The destructive capabilities in mold are often criminally overlooked when diagnosing brain health issues. In the second episode of a series on brain burglars with Dr. Mark Filidei, Dr. Daniel Amen and Tana Amen discuss how mold exposure can affect the brain, how to test for it, and how to eliminate it from both your house and your body.
Dr Daniel Amen: Welcome to "The Brain Warrior's Way" Podcast. I'm Dr. Daniel Amen.
Tana Amen: And I'm Tana Amen. In our podcast, we provide you with the tools you need to become a warrior for the health of your brain and body.
Dr Daniel Amen: "The Brain Warrior's Way" podcast is brought to you by Amen Clinics, where we have been transforming lives for 30 years using tools like brain SPECT imaging to personalize treatment to your brain. For more information, visit amenclinics.com.
Tana Amen: "The Brain Warrior's Way" podcast is also brought to you by Brain MD., where we produce the highest quality nutraceuticals to support the health of your brain and body. To learn more, go to brainmd.com.
Dr Daniel Amen: Welcome back. So, we're talking with Dr. Mark Filidei, the director of integrative functional medicine here at Amen Clinics. He's taught me so much about how to work up a toxic brain, and mold was sort of the thing that started it off for me. That patient that I mentioned, Carolyn, and I'm like, "Her brain's being assaulted." Not one lecture when I was a psychiatric resident or child psychiatry fellow on mold and mental health.
Dr Mark Filidei: Not going to hear that. Right.
Dr Daniel Amen: And then, about 13 years ago, Dave Asprey, the really well known CEO of Bulletproof Coffee, he got a SPECT scan, actually from a friend of mine in San Jose who I taught how to do SPECT, and his brain looked moth eaten, and Dave was doing his MBA at the Wharton School where President Trump got his MBA. But he said he couldn't think, that he had brain fog, he had anxiety, he'd have insomnia, he thought he had ADD, but his scan showed severe overall low activity, and then he discovered he had mold.
And he actually went on to do a documentary called "Moldy" that you can watch online.
Dr Mark Filidei: I think it's free.
Dr Daniel Amen: M-O-L-D-Y.com I think, or you can Google it and find it. I mean, just stunning. I have his brain 13 years later, and it's dramatically better. So, what do you know about mold? How often do you find it, and what are the symptoms? And then, what do you do about it?
Dr Mark Filidei: Right, so I actually do quite a few talks around the country on mold. I actually used Dave's intro to "Moldy" to show folks how it can really affect people dramatically. It's a pretty good movie. I ask every single patient that we see, "Have you ever lived in a place that's had a water leak, roof leak, plumbing problem?"
You'd be amazed how many people say yes. Or, does your basement get wet, especially in the Midwest where you have basements. They get wet. They get moldy. Mold is really bad for your brain. It's very common. It's also in food, and of course Dave has Bulletproof Coffee, it's one of his main things. It's in coffee and other things, too, so it can be ingested, but we're more concerned about what's in your house.
So, how do you know if you have mold? If you see a spot on your ceiling, you probably have mold behind it. This is not the stuff you see in the shower, or the little mildew. That's not what we're talking about. It's usually hidden. It's behind the walls. It's in the ceiling. It's under the floor. Had many patients that have come through here, if not all, many of their problems are directly from mold exposure.
So, mold is everywhere. There's some bad ones, though. They're called toxic molds. They produce mycotoxins. Those are really bad for your brain. Anybody can have a reaction like an allergy reaction, runny nose, watery eyes. Any mold can do that. The toxic mold is the ones we're more concerned about, the so-called "black mold."
It can cause very weird psychological symptoms, neurologic symptoms, fatigue, brain fog is the most common thing I hear about. I just can't focus. I just can't think any more. My memory's going. Not so much on the pain. That's more kind of a lime thing, but you certainly can get things with mold. So, if you've had a water leak in your house, you may very well have a problem. I just had one of our patients who had a mold inspector come by, didn't find ... I suspected mold 'cause they were testing positive. Mold inspector came by, did a very poor job. Didn't find anything.
