You know you don't feel well and nobody can explain what’s going on. You feel frustrated, dismissed, and lost. Sound familiar? It’s a health mystery. Inna Topiler is a Certified Clinical Nutritionist practising a functional medicine approach. But, most of her patients consider her a health detective. She refuses to accept the unexplained. In this podcast, she shares real cases, discusses them with top health experts, and reveals how she solved the mystery and helped her clients regain their health and wellness. The answers are out there, you just have to know where to find the clues. Subscribe to Health Mysteries Solved.
Top Health Strategies for Dealing with Mold and Mycotoxin Exposure (Part 2)
In our last episode, we introduced you to Allison. She was dealing with:
Allison was dealing with brain fog, fatigue, and joint pain. She felt much older than her chronological years. Labs showed that her B vitamins, iron, and thyroid were all fine but her symptoms persisted. We spoke with Jason Earle who is the founder and CEO of 1-800-Got-Mold and has appeared as an expert on The Dr. Oz Show, Good Morning America, and Extreme Home Makeover. In that episode, he gave us so much great information about mold and debunked a whole bunch of myths around mold, how to test for it, and how to get rid of it. If you haven’t listened to that episode, I highly recommend that you go back and give it a listen.
In this episode, we dive into how to regain your health once you’ve cleared the mold out of your house and have reduced exposure.
Exposure to Mold Through Diet
Many of the symptoms related to mold exposure revolve around inflammation. Despite having dealt with the environmental exposure to mycotoxins and mold in your home, you may still be exposed to them in your diet. Grains, sugar, processed foods, and peanut butter. Removing these from your diet is the next step in detoxing from mold exposure. Doing a no sugar, no grains diet will also help reduce the inflammation that mold exposure will have contributed to.
Purging Mycotoxins from Your Body
There are several ways to rid the body of mycotoxins after extended exposure. One is to purge them through sweat (exercise and saunas are great for this). Another is to take glutathione which will stimulate the release of mycotoxins in the body. Urine tests can confirm that mycotoxins are being released. Mycotoxins can be detected in blood and urine. You want to see the mycotoxins in the urine because that proves they are being released.
Jason cautions against believing in any absolute - any singular way to treat mycotoxin exposure. He personally had a bad experience with Cholestyramine despite others having reported being successful in removing toxins (along with removing cholesterol and other fats from the body). You have to find the approach that will work for you but Jason says that lifestyle changes may be the hardest but, in his experience, they are the most effective.
Treat Your Liver Well
One of the parts of the body impacted by exposure to microbial VOCs is the liver. Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is on the rise with an estimated 30% of Americans affected by it. The American Liver Foundation reports that about 100 million Americans have Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease and that NAFLD is the most common form of liver disease in children (having doubled in the past 20 years). Jason believes this is due to increased exposure to VOC (not just microbial but also chemical VOCs caused by off gassing from plastics, petroleum-based products and other man made products). To protect the liver’s health, decrease or eliminate alcohol and sugar. Use air purifiers. Get outside and work up a sweat.
Don’t Ignore Musty Smells
Jason reminds us that a musty smell indicates the presence of microbial VOCs. And, as was discussed in the last episode, it’s not just mycotoxins we need to be concerned about. If there is a musty smell, then there are microbial VOCs present. Breathing these in along with chemical VOCs (which may not be detectable by odor alone) can cause health issues. It can cause inflammation, impeded breathing (especially for asthmatics), brain fog, and other health concerns.
Top Tips for Reducing Mold and Mold Related Issues
To keep things simple, Jason recommends these lifestyle choices:
Ventilate spaces well Use an air purifier Keep spaces clean (don’t let mold accumulate - wet areas can go moldy in 72 hours) Eat clean (avoid mold harboring foods like sugar, grains, peanut butter, and processed foods) Exercise (sweating helps eliminate toxins from the body) Don’t count on a pill (or magic bullet) to do the entire job
Busting the Biggest Myths about Mold and Mycotoxins (Part 1)
Allison was dealing with brain fog, fatigue, and joint pain. She felt much older than her chronological years. Labs showed that her B vitamins, iron, and thyroid were all fine but her symptoms persisted.
