A Reader Responds to “Chronic Inflammation and Infection: An Explanation of Biofilms”
Joanna’s Mold Illness Story
By Cesar Collado
I have had the fortune to receive this thoughtful response from one of our readers of the CitriSafe Healthy Living Blog. More specifically, the author, a very busy mother of six and homeschooler, shared her powerful story about her Chronic Inflammation and Infection that comes with a happy ending. It would not do justice if I were to not let her story speak for herself.
I believe many readers will be able to relate to Joanna’s story. She appears to have been through many of the common experiences people with chronic inflammation and infection go through that span medical professionals, treatments, supplements, and other treatment modalities. She also captured her medical history in concert with her home environment at the time. Her emotional and mental toll is documented, and she had the gift of desperation that led her to a treatment that did work and restores her to her lifestyle that she chooses herself!
My name is Joanna and I am a 43-year-old woman with a husband, a busy household (I homeschool our six children), and lifelong struggle with staying healthy.
My Medical History
As a child I suffered recurrent and unending strep infections requiring frequent and repeated rounds of antibiotics. After a tonsillectomy at the age of 4, the strep infections subsided but I clearly recall “always wanting sweets and bread”, likely a sign of an ongoing candida infection. While I was a strong student and busy athlete, I remember suffering from a chronic runny nose that would really kick into gear when I went inside of a school building, then subside while at home. At the time, we thought it might be the cleaning products they used in the building, but now I wonder if it wasn’t mold because most of my school buildings were older, flat-roofed buildings in an area with heavy annual precipitation – a great recipe for mold growth.
After finishing college and starting my career in the technology field, I gave birth to my first child in my twenties. When she was 18 months old, I moved into a beautiful, newly renovated, flat-roofed home in the high desert. Both my daughter, a toddler at the time, and I started to experience significant health issues in the year we lived in that home. By the time we moved out, I had over twenty-two symptoms specific to mold-related illness, including depression, severe fatigue, extreme light sensitivity, significant cognitive impairment, aphasia (word recall issues), shooting pains in my muscles, auditory hallucinations, and visual hallucinations. This home had an unknown roof leak that was exacerbated by heavy snow melt that year.
I am fairly certain, due to the extreme cognitive decline I experienced in that home, that it was heavily infested by toxic black mold, a mold that tends to grow when there is constant moisture present and particularly affects the neural system. Unfortunately, the house was not tested for mold. I didn’t realize mold was the root of our issues until a few months after we’d moved out. This was followed by living in two more homes with verified mold issues that contributed additional hits to my health, such as developing a lifelong sensitivity to gluten requiring major dietary changes.
Most recently, I’ve spent the past three years battling the effects of hypothyroidism (debilitating fatigue, anxiety, depression, mental confusion, poor executive function, aphasia, extremely poor sleep, insomnia, short-term memory loss, dry & cracking skin, thinning hair, skin texture changes, yellowing of my skin and eyes, heat regulation issues, excessive thirst, loss interest in hobbies/activities, and, devastatingly, FOUR miscarriages) due to a “perfect storm” of factors (pregnancy and childbirth, excessive stress, overwork, poor diet, lack of exercise, two rounds of antibiotics, and a stubborn parasitic infection.
The Path to Healing
In relation to the frequent antibiotics and mold exposure, the symptom that has tended to cause the most havoc and require constant vigilance has been candida overgrowth in my gut. The first time I got out of a moldy home, I did not have a lot of medical expertise at my disposal, so I attacked the candida by using a strict candida diet. It worked beautifully but it was hard to stick with long-term and the candida overgrowth would return whenever my diet was relaxed. During subsequent mold exposures, diet continued to play a vital role in reducing inflammation and improving symptoms – eliminating gluten, most grains and sugar, as well as increasing consumption of nutrient dense vegetables and low-sugar fruits (berries, in particular) – but diet never completely restored my health.
Eventually, I was seeing a holistic MD, two different ENTs, and an internal medicine specialist, who were all able to confirm my health issues; but, no one practitioner had a protocol that produced complete success. Various natural herbs and supplements have had limited success, along with attempts to use binders to draw out toxins, but candida/gut issues have continued to be my main source of trouble for over 15 years now. Diflucan, an antifungal, does work to eliminate the candida but it is a) potent and impacts vital organs, b) interacts with many other medications, c) only available by prescription and d) not a long-term solution because the candida always returns.
Most recently, my bout with hypothyroidism highlighted two truths: 1) diet continues to be the single best way to maintain health BUT 2) an ongoing infection or toxin load must be treated, otherwise no amount of healthy eating will resolve the issue. Once my thyroid issues started, I engaged two different functional medicine doctors (one local and one out-of-state). The first doctor confirmed my poor thyroid function, but a protocol of dietary changes, natural anti-fungal supplements (i.e. garlic pills), digestive supports (slippery elms, berberine, choline), and adrenal supports (Drenamin) couldn’t get it back online. The second functional medicine doctor performed significant blood and bowel testing to provide enough data to prescribe a course of treatment. The testing was helpful in that it revealed that parasites were a major source of my problem. Unfortunately, the protocol he used to try to get rid of the parasites and improve my health, including switching to a Paleo diet, taking a host of nutritional supplements (digestive aids, liver cleansing supplements, binders, probiotics, and adaptogenic herbs), and lifestyle changes, still wasn’t aggressive enough to rid my body of the parasites that were draining the life and energy out of me.