I said, "No, you really have it, I'm sure." They had another person come in and it was scary. The room he was sleeping in, this is the husband who had multiple issues, OCD, anxiety, he had cancer a few years before, and mycotoxins are immunosuppressive. They will promote cancer. So, it was all behind the walls, black mold, behind the walls, under the floor, in the ceiling, and he was living in this for years.
That could obviously affect you in a very adverse way. So, it can be stealth. You don't have to have a Katrina mold problem to have an issue. So, for patients that specifically have exposure in the home that know about it, it can be a problem. You can do home mold tests. So, mold testing can be problematic. Again, I could talk for hours on this. I do. But, you can test your home. You can test your body, so we do tests here that can, if not directly, but indirectly, show us you have mold exposure.
Dr Daniel Amen: You brought up Katrina. I'm just thinking of places where there are floods.
Dr Mark Filidei: Right. Houston.
Dr Daniel Amen: Where there are hurricanes.
Dr Mark Filidei: Hurricanes, in Florida.
Dr Daniel Amen: Where you get really whole populations exposed to high levels of mold. I used to live in Hawaii, and-
Dr Mark Filidei: Very humid.
Dr Daniel Amen: Mold would actually grow on your shoes.
Dr Mark Filidei: That's right. I had a patient say that. Yeah.
Dr Daniel Amen: Take care of it, and when you live near the beach, there's often ... mold just grows faster with the humidity. Do you remember my dad when he had mold in his house?
Dr Mark Filidei: Right. Right.
Dr Daniel Amen: Right, and he got depressed, and this is a guy that doesn't get depressed. He gives depression. He doesn't get depressed. So, if people suspected, it's like, "Wait a minute. I've had a flood. I have these water damage spots on my ceiling." Can they go to Home Depot and get a kit and how is that?
Dr Mark Filidei: Not those. Those aren't great. If you want to do your own home testing, you can do something called an ermi test, E-R-M-I. That's actually kind of government approved relative moldiness test. Can be much more specific than a Home Depot test. So, you can order those online. It might be a couple hundred bucks, but it gives you an actual printout of what's there specifically. You can also get a mold inspector, of course, if you're really worried about it.
So, you can do a home mold test to give you a basic idea. So, it can be tested, and surface testing as well. So, if you see something like that.
Dr Daniel Amen: So, getting rid of the mold is critically important. How do people, once they have it in their body, get rid of it?
Dr Mark Filidei: A very good question. So, there's kind of two major schools of thought out there. One is, just get rid of the toxins with binders, charcoal, clay, oral stuff. But you may actually be colonized by this, so the only time you ever hear about mold in medical school is when they talk about aspergillus. It's called an aspergilloma, right? A fungal ball in a lung. Only time you ever hear about it. Usually in AIDS patients, immuno compromised, cancer patients.
But, guess what? You can have a little bit of that in there, even if you're healthy, and you're kind of bringing your mold factory with you, continuing to get the mold out. So you need to do systemic treatment. Sometimes medication, nasal sprays, what have you. It needs to be determined where it is as to how you get rid of it.
Dr Daniel Amen: And mold is fungus, so is there a connection between that and candida?
Dr Mark Filidei: Yeah, it's in the kingdom of fungi, so yeasts and molds. Some yeasts, people love. It's in beer, or wine. But you get the idea there that yeast are turning grape juice into wine by creating alcohol, so those can do that in your stomach. Candida can turn the sugar you eat into alcohols, which is why a lot of people with candida have brain fog and insomnia and anxiety problems.
Dr Daniel Amen: It's like they're drinking?
Dr Mark Filidei: Kind of, but it's not the same kind of alcohol. Not the good kind.
Dr Daniel Amen: It doesn't make you feel good. It just makes you feel loopy.
Dr Mark Filidei: Really loopy, spacey, so one of the top things I see, biological causes of anxiety, insomnia, and sleep is candida.
Dr Daniel Amen: All right. So, when we come back, we are going to talk about candida, and then we're going to begin to talk about infections that can also be toxic for your brain. Stay with us.
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