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MOLD ILLNESS IN CENTRAL TEXAS

Devastating Symptoms due to Mold Toxin (Mycotoxin) exposure is Going Undiagnosed Often

In my functional clinical practice, Texas Integrative Medicine, one of the most common problems I see is chronic, complex illness from the presence of mold toxins in the body.  I usually see patients who come in with a group of unexplained symptoms and the cause is unknown.  In other cases a person knows that they are being exposed to bad mold and have symptoms, but don’t know what to do about it.

What are the Symptoms of Toxicity Due to Mold Toxin Exposure?

Some of the symptoms of mold toxin/mycotoxin toxicity are caused by the direct toxic effects on our cells and sub-cellular organelles (especially mitochondria).  Probably even more symptoms are caused by immune self-injury!  Let me explain.  When our body’s immune system encounters non-self, such as a mycotoxin molecule, it is programmed to respond with what is called the immune response, the purpose of which is to neutralize or remove the non-self (think germ invader or germ toxin).   Unfortunately in many cases our own cells and tissues can be injured by the immune response in a process of immune self-injury or “autoimmunity“.  Many of the symptoms that patients encounter with mycotoxin exposure are immune self-injury or immune inflammation symptoms.  Ok, what are they?  Almost always severe fatigue and intolerance to exercise or exertion is a hallmark of mold illness.  Symptoms involving the nervous system are almost always present.  These symptoms are from effects on the Central Nervous System as well as the Peripheral Nervous System (all the many nerves outside the brain).  Brain Fog is a term my patients often use to describe the brain effects of mold toxicity.  This term means that they experience loss of focus, loss of train of thought, difficulty with word finding, difficulty with problem solving, memory loss, and even confusion.  In addition to brain fog most patients also experience significant mood alterations.  They experience a sense of anxiety, emotionality, excessive fear or worry, depression, sense of despair, and often the inability to get restful sleep.  Symptoms of peripheral nervous system involvement include many symptoms of numbness, tingling, burning and pain.  This is often localized to one area or side of the body and often migrates and comes and goes.  Digestive Disorder symptoms are exceedingly common.  When mold toxins on mold spores are inhaled into the nose, they stick to the nasal mucous and later are usually swallowed.  Some mold toxins are actually on the food we eat and are consumed.  Effects of mycotoxins in the Gastro-Intestinal tract include acid reflux/heartburn, abdominal pain, bloating, constipation and diarrhea.  Pulmonary manifestations include shortness of breath and cough.  The toxic effects of molds also can reek havoc on our hormone-producing glands leading to a wide array of hormone imbalances and deficiencies. Immune self-injury of the muscles, ligaments, bones, joints, and tendons often causes severe aches, pains and stiffness.

Molds can sometimes be identified using mold culture plates purchased in the home store.

Molds can sometimes be identified using mold culture plates purchased in the home store.

Dr. Ritchie Shoemaker is Credited with the Introduction of Mold Illness to the General Public

In  1996, Dr. Shoemaker was practicing Family Practice in Maryland on the banks of the Chesapeake Bay.  Some of his long-time patients were coming to him with the symptom picture that I described above.  He had heard about a toxin-producing algae-like germ called Pfiesteria that occured in algae-blooms in the bay.  One of his patients came in with severe diarrhea.  He decided to treat her diarrhea with cholestyramine, an old medicine used to lower cholesterol by binding it in the intestine, which was one of his favorite diarrhea treatments.  To his surprise and pleasure, the patient reported that within a few days her diarrhea was gone along with her memory loss, headache and cough.  He later learned that similar toxins could be produced by many indoor molds and lead to a similar clinical picture.  Over the years Dr. Shoemaker worked out many of the mechanisms that resulted in patient’s symptoms and he called the disease process Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome or CIRS based largely on the fact that most of the symptoms were the result of inflammation due to the immune system’s response to the mycotoxins.

Later Dr. Shoemaker worked out a complex protocol and actually formed a training program (subject to tuition costs of course) to “certify” practitioners in his Shoemaker Protocol.  He has published several books on CIRS including Mold Warriors: Fighting America’s Hidden Health Threat (April 2005) and Surviving Mold: Life in the Era of Dangerous Buildings (December 2010).  He also maintains a very informative website about the illness- www.survivingmold.com.

