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Hidden Mould and How It’s Making You Sick!

Is Hidden Mould Making You Sick, mould toxicity, hidden mould

By Naturopath Scott from Grasses of Life            

You may have never heard of back mould but if it it’s in your home it could be making you sick. Also known as Stachybotrys chartarum, black mould typically has a greenish black colour which thrives in damp wet environments. Black mould thrives where there is a constant moisture source.

Breathing in toxic air is a serious hazard to human health, especially as most of us spend a great amount of time breathing indoor air, both at home and at work. So how would you know if you have toxic air?

Hidden air pollutants are everywhere contaminating the air, the world health organisation reports that there are around 7million deaths globally due to indoor and outdoor air pollution. The air in our homes can be toxic dependent on where we live (damp humid areas), water leak, poor sunlight, poor ventilation, flooding, chemicals used, new carpets, fabrics, bedding, paints, or a new home off gassing and even dusts.

But what about nonchemical, biological threats?

Our noses are typically going to give us a clue when something is not quite right, but what if we can’t smell it and can’t see it? In my case I am particularly sensitive to mould and mould smells which sets off alarm bells. However, there are mould or biological toxicants that don’t give off odours.

Toxins are poisons and when microbes produce these poisons it’s referred to as biotoxicity.

Read more below...

Symptoms of Mold Toxicity
Biological Air Contamination

Airborne biological organisms can lead to severe illness. Hidden mould and bacteria gone undetected can adversely affect your health. Mould toxicity is more common than you’d think. The problem is that mould emits toxic gasses or mycotoxins. Mould spores are so tiny, you can fit 250 000 on a pin head. Which means we can breathe in around 750 000 spores per minute, breathing at a normal rate. That’s a lot of mould to contend with, especially if you have a pre-existing respiratory condition or allergies.

While airborne contamination is considered the primary route for spores to enter the body, we can also consume contaminated food or come into contact via the skin too. Although this article primarily focuses on airborne mould toxicants, mycotoxins in staple crops represent a significant foodborne risk as well. (Goodman, Risk Assessment and Risk Management of Mycotoxins: Mycotoxins in Food, 2004)

What Are Mycotoxins and Why They Are So Dangerous?

Mould produces a deadly gas called mycotoxins. Mycotoxins are so dangerous that they have been weaponised into chemical biological weapons. (Paterson, Mycological Research, 2006)

Mycotoxins can cause a raft of health problems.

  • Respiratory Disease: Asthma, sinusitis, pneumonia-like symptoms, nose bleeding
  • Neurological Diseases: nearly every neurological disease can be associated with mycotoxin exposure
  • Cancer: Mycotoxin exposure is associated with liver and kidney cancers
  • Reproductive: birth defects
  • Immunosuppression – leading aspergillosis

Crinion and Pizzorno, Clinical and Environmental Medicine, 2019

What Makes Mould Grow?

Mould is considered an indoor micropollutant that proliferates in wet, moist areas that don’t get enough light or ventilation that grows best in warm, damp humid conditions. Mould likes to grow best on cellulose materials, paper, fabrics, cardboard, ceiling tiles, carpet, upholstery and plasterboard.  Typically, water damage, flooding, water leaks and humid environments contribute to mould growth.

Symptoms of Mould Toxicity (source CDC.gov)

  • Mould is considered
  • May irritate Asthma sufferers (allergic response)
  • Development of Asthma in non-Asthma people
  • Coughs which irritate the sinuses
  • Suppressed immune system
  • Itchy eyes
  • Upper respiratory tract symptoms: infection, cough, sneezing, wheezing in
  • Severe reactions, shortness of breathe and fever

Common Mould Illnesses

  • Aspergillosis infection is caused by Aspergillus, (a type of mould fungus) that is found both indoors and outdoors. Aspergillus produce a toxin called Aflatoxin M1 and a very carcinogenic

Most people breathe in Aspergillus spores every day without it affecting them, yet some people with poor immune systems or lung diseases are at a risk of developing health problems from to Aspergillus. Aspergillus infection can include allergic reactions, lung infections, and infections in other organs.

