Is Mold Destroying Your Health? – Part 3 of an Interview with Dave Asprey

Dr Daniel Amen and Tana Amen BSN RN On The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast

Over half of all homes have water damage of some form or another. It’s therefore crucial to test for the presence of mold, the “mitochondrial kryptonite” that may very well be secretly wearing down your health, subjecting you to such dysfunctions as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Lyme Disease, and Fibromyalgia.


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Dr Daniel Amen: Welcome back. Tana and I are here with our friend, Dave Asprey, author of Headstrong, available soon. You can learn more about it at Dave is the founder and CEO of Bulletproof, the creator of Bulletproof Coffee, the host of the number one health podcast Bulletproof Radio, and we are so excited to be with him. When he came to see us many years ago his brain looked toxic. One of the big questions was, why does your brain look toxic? Part of it was you discovered that mold was in your home, and that lead you on what has really become a crusade to educate the world about mold exposure and brain health and overall physical health. Let's talk about that.

Tana Amen: I'd like to know Dave, I'd like to know why mold was in your home. Not only how you discovered it, but why you figured out it was there, because people need to know.

Dave Asprey: As a kid, I had nose bleeds like, 10 times a day. I would get frequent bruising for no reason, and I had rashes and asthma and behavioral issues like ODD and OCD and ADD, and really all the symptoms of Asperger's where I wouldn't make eye contact, I didn't know anyone's name, I read all the time and just a very big lack of awareness. The thing that was happening is that I lived in a basement that had been flooded and not remediated. We didn't know, this was the '80s. No one knew, and I went to the doctor and they said, "Oh, your only allergies are to cockroaches," or something.

It didn't make any sense, so I suffered a lot. I would just have radical mood swings. I was just a kid trying to grow up. One of the things that that does is that makes you fat, especially if you have certain genes that I happen to have. You can eat anything you want or nothing, and you'll still be fat when your hormones are disrupted by these synthetic estrogens that are made by basically a soil fungus that has no business being in your home. I moved out of that house and into another house that had mold and different symptoms would appear.

I eventually figured this out when I lived in a condo in the Bay area. After I moved out, when I had actually sold the place and come back to get some stuff, I went in to check a supply closet and this was basically the neighbor's water heater, it had been leaking. Then all of a sudden, now I get it. The back of the wall in the bedroom was covered with black slimy mold, which is stachybotrys. When I lived there, we had water in the carpet. We picked the carpet up, we fixed everything and we thought it was fine because I didn't know.

If only I had known about how dangerous water damaged buildings are, I would have just got the hell out because I lost 50 of my 100 pounds and I gained 30 of them back in 90 days after I moved in. That was when I went to the doctor and Palo Alto and I said, "I feel like I've been poisoned. I wouldn't hire myself, something's wrong." He basically said, "Maybe you should try and lose some weight." It was the most meaningless conversation. Like, I've worked out ...

Tana Amen: He put the blame on you.

Dave Asprey: Yeah, it was because I was not trying hard enough. I had at least 15 different symptoms and any normal western doctor knows, if you have more than three symptoms you're a hypochondriac and you need Wellbutrin. Man, I was offended. I actually told the guy when he said vitamin C would kill me, I said, "You're fired." He didn't know who Linus Pauling was, who was like the father of vitamin C therapy, two Nobel prizes. I walked out, and for four years I just studied and I realized, "Wow, my symptom line up with chronic fatigue, with lyme, with mold, and with fibromyalgia."

After years of doing this, meeting all the experts in the field and reading thousands of studies and all of the books written about this stuff, it is very clear to me that all of those diseases are mitochondrial dysfunction caused by poisoning. Usually toxic mold is present before any of those other three diseases becomes chronic. There is no lyme disease without toxic mold, not chronic lyme disease. There is no CFS, there is no fibromyalgia without toxic mold. There are a few experts who will disagree with me, but just give me their patients, we'll put them on antifungals, and you can always fix these people. Quite often what they require is mitochondrial performance enhancement.

