There can be no doubt that mould related illness is increasing with WHO stating mould may be the great masquerade of the 21st century. Their comment revolves around the failure of the medical profession to link symptoms and invariably blame established illness without assessing possible causation.
This led to another WHO statement which identified vets as often more qualified and trained in mould illness than GPs.
These failures have led to many people trying to investigate mould exposure in their homes and a massive expansion of experts and lab services designed to assist them.
The mould investigation services and products used in the UK are generally of little or no use and provide misleading and detrimental information.
Even the best labs in the world can provide little use if the wrong type of testing or analysis is requested
Investigation into a sick building or where building related illness is suspected requires professionally competent assessments.
Mould related illness
The WHO and major international medical practitioners now recognise mould is only one of many contaminates in buildings which can affect building occupant’s health.
Water damage either current or historic are seen as major contributors but equally other environmental issues can result in the all too common symptoms encountered. Typical symptoms include:
- Chronic Fatigue
- Brain fog
- MS and Parkinson’s
- Respiratory & skin issues
- Gynaelogical and digestive issues
- Vertigo and vision etc etc
Investigation of a sick building
Those that suffer poor health and find symptoms reduce when away from the property are said to suffer building related illness. Unfortunately, removal from the contamination is only seen as a part solution and medical treatment is usually required to reverse the effects of
contamination. Equally treatment for building related illness is unlikely to be effective if continual exposure is present in the property.
Which contaminates are likely to be present?
Water damage can take various forms but is usually considered to be the major culprit of biological amplification.
Water can take several forms from solid, liquid to gas and in its gas phase can move in the air (humidity ratio) between areas of differing temperature and saturation.
This leads to secondary damage and is best explained when a flood in the basement evaporates or disappears only to have travelled by stack effect (warm air rises) to hit the underside of the cold roof tiles and condense, drip and cause mould damage and possible health impact
Water acting on different materials and substrates can result in off gassing of chemicals as degradation occurs
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) and other gasses may be released and this includes formaldehyde,
Environmental gases may also be present at elevated levels and these include, carbon dioxide, monoxide, Nitrogen Dioxide, Ozone etc. These gases may trigger allergic reaction or reduce immune systems too.
Elevated particles or airborne dust may be a significant issue too as it may overload the immune system.
Cockroaches, animal dander are often causes of poor health too and any pets living on straw should be removed from homes where illness is involved. This removal process should include indoor plants too.
Should the focus of inspection be on mould?
An Indoor Environmental professional will follow recognised protocols and build an investigation and sampling hypothesis based on several parameters. Mould sampling is not a major part of the inspection
The investigation will revolve around:
- Occupants symptoms and severity
- Visual assessments of construction or design defect
- Historic events and visible markers
- Environmental assessments
- Air measurement
- Infra-red survey
- Moisture mapping
- Airborne dust and particle size
- VOC testing
- Non-viable total spore counts including reference samples
- Where health impact is a concern and there is a doctor capable of interpreting a report we may often recommend a Quantitative PCR dust sample for analysis . This will provide speciation focusing on toxic moulds
Mould is natural so what’s the problem?
There are hundreds of thousands of moulds and we know little about most of the genus or species. What we do know is that water damaged homes sometimes provide the ideal environment for the proliferation of toxic moulds.
What are toxic moulds?
Current knowledge is that all mould is allergenic but some may produce toxins when under stress.
There are around 30 species of mould that are of concern although 5 are currently seen to be synergistic with regard to health impact.
When are toxic moulds most toxic?
Toxic mould is most harmful when dead and in fragments. The human body has no defence to microscopic fragments covered in toxins which can be inhaled to the lower respiratory system where blood oxygen transfer occurs in the alveoli. It’s as if their toxins and allergens are injected straight into the blood stream.
Can I DIY test for mould at home?
Yes and you will find it, always. Mould is ubiquitous and any form of surface or air sampling is likely to provide flawed results.
