Our bodies' natural self-defense mechanisms protect us from harmful substances and germs. But when an autoimmune disease occurs, our innate ability to defend our health becomes compromised. What makes it even trickier is that the culprit (or culprits!) can be difficult to snuff out. Many things like meds, smoking, and exposure to toxins can cause any of the 80 known autoimmune diseases. This post will zoom in on the connection between toxic mold and autoimmune disease.
What are toxic molds?
Who isn't acquainted with molds? These black, brown, or other-colored specks that look like regular dirt or stains on your tiles, walls, and other surfaces may seem harmless. But in reality, no mold species can be considered "safe." One reason is that our immune systems react differently, even toward the same type of mold. Other factors include the extent of mold exposure, diet, family history, and health conditions. Various kinds of molds are also considered particularly toxic, such as:
This is a common type of mold with over 500 species that appear as black, brown, or green spots. Cladosporium can trigger allergic reactions leading to severe asthma attacks or fungal sinusitis.
Penicillium is green or blue mold fungi widely distributed in our environs. It is commonly associated with fungal infections like keratitis, pneumonia, and asthma.
This toxic mold species mainly comes from eating contaminated food. Ingesting low amounts can affect intestinal and extraintestinal functions. It can also heighten the risk of esophageal and liver cancer.
Aspergillus is another common type of mold. People can breathe it in daily and not get sick. But, people with weak immune systems can experience health problems such as allergies and lung or other organ infections.
A greenish-black mold, Stachybotrys is also known as the "toxic black mold." There is no evidence that this species is deadlier than other types of molds. What's known is that it can endanger individuals with allergies and asthma. Studies show the link between Stachybotrys and "sick building syndrome." This group of diseases includes common respiratory and central nervous system symptoms. So, what is the link between mold and autoimmune disease?
Can mold cause autoimmune disease?
Toxic molds are better described as toxigenic. This means they can produce poisonous substances called mycotoxins. These compounds come from the air, moldy food, and contaminated surfaces. More than 300 kinds affect the body in different ways, from headaches to neurodegenerative disorders. Yet, all mycotoxins can wreak havoc on the immune system, resulting in or aggravating autoimmune diseases. Depending on the toxin, there can be one of two effects:
1. Immunosuppressive effect
Our immune system has master regulators called dendritic cells. These cells process and introduce antigens, foreign substances that trigger immune responses. These cause naive infection-fighting T cells to mature, multiply, and secrete cytokines. Cytokines are proteins that manage communication between cells to better organize the "resistance" against invaders. Unfortunately, certain types of mycotoxins can damage the antigen-presenting capability of dendritic cells.
On top of that, mycotoxins can disrupt the signals between immune cells. When the latter encounter disease-causing organisms, they need all the help they can get to fight them off. So they call more cells by releasing messenger substances called leukotrienes. With enough numbers, they can get rid of the threat. But, mycotoxins inhibit the production of leukotrienes.
Without "trained" soldiers and communication between immune cells, our immune system underreacts. As a result, microbes can infiltrate our defensive armor, causing infections to spread.
2. Immunostimulatory effect
Inflammation is necessary to fight bacteria and repair damaged tissues. But mycotoxins can induce the immune system to overreact and cause excessive inflammatory reactions. Like triggered soldiers receiving too many orders, the immune cells can run amok. As a result, they can't distinguish between the "enemies" and healthy tissues and organs. So, they end up attacking everyone.
The infiltration of immune cells into the organs and tissues characterizes chronic inflammation. These cells produce proinflammatory agents that worsen infections.
Mycotoxins can also trigger inflammation-causing genes and damage epithelial tissues (the protective lining of hollow organs). And that's not all. The toxins can overstimulate inflammasomes, our immune system's sensors that regulate inflammatory responses.
Fighting mold-induced autoimmune diseases with infrared light
The best way to address mold-induced autoimmune diseases is through prevention. For instance, fix leaky fixtures like pipes, roofs, and windows. Ensure that your indoor spaces have proper ventilation. Also, get a dehumidifier to keep humidity levels between 30% and 50% all day. These are just a few ways to nip the problem in the bud.
Yet, if you suspect that molds have already affected your health, see your doctor immediately. They may recommend drugs through a shot or IV. Keep in mind, though, that these may have side effects.
But what if you can fight a mold infection or disease naturally? Then you may want to ask your health care professional about infrared light therapy. Infrared light therapy mimics the raw healing powers of the sun and leverages cutting-edge technology. The result is a painless yet effective way to detoxify from molds. With low-level frequencies and long wavelengths, infrared light can reach deep into the cellular level.
Scientists discovered that infrared light could be a potent treatment for autoimmune diseases. They learned that it could selectively target and destroy pathogens like mycotoxins. Yet in another experiment, infrared radiation reduced the survival of mold spores. When the power generators of cells called mitochondria absorb light, pro-inflammatory processes relax. On top of that, anti-inflammatory mechanisms are activated. Thus, researchers conclude that light therapy has immense potential to address autoimmune diseases.
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