When I met Allison, I decided to check her thyroid again but everything really was normal. We talked about a lot of other possible root causes but when she told me that things had gotten worse after she moved to her new house, I started to suspect that her issues may have something to do with her environment. It was time to see if there was mold in her house.
Indoor Air Quality Crusader and Mold Expert
Jason Earle is the founder and CEO of 1-800-Got-Mold as well as the creator of the Got Mold Test Kit. He’s appeared as an expert on The Dr. Oz Show, Good Morning America, and Extreme Home Makeover. Jason is passionate about mold because his childhood in a moldy farmhouse resulted in several health issues for him.
What is Mold?
Jason explains that mold is, on a very basic level, the beginning of decay. This decay, which is nature’s way of breaking things down, causes a smell that serves as a warning sign to humans. Some people are more sensitive to molds and therefore find it easier to smell mold when it’s in the air or the environment. Mold sends you a signal that the air is not healthy and you want to heed that warning because mold problems just get worse if they are not dealt with.
Unhealthy Building or House
Moisture is the enemy of a healthy building. Mold is a natural byproduct of prolonged dampness. Plus, mold spores become airborne and are constantly looking for the right conditions to take hold, germinate, and form mold. Spores can cause allergic reactions including sinus issues, dermal reactions, and itchy eyes. These spores also carry a by-product of mold called mycotoxins. And, mold produces a musty smell known as microbial volatile organic compounds (MVOCs).
The Dangers of Microbial Volatile Organic Compounds (MVOCs)
MVOCs can make people very sick. Research shows that living in a home with ‘musty odor’ increases the risk of asthma in children by 250%. Additional research, being done by Dr. Joan Bennett at Rutgers University is looking at the link between musky odor and reduced dopamine production. Such a connection could lead to potential links to Parkinson-like symptoms, depression, and cognitive issues.
Testing for Mold
There are different types of tests available but they aren’t all created equal. Jason doesn’t think the ‘petri dish’ tests are very accurate because petri dishes are made to grow mold. He says that spores are everywhere so the presence of spores doesn’t mean there is mold. He does sell his own version of testing kits called Got Mold Testing Kits.
You can also hire a mold inspector but he also warns against expensive inspectors who may capitalize on the presence of mycotoxins and then charge thousands to treat it without removing the source of the mold.
It’s important to note that there are two kinds of mold problems - the kind you can see and the kinds you can’t (sequestered) because it’s hidden in the walls or ceilings. When inspecting a house, it’s important to look for both kinds of mold. Jason has a free ebook called “How to Find Mold in Your Home” that you can access at https://www.gotmold.com/mysteriessolved/
Finding a Professional Mold Inspector
Hiring a trustworthy inspector to detect mold in the house is important. Jason warns against hiring anyone who may be associated with a remediation company as there may be a conflict. The free guide his company created (downloadable) includes questions you should ask a potential inspector.
Jason’s company does remediation. They remove the area with the mold issue and ensure there is no more moisture. They then clean the house to remove any MVOCs without adding more (using chemical cleaners). Mo
Top 5 Things I Wish I’d Done Sooner on my Hashimoto's Healing Journey
Anyone who has struggled through a health mystery and finally solved their issues will undoubtedly wish they’d known sooner what was really going on. Who hasn’t thought, ‘If only I knew then what I know now’.
I’ve been through so much with my health over the last 25 years. Not to mention the over 17 years in clinical practice! I can definitely say I know a lot more now than I did when this all started.
In this podcast, I say, ‘the answers are out there’ and they are. Part of the reason I do this podcast is so that more people can skip ahead to the part where they know more and their health and healing journeys can be less stressful, frustrating, and painful.
For this episode, I’d share a few of my lessons - the things I wish I knew or did sooner because of how it helped me feel better. Maybe you can learn from my mistakes (or life lessons) so you can avoid them and heal faster.
