co-occurring Lyme and mold issues develop something called Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS). This syndrome is difficult to treat and can wreak havoc on the health, finances, and quality of life of those affected. Furthermore, people with Lyme disease are less likely to clear toxins from their bodies. Likewise, mold toxicity makes Lyme disease treatment less likely to work. Thus it becomes a vicious cycle causing crippling symptoms that are difficult to treat 11,12,13,14.

Many people with co-occurring Lyme and mold issues develop something called Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS). This syndrome is difficult to treat and can wreak havoc on the health, finances, and quality of life of those… Click To Tweet

Conclusion

Since these two conditions create a perfect storm for inflammatory illness, the obvious solution is to work on both prevention and proper diagnosis for both. Preventing mold illness by properly cleaning and treating moldy environments is paramount. By doing so, the people living in those environments will maintain a healthy immune system. And as we know, a healthy and balanced immune system can fight off other infections like Lyme disease.

Preventing mold illness by properly cleaning and treating moldy environments is paramount. By doing so, the people living in those environments will maintain a healthy immune system. And as we know, a healthy and balanced immune system… Click To Tweet

However, many people don’t even know they have mold illness until they become sick with Lyme disease, which then becomes chronic. Often, it takes a long time with much frustration before a person learns that they’re actually dealing with two chronic illnesses that are exacerbating each other. Since we know that mold illness increases susceptibility to other infections, it makes sense to raise awareness so that people can take action to prevent mold now.

By taking steps to decrease mold problems, people will have a more robust immune system, which will prevent chronic Lyme disease from taking hold. More so, a stronger immune system means fewer chances of developing Lyme disease in the first place.


REFERENCES

1. https://www.cdc.gov/lyme/datasurveillance/index.html
2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3542482/
3. https://www.cdc.gov/mold/faqs.htm
4. https://www.prohealth.com/library/overview-lyme-disease-mold-illness-91639
5. http://www.euro.who.int/__data/assets/pdf_file/0017/43325/E92645.pdf
6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5377931/
7. http://robdunnlab.com/science-portfolio/never-home-alone/
8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5108756/
9. https://scholar.google.com/scholar_lookup?journal=Arch+Environ+Health&title=Mixed+mold+mycotoxicosis:+immunological+changes+in+humans+following+exposure+in+water-damaged+buildings&author=MR+Gray&author=JD+Thrasher&author=R+Crago&author=RA+Madison&author=L+Arnold&volume=58&publication_year=2003&pages=410-20&pmid=15143854&
10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5986024/
11. http://www.gordonmedical.com/unravelling-complex-chronic-illness/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Townsend-Letter-Mold-Article-1.pdf
12. https://www.betterhealthguy.com/topics/mold
13. https://drjaydavidson.com/toxic-mold-lyme/
14. http://www.lymecompass.net/mold-intolerence.html

 

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Gut Biome & Home Biome: How Are They Related?

Gut Biome & Home Biome: How Are They Related? | Female holding her stomach

In the past decade, the importance of a healthy gut biome has been discussed between scientists, medical professionals, and health consumers. By now, most people know that bacteria reside in our guts and that they’re essential to our health. These bacteria are, together, what create the biome. However, many people still don’t understand why having diverse bacteria is important. More importantly, most people don’t understand the similarities and relationship between our home biome and the gut biome. We need the biome in our guts and our homes to be healthy and diverse at the same time.

Why Does Biome Balance Matter?

As living organisms, we’re connected to our living environments, so if one biome is unbalanced, chances are the other is too. Also, by understanding the similarities between the gut and home biome, we can make better decisions for how to improve and maintain them. However, many of us may not understand that the home biome is similar to the one in our gut. Therefore, people may not realize how to create balance in our home biome.

First let’s define both the gut and home biomes and look at their similarities. Then we can discuss the importance of both biomes for the health of our bodies and living environments.

What is The Gut Biome?

The evidence is clear that having healthy and diverse microbes in the gut is essential for the development, functioning, and maintenance of our overall physical health. Gut microbes impact the digestive system, our immune system, our neurochemicals, and many other systems in our body 1,2,3.

For example, gut microbes are needed to help digest and absorb nutrients from the food we eat. This helps sustain the immune system, which is also connected to the nerves, brain, blood vessels, and other vital organs 1,2,3,4. Research shows that a gut biome that lacks diverse and healthy bacteria may be a root cause of health problems like diabetes, obesity, cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, and autoimmune issues 3,4,5,6.