At one point, I got so desperate that I even tried taking turpentine pills, which did give me a week of improvement, but still wasn’t enough to kick the infection. Finally, I tried an extreme gut and bowel cleanse using liquid magnesium citrate combined with fasting according to the protocol used for patients prior to a colonoscopy. While this type of cleanse, per published protocols, takes about 24 hours to complete, I did an extra half day for additional cleansing benefit. There was immediate and drastic improvement in my health after the cleanse, which finally allowed all the other steps I’d taken (diet improvement, supplementation, less stress, more exercise, etc.) to be effective.
How do I Feel Now?
The turnaround in my health and well-being is drastic. I finally look and feel like myself again. Before the cleanse, my stomach would hurt and appear bloated no matter what I ate, even just a green salad! Taking probiotics, while normally beneficial, just seemed to make the bloating and stomach pain worse. After the cleanse, I can eat most anything, EXCEPT GLUTEN, without stomach pain, though sugar and grains will still cause bloating if I don’t keep them to a minimum. I am also better off without dairy; but can tolerate small amounts. With a nutrient-dense diet focused on fruits, vegetables, and protein, regular exercise, reduced stress levels, daily outside time, and a regular supplementation routine, my symptoms have virtually disappeared and I now have plenty of energy, renewed mental capabilities, and am able to juggle the demands of life again. It had gotten so bad that I wasn’t sure I wanted to keep living if I was going to feel utterly drained and exhausted, a broken shadow of my former self. As far as supplementation, I take the following twice a day (in about 5 minutes, max):
- 1800 mg of magnesium**
- 500 mg of saccharomyces**
- an acidophilus-based probiotic**
- 300 mg of oral glutathione (administered sublingually)
- C-60 liquid carbon administered sublingually
**EXTREMELY IMPORTANT – I cannot skip these items.
Once a day, I also take 1000 mg of vitamin C and a dropper full of ionic zinc in liquid form.
Over the years, I have tried so many different pills, potions, and treatment suggestions, including many that I didn’t mention like nasal irrigation, nasal sprays, saunas, grounding/earthing, limiting EMF, etc., but the number one most effective treatment is eliminating whatever is causing the inflammation in the first place (i.e. get out of a moldy environment, kill off the parasites/bacteria infecting your gut, stop eating foods that you’re allergic/sensitive to), then trying to improve your health.
All of the time, energy, and money that we spent trying to improve my health was wasted until I got rid of the parasites and bad bacteria that were overwhelming my system! I have the same experience with mold; no amount of mitigating treatments or supplements will restore your health until you get away from mold. My experience is that you have to be aggressive in this phase of treatment to see results, then you can more slowly address specific health issues and knock them out one by one. It’s great to be feeling well again, but it is also painful to think about all the time, energy, and resources lost while we tried less-effective treatments (not to mention all of the mental, emotional, and physical suffering of being sick for so long).
Why didn’t anyone suggest a bowel cleanse earlier? It cost all of $15 dollars (if that) and 2 days of my time to see remarkable improvement. Hopefully my story will help someone else that is suffering from parasite and candida overgrowth to find immediate and lasting relief and get them back on the road to health and well-being.
I’d like to thank Joanna for her thoughtful capturing of her health issues and making her story available for other readers to benefit from her experience, strength, and will. Her final solution was consistent with the article, which she responded. “Chronic Inflammation and Infection: An Explanation of Biofilms”. It was the physical removal of biofilms that led to her recovery. This was described in the final section of the article. “Chronic Inflammation and Infection: An Explanation of Biofilms”
“Physical removal of Biofilm-Emptying the Bowels: from “Chronic Inflammation and Infection: An Explanation of Biofilms”
Colon cleanses have been used since ancient times; however, there is limited medical literature published to date of the benefits. It is most often employed by functional and integrative medicine physicians. The concept is that clearing out the bowels removes unnecessary waste, toxins, and biofilms. There is evidence that the laxatives used to clear the bowels prior to a colonoscopy provides patients with many detectable improvements in bodily function, including neurological. Symptoms like fatigue, joint pain, bloating, and skin irritation are cited to be alleviated. There is also a connection of bowel health to colon cancer.
3 Methods to Emptying the Bowels:
- The first is to have a healthcare professional irrigate the bowels. In this situation, a professional will irrigate the colon with gallons of water. This method is indicated when normal laxatives are not working for an individual prior to a colonoscopy where a cleared out bowel is essential.
- Some people will use a laxative normally used pre-colonoscopy like Magnesium Citrate or PEG, which are sold over the counter with specific directions that can accomplish the cleanse. Sometimes evidence of blood or black residue provides guidance to see a physician. Caution must be taken to address some of the risks of dehydration and electrolyte imbalance that come with utilization of a laxative in larger doses.
- Maintaining a healthy colon is also highly recommended. Fortifying your diet with healthy foods is the preferred method. This includes consuming:
- Plenty of water
- Fruit and vegetable juices
- Diet rich in fiber
- Fermented foods
- Resistant Starches
- Complex Carbohydrates
- Lemon juice
- Some herbal teas”
If you would like to share your story, ask a question, or comment, please do so in the comment section. We’d love to hear and share more about your chronic inflammation and infection stories.