Here are the top 5 things that made the biggest difference and really moved the needle for me and my health:
Give up Gluten. If I could do it all over again, I would have quit eating gluten sooner. This is a big one for anyone dealing with any kind of autoimmune disease. I knew that there was a connection but nobody had properly explained it to me. There is a process called molecular mimicry where if the body doesn’t like gluten, it attacks the molecules. But, those molecules might look like other molecules or organs (like those produced by the thyroid) which will cause the body to attack those thinking it’s gluten. For me, the labs showed that I had the antibodies to glutens, but because I didn’t want to get off gluten, I ignored it. I would stop for a day or so and not feel a whole lot better and convince myself that I didn’t have an issue. Now I know that you need to be off gluten 100% to really see the health benefits if you have an issue. And, the lesson is to get tested for antibodies right away (I like the test called ‘Wheat Zoomer’ by Vibrant Wellness because other tests are too generalized and may give false negatives). It’s really important to shift your diet and give up gluten if the tests show the genotypes that indicate an intolerance because ignoring it can lead to more molecular mimicry which can in turn, cause damage and create more issues.
Don’t Over-Rely on Supplements. This may sound crazy coming from me because every episode I talk about supplements that have helped those with a health mystery. I still take a lot of supplements. I recommend supplements. I believe supplements can play an important role in optimal health. But here’s the thing, they are not everything. The lesson I learned was not to think that taking supplements alone would be enough to solve everything. Supplements are important but they are just one tool. We also have to consider our food, our mind-body, our environment and our physical activity.
Stop Underestimating the Mind Body Connection. I was such a scientist, I saw things very black and white. I wanted tangible proof of everything. It took me too long to explore the benefits of things like energy work, meditation, and mindset. Once I discovered the shifts in my health I wondered why I had been so resistant. This is particularly true because of the proven risk that stress presents to our cells and systems. We often give lip service to the importance of reducing stress but we don’t do the work. It’s so important to reframe, use mind-body tools (like box breathing, moving the body outdoors, or short meditations) and have a positive mindset in dealing with the challenges of life and the stress it presents. This will calm down the adrenals and make sure you aren’t working against all of your other health habits.
Keep a Food Journal. When we’re trying to figure out a health mystery, so often the clues are in our food. But, so many of us don’t really keep track of exactly what we’re eating and how it makes u
How to Stop Feeling Invisible and Alone in Your Health Journey
Meghan O’Rourke spent years describing her symptoms to her doctor only to be told it was something inconsequential or all in her head. After years of feeling alone and abandoned by the system she started to see a functional medicine practitioner. Finally, she was getting the real answers to what was going on but it took years to undo the damage done by dismissing the issues. She wrote a book about her experience to help others feel less alone.
Many people dealing with autoimmune diseases or rare genetic issues find themselves beyond the textbooks of traditional medicine.
This can lead to being given false diagnosis (like, dry skin or hormonal shifts due to menses), or being sent off to specialist after specialist without any diagnosis. When you are caught in this loop, it seems like treating the issues is impossible and the journey can be emotionally draining.
The most heartbreaking part is that women who find themselves in this situation start to question if there are any answers out there, if maybe it is all in their head, or if they will ever feel well again.
This is often when they find me and I’m always so glad when they do and I can help to solve their health mysteries. I feel it’s my purpose to help them get out of despair and on the road to health.
The Invisible Kingdom
Meghan O’Rourke is on the same mission. In her book, The Invisible Kingdom, she shares her own journey and what it took to reclaim her health. She shares this story and everything she learned along the way so that others will know that they are not alone and that there are answers when you know where to look.
The book is completely aligned with this podcast, so if you’re a long-time listener, you’ll understand why I had to have her on the show.
In this episode, we break from our usual podcast format so that Meghan can share her inspirational story.
Meghan’s Personal Health Mystery Story
For over 10 years, Meghan dealt with health issues that no doctor could explain. It started with neurological symptoms like when she started to feel electrical shock sensations run up her leg. The doctor told her it might be dry skin. Then she started to experience vertigo, fatigue, daily hives, brain fog, joint pain, and excessive night sweats. While certain symptoms were treated others were blamed on stress or she was told not to worry about them.