We’re all born with a sterile gut that becomes populated by essential microbes in infancy. The particular distribution of microbes is unique to each individual even though we share many microbial species between humans 1-6. Many issues can cause us to lose the diversity of our gut microbes. Things like illness, antibiotics, chemicals, food additives, and stress can all cause a shift in the balance of bacteria in our guts. This imbalance is called dysbiosis 5,6. Dysbiosis refers to both the loss of our gut microbes as well as an overgrowth of harmful microbes.

Why Are Healthy Gut Microbes Important?

A gut without enough microbes means that we may not have the ability to digest enough nutrients. Also, if one microbe is allowed to grow too much, this can lead to other health issues as well. An example of an overgrowth of harmful microbes is in a common condition known as candidiasis. This is an overgrowth of Candida yeast in the gut known to cause bloating, headaches, brain fog, and other health problems. Yet another example is a bacteria known as c. difficile, which is known to cause severe diarrhea 3-6.

In recent years, many health professionals are advocating for the use of pre and probiotics to help control dysbiosis. There’s also been much discussion of the overuse of antibiotics as they are known to kill healthy gut microbes. Lastly, we know that things like maintaining a healthy diet or decreasing stress can also help retain the microbe balance in our guts 1-6.

In recent years, many health professionals are advocating for the use of pre and probiotics to help control dysbiosis. There's also been much discussion of the overuse of antibiotics as they are known to kill healthy gut microbes.… Click To Tweet

The goal is to create an environment in our guts where diverse microbes can grow in healthy amounts. This healthy diversity not only contributes to the proper functioning of our bodies, but it prevents unhealthy microbes from growing in large numbers.

When it comes to the health of our guts, we need lots of healthy and diverse microbes that live well together and in balance.

What is The Home Biome?

Now that we understand the gut biome, let’s look at the home biome. Our homes also have a biome that is unique and essential in maintaining the health of our living environment. Just like our guts, our homes get colonized with a variety of diverse microbes, some of which are required to maintain balance and health. If our home biome is lacking in microbes, such as often happens when we overclean and create a sterile environment, then problems can arise 7,8.

Also, if we clear out a few key species of microbes that help maintain balance, we may see an overgrowth of other more harmful species. For example, microbes like mold, yeast, and salmonella can grow unchecked in a home environment that lacks sufficient diverse, healthy microbes 7,8.

So, we also need to consider ways to enhance the growth of healthy bacteria, the same as we would do for our guts. Just as we take probiotics for our gut health, we can also use probiotics for our home. Products like Homebiotic contain healthy soil-based microbes that help maintain the home biome. Also, just as we work to prevent a sterile gut, we want to avoid a sterile home environment. This means we don’t over-clean our homes with harsh chemical cleaners too frequently 7,8.

Just as we take probiotics for our gut health, we can also use probiotics for our home. Products like Homebiotic contain healthy soil-based microbes that help maintain the home biome. Click To Tweet

How Are The Gut & Home Biome Related?

Since we are biodiverse beings that are dependent on our environments, it makes sense that our gut and home biome co-exist. Of course, the microbial population in our guts and our homes will be somewhat different. But, studies show that homes are colonized by bacteria found in humans and pets that live in the house 8.

Interestingly, some microbes that are unique to the home and the immediate outdoor environment also live in our bodies. We know that this relationship creates a diverse biome, and this diversity is fundamental to our well-being as a whole. So obviously, if there is dysbiosis in the home, then there may be dysbiosis in the human biome as well 7,8,9,10.

Interestingly, some microbes that are unique to the home and the immediate outdoor environment also live in our bodies. We know that this relationship creates a diverse biome, and this diversity is fundamental to our well-being as a… Click To Tweet

Indeed, in recent years, research shows how the use of chemicals to clean our bodies and living environments can also affect the human biome 7. Also, we know that homes surrounded by diverse soil-based microbes such as farms or homes with a lot of green space are known to create healthier immune systems in children. This suggests that a direct connection to our environment is what actually creates robust body systems 9,10,11,12.

Lastly, a home that is lacking in diverse microbes is likely to have an overgrowth of harmful microbes like mold. In recent decades, mold illness in the form of allergies, asthma, and other related health issues are on the rise. So we know that our home biome has an effect on our health and well-being 11,12.

Why is This Important To Know?

The more we understand the connection between our gut and home biome, the more we know how to maintain health in both areas. As living beings, we are symbiotically connected to our environments. People are becoming more educated about the importance of healthy and diverse gut microbes. Still, they have yet to see the connection between their gut and their home biome.