The WHO state agar and swabs have very serious limitations because of the following sampling and analysis errors;
- The air pathway from the source of mould and the aerodynamics of the spore will influence capture
- The type of agar will influence the type of mould that can grow on it
- You should take at least three samples on three different agars as a minimum
- Without speciation (most labs only provide genus not species) the results are almost meaningless
- Swabs suffer the same inaccuracies and you have to be lucky to swab the right area
- It is pointless swabbing visible mould whatever its species it must be removed
In recent months I have seen self-testing using ERMI but whether you get a -4 or +10 score what does it mean to you? It simply means the number corresponds to a percentage of homes tested, not how sick the people in the homes were.
In short a low ERMI score means absolutely nothing regarding health impact.
The reason mould levels are almost pointless is lab results require interpretation and most significantly a low score for some can be seen to have massive health implications while some can be exposed to high spore counts and suffer no health impact at all.
Viable or non-viable mould sampling?
Obviously only live mould will grow on a culture plate. Unfortunately according to WHO dead mould and mycelia fragments are perhaps 40 times more hazardous than viable spores. So what practical information can be gathered by culture based swabs and agar dishes?
Toxic mould produces various types of mycotoxins and these are recognised as some of the most toxic substances on the planet. If you have toxic mould growing you will probably be sick, but not from the mould growth but from sporulation and inhalation of spores and fragments which may be covered or contain mycotoxins.
The identification of mycotoxins is expensive and fraught with error. Even if you found high levels in blood or urine where else could it have originated from? Coffee, meat, grain, wheat? How much is harmful? There are no human exposure standards or guidance levels so what use is the information?
For more information on building survey and remediation visit www.buildingforensics.co.uk
The sebaceous gland - located in the dermis - is responsible for producing an oily substance called sebum. Sebum provides lubrication to the skin and helps to make it waterproof. In some people, the sebaceous glands can produce too much oil which leads oily skin. The most common condition caused by excessive sebum production is acne. The key the successful treatment of oily skin is to identify and address the following underlying causes:
- Genetic factors - a positive family history is often a good indicator.
- Imbalance of the skin’s and the gut’s microbiome (the gut-skin axis).
- Systemic inflammation.
- Insulin resistance - exacerbates oily and acne prone skin by increasing the proliferation of keratinocytes and it also stimulates the synthesis of androgens.
- High androgens - testosterone and dihydrotestosterone (DHT, the more metabolically active form of testosterone) cause the sebaceous glands to produce more sebum in the skin.
- Changes in female hormone levels - before menstruation, oestrogen and progesterone levels fall and result in proportionally higher levels of testosterone.
- Stress and other environmental factors.
The best vitamins to consider when treating oily, acne prone skin:
Vitamin A is by far the most researched vitamin in relation to oily and acne prone skin. Vitamin A is well known for its role in supporting barrier function, it also heals the skin and modulates sebum production. Consuming dietary beta carotene, the precursor of Vitamin A, may be the most optimal option to achieve good levels of Vitamin A in the body.
Vitamin E stimulates skin regeneration and has anti-inflammatory properties, making it a promising tool in the treatment of oily, acne prone skin.
Vitamin C has also been shown to improve oily skin due to its anti-inflammatory properties.Vitamin C may help to reduce redness and swelling and is good for accelerating the healing process of the skin.
Vitamin B3 and B5 regulate the amount of oil the sebaceous glands produce and prevent them from going overdrive (9).
What vitamins are good for hair, nails and skin?
The skin, together with hair and nails, forms the integumentary system, a major protective barrier which guards us from chemicals, pathogens and other elements of our environment. Both hair and nails develop from the epidermis and are composed of (dead stratified squamous) epithelium cells which are rich in protein, especially keratin. Strong nails and glossy hair are considered great signs of health and vitality. From a naturopathic point of view, brittle nails and dry, lifeless hair can be a good indicator that some of the key vitamins and minerals are deficient.
The best vitamins for skin, hair and nails and their mechanisms discussed below:
Vitamin C and Vitamin E may be useful in supporting the integumentary system. There is growing evidence to suggest that oxidative stress is a pivotal mechanism behind hair graying and hair loss (10) thus ensuring these nutrients are adequate should be part of your intervention.
