Case Study: How Parsley Health Discovered One Member’s Mold Toxicity

Erica Zellner, MS, CNS, LDN
Health Coach
August 28, 2019

Mold toxicity can be a difficult thing to diagnose and treat, especially because many conventional doctors don’t know the signs of mold toxicity to look for, but Parsley Health was able to help one member get a diagnosis and start treatment for mold.

At Parsley Health we have hundreds of patients who come to us hoping to find the root cause of their many symptoms. In our new Case Studies series we take a look at a few member’s health journeys, what brought them to Parsley, and their road to recovery. In this case, we take a look at mold toxicity.

When I first met Jenn, she came in for a Parsley Assessment, a one-time evaluation with one of our doctors, essential lab testing, and a health coaching visit. At that time, her goal was to optimize herself for a future embryo transfer. During our conversation, she discussed long-standing issues like eczema , fatigue , and unexplained pain that radiates throughout her body. She also disclosed that she is highly sensitive to chemicals such as cleaners, perfumes, etc. Her symptoms were similar to other patients I have seen who had mold toxicity.

Investigating mold illness

Mold-related illnesses are often difficult to pinpoint, as the common markers for mold are often similar to other disorders. Common mold toxicity symptoms can include: fatigue , intolerance to chemicals such as perfumes or cleaning supplies, headaches (especially sharp, ‘ice pick’ headaches), brain fog , tingling in the body, body pain or muscle cramping, anxiety , poor temperature regulation, and much more. Mold toxicity can affect every system in our body and no two mold-cases are alike. Mold spores are present everywhere, the problem occurs when mold is able to grow and concentrate indoors. It is estimated that over 50 percent of buildings in the US have some water damage, which encourages mold growth. One of the most common sources of mold occurs in buildings that have leaked, and the organic materials (like carpet and drywall) haven’t dried completely (within 24-48 hours) or been removed. Even in the absence of water damage, mold can grow to dangerous levels with enough humidity (over 60 percent) and with any organic material as a food source.

During our visit, I asked Jenn if she recalled being exposed to a water-damaged building in the past, she had. Further, I asked if she had ever been tested for mold mycotoxins, the chemicals produced by mold which make us sick. She had not, but we discussed mycotoxin testing, a simple urine test, and I suggested she pursue it through her Parsley doctor or her primary care doctor. At the end of our visit, I gave her several recommendations to help optimize her health prior to her embryo transfer and hoped that she would decide to continue her health journey with Parsley as a Complete Care member , so we could support her long-term. I was so excited when she decided to become a Complete Care Member. Through her Parsley doctor, she was able to complete the urine mycotoxin testing, which showed elevated levels of several mycotoxins.

Mold: The missing link

Now that Jenn’s doctor had the evidence to make a diagnosis, we could work together to craft a care plan unique to Jenn and her situation. I will never forget the relief Jenn shared when she finally had an explanation of her symptoms. We were the first care team to truly identify the root of her problems that had been plaguing her for over 10 years. Her doctor used the information from her mycotoxin result to create a protocol unique to Jenn and monitored her progress through repeat lab testing. We started by focusing on her gut health , because if the gut is not in shape, the body’s ability to heal is compromised.

The mold protocol is an intense protocol that involves pulling the mycotoxins out of the fat cells and attaching the toxins to a binder that can safely escort toxins out of the body. There are several time-sensitive supplements involved in this protocol and at times, members going through the protocol feel quite unwell. This is because every time you mobilize a toxin, you are re-exposing the body in a small way. Jenn and I discussed this protocol in-depth in our first follow up as well as a supportive, low-mold diet to enhance the protocol.

Support for success

As if being on a low-mold diet and a mold protocol wasn’t challenging enough, Jenn was also traveling extensively for work. That meant that we had the added complication of hotel-room cooking and eating on the road while managing multiple supplements . This is where Jenn and I worked very closely to ensure she was able to continue her protocol and manage the stressors of travel. Jenn traveled with a small instant pot to cook food in her hotel room and we discussed menus ahead of time when she knew she had to dine out with clients. We checked in often through her MyParsley online portal and despite all the difficulties of managing a complex protocol on the road, Jenn never lost hope or allowed the challenges to get the best of her.

Clearing the way for fertility

After several months on the road, Jenn returned home and we were able to implement weekly infrared sauna sessions to further support her body’s detoxification . We are still working to support her body’s ability to eliminate the mycotoxins and Jenn is feeling better every day. Her dedication, consistency, and most importantly, her optimism is allowing her body to truly heal for the first time in years. She is still looking forward to getting pregnant in the future and is confident she will have a healthy pregnancy, and most importantly, a healthy baby, thanks to our ability to get to the root of her symptoms.

Erica Zellner, MS, CNS, LDN
Health Coach

Erica Zellner (she/her) is a Los Angeles-based Clinical Nutritionist and Senior Health Coach with six years of functional nutrition and health experience.  She works with everyone, on issues from biohacking optimizers to tackling complex environmental toxicities like mold. She earned her Master’s degree in Nutrition and Integrative Health from the Maryland University of Integrative Health. She also holds her Certified Nutrition Specialist (CNS) and Licensed Dietitian-Nutritionist (LDN) credentials.

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