Much like gaslighting, she started to question whether she was actually feeling these things. She started to buy into this message that something was wrong with her mind. She started to blame her diet and that everything she was experiencing was somehow her fault.
Eventually, she was diagnosed with Lyme Disease. She was also diagnosed with a genetic condition as well as Hashimoto’s. This is when she realized that it wasn’t all in her head and started to understand the scope of suffering by those whose symptoms are dismissed.
Shifting Away from Conventional Medicine
Meghan’s medical struggles changed course when the sister of a friend (who is a nurse) suggested that she see a functional medicine doctor. The first thing they did was run labs that no conventional doctor had even considered. This was how the thyroid anomaly was found leading to a diagnosis of Hashimoto’s disease.
Even though she was starting to get answers, it was difficult for her to let go of the belief that conventional doctors were the ultimate authority on health. Many people experience this because we are raised to trust traditional medicine and to be skeptical of alternatives.
But, the more she started to view her body as a whole system, the more she was able to understand the role the individual symptoms were playing in her overall health picture. She started to figure out the root causes of her symptoms.
Lyme Disease Diagnosis
Lyme disease had been the root cause of several of her symptoms. She’d had a number of strange rashes at differen
How to Support your Thyroid and Immune System Through Authenticity
Lynn has Hashimoto’s and experiences fatigue, brain fog and mood swings. She takes thyroid medication and various supplements but still struggles to feel well. She’s frustrated because she eats well and follows a good thyroid protocol without the results.
When I met Lynn, I saw that her TSH was fluctuating so we needed to stabilize her immune system. She was already following much of my advice with her diet and supplements. There were a few minor improvements we could make but my sense was that something else was playing a role in addition to her biochemistry.
What is a Psychoimmunologist?
If you’ve never heard the term psychoneuroimmunology (sometimes referred to simply as psychoimmunology) it is the study of how the mind can affect the immune system. Dr. Mario Martinez, a best-selling author is a thought leader in the field of psychoneuroimmunology with his books, “The Mind-Body Code: How the Mind Wounds and Heals the Body” and “The MindBody Self: How Longevity Is Culturally Learned and the Causes of Health Are Inherited” as well as his online courses, groups, and mentorships.
He’s been a popular guest on the show before and I knew he was perfect to join us to shed some light on this health mystery. Especially because lately, he’s been working on the role that authenticity plays in our immune health and our thyroid health.
What is Authenticity?
Dr. Martinez says that there is a tremendous misconception around authenticity and inauthenticity. He explains that many of us were raised in a culture where being authentic simply means to be yourself and be honest. But, he says, that’s not enough. In his research, looking at the origin of the word ‘authenticity’ and how philosophers have pondered it in the past, he feels that being your honest self is only a surface version of yourself. This is because we internalize, morph, and sometimes forget who we are and what we want, in order to fit in with our tribe or cultural expectations. And then, we lose or forget our true self.
How Inauthenticity Causes Illness
Behaving outside of our truth creates a stress response that over time, can create a real health issue. Even when we think we are being authentic, we may be fooling ourselves. The more we repeat these false beliefs about ourselves, and the more we speak about them (because language has power), the more concrete these false-perceptions feel. These feelings become our truth, even though they do not represent our true authentic self. And this can subconsciously cause an imbalance in the immune system through the mind-body connection because our language does not match our true authentic self.
For example, if you say, “I am a good person”. Your psycho terminology may trigger your mind to look for evidence of whether you're a good person or not. And if you begin to look at when you're not being a good person and that you have a history of not being a good person, you create an incoherence which triggers a stress response. If this continues, then you may find yourself with chronically high levels of cortisol. Which, in turn, can release inflammatory molecules, increasing a propensity for particular illnesses.