Biotin is one of the B vitamins and has many vital roles relating to the health of skin, hair and nails (11). It helps to protect your skin from water loss and regulates fatty acid metabolism and it has been shown to promote hair growth, particularly in people who are deficient (12). Brittle nails, scaly scalp, hair loss and dandruff can be signs of biotin deficiency.
Vitamin B12 and iron are essential for the production of red blood cells and haemoglobin and deficiency of these nutrients have been implicated in hair loss (13).
Nutrients that are essential in providing the building blocks for hair and nail growth: zinc, iron, copper, selenium, silicon, calcium and magnesium, silica. Proteins are also crucial for the health and vitality of our skin, hair and nails, especially the amino acids methionine, lysine, cysteine, glycine and proline.
What vitamins are good for skin elasticity?
Skin elasticity is the skin’s ability to return to its original shape after stretching. Your skin gets its stretchiness and resilience from two important proteins, collagen and elastin. The loss of elasticity, called elastosis, is a natural part of the ageing process which starts to appear in our 30s or in your 40s - if you’re one of the lucky ones (14). This ageing process is a result of both intrinsic (as with all internal organs) and extrinsic factors (sun exposure, stress, poor nutrition, high alcohol intake, smoking and air pollution) (15). Hormonal changes are also key factors, particularly the natural decline in oestrogen (16) and testosterone (17) production.
Here are the best vitamins essential for skin elasticity:
Vitamin A (retinol) is converted to retinoic acid in the skin and it has been shown to modulate gene expression and influence cellular processes in both the epidermis and dermis, thereby exerting potent anti-ageing effects on our skin. Vitamin A has a key role in the prevention and treatment of UV-induced skin damage (18), making it the most important vitamin in the prevention of wrinkles and loss of elasticity.
Vitamin C is vital for the formation of collagen and elastin. This great but humble vitamin is also a powerful antioxidant, which means that it can trap free radicals that contribute to many processes of ageing, including loss of elasticity of the skin.
Vitamin E is another skin-friendly antioxidant and has been extensively investigated for its role in UV damage protection (19). Vitamin E appears to improve skin elasticity and vitality.
B vitamins – contribute to the production of collagen in the human body. Studies have shown that deficiency of Vitamin B2 & B6 is directly correlated with low collagen content of the skin so including a good B complex may be beneficial.
Get in touch and find out more about our Skin and beauty IV therapy, available here at our clinic in London.
What vitamins are good for skin with eczema?
Eczema is an inflammatory skin condition, characterised by red, dry and itchy patches. It’s commonly found on the skin of our neck, hands, feet, elbows and the back of the legs. Atopic eczema (atopic means ‘with a genetic predisposition’) is the most common form affecting 1 in 5 children and 1 in 12 adults in the UK (20).
Usually, healthy skin cells are tightly packed together creating a good natural barrier for immune defence. When you have eczema this barrier function is impaired and the skin’s delicate balance of beneficial bacteria is disrupted. This disruption allows toxins and pathogens to enter the skin (a process similar to leaky gut), which leads to an immune response and ultimately to an inflamed, irritated skin.
The best vitamins and nutrients for the management of eczema:
Vitamin D has been shown to alleviate the symptoms of eczema through its immune-regulatory, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial activities in the skin. Vitamin D deficiency is very common in eczema (21) and supplementation of at least 1000IU daily has been shown to reduce symptoms. Your practitioner will be able to assess your vitamin D levels through a simple finger prick test.
Vitamin A - the great ‘skin-vitamin’ - strengthens the skin’s protective layer and supports healing (22) and has been implicated in the treatment of eczema.
Vitamin E accumulates in the mitochondria within skin cells and promotes collagen and fibroblast synthesis. In a recent study, 400iu of vitamin E significantly improved the severity of eczema symptoms, including itching (23).
