You might already be familiar with the scientific evidence that mold causes many different respiratory problems, including allergies and worsening of asthma. What you might not have known is how exposure to the mycotoxins produced by fungi can influence other less well known problems, including PMS and mental depression. Understanding how exposure to fungi and their spores influences these two important health conditions may help you feel better and enjoy a healthier life.
Mold and PMS
No one knows exactly what causes PMS, but there are many factors known to influence this debilitating condition experienced by millions of women each month. The symptoms of PMS can affect any woman of childbearing age and include:
- Abdominal bloating
- Tender breasts
- Temporary weight gain
- Feelings of aggression
- Difficulty with concentration
- Back pain
- Cravings and overeating
- Feeling sad or tearful
- Increased irritability
- Feeling anxious
- Vacillating moods
The severity of these symptoms is different for each woman and can differ in the same woman from month to month. Some women experience one or two of these symptoms while other women might experience everything in the list. What is lesser known is that exposure to mold can increase these symptoms.
Fungi release mycotoxins that are known to cause toxic and allergic reactions in people. Mold can be everywhere in the environment, including within food and in the air. From molds that are purposely ingested, such as that in the penicillin or blue cheese to the toxic black mold Stachybotrys, you might have more mold exposure than you ever realized. All types of mold can cause reactions in humans. In most cases, the symptoms caused by mold exposure are subtle and often complicate or even worsen other pre-existing health problems such as PMS, migraines, allergies or asthma.
Mycotoxins affect PMS due to their interference in a woman’s ability to metabolize estrogen. Estrogen is one of the key hormones in women that plays a role in the menstrual cycle. As estrogen is methylated by the liver, mycotoxins are also accumulating in the liver. The liver is less able to degrade estrogen when mycotoxins are present in the organ. This results in an increased level of estrogen in the woman’s body. The excess amount of estrogen is responsible for symptoms that include sore breasts, abdominal bloating, digestive disturbances including nausea and weight gain, cravings for sugary foods, fatigue, headaches and redness in the face and eyes.
Mold and Depression
So how does mycotoxin exposure influence depression? There are two aspects of mold that cause and influence depression. These include the physical aspects of how fungal exposure worsens existing health conditions and the mental aspects of how the toxins released by mold are uncontrollable within your home. These toxins can act as neurotoxins, directly affecting the brain and brain chemistry. A 2007 study of nearly 6,000 adults in the United Kingdom by Brown University epidemiologist Edmond Shenassa found that living in a damp, mold laden home increases the risk of developing depression as a result of worsening physical health or the inability to control the indoor air quality of the home. In essence, if the mold in your home is making you physically ill and you feel like you cannot do anything about the situation, depression is more likely to occur. Other studies have found that exposure to mycotoxins affects the brain’s ability to control impulses, solve problems, be spontaneous, have good sexual function and memory, all of which are symptoms of mental depression. When a person does not physically feel good, experiences a worsening of a health problem or has to go to the doctor for mysterious ailments, this increases the risk of depression as well.
What to Do about Indoor Mold
When you suspect that mold is growing in your home, you have seen fungal growth or you have experienced PMS or depression that is not getting better, do not hesitate in contacting a professional to remove the mold. Do not try to remove any mold yourself, as any contact with the spores and toxins could make your symptoms even worse than they already are. Professional fungi removal is effective and efficient at restoring the indoor air quality and may lessen your problematic health symptoms.