Dr. Martinez shared another hypothetical example about a little girl who learned to be submission to survive an abusive father. This submissiveness was necessary at the time. However, she may begin to believe that this is part of who she truly is. But, when she carries it forward into parts of her life where it is not necessary for survival, she may struggle to get the things she wants. Her learned truth and her real truth are out of balance. She is so used to being oppressed that she falls into a perceived helplessness. The moment that you feel helpless, like you don't have resources to deal with something overcoming you, your natural killer cells go down, your ideas go down, your inflammation goes up, and your immune system bec
The Surprising Brain Connection that Could Improve Your IBS
Amanda is dealing with digestive issues, brain fog, fatigue, and weight gain. She was diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome but doctors said there was nothing to be done besides get used to it. She tried changing her diet, which helped, but it left her obsessing over food.
When I met Amanda, I knew there were underlying issues. Her doctors told her it was in her head, and I suspected they were right but not in the way they meant. I wanted to explore the gut-brain connection and find out if it was having an impact on Amanda’s digestive issues.
Digestive Health and Hypnotherapy
Mention hypnotherapy and most people will think of the Hollywood version of it where an audience member is hypnotized and made to cluck like a chicken. This is not the practical application of hypnotherapy, as my guest, Angela Privin explains in this episode.
Angela had her own journey with IBS in her 20s and 30s. She was able to improve her digestive health naturally, but years later when she was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s, her old symptoms started to return.
That’s when she started to look into the brain/gut connection, internalized stress responses, trauma, and how the unconscious mind works on all of these. In doing the mindbody work, she was able to lower her Hashimoto antibodies.
This led Angela to explore hypnotherapy and now she uses rapid transformational therapy as part of her digestive health coaching to help her clients let go of the limiting beliefs, past traumas, and stories that may be causing the body to have an inflammatory response.
The Role the Autonomic Nervous System Plays
The autonomic nervous system provides the connection between the brain and the gut. The main nerve providing this connection is the vagus nerve which is attached to the digestive organs and regulates breathing, motility, and blood pressure. This all happens unconsciously - we don’t have to do anything to make it work. However, when the nervous system is dysfunctional, it stops sending the proper messages to the organs and problems arise. This can even be triggered by our subconscious thoughts and our stress.
The Conscious and Subconscious Mind
Most people know that we have conscious thoughts and subconscious thoughts but what most people don’t realize is that our conscious thoughts are not the dominant thoughts. Our conscious thoughts include logic and our ability to analyze but these intentional thoughts that we are very aware of, are only 10-20% of our mind, according to Angela.
The subconscious mind is the emotional mind. It is also where we store our memories and experiences. And this subconscious mind is what drives our behavior. The subconscious mind is “running the show” and we aren’t even aware of it.
For someone who has a history of illness or of dealing with an issue, this can sometimes lead to that person’s subconscious mind believing that the body is broken or that it will never be well. This subconscious thought triggers a stress response which sends signals to the nervous system and immune system, creating a negative loop that can keep someone in a state of illness.
Where do Subconscious Thoughts and Beliefs Come From?
There are many ways that beliefs and ideas get locked into the subconscious mind. For many, it comes from a childhood experience. These experiences do not need to be extreme or dramatic for them to lock in for a long time. It could be something as simple as the belief that a certain food or diet is dangerous or unhealthy. The subconscious mind locks that in without the conscious mind realizing it.
Unlocking Harmful Subconscious Thoughts
Some of these thoughts around food, can have the body believing a fear so deeply that it triggers that immune or nervous system response - which perpetuates the belief. All of this is happening without the brain realizing it. So, how do you get rid of t
I am so happy I found this podcast! I feel like these thyroid episodes are written about me! I just started seeing a Functional Medical doctor and finally someone is listening to me! Thank you Ina! I am excited to listen to a new episode everyday!
If you are at all interested in the functional medicine approach when it comes to your health and well-being, you should definitely subscribe to Health Mysteries Solved! Inna and her Guests dive deep into interesting topics that are sure to educate you with the tools needed to guide you in the right direction to living your healthiest life.
Excellent podcast! And I love how you easily break things down. I keep learning new things that actually help me a lot!