Vitamin C has anti-inflammatory properties, it’s a natural antihistamine and due to its effect on collagen production it’s a really useful vitamin for the treatment of eczema. Vitamin C might also help alleviate redness, itchiness and long-term damage to the skin.
Eczema is a multifactorial condition and its development often starts as early as birth so it’s important to approach it with a holistic, in-depth and comprehensive support. Read more about our expert practitioners who can offer more personalised support and advice.
Which is the best vitamin for skin complexion and makes your skin glow?
I’m sure we’ve all met someone who has a beautiful, blemish-free skin with an inner glow and luminance to it. Great skin is a true reflection of our inner wellbeing and you can achieve it by having good nutrition and looking after your physical and mental health.
The best vitamins for a healthy glow and great complexion:
Vitamin C, as mentioned above, is a powerful antioxidant that stimulates collagen production (24) making it your number one ticket to a luminescent skin. When applied topically Vitamin C has been shown to brighten the skin by reducing the appearance of hyperpigmentation.
Vitamin A again. Vitamin A has the ability to even skin tone and to give your skin a beautiful, healthy glow.
Biotin, helps to protect your skin from water loss and regulates fatty acid metabolism, giving your skin a healthy complexion.
Vitamin B3 is known to increase keratin, a protein that keeps your skin firm and healthy.
IV- nutrient therapy with glutathione can give your skin a natural ‘refreshed’ glow and may even reduce pigmentation and redness of the skin.
Do Multivitamins help skin?
A well-balanced multivitamin that contains the key nutrients discussed above can be a great tool to support your skin health and your overall wellbeing. Choose a carefully formulated complex that is effective, pure, ethical and contains therapeutic doses of vitamins and minerals in their most bioavailable and easily absorbed from. Look for Vitamin D3 vs D2, methylfolate vs folic acid, iron citrate vs iron sulphate and so on. For the best skin support, choose a good multi that contains the most important nutrients: vitamins A, C, D, E, B complex, zinc, iron, selenium and chromium. Any plant derived antioxidants like green tea, rosehip, blueberry, turmeric is a bonus!
Have you tried IV nutrient therapy before? Here, at the London Clinic of Nutrition, we offer a range of conventional and bespoke infusions to revitalise our clients’ health and help them reverse chronic disease. Find out more here.
Dietary and lifestyle considerations for a healthy and glowing skin
- If your skin complaints continue to persist, consider eliminating allergens such as wheat, dairy and eggs.
- Include probiotic rich foods such as kombucha, kimchi, sauerkraut, fermented tofu and kefir to support the skin’s (and gut) microbiome.
- Take a good quality and pure omega 3 supplement to support skin hydration and regulate inflammatory response of the skin (26).
- Consider supplementing with marine collagen, a natural source of type 1 collagen that is easily absorbed.
- Support methylation and detoxification with vitamins and minerals like methylfolate, methylcobalamine, vitamin B6, zinc and copper.
- Consume organic produce wherever possible.
- Although sun exposure is vital for vitamin D production and our circadian rhythm, a sensible approach is recommended to avoid sun damage.
- Protect your skin from damage with antioxidants. Eat plenty of vegetables and (some) fruits of rainbow of colours. Particularly green and orange ones for their carotenoid and polyphenol content.
- Include protein rich foods - protein supports the growth and maintenance of collagen and elastin fibres. Amino acids proline and lysine work together with vitamin C to enhance the formation of collagen.
- Choose more natural household products to minimise exposure to environmental toxins.
- Manage stress through mindfulness, meditation and yoga. Improve sleep hygiene by reducing blue light in the evenings.
Consult one of our expert team members to discuss functional tests to assess gut issues, liver function, hormonal irregularities and genetic predisposition for vitamin inefficiencies (for example MTHFR and VDR).
Call us today on 020 3332 0030 and a member of the team will be available to answer any queries you have.
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The London Clinic of Nutrition is a multi-disciplined health practice offering personalised nutritional medicine and naturopathy using the functional medicine approach.
100 Seymour Place
020 3332 0030