Mold Illness Symptoms Closely Mimic Lyme Disease and Other Diseases Related to the Effects of Stealth Infection and the Two Disorders Often Coexist in the Same Patient

It has been my experience in working with patients with the symptoms of Mold Illness that the symptoms seen from a variety of diseases associated with infection from a variety of Vector-Borne diseases are much the same.

Lyme Disease which is a disease reaching epidemic proportions in the United States is one such disease that overlaps the symptoms of mold illness.  The germ Borrelia burgdorferi, a spirochete which does occur in Texas and in much of the United States is just one stealth infection that may look like mold illness.  Even though the principles of treatment of each disease is different although some of the approaches to treatment overlap.

Stealth Infections including Lyme Disease can mimic Mold Toxin Illness

Stealth Infections including Lyme Disease can mimic Mold Toxin Illness

Symptoms of Illness Differ Among People with Mold Illness and Lyme as a Result of Differences in Sensitivity and Patterns of Immune Response

In my practice I am amazed by the differences that I see among individuals that are shown to have mold toxins and stealth germs in their bodies.  It appears that some people are completely without any symptoms even though they harbor mold toxins/mycotoxins and stealth germs like the “Lyme germ” in their bodies.  I have found that it is very important to individualize the treatment of these diseases.  The individual’s susceptibility to manifest symptoms from the various toxins is what I call BioTerrain.  These are the various factors of genetics and epigenetics which is what causes one person to be a “Canary in the Coal Mine” while another person with essentially the same set of mold toxins and stealth infection toxins is like a “Cast Iron Skillet” and may be perfectly well.

To successfully resolve symptoms, I have found that rule #1 is to identify and eliminate ongoing exposure to the toxins causing the problem.  This may require inspecting for mold-toxin causing molds in the indoor environment.  This may include testing for the presence of mold toxins and stealth infections in the body.  Often tests to understand the BioTerrain are helpful in order to modify the individual’s susceptibility to symptoms and inflammation.  Finally the goal of treatment is to assist in the elimination or reduction of toxins, mycotoxins and harmful stealth germs such as the “Lyme Borrelia” from the body.  There are quite a few tools that are used to accomplish this and I have found that these tools must be individualized from patient to patient.  One size definitly does not fit all.

I would be privileged to assist anyone who suspects that they are suffering from the effects of mycotoxins and other biotoxins and has not found the answers that they are looking for.  I am accepting new patients.  Please call 512-420-9300 if you wish to be seen by me in consultation.

Aboutdr_tyler Wally Taylor MD

Dr. Taylor practices integrative medicine at Texas Integrative Medicine in Austin, Texas.  After obtaining a general medical doctorate degree from University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas he completed a general medical internship and residency training in head and neck surgery ENT and allergy.  After 20 years service in the US Army Medical Corps and practice in Colorado and Texas he founded Texas Integrative where he now offers a functional holistic approach to disease which treats the entire individual instead of each separate symptom.  He has found more satisfying results using this Systems BioIndividualized approach.  His motto is Health and Wellness from Head to Toe”.   www.texasintegrative.com     office phone-512-420-9300  

DISORDER OF METHYLATION KEY TO MANY CHRONIC DISEASES

Recently there has been quite a lot of buzz around methylation and its contributing role to many different health conditions including autistic spectrum disorder (autism, ADD, ADHD, oppositional defiant disorder), autoimmune disorders (rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, autoimmune thyroiditis, inflammatory bowel disease, type 1 diabetes), mood disorder (anxiety, depression), heart disease, stroke and even cancer.  In this post I will try to make some sense of this important concept and why it is important to be aware of it.

