Meet the Patient: Case Study on Treating Toxic Mold Illness via Remote Visits
By: BioDesign Wellness Center StaffRequest A Call From Us
Meet the Patient is a series here on the BioDesign Wellness Center blog that showcases actual patients we have treated over the years or are currently treating. It goes without saying that we do not reveal the identity of these patients, changing their names and certain details about their case in order to insure their privacy.
Our reason for us asking our patients to allow us to share their stories — again anonymously — is for the benefit of the reader who is or knows someone struggling with a similar health condition. It’s for those who perhaps have not received an accurate diagnosis or effective medical treatment. It’s for those who might be giving up hope of ever feeling healthy, energetic, and happy again.
Our objective with these case studies is to restore a belief that optimal health and fitness can be achieved, even for those who are chronically ill and may have no clear explanation of the underlying cause of their pain or dysfunction.
Up to the time of the COVID-19 pandemic, our Meet the Patient posts spotlighted patients we have seen in our Tampa functional medicine clinic. However, like many healthcare clinics, we have severely curtailed office visits to help prevent spread of the virus. As a result, we now conduct many of our patient appointments remotely via phone or videoconferencing software such as Skype, Zoom, or the telemed feature offered through our electronic health records platform, MPN.
Today’s Meet the Patient post is unique in that it highlights the successful treatment of a patient who has never stepped foot in our offices.
Meet AJ, a 63-Year-Old Patient
At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, a 63-year-old retired woman, whom we will call AJ, was referred to our office by her daughter, who was concerned about her mom’s health. They both live in south Florida, and the daughter was already a patient of ours.
When she called us, AJ said she was certain that it was mold from her home that caused her illness. During our online telemedicine consultation, she described more than 30 symptoms that arose over a period of several years. Her symptoms included shortness of breath, constant stomach upset, anxiety, loss of memory, tingling in her body, extreme exhaustion, and weakness, to name a few. She was experiencing several of the more than 40 symptoms that can be ascribed to mold, including the following:
- Abdominal pain, diarrhea, and/or bloating
- Chronic burning in the throat and nasal passages
- Coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath
- Depression and/or anxiety
- Difficulty concentrating
- Disorientation and/or dizziness
- Eye irritation or tearing of the eyes
- Fatigue and weakness
- Headache and/or light sensitivity
- Hearing loss
- Heightened sensitivity to chemicals and foods
- Increased frequency of urinary and/or increased thirst
- Irregular heartbeat
- Loss of balance
- Morning stiffness and/or joint pain
- Muscle weakness
- Poor memory, difficulty finding words
- Skin rashes
- Sleep problems
- Slower reaction time
- Static shocks or metallic taste in the mouth
- Unusual skin sensations, tingling, and numbness
- Vision changes
AJ and her husband — a diabetic who was also experiencing many symptoms — were living in a rental apartment while their home underwent mold remediation. Witnessing her own (and her family’s) health deteriorate over the last few years, AJ said she not only felt fearful for her future but had concerns for her grandchildren. Whenever they came over for a short visit, they always seemed to develop runny noses.
Unlike other patients we see, AJ told us she has always taken good care of herself, eating well, taking vitamin supplements, and exercising regularly. That said, in her current state of health, she could no longer exercise and, of course, being in the house did not help.
Five years ago, she reported feeling strong and healthy. Her current state of health was destroying the quality of life she once had. She found this particularly upsetting because, as she said, these were supposed to be her Golden Years, when she could relax and enjoy spending quality time with her husband, children, and grandchildren.
Testing for Mold Toxins
After an hour consultation, we ordered a MycoTOX Profile (a urine test that screens for 11 different toxins from 40 mold species), because it was clear that AJ had been exposed to mold, and the test results would help us confirm the exposure and identify the levels of mold toxins as a baseline in her treatment.
For more information about the MycoTOX Profile, please read our recent post, Urine and Testing for Mold Toxins.