The more we understand the importance of having diverse microbes in our guts and in our homes, the more we will take care not to create a dysbiosis in either. As we try to enhance our physical health to ensure the diversity of microbes in our gut, we can also do the same thing for our homes. It just makes sense to look after both so we can improve our overall health.


REFERENCES:

1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3667473/
2. https://letthemeatdirt.com
3. https://www.jillcarnahan.com/2013/01/03/healthy-gut-healthy-you/
4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4425030/
5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3448089/
6. https://www.karger.com/Article/Pdf/354902
7. https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0064133
8. https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/full/10.1098/rspb.2015.1139
9. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/all.13002
10. https://www.mdpi.com/2076-2607/7/9/287
11. https://www.pnas.org/content/110/46/18360?etoc=
12. https://www.nejm.org/doi/pdf/10.1056/NEJMoa1508749

 

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4 Tips To Prevent Mold At Home

4 Tips To Prevent Mold At Home | Mold Growing on wall

Mold is often an issue for many home-owners and home-buyers. No one likes that musty smell, which is a tell-tale sign of mold growth in your home. And once mold has taken up residence, it’s hard to get rid of it. In this article, we’ll look at what causes mold, which homes are more affected, and what types of mold are dangerous to our health. Then, we’ll look at some simple tips to prevent mold in your house.

The trickiness of mold makes prevention a critical issue when considering the health and safety of your home. Prevention is much easier than having to clean and eradicate mold that has already spread to several areas of the house.

The trickiness of mold makes prevention a critical issue when considering the health and safety of your home. Prevention is much easier than having to clean and eradicate mold that has already spread to several areas of the house Click To Tweet

CAUSE OF MOLD GROWTH IN HOMES

Mold needs three important things to grow: consistent moisture, limited airflow, and food. Any areas that remain moist without airflow have the potential for mold growth. Mold likes to feast on materials such as drywall, carpet padding, dust, mites, and some plant and bacterial cellulose1,2.

WHICH HOMES ARE MORE LIKELY TO HAVE MOLD ISSUES?

A common myth is that older homes are more likely to be full of mold, but this may not be true. In fact, older homes tend to have more airflow, and the positioning of water faucets and bathrooms help prevent widespread water issues. Also, older homes tend to have a more diverse and rich microbiome that helps naturally balance out mold2,3.

Newer homes, on the other hand, are more tightly built, which reduces air circulation. They also contain more building materials that mold likes to eat2,3. Lastly, newer homes have a less diverse microbiome because they are cut off from outside soil-based microbes that would otherwise balance out mold3,4.

Mold is also likely to be an issue in homes situated in humid climates or where there has been a catastrophic flood. Also, over-crowded homes tend to have more problems with dampness and poor ventilation. Lastly, low-income rental units have higher mold issues due to less money spent on renovating and cleaning moldy areas in-between renters3.

However, the reality is that any home can be prone to mold if the conditions are right for their growth.

WHICH SPECIES OF MOLD IS DANGEROUS TO OUR HEALTH?

Common household mold includes species such as Cladosporium, Penicillium, Aspergillus, and Alternaria. The commonly feared toxic mold, otherwise known as black mold, is called Stachybotrys Chartarum5.

Common mold can cause allergic and asthmatic illness. In some cases, the illness can be severe if the person has immune issues or severe asthma and allergies. However, toxic black mold can be life-threatening, especially in people who have weakened immune systems. Thankfully, toxic mold is less abundant than common molds5.

Common mold can cause allergic and asthmatic illness. In some cases, the illness can be severe if the person has immune issues or severe asthma and allergies. However, toxic black mold can be life-threatening, especially in people who… Click To Tweet

No matter which mold you have in your home, they can all cause health issues depending on your medical history and immune system. Mold spores themselves can cause immune system issues, but more likely, illness occurs from the exposure to the mycotoxins produced by certain mold species2,6,7.

There’s no doubt that mold can be a real nuisance, and the best way to deal with it is to prevent it from growing in the first place.

4 TIPS TO PREVENT MOLD IN YOUR HOME

There are several ways to prevent mold from growing in your home. Some suggestions are more straightforward than others, but it’s worth looking into all of them to ensure that your family is safe and healthy.

1. Keep moisture as low as possible

Moisture collects in several ways: leaky faucets, condensation, accidental spills, flooding, a build-up of humidity in kitchens and bathrooms, and leaks around the shower and bathtub, to name a few.