Our bodies contain enzyme machinery to perform a vast array of chemical reactions necessary for life.  Scientists often organize these chemical reactions into metabolic pathways that involve a series of reactions that occur together in a sequence.  We have metabolic pathways to burn Human Genome Proj Imagesugar for enengy, to detoxify harmful chemicals that we ingest, to make DNA for cell reproduction, to make important brain chemicals like seratonin and dopamine and many others.  Many of these metabolic pathways require a methylation reaction.  Stated simply, a methylation reaction takes a portion of a chemical molecule called a methyl group and moves it from a donor to a recipient.  The recipient molecule has to have the methyl group as part of its structure to function normally.  We now know that there are over 200 different chemical reactions in our metabolic pathways where methylation has to occur.  Methylation is occuring trillions of times a day throughout all of our cells and tissues.  When our bodies do not methylate with ease, we suffer from immune system problems, hormone balance problems, digestive problems, energy problems, brain problems including moods and memory just to name a few.  Abnormal methylation blocks normal function of almost all our cells and tissues!

It is fair to ask “So What?”

dr_tylerThis is where it starts to get interesting.  A great many Americans are born with genetic mutations that cause an alteration of methylation and impede its progress.  These genetic mutations are called single nucleotide polymorphisms or SNPs.  When you are aware of the condition you can take beneficial steps to bypass or detour around the abnormality.  Thanks to the completion of the human genome project completed in 2003, we can now affordably test for the SNPs that result in abnormal methylation.   At Texas Integrative ENT and Allergy, I have an interest and experience in guiding individuals on how to identify and treat these inherited deficiencies.

Actually there are quite a few mutations or SNPs that disrupt normal methylation.  Probably the best known is the MTHFR C677T SNP.  This is not a rare mutation.  Some studies show that it is present in over 40 percent of individuals tested.  Individuals who are born with two copies of this mutation (one from the mother and one from the father) known as the homozygous condition have a greatly reduced ability to activate a vitamin required for the methylation reactions to proceed.  My experience has shown that when the condition is identified and the appropriate vitamins are replaced in the active forms significant recovery is seen and disease can be prevented before it even starts.  Even the effects of aging which are often the result of persistent inflammation can be delayed.  It would be my privilege  to help you or your loved ones become aware of and overcome this problem and many others associated with chronic inflammation-caused disease.  I invite you to visit my website-www.texasintegrative.com to learn more about my integrative medical clinic.

Wally Taylor MD

CEDAR FEVER-SCOURGE OF CENTRAL TEXAS ALLERGY SUFFERERS

dr_tylerhappychildAs we approach the end of the year many Central Texas residents are suffering the misery of “cedar fever”.  Cedar fever is actually a misnomer as this illness which causes symptoms from December to February is caused by sensitivity to pollen of the ashe Juniper which is a small evergreen tree indigenous to Northern Mexico, South and Central Texas.  Symptoms of Cedar Fever  include itching of the nose and eyes, nasal congestion, runny nose, low grade fever, fatigue and may include headache, wheezing and cough.  The treatment for Cedar Fever involves avoiding exposure to the airborne pollen which is the offending agent.  This may involve limiting outdoor activities especially on windy days.  Performing frequent nasal irrigations with a clean saline solution can physically remove the pollen from the nasal mucous membranes which is often helpful to reduce symptoms.  When the pollen comes in contact with sensitized immune cells of the mucous membranes, the immune cells begin to release toxic mediators of inflammation like histamine which actually act much like poison.  Antihistamine medicines like Benadryl,  Claritan and Zyrtec work by blocking these toxic mediators but may be associated with undesirable side effects.  These medicines only provide symptom relief but do not change the allergic sensitivity.

For those individuals who do not get adequate symptom relief from avoiding exposure to the pollen and using available symptom-relieving medications there is another treatment option.  Administration of a solution containing an extract of the ashe juniper pollen has been shown to be effective in developing a state of immune tolerance to the pollen known as desensitization.  In the United States historically this desensitization has been performed by administering regular injections of  the pollen extract into the skin.  For many years especially in Europe the pollen extract has been given under the tongue in a technique known as Sublingual Immunotherapy or SLIT.  This method of treatment which has been endorsed by the World Health Organization and is being offered in many clinics in the United States and around the world is not yet an approved use of allergy extracts by the US FDA.  A number of allergy professional organizations in the United States have published position statements endorsing  this technique which has been shown to be effective and safe.  In fact  the drops can be administered at home and do not require a visit to the doctor’s office.  The avoidance of a needle stick has obvious advantages with children and needle-phobic individuals.