The MycoTOX test kit was shipped to AJ’s home, and she arranged to have FedEx deliver her urine sample to the lab. AJ’s MycoTOX profile showed major elevations in mycotoxins, specifically those from penicillium, several species of which are highly toxic to humans. Even though AJ and her husband had been living outside their mold-infested residence for more than two months, the levels of mold toxins in her urine remained elevated. Based on her MycoTOX profile, we confirmed that AJ’s body was eliminating some of the mold toxins. But she still had toxins circulating in her body that were causing many of the symptoms she continued to experience.
We prescribed a medically supervised detoxification protocol as the first step in a multi-step treatment protocol. The detox consisted of some dietary changes to avoid foods that would interfere with detoxification and a combination of six different antioxidants, binders, and vitamins that were delivered in a liquid preparation. The liquid is readily absorbed and can be as effective as an intravenous (IV) delivery.
The detoxification is designed to help her liver expel the mold toxins and strengthen cellular vitality. Once the toxins are expelled from the liver, they circulate into the intestines. Binders (charcoal, clay, zeolite) pull the toxins out of the intestines much like a magnet attracts and pulls metals towards itself. Without binders, toxins can easily reabsorb from the intestines back into the bloodstream and once again threaten the cells and liver.
Three weeks later, we followed up with AJ via Zoom. We went through her previous symptoms checklist and found that 15 of the more than 30 symptoms were resolved or markedly improved. Her shortness of breath, tingling sensations, constant stomach upset, and weakness were resolved. She reported improvements in sleep and energy throughout the day, along with clearer thinking.
At his point, she said her memory was her biggest concern. We told her that memory and executive brain function are usually the last symptoms to improve when dealing with brain inflammation caused by mold illness. We planned to follow up again in several weeks, at which time we would implement peptide therapy and additional supplemental support to optimize brain health over the next six months.
Peptide therapy is initiated after the detoxification — once toxins have been removed and inflammation is down. In our clinical judgment, adding peptides prematurely to stimulate repair of brain and gut tissue would be a waste of time and resources. It would be like sending repair signals to the brain while the brain continues to be assaulted by toxins. Instead, we reduce toxin levels as much as possible, build resilience, and then provide treatment to restore brain health and function. The detoxification along with dietary modifications and supplements build resilience.
AJ was extremely happy and grateful that we were able to help her, not only because she was feeling better physically, but also because she was relieved to know the root cause of her many symptoms was finally being addressed. During visits with her previous doctor as well as trips to the hospital, the treatments she received served only to mask her symptoms. They didn’t address the root cause and provided nothing to remove the mold toxins that were circulating freely throughout her body.
Once the stay-at-home orders are lifted, seeing AJ in person would be a pleasure, but certainly not a necessity. That’s because today — through virtual medicine — we can perform a physical examination and health history, as well as engage in meaningful face-to-face interaction. In some ways, these tele-visits harken back to the old days, when doctors made house calls, saving patients the time and inconvenience of conventional in-office visits.
Of course, there will always be situations in which conventional office visits make the most sense; for example, if we need to draw blood or perform a more comprehensive physical examination. But most of the patients we see have a primary care physician who has already performed a physical examination and ordered some standard lab tests. What’s lacking is a functional medicine perspective committed to identifying and treating the root cause(s) of the patient’s health problems.
This is where we shine. By thinking outside the box and using our clinical experience, we can listen, listen, and listen more for the clues that provide the answers. Medically supervised detox, nutritional counseling, and even prescribing can all be accomplished remotely via teleconferencing. In most cases, it will all come down to patient preference. However, teleconferencing provides an increased opportunity for patients to consult with doctors to which they otherwise may not have access.
If you would like to schedule an appointment with us, we’re currently accepting new patients via Zoom, Skype, or phone. To schedule a time, please call our patient care coordinator, Lori, at (813) 445-7770.
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Disclaimer: The information in this blog post about treating toxic mold illness is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect current medical thinking or practices. No information contained in this post should be construed as medical advice from the medical staff at BioDesign Wellness Center, Inc., nor is this post intended to be a substitute for medical counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information included in, or accessible through, this post without seeking the appropriate medical advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a licensed medical professional in the recipient’s state, country or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.