For me, what fixed my brain as well as my body was ozone therapy. Ozone therapy directly adds electrons to your mitochondria so they can get enough energy to start fixing themselves. This is based on the work of a guy named Dr. Shallenberger, who I feature in Headstrong. Dr. Shallenberger has found that 48% of people under age 40 have mitochondrial dysfunction, and everyone over age 40 has it because we call it aging, and has focused on using, in this case ozone therapy and some other oxidative therapies to turn on mitochondria. There are many different ways to turn on mitochondria, but bottom line is you've got to find a way to do that if you've been exposed to toxic mold. Get rid of the mold, and people can watch the movie at

This is such a passion for me because it's not just me that's affected. 28% of people have genes where we get kind of permanently screwed up from mold unless we take specific steps to fix it. For the rest of us, toxic mold triggers cancer, heart disease, in some cases diabetes, and it can just give you a lot of sugar cravings. One of the couples in Moldy, the documentary, is a husband and wife physician couple. She got sick and he didn't get sick whey they lived in a moldy trailer as they were building their house; like, disabled sick.

She thought she was a hypochondriac, except her temperature was elevated. She biopsied every organ in her body and spent two years in incredible pain and suffering and fatigue and tiredness, and eventually they figured out it was the mold. The important thing is, her physician husband was like, "I believe her, but I don't feel it." The thing is, this mold, she was the canary, but if he lived in that house his odds of getting cancer goes up dramatically. His odds of having allergies or strep throat or all of these other things go up. Different people are affected differently.

It's really important, though, that we understand if you suddenly see changes in your body weight that aren't explainable in your behaviors, especially after water damage, a water leak and condensation on the walls, you see mold in your bedroom, your kids go to a place or you go to a place and you feel really odd afterwards, there's at least half of buildings have water damage according to the experts in the film. This is one of the biggest sources of mitochondrial kryptonite out there. I kind of feel morally obligated because I could have ended up with lupus or MS or cancer or dead had I stayed living in a water damaged building. Even the house I live today had black mold when I bought it, and I knew it when I bought it and we remediated before we moved in.

Everyone listening here, if you're going to move into a new place, spend $300 or $400 on an air quality test so you know whether you're going to move into a place that has mitochondrial kryptonite. If you want to be headstrong, you want to have all this energy in your brain, the first thing you do is stop exposing yourself to kryptonite and then do the things to give you more power. Then do the breathing exercises. Then take a cold shower. Then do all these other things that are in the book that are there for you to do, but why go to all the trouble of doing all that if the first thing you're doing is making yourself weak every time you take a breath?

Tana Amen: I like that. I like the idea that there's a simple test you can do. I know when I was selling a house, probably 15 years ago, the agent came in and he asked, "Have you ever had a leak in your house?" They make you sign these documents, and you said it was because this new movement, mold is gold. I'm like, "What?" He said, "Mold is gold." It's like this huge thing now, if people find mold in your house it's like a quick reason to sue. Rather than saying, "Okay, make sure you fix everything that you think might have been an issue with mold," it was like, "let's make sure we cover it up." I was like, "Okay." The reason I'm telling people this is because you want to make sure when you buy a house that you're paying attention to where the house is. Is it an older house? What's the foundation like? Is it a condo, like you said? You should be paying attention because people don't always disclose these things because they think they're going to get sued.

Dr Daniel Amen: The best way for people to check to see if there is mold at work or in their home is, what?

Dave Asprey: It's called an ERMI test, environmental mold index. You can order one from a local mold inspector or you can go to myermi, and they'll send you a test kit that you can do at home. What you do is you test outside air and inside air. In my case, in one place where I was staying we had, I think 88 times more toxic mold spores in the kitchen than outside. Low and behold, the dishwasher had been leaking and that was all it took. In fact, in that house I got way worse mold and dairy allergies than I had ever had before. It turns out, when you breathe toxic mold some species will cross react with gluten and casein and make your food allergies much worse.

Tana Amen: That's so interesting.

Dr Daniel Amen: That's so helpful. Well, Headstrong, it is such a good book. Also, we talked about Moldy the movie, which will blow your mind. It's really worth watching if you're listening to us because you have symptoms of ADD, anxiety, depression, sugar cravings, brain fog, irritability, it's just one of the most important things to rule out because there's something you can do to fix this. Stay with us, we're going to come back and we're going to talk about the brain at work.

Dave Asprey: Oh yeah.

Dr Daniel Amen: When we continue with Dave Asprey on The Brain Warrior's Way.