  • The toxin Ochratoxin is produced by moulds Aspergillus and Penicillium which can lead to kidney damage and neurological problems.
  • Black Mould Infection (Stachybotrys chartarum ): Which is typically found where there has been water damage, water leaks and flooding. Black mould is known to cause pulmonary haemorrhage (bleeding) and is immune suppressor,

Supporting Nutrition for Mould Illness

  • Calcium Bentonite Clay – preferably consumed 2 hours away from food -
  • Activated Silica Drops
  • Chlorella
  • Vitamin C
  • Saccharomyces boulardii (a probiotic yeast)
  • N-acetyl cysteine (NAC)
  • Methylation protocol

How to Clean and Remove Mould?

With any toxin caution is the best practice, if it’s serious you may need to contact a biological building expert or clean up specialist. Less severe mould contamination can be achieved using a laboratory validated products like “Surface Mould Cleaner”.

Testing for Mould in the Body

  • Urine Testing which is tested for fungal toxins

Reducing Airborne Spores and Resolutions

  • Some people may use a dehumidifier to remove excess moisture from the air to help reduce mould growth, but it won’t stop mould or remove it.
  • Cleaning your air-conditioning system, the filters and coil can become contaminated with mould. You may simply be blowing mould spores around.
  • Remove any contaminated items / materials immediately
  • Remediate the problem with professional help if it’s serious.
  • Avoid the home or workplace until the problem has been resolved safely.
  • Use laboratory validated mould cleaning products (Mould Surface Cleaner)
  • Using a mould air diffuser to kill airborne spores (Mould Gone) .  

Additionally, you may also seek out a mould home investigator to assess your home or work. They look in all kinds of places for mould can live and be silently affecting your health.

Find out more about Laboratory Tested and Validated Products

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Toxic Incense

Are incense toxic

Are Incense Sticks Toxic?

Hate them or love them, Incense or incendiary sticks are an important part of many eastern rituals, but have you ever wondered if they are toxic or what are they really made from?

We went looking for answers to this question and what we discovered will shock you?  

Incense sticks play a significant part in the lives of many people for religious reasons, spiritual practices, lifting the energy or simply adding to the aroma of your surroundings. Studies investigating the health effects regular of incense use found them to be potentially quite harmful.

The concern lay with the concentration of smoke in the air, plus the toxins in the smoke and toxic ash remnants. Researchers have found there to be a connection with an increased risk of respiratory disease, cardiovascular disease and cancer.

It may seem obvious, yet having done more research burning incense could be as toxic as cigarette smoke and as dangerous through overuse.   

Lets’ take a look at what incense is made from: Incense stick powder is generally made from a combination of fragrance material, wood chips, coal powder or potassium nitrate, and adhesives. (Chiang-Weng et al, J Inflam Res, 2021) In some cases manufacturers may use synthetic fragrances, which when burned produce toxic gasses.  

Watch the video on making incense : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D7CtQorMKU0

With many of us spending up to 90% of our time indoors, home or indoor air quality is an important consideration for better health. Regular burning of incense may be highly irritating by polluting the air.

What’s in incense smoke?

When incense burn, it’s a slow burn which releases a wide range of gaseous compounds: the major compounds being carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and formaldehyde plus the increased release particulate matter the air.. (Chiang-Weng et al, J Inflam Res, 2021)

As incense sticks burn carbon monoxide levels increase, elevated levels can result in non-specific carbon monoxide poisoning. Symptoms like vertigo, dizziness, headache, confusion, weakness, nausea and vomiting are possible too.

Additionally, the smoke contains polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAH’s) and volatile organic compounds, which have been linked to lung cancer when used excessively (like in a temple).

What’s in the Ash? The remnants of the ash can also be quite toxic containing various heavy metals like lead. (Dong-Zong, et al Clinical toxicology 2020)

Health Effects of Burning Incense?

