Increasing our bodies’ resistance to mold--naturally
There's no "silver bullet", but regarding exposure to mold, there’s a lot we can control, like humidity, water leaks that can be stopped and remediated, air purifiers, etc. Sometimes, though, there are things we just can’t control, like having a new work assignment in a moldy area, or having a scrape (literally) that infects us with mold. That’s what happened to a young man traveling in Costa Rica, who developed a lesion in his brain due to a type of black mold after scraping his arm on a bike ride. In India, doctors are facing an unprecedented spike in mucormycosis, an infection from another type of mold species that is very prevalent in the hot, humid country. Indiscriminate use of steroids to stop inflammation from the virus that caused COVID-19 causes some patients to have weakened immune systems, making them susceptible to infestation of Mucorales, the group of fungi that includes molds responsible for mucormycosis. (Science News) With Mucorales, the fungi tend to thrive in diabetics because of elevated blood sugar levels, which turn the blood more acidic, creating an ideal environment for it to spread. Unfortunately, the virus that causes COVID-19 also damages the beta cell of the pancreas, decreasing insulin production needed to check high blood sugar.
It doesn’t need to be far from home, as this can happen in your backyard. Candida auris has been identified as a new global threat; it’s a type of fungus that is resistant to 2 out of 3 classes of antifungal drugs.
Here is what we’re seeing cause susceptibility to fungi:
- Steroid medications, including artificial corticosteroids, which dampen immune function by lowering the number of lymphocytes
- Stress releases natural corticosteroid in our bodies (decreasing immune function as above) and stress also alters a number of bodily functions like digestion activity, blood pressure, blood cholesterol levels, all of which lead to an increased risk of disease (simplypsychology.org)
- High blood sugar from diet, disease or inadequate medication management
- Other causes of more acidic blood: respiratory acidosis is the body’s response to having too much carbon dioxide in the blood (a common cause would be sleep apnea), metabolic acidosis which includes ketoacidosis, lactic acidosis, renal tubular acidosis and hyperchloremic acidosis (webMD)
- Pre-existing conditions such as AIDS: “According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), fungi are among the leading causes of opportunistic infections affecting patients with HIV/AIDS .” (study)
The good news is that fungi have weaknesses we can exploit. Here are some of them:
- Copper: fungus has a small window of tolerable copper levels. “the human immune system utilizes both copper toxicity and copper starvation in responding to fungal infections. “(Valeria Culotta, PhD) Drinking water stored in copper vessels may provide the excess copper needed to kill many pathogens (healthline.com)
- Iodine: A lack of iodine has been shown to cause many different diseases and symptoms, including endemic goiter, hypothyroidism, cretinism, decreased fertility rate, increased infant mortality, and mental retardation (article). On the other hand, iodine has been shown to cure toenail fungus (study), and iodine is is rapidly effective against viruses, bacteria (both Gram negative and Gram positive), fungi and spores(oralhealthgroup.com). However, not all iodine preparations have high- germicidal properties. Molecular iodine (I2) is the form that kills fungus and molds most quickly. Here are the positives about a new formulation of iodine, ioRinse:
- Does not stain, unlike previous formulations of povidone-iodine
- does not induce resistance development in targeted microorganisms
- substantivity (ongoing residual effect) of iodine for up to 72 hours is well documented.
- Safe for chronic use as a mouthwash
- Molecular iodine is also available in a Nasal Spray (ioMist) to protect sinus passages.
- Zinc is a metal that is needed for a healthy body and immune system, but it can be stolen by pathogenic fungi such as mold. Our bodies attempt to withhold this essential vitamin from pathogens (a process called nutritional immunity), but certain pathogens have evolved highly sophisticated methods of acquiring it from hosts anyway. (study) A 2017 US study carried out over six weeks found that taking just 4mg extra of zinc a day made a major difference to the health of cells, which in turn makes your body better able to fight infections and diseases. The team concluded that zinc reduces ‘oxidative stress and damage to DNA’ that helps protect against chronic diseases.
- Glutathione: When our bodies are exposed to harmful fungus, they increase production of Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) and Reactive Nitrogen Species (RNS). ROS/RNS are helpful in that they signal an invasion of the body and trigger more immune responses, but they also can damage lipids, proteins and DNA (study), and overwhelm the natural antioxidant capacity of our cells, causing the imbalance that is known as oxidative stress. Normally ROS levels are kept in balance with antioxidants in our cells, which is known as cell redox homeostasis, but in the presence of pathogens, ROS increases dramatically, causing inflammation and other potentially damaging symptoms. Glutathione (GSH), made of the three amino acids cysteine, glutamate, and glycine, is an important antioxidant in our bodies (webmd.com) Our glutathione levels decrease naturally as we get older, but more acutely during diseases such as cancer, HIV, or Parkinson’s disease. In a Korean study, it was shown that glutathione significantly increased a cell’s chances of surviving exposure to large amounts of ROS like hydrogen peroxide (H2O2). Low levels of glutathione peroxidase are also coincident with conditions like vitiligo, multiple sclerosis, and Type 2 diabetes. (drcgolding.co.za). Therefore, supplementing with this “superhero” antioxidant can significantly improve our outcome when faced with mycotoxins. Here are some ways to supplement:
- Intravenous (IV) glutathione is the quickest and most effective form of supplementation, but its availability to the public is limited.
- Although many companies offer glutathione in oral form, it’s generally not effective in raising free glutathione in the blood because digestive enzymes break it down into its three components. Therefore, two alternative forms of glutathione that translate to higher glutathione levels in the blood:
- liposome-encapsulated glutathione, or
- s-acetyl glutathione: this has been shown to have similar results to IV glutathione (clinicaleducation.org).
- Whey protein contains free fatty acids that actually inhibit growth of C. albicans (study). C. albicans is the most prevalent form of fungal infections in people (medicalnewstoday.com), and knowing this, supplementation with a whey protein from grass-fed cows can be a good way to increase resistance to certain fungi (moldsafeinspections.com).
- Iron: Iron is essential for both humans to grow. Iron is needed to produce red blood cells and hormones, as well as maintain our immune system response, particularly a level of lymphocytes (scientific article). Here is the conundrum however: fungus also needs iron, and will steal iron from our bodies or scavenge excess iron if it is supplemented. In healthy people, iron supplements are a good way to make sure we have the iron we need. (If normal iron supplements upset your stomach, try a “slow-release” formula). However, if you are diabetic, undergoing chemotherapy, or have any other major illness, you may want to consult your doctor before adding an iron supplement, to make sure that it does not feed an invasive pathogen like mucorales, which is particularly disfiguring and deadly in immune-compromised patients.
- Healthy gut: According to ucdavis.edu, “A healthy gut contains healthy bacteria and immune cells that ward off infectious agents like bacteria, viruses and fungi.” In addition, a healthy gut microbiome trains immune cells for guarding the brain: scientists have discovered that certain plasma cells from the intestines migrate to the brain, where they stand guard to release IgA antibodies to block the entry of pathogens to the brain. (Science News) How to maintain a healthy gut? This article discusses some excellent ways to maintain a healthy gut microbiome.
- Getting adequate sleep: During sleep, our bodies produce cytokines and T-cells, both of which are important to our immune response. We’ve discussed how to get the most of your sleep time in a previous post, and this article from uchealth.com reviews the ways you can promote quality sleep.
We’ve got the power to reduce the chance of acquiring nasty and life-threatening fungal infections, even in this world of ever-increasing dangerous microbes. I hope this article gave you some new insights on some weapons in our immunity arsenal.