Often SLIT is used to desensitize the individual to multiple different allergic agents such as dog, cat, dust mite, grass pollen, tree pollen and mold antigens at the same time as the juniper pollen extract.  Dr. Taylor has seen in many of his patients that desensitizing a person to some of their worst sensitivities reduces their “total allergic load” and helps to reduce chronic inflammatory disease symptoms in general.  He has seen the frequency and severity of sinus infections decline significantly.  He has also had many patients report signficant improvement in allergy-related fatigue. Many patients have been able to reduce the amount of other medications that they need to take to control the associated inflammatory symptoms.  At Texas Integrative ENT and Allergy Dr. Taylor uses a simple blood test to identify and measure the degree of an individual’s allergies to a variety of different agents called allergens.

At Texas Integrative ENT and Allergy, Dr. Taylor has years of experience dealing with allergic disease and chronic inflammatory conditions affecting many systems in the body.  His integrated holistic approach including attention to problems with the digestive tract including food allergies, leaky gut and problems with the gut microbes as well as problems due to exposure to environmental toxins is often effective in normalizing immune system inflammation.  This often involves supporting metabolic pathways with nutrients that allow immune system function to perform in an optimal way.

Wally Taylor MD

RECENT TEXAS A&M STUDY FINDS LYME’S DISEASE BACTERIA COMMON IN TEXAS

Lyme Disease Bulls Eye Rashdr_tylerEarlier this year a study from a group of scientists associated with Texas A & M veterinary department published a study in the journal Parasites and Vectors which demonstrated that the germ that causes Lyme’s Disease was found in 45% of the Ixodes scapularis ticks (also known as black-legged or deer tick) that they recovered from small animals in the Southern Texas/Northern Mexico region of study. Prior to this study there had been speculation that the Lyme Disease bacteria was uncommon in Texas. Unfortunately this appears to not be accurate based on this study.

What is Lyme Disease? Lyme disease is an unusual disease caused by infection with a spirochete bacteria named Borrelia burdorferi. The bacteria is usually contracted through the bite of a deer tick carrying the germ inside it. In some patients shortly after becoming infected a disease happens with a “bull’s eye or target-lesion” rash called erythema migrans. Later a disseminated form may develop with headaches, shooting pains, loss of muscle strength on one side of the face (Bell’s Palsy), heart palpitations and joint pain or swelling. Finally a chronic late form-late disseminated form and even Post-treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome can occur. These later forms masquerade as many other chronic debilitating diseases that are related to other environmental exposures so quite a bit of confusion exists about the later stages of this disease. Unfortunately some patients diagnosed with late stage disease do not recall a tick bite or the typical erythema migrans rash. There is also evidence that some people may harbor the Lyme Disease germ but not show any symptoms of it.

Since 2002 783 confirmed cases of Lyme Disease have been reported to the CDC although this number is thought to significantly underestimate the actual number of cases. In 2010 22,572 human cases of Lyme Disease were reported to the CDC from throughout the United States. Cases have now been reported from all 50 United States and at least 6 foreign countries.

A key to prevention is to always be vigilant for ticks when you are outdoors especially around areas of vegetation. You should seek medical attention immediately if you develop a rash and other symptoms especially if there is a history of tick bite. Lyme’s bacteria can be treated with antibiotics and the earlier the better. Diagnosis is controversial as there is not one best test for Lyme Disease. The symptom picture can also be mimicked by infection with a number of similar infective agents (bacteria, virus and parasites) as well as from exposure to a variety of environmental toxins.

At Texas Integrative ENT and Allergy, Dr. Taylor has years of experience dealing with Lyme Disease patients and others with diseases that mimic Lyme Disease. Management of chronic Lyme Disease requires also treating and supporting the body generally in order to allow the body to recover. This often involves supporting metabolic pathways that allow immune system recovery, hormone balance, toxin clearance and reduction of undesirable inflammation.

Wally Taylor MD