  • Respiratory – can lead to inflammation of the lung tissue
  • Respiratory Cancer
  • Cardiovascular: increase risk of coronary heart disease by 10% and cardiovascular mortality by 12%
  • Blood Vessel inflammation
  • Skin Allergies
  • Eye irritation
  • Neurological: increase carbon monoxide levels in the home

The health effects of incense are deemed to be driven by oxidative stress which leads to inflammation and DNA impairment?

The effects of Toxic incense

(Image Source: Chiang-Weng et al, J Inflam Res, 2021)

Can you buy non-toxic alternatives?

The answer is a very relieving yes. Yet let’s be real, smoke is smoke and there should always be caution breathing in smoke. Whenever your burn anything there is going to be a gaseous release and increased particulate matter in the air.

So, choosing a naturally derived product will be the best choice, ones made from organic materials. If you’re going to use incense or similar products, it’s best to use in a well-ventilated space.

Can You Detoxify from Smoke / Heavy Metal Toxins?

The amino-acid N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) may be one solution to consider? NAC is considered to have mucolytic, antioxidant and natural anti-inflammatory properties by increasing glutathione levels in the body. The role of NAC could be to reduce inflammation thereby having a cellular protective effect. (dos Santos Tenório et al, Antioxidants, 2020)

NAC has been well studied in regard to respiratory disorders such as COPD, Cystic fibrosis, Bronchiectasis, Bronchiolitis and Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.

NAC has been used as a binder (chelator) aiding the removal of heavy metals like mercury, lead and arsenic. It may also be beneficial in the prevention of oxidative stress from engineered nano particles (Schwalfenberg, Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism, 2021)

Let’s not overlook diet and as an old French lecturer of mine once said “Every Meal Should be a Rainbow of Colour”. Simply put we should be eating a diet rich in colourful fruits and vegetables, with a preference for organic. When consuming a diet rich in colourful foods your body is receiving an array of natural phytochemicals and antioxidants. Phytochemicals within wholefoods are what gives it natural medicinal properties.

Foods that helps detox: Rosemary, Broccoli, Brussel Sprout, Cauliflower, Garlic and Turmeric

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Mullein: The Ancient Respiratory Herb

Mullein, Mullein Tea, Mullein Leaf,  Mullein Leaf Extract, Mullein Tea Australia

Ancient Respiratory Herb: Mullein (Verbascum Thapsus)

Plant based medicine or modern Herbalism is an art, and the skilled practitioner knew what herb to use and when. Thanks to the wisdom of the ancients, we can now draw upon their herbal knowledge. I think what amazes me the most is how they discovered how to use these plants and incredibly know what the plant did?

Each herb may have a wide variety of uses medicinally, we call these benefits actions, so therefore each action describes how the herb works within the body.

Mullein or Verbascum Thapsus, has many actions set our below, specifically benefiting the respiratory system and the lungs.

Mullein is used to reduce the severity of respiratory conditions including bronchitis and asthma. (Nadeem, et al, Pharmacogn J, 2021)

Expectorant: Mullein has been traditionally used as an expectorant with soothing properties when there is a dry unproductive cough and chronic bronchitis.  (Kraft and Hobbs, 2004, Pocket Guide to Herbal Medicine) Mulleins contains mucilaginous constituents which give it’s natural soothing properties. (Turker and Camper, Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 2002)

Other reports also indicate traditional use for irritating coughs, whooping cough and tuberculosis. (Turker and Gurel, Phytotherapy Research, 2005).

Mullein may also be beneficial for respiratory catarrh and tonsilitis.  Indigenous North American tribes were noted to have smoked mullein to relieve asthma. (Bone, K, A Guide to Blending Liquid Herbs, 2003).

