What if you’re not just anxious and apprehensive, just misdiagnosed? How many doctors have told you to take anti-anxiety medication and seek therapy? Have you taken these steps and your symptoms have shown no improvement? Although prescription medications can be very valuable, they are not dealing with the actual root cause of the “anxiety” symptoms.
Unfortunately, our practice at Carpathia Collaborative has seen an increasing number of patients who have not only the anxiety they originally sought help for, but are now in a nearly PTSD state from being diagnosed incorrectly for so long. Your anxiety has now caused more anxiety!
Of course, there are many factors that come into play including genetics, ACES (Adverse Childhood events, diet, and nutritional status, and toxin exposures.
Recent articles are now suggesting the amount of toxic load we are taking in every day through food, water, air, and our consumption of beauty products, may now exceed our bodies ability to filter them out. 4 The body, unable to completely expel these invaders, must now take on the fight to simply lower the inflammation in the body. This heightened response can sometimes manifest itself as an anxious feeling when merely it’s your body trying to protect itself from being under attack. It’s no wonder you feel anxious!
With so many of us having increased anxiousness and fear due to the pandemic, the likelihood of a corresponding misdiagnosis is even higher. Though this may seem an unrelated question, bear with me, when was the last time your doctor asked about the air quality in your home or office?
Toxin Exposures -What Does it Feel Like?
If you feel sad, anxious, or just don’t want to hang out with other people, chances are, currently, most physicians would say it’s depression, either longstanding or as a result of the recent pandemic. If you have other symptoms like itchy eyes, stuffy nose, or wheezing, it’s likely to be dismissed this time of year for allergies. But what if all of those symptoms were actually evidence that you are suffering from poor air quality with high VOCs (volatile organic compounds) from the use of standard scented cleaning products, personal care products, and synthetic chemical “plug-Ins” or chemicals like Febreeze? As well as the all too common undiagnosed mold exposure? 2
Carpathia Collaborative has several articles on how mold affects all areas of the body found here.
This article will focus specifically on the effects on the brain where our emotions such as anxiety are stored. Most of us are cognizant of the basic parts of the brain, the cerebellum (balance and autoimmunity), the limbic system ( unconscious primitive physical functions), and the cerebral cortex ( executive function and processing). All three areas are responsible for keeping you alive and healthy.
As pointed out in a recent blog post on our website: “Through a series of connections, neural networks form connections between the brain and other organs to control our body’s major functions. These include the fight-or-flight stress response system, for example, as well as the circulatory and digestive systems.3 “
The limbic system is critical in perpetuating anxiety and depressive states because it is directly accessed by the olfactory nerve coming from the sinuses.
Anxiety and CDR
The cell danger response (CDR) is the evolutionarily conserved metabolic response that protects cells and hosts from harm. It is triggered by encounters with chemical, physical, or biological threats that exceed the cellular capacity for staying in balance (homeostasis). The resulting metabolic mismatch between available resources and functional capacity produces a cascade of changes in cellular electron flow, oxygen consumption, redox, membrane fluidity, lipid dynamics, bioenergetics, carbon and sulfur resource allocation, protein folding and aggregation, vitamin availability, metal homeostasis, and other factors. 5
The CDR is a universal response to environmental threats like air pollutants, particulates, petrochemical byproducts, and mold. Once this cascade begins, the body cannot begin to heal itself until the threat has been removed. Although the CDR is a cellular response, it has the power to impact human thought and behavior, child development, physical fitness and resilience, fertility, and the susceptibility of entire populations to disease. 6
Mycotoxins and Anxiety
Could it Be Mold?
While we remind patients in most of our articles there is a strong chance that you have lived in a WDB, “ Water Damaged Building” that may be impacting our detox mechanisms and limbic system. What it means is that if you have lived in an area that has flooded at some point in time, there is a chance that when they put up the drywall they simply didn’t know that mold would grow behind those walls, in the vents, or in the foundation.
