Despite our modern-day obsession with personal and environmental hygiene, humans share the earth with millions of microorganisms, some of which are beneficial, some harmful, and others that do not directly affect human health, but play important roles in the earth’s ecosystem.
One common set of microorganisms that poses a threat to human health is mycotoxins — secondary metabolites of filamentous fungi (aka molds) that can significantly impair brain function. Learn about mold toxicity, its symptoms, and how hyperbaric oxygen therapy can help alleviate long-term symptoms.
About Toxic Molds
When viewed under a microscope, molds resemble mini mushrooms, with roots, a stalk and a cap of spores. According to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), there is estimated to be tens to hundreds of thousands of fungi species that produce spores.
Mold spores are broadly dispersed in the air and water, and are also carried by insects and wildlife. Spores often settle on plants and structures, making their way into homes and buildings, and into our food supply. Mold spores thrive and grow in warm, dark, humid conditions.
Certain molds produce mycotoxins, poisonous substances that are harmful to human health. They often take root in damp areas of old buildings, making their way through HVAC systems and creating environmental conditions known as sick building syndrome. They also find their way into our food supply, often infecting meat and poultry, grains and nuts, and fruit and produce.
Common toxic molds include:
- Stachybotrys chartarum
- Aspergillus species
- Fusarium graminearum
Toxic molds thrive and flourish in dark, damp and moist environments. When mold spores dry up, they are blown or washed away, only to take root in a new location.
Mold Toxicity and Human Health
When exposed to mold through food or infected environments, humans can develop mycotoxicosis, a condition that often affects the pulmonary and central nervous systems.
Inhaling or ingesting harmful mycotoxins can cause persistent respiratory and neurological symptoms including:
- short-term memory impairment
- intermittent disorientation
- disturbed balance and coordination
- impaired attention span
- reduced reaction time
- poor concentration
- gastrointestinal issues
- dry skin
- eye irritation
- allergies and respiratory symptoms
Clinical studies carried out on children with mold exposure revealed neurological and behavioral issues. In some cases, mold toxicity evokes symptoms of attention deficit disorder (ADD) in both children and adults. People with allergies, asthma, or a compromised immune system may be more vulnerable to mold toxicity.
HBOT as a Treatment for Toxic Mold Exposure
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is a therapeutic approach used to treat a broad spectrum of conditions, including symptoms of mold toxicity. HBOT exposes patients to 100% pure pressurized oxygen inside a sealed hyperbaric chamber. Normal atmospheric oxygen pressure is only about 21% oxygen. The high concentration of pressurized oxygen inside a hyperbaric chamber saturates lung tissues and body fluids, dramatically increasing oxygen available to cells, including brain and nerve cells.
HBOT helps to alleviate mold toxicity symptoms by:
- Reducing systemic inflammation
- Enhancing oxygen delivery to brain cells
- Repairing and stabilizing cell membranes
- Enhancing the integrity of the blood-brain barrier
- Stimulating the growth of new blood vessels
- Reversing tissue damage and restoring optimal brain function in patients
In one study, 15 subjects with toxic mold exposure who had developed attention deficit disorder (ADD), marked by delayed reaction times and attention span deficits, were treated with hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Results were compared to a control group. After 10 sessions of HBOT, the treatment group showed a statistically significant improvement in both reaction time and attention span.
Avoiding Mold Toxicity
Because mold spores are microscopic, some exposure to mold is inevitable. However, there are measures you can take to minimize your risk of developing mycotoxicosis.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) offers the following advice regarding mold infested buildings:
- Regularly inspect buildings for evidence of water damage and visible mold.
- Address conditions that foster mold growth, such as water leaks, condensation, infiltration, and flooding.
- Control indoor humidity levels.
- Promptly repair leaky roofs, windows, and pipes.
- After flooding, thoroughly clean and dry affected structures and surfaces.
- Make sure bathrooms, laundry and cooking areas are well ventilated.
When it comes to mold-infested foods, the USDA emphasizes cleanliness, noting that mold can build up in refrigerators, on dishcloths, and on kitchen cleaning tools.
The USDA offers the following advice for avoiding toxicity from moldy foods:
- Thoroughly clean all surfaces of your refrigerator on a regular basis with baking soda and water.
- Use diluted bleach to remove visible mold, including mold on rubber door seals.
- Change and wash dish towels, dish cloths and mop heads frequently, and discard those with a persistent musty odor.
- Maintain a low humidity level in your home.
- Inspect all foods for signs of mold before making a purchase, and notify the store manager if you discover moldy products.
- Examine processed meats for mold before consumption.
- Discard foods that have signs of mold — do not just cut away moldy sections.
Mold Toxicity Treatment in NYC
If you have been exposed to mold and are experiencing persistent symptoms, hyperbaric oxygen therapy may help. HBOT is completely safe and FDA approved for most people. You don’t need to go to a hospital or get a doctor’s prescription to reap the benefits of HBOT. InVita Wellness has added hyperbaric oxygen therapy to our growing menu of services for health, anti-aging and beauty.
Contact InVita Wellness today to schedule your HBOT session. And be sure to ask about vitamin IV treatment for mold toxicity, and other all-natural therapies and services.
Schedule an Appointment Today
El-Sayed, Raghda A., et al. “An overview on the major mycotoxins in food products: Characteristics, toxicity, and analysis.” Journal of Future Foods 2.2 (2022): 91-102.
Ezra, N., K. Dang, and G. Heuser. “Improvement of attention span and reaction time with hyperbaric oxygen treatment in patients with toxic injury due to mold exposure.” European journal of clinical microbiology & infectious diseases 30 (2011): 1-6.