Mold illness tips for home and health with Dr. Jill Crista.
Hi everyone. Today I spoke with Dr. Jill Crista. She’s the author of “Breaking the Mold,” which is a book on how to recover from mold and mold related illness. In our last podcast we got cut off before we could go into environmental remediation of mold and how you use the agents for heightened immune reactivity. Sometimes this is described as MCAS, Mast Cell Activation Syndrome. In those who have had exposure or are being exposed to mold, that’s causing the immune system to respond which then leads to an overzealousness of the immune system. A person then becomes very intolerant to different foods, different supplements, different medications.
How can we break that cycle of reactivity, which can support the person from being able to tolerate the therapies that would allow them to overcome the cause, which could be the mold exposure? If you can’t tolerate the mold exposure treatments, then what do you do? This is where the MCAS therapies can come in.
This was a very insightful conversation and we covered a lot. We’ve had many episodes regarding mold and hopefully this really helps you feel well attuned in terms of what to do.
One of the things we discuss here is how important it is to have adequate absorption for some of these mast cell stabilizing agents to work. So having healthy gut function is essential.
This is where I will refer you to and have you consider using our three pronged probiotic strategy. This is where you use our Lacto-Bifido blend in combination with our Saccharomyces boulardii in combination with our Soil-Based Probiotic. The reason why I’ve broken them out into three different formulas is so that if you are reactive you can attempt to use all three. Let’s say you have a reaction to one of those, you can put that one to the side and use the other two. Your aim is to use all three and be as comprehensive as you can. But if you’re reactive and you can only tolerate two or worst case scenario one, it’s easy to discern that by having these broken out into the three different formulas. So I would definitely consider that on your healing journey.
Getting your gut as healthy as you can before tackling mold seems to be something that all of the experts agree upon. So with that, we will now go to our podcast with Dr. Jill Crista. Remember how helpful probiotics can be to improve your gut health so you can tolerate the therapies that Dr. Jill and I will discuss now.
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In This Episode
Episode Intro … 00:00:39
Quick Overview of Mold Illness … 00:04:21
Using An IEP (Indoor Environmental Professional) … 00:05:54
Desired Certification for IEPs … 00:10:40
Remediation Tips … 00:13:16
How Much Gray Area is There With Remediation? … 00:18:57
How Mold & MCAS Are Connected … 00:23:28
Mast Cell Stabilizers … 000:27:12
OTC Acid Blockers & Antihistamines … 00:36:11
Histamine Blockers & Case Study… 00:40:03
Testing Pitfalls … 00:47:36
The Value of Symptom Questionnaires … 00:53:02
Additional Mast Cell Stabilizers … 1:01:02
Episode Wrap-Up … 01:04:31
Quick Overview of Mold Illness
More people may be exposed to mold damaged buildings or mycotoxins than they think. Dr. Crista says you don’t have to have an obviously smelly, moldy building. Any water damage—even without any smell—may put you at risk. The symptoms are hard to pin down and they can manifest in a multitude of ways.
If you’re thinking that something isn’t quite right in your system, especially if you’ve gone through the gut repair protocol in Healthy Gut, Healthy You and no matter what you do, you don’t feel like you’re getting any traction, looking at your environment may be a good idea.
Use An Indoor Environmental Professional for Mold Inspection
Dr. Kapadia suggested in our earlier podcast episode that she likes to refer her patients with potential mold problems to an Indoor Environmental Professional (IEP) specialist. She felt there is so much that goes into the environmental piece that a doctor doesn’t have the expertise or time to do it justice.
Dr. Crista said “every building is going to be a unique individual and have a unique history… People spend their whole careers trying to nail this down… People get certifications, there’s an art to it… Bringing on the experts makes for a much more thorough investigation and remediation.”