For example, many homes can have small foundation leaks. Those small leaks allow water in and you may not realize it until the leak, over time grows large enough for you to see it on the floor, with warped wood or damp carpets. In the meantime, mold may be growing behind the drywall. “Mold and fungi thrive on drywall, wood, and other soft materials. Mold likes dark and moist environments and it doesn’t take much water to get the process going. A small drip from a leaky toilet, shower, or sink is all it takes. Small roof leaks are also common causes. If you see a stain on the ceiling or the wall there is very likely an associated hidden mold growth”. 1
Toxins, Inflammation and The Brain
If you have been exposed to biotoxins you likely have inflammation in your body and your brain. We already know that certain mycotoxins affect the brain. 7 A common biotoxin that you may be exposed to is a mycotoxin produced by black mold. It is a neurotoxin that kills neurons and damages the normal functions of our brains. 8 Along with exposure to many other synthetic chemicals and gasoline by-products the limbic system and the olfactory nerve becomes inflamed.
As a result of the immune system response, there may be an overreaction of the immune cells due to environmental factors, which are further triggered by those with mycotoxin exposure and can get caught in a chronic inflammation cycle in the brain. This cycle keeps people in sympathetic “fight or flight” overdrive, keeping the limbic system overstimulated and difficult to shut off. This can result in multiple chemical sensitivity, along with hypersensitivity to sound, light smells, and tastes. If your anxiety presents with these symptoms there is a high likelihood of a toxin component.
As mentioned in a previous article, the limbic system consists of the hypothalamus, amygdala, and hippocampus. The hypothalamus regulates all hormonal systems and gastrointestinal functions. It is the master regulator part of the brain. It’s responsible for keeping your body in a state of balanced homeostasis. When there has been a stressor such as exposure to a biotoxin, the Hypothalamus sends a distress signal to the Amygdala. The Amygdala activates the sympathetic nervous system by sending signals through the autonomic nerves (including the Vagus) to the adrenal glands.9 This signals the adrenal gland to make more adrenaline and cortisol because your flight or fight instinct has been triggered. This cascade can become worse after a Traumatic Brain Injury. We have a blog post on the effects of TBI (traumatic brain injury) on our website.
“Freeze” Response and Depression
You may find a stressful event will cause your body to want to fight or flee from the situation. If neither of these responses can get you out of the stressful situation, the freeze response can be activated.10 Depression, anger, irritability, racing thoughts, an increase in heart rate, inability to move, dissociation, and chronic fatigue are all symptoms of the body being stuck in freeze mode.
The body, in effect, will shut down if it can’t escape. It is critical if your body has been activated in fight or flight for a long period of time, that you both calm the limbic system and activate the vagus nerve to correct these imbalances.
We recommend Annie Hopper’s DNRS program, Gupta Amygdala Retraining, or the use of the Brain Tap device for limbic dysfunction along with Vagus nerve activation daily several times with exercises found in The Healing Power of the Vagus Nerve book. Combining limbic retraining, vagal activation along with detoxification strategies, the results can be amazing!
Can I Get Rid of My Anxiety?
If your anxiety is being caused by toxins or mold exposure, the answer is yes, we can help you feel better. It’s also important to address lifestyle with sleep and fun, along with getting support for dealing with trauma from your past. A number of amino acids may be very useful to help including GABA and 5HTP. Please see the remarkable work of Trudy Scott on her latest Anxiety Summit.
STEPS to take
The first thing we start with is shutting down inflammation in the brain. An important step is to start an anti-inflammatory diet and add in anti-inflammatory nutrients including a high omega 3 fish oil, DHA in particular. Your body does not automatically make DHA, so you need to either supplement it or eat fatty fish; such as salmon, mackerel, and trout. It is difficult to get from plant-based sources but algae is an option for vegetarians.
You may also want to add turmeric, resveratrol, and other anti-inflammatory herbs to your diet. If you want a specific diet recommendation, try the Mold Detox Diet. While we all know that excess sugar can exacerbate feelings of depression and anxiety, a truly clean protocol like the Mold Detox Diet can help you feel so much better and improve your overall health.
At the same time as cleaning up your diet, and getting rid of toxic food and alcohol, ( If you are feeling anxious that nightly glass of wine is better skipped right now.) you can bring down inflammation in the olfactory nerve and frontal cortex with sinus rinsing. Sinus rinsing produces a