Here are some tips to help keep moisture levels low2,8,9:

  • Make sure that all leaks or water accidents cleaned and thoroughly dried. Be extra vigilant to look for places that water may have escaped, such as under carpets or floor tiles.
  • Kitchens, bathrooms, and laundry rooms are prone to mold because of their high-incidence of water leaks and condensation. Be sure to check hidden areas for moisture build-up. Check faucets and water tubes for leaks or condensation. Make sure the exhaust pipe from dryers is intact.
  • It might be worth it to buy indoor humidity monitors to put in a few locations around your home. They are relatively inexpensive and can help you understand moisture changes throughout the seasons.
  • For high-moisture areas, consider dehumidifiers or renovations that keep moisture in check.

Next, we’ll talk about ventilation because you can’t keep moisture low without proper airflow.

2. Proper Ventilation

Good ventilation is vital in helping to keep moisture levels down, and it requires both air flow and circulation. Proper overall ventilation will help prevent moisture build-up in areas that are hidden from view such as tight corners, under carpets, or behind furnaces.

Here are some tips to improve ventilation in your home2,8,9:

  • If the outside air is dry and warm (not humid), open the windows to let air come through.
  • In cold weather, when there’s more condensation, keep the windows shut but use fans to circulate the air. Check for condensation around windows and doors in the colder months.
  • Be sure that your air ducts and filters are obstruction-free and operating correctly. Also, be sure to check for mold in these ducts, furnaces, and air-conditioning units as they can continue to spread mold throughout the house.
  • In areas like the bathroom or kitchen, make sure the ceiling and stove fan is working well.
  • In areas prone to moisture that are also low-traffic (such as basements, laundry room, and crawl spaces), consider a dehumidifier that also has a fan to circulate air.

3. Make Small Structural or Cosmetic Changes

Making a few changes around your home will help prevent conditions with which mold will take up residence and grow.

Here are some ideas for structural or cosmetic changes that can help prevent mold in your home2,8,9:

  • If possible, remove carpets in favor of hardwood, tile, or laminate flooring. Be sure that the floor underneath is dry and mold-free before putting down new hardwood, tile, or laminate.
  • Don’t store items on the floor or in paper boxes. Mold loves to eat paper and dust that accumulates in these items. Mold growth in stored items is especially problematic if they’re kept in damp areas like basements. Consider purchasing shelves or storage bins to keep things off the floor and protected from moisture.
  • Consider upgrading or repairing your heating, air-conditioning, or ventilation system in your home if required. Many issues of mold, due to problems with these systems, can be prevented by ensuring they’re operating well and up to code.
  • Ensure that outside water drainage moves water away from the foundation, rather than towards it.
  • Make sure that materials used in renovation and construction (i.e., drywall and wood) are adequately sealed if they’re near a water source. Mold loves to feast on these materials, so don’t give them any moisture to help them grow.

Avoid Over-Cleaning During the Pandemic Quarantine4. Choose Your Cleaning Products Wisely

Many of us think that applying bleach and corrosive cleaning products will eradicate mold, but this is not the case. These products can often disturb the environmental microbiome as well as adding vapors that contribute to chemical sensitivity in humans. We are learning that a healthy microbiome in the home provides a balance against these microbes naturally10,11.

Here are some tips around choosing cleaning products to help prevent mold growth:

  • Consider using water and vinegar as a cleaning solution. Mix one part vinegar to three parts water in a spray bottle and use on all surfaces, including floors. This solution is extremely effective at cleaning without disrupting the microbiome.
  • Consider using baking soda for stuck-on stains and grease. However, avoid using on surfaces that may get scratched by the baking soda.
  • Consider getting a probiotic solution, such as Homebiotic spray, to prevent the causes of musty odors in your home naturally

CONCLUSION

Hopefully, you know more about how mold grows, which homes are more affected, and how mold can be dangerous for our health. The prevention tips discussed above may help you in making decisions about reducing moisture, ensuring proper ventilation, making structural or cosmetic changes, and choosing cleaning products.

Mold will likely always be a part of our lives, but we can learn to live with it in better harmony while improving our mold prevention strategies.


REFERENCES

1.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indoor_mold
2.http://www.euro.who.int/__data/assets/pdf_file/0017/43325/E92645.pdf
3.https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0013935115000304
4.https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1471490615000022
5.https://www.cdc.gov/mold/stachy.htm#Q3
6.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3492391/
7.https://www.who.int/bulletin/archives/77(9)754.pdf
8.https://www.nedcc.org/free-resources/preservation-leaflets/3.-emergency-management/3.8-emergency-salvage-of-moldy-books-and-paper
9.https://iseai.org/your-definitive-mold-clean-up-guide/
10.https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0064133
11.https://err.ersjournals.com/content/27/148/170137