Anti-inflammatory:  The anti-inflammatory properties are due to the iridoid glycosides and flavonoids that decrease inflammation. It has been also used to treat earache when infused with oil. (Turker and Gurel, Phytotherapy Research, 2005)

Anti-bacterial: Mullein has also been used as a natural anti-bactericide. (Turker and Gurel, Phyto Therapy Research, 2005) Mullein extract has been shown to be an effective antibacterial agent against a wide range of organisms. (Nadeem, et at, Pharmacog, 2021)

Anti-viral: Mullein extract exhibits anti-viral activity against a wide variety of influenza A and B strains and herpes simplex virus. (Braun and Cohen, Herbs and Natural Supplements, 2015)

Anthelmintic: Mullein has shown to have anti-parasitic properties against round worms. (Bone, K, A Guide to Blending Liquid Herbs, 2003).

Anti-oxidant: Researchers have discovered that Mullein has potent anti-oxidant properties containing many beneficial phenolic compounds. (Nadeem, et at, Pharmacog, 2021)

Diuretic: May assist in reducing urinary inflammation and calm acidic urine. (Turker and Gurel, Phytotherapy, 2005)

Of the research we looked at Mullein has also been used in folk medicine to remove warts, muscle cramps, haemorrhoids and tumours.

Mullein may be new to many outside the herbal medicine world it is well regarded as a natural medicine. I read through research that was reported from ancient times and within the last year. Not so surprising and excitingly science is validating the wisdom of the ancients and the benefits of Mullein.

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Quercetin: What’s All the Fuss About?

Pure Quercetin

By Scott Collins BHSc Naturopathy

It’s a no brainer to think that the human body needs a diet rich in plants foods so that we get a wide range of essential nutrients, phytochemicals, antioxidants and flavonoids.

Flavonoids belongs to a group of nutrients called polyphenols which are found in all flowering plants, with many containing the unique bioflavonoid Quercetin. The reason these bioflavonoid compounds are so important is that they exhibit a wide of biological activity on many metabolic processes in the body.

Although Quercetin has a funny name it’s well known as a very powerful nutrient. Quercetin is found in many fruits and vegies like black tea, broccoli, onions, Sophra japonica and has a brilliant yellow colour.

Quercetin has been well studied for the past 30 years having incredible antioxidant properties (quenching free radicals), anti-inflammatory properties and immune modulating activities. (Cao, et al, 2018).  Quercetin has been studied in comparison to other plant-based flavonoids and is considered to have the greatest biological activity. (Alternative medicine review, 1998)

More recently quercetin has been studied in regards to prostate health, cardio health, neuro health and improving endothelial function ( Cao, et al, 2018).  Shah, et al, 2018, report that Quercetin’s powerful antioxidant properties provide protection to the heart, brain and tissues resulting from free radical producing oxygen metabolism. Quercetin has even been reported to have a lipid lowering effects too. (Kelly, G, Alternative medicine review, 2011)

Quercetin’s fame has been in relation to having natural antihistamine properties and anti-inflammatory properties. (Shah, et al, 2016, J. Pharmaceutical Sciences and Research). It works by reducing histamine released by mast cells and basophil cells, thereby having an anti-allergy effect. (Kelly, G, Alternative medicine review, 2011)

Quercetin may also be effective in reducing the harmful effects of some heavy metals like cadmium, having a protective effect within the body and testes.  (Badr, et al, 2018, Environmental Science and Pollution Research). Quercetin has wide ranging health benefits according to author Gregory Kelly  (Alternative medicine review 2011), such as:

  • Hypertension
  • Infections and Immunity
  • Gastroprotective
  • Diabetes
  • Inflammation, injury and pain
  • Prostatitis / Urinary Cystitis
  • Arthritis
  • Obesity
  • Mood Disorders / Sleep

You may not get enough dietary Qeurcetin if your diet is lacking in organic fresh veggies/greens and organic berries. Funnily strawberries proved not to be a great source of bioavailable Quercetin unlike black currents and lingonberries. The amount of research on Quercetin was overwhelming at the same time very exciting, as the positives outweighed the negatives.

Dietary Sources of Quercetin:

  • Fried onions
  • Lingonberries, black currents and bilberries
  • Red grape juice
  • Black and green tea
  • Vegetable juice
  • Brassica Vegetables
  • Synthetic Supplements
  • Plant Extracts from Sophra Japonica