Desired Certification for IEPs
There are three top certifying bodies that really understand how to find mold. The ideal qualifications for an IEP to do home mold inspections are:
- BBEC (Building Biology Environmental Consultant Certification) from Baubiologie Institute
- ACAC (American Council for Accredited Certification) for mold
- IICRC (Institute of Inspection, Cleaning, and Restoration Certification)
Mold Remediation Tips
Dr. Crista offered a few key remediation tips for mold patients:
- If you’re already mold-sick and symptomatic, remediation and mold removal has to be done very carefully, and NO moldy material can be left behind.
- Get a referral for a mold remediator from your IEP, because they will know who in their area is doing quality work.
- Make sure the mold remediation company is different from the IEP. If they are the same, there is a conflict of interest.
- When remediation is being done, request an extra day up front, as they will often find more mold than expected, and the set up and take down is costly.
- Sprays do not kill mold spores, they just remove the visible evidence. You must remove the moldy material.
- Mold grows in a humid environment. You will want to work with your IEP to manage indoor humidity post-remediation to prevent new mold growth.
How Mold Illness & Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS) Are Connected
Dr. Crista said that histamine is often recruited to help usher in immune cells to help repair the tissue destruction that mold causes. She noted a correlation between MMP-9, which is often elevated with mold illness, and histamine or mast cell disorders like MCAS (Mast Cell Activation Syndrome). She shared that there appears to be a continuum, where people start with histamine intolerance or reactivity, and then their immune systems eventually generate more complicated mast cell activity or MCAS.
Mast Cell Stabilizers
I’ve been experimenting now for a number of months with various, mostly natural, antihistamines and mast-cell mediators, and I’ll sometimes use over-the-counter antihistamines as well. What’s interesting is that not every antihistamine seems to work for every patient.
Dr. Crista has noticed the same thing with her patients, and has experimented with a wide range of therapeutics to help stop her patients’ symptoms so they can heal. She’s noticed that different combinations are needed for different patients.
Hi, everyone. Let’s talk about probiotics, which helped to make this podcast possible. Functional Medicine Formulations contains a line of probiotics that I personally developed, and I’m super excited to be able to offer you the same probiotics that I’ve been using in the clinic for years and are a byproduct of an extensive review of the literature plus my own clinical experience.
In this line, you will find my favorite three probiotics in all three of the main categories that work synergistically to help you fight dysbiosis, like SIBO, candida yeast, and H. pylori, help to eradicate parasites, help to reduce leaky gut and repair the gut barrier, and can improve gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, and may even improve mood, skin, sleep, and thyroid function because of the far-reaching impact of the gut. You can learn more about these at drruscio.com/probiotics.
OTC Acid Blockers & Antihistamines
Some of these agents include:
- Trans-Resveratrol, >1 gm per day
- Liposomal Quercetin, 600 mg, 3-4 times per day
- High dose essential fats, especially DHA
- Liposomal Vitamin C
- Over-the-counter antihistamines and acid blockers, such as Zyrtec, Benadryl, Pepcid-AC
Though some patients are reluctant to decrease stomach acid, sometimes this is necessary to reduce symptoms during the healing process.
Histamine Blockers & Case Study
Dr. Crista shared a case study of a patient who resolved mold-related reflux and food reactions by using Pepcid-AC. She argues that this is a net win for many patients, and that clinicians shouldn’t be afraid to use non-natural approaches if it helps the patient reach their health goals.
The Value of Mold Symptom Questionnaires
Mold, histamine, and MCAS testing is often expensive or invasive. Dr. Crista is working on creating a scientifically validated mold symptom questionnaire to help decrease the testing cost, and to provide clinicians with a useful tool.
Additional Mast Cell Stabilizers
There are several more mast cell stabilizers that Dr. Crista has found useful in practice. These include:
- Hawthorne solid extract
- PEA (Palmitoylethanolamide, a natural anti-inflammatory, anti-pain fatty-acid amide)
- Mirica (PEA & Luteolin supplement)
- Cromolyn (Rx medication)
- Natural plant pigments, especially beta-carotene and carotenoids. Dr. Crista noted, “What I’ve seen with mold is that each bioflavonoid, each color pigment in the rainbow is necessary to get better.” She suggests eating the rainbow in the form of fruits and vegetables.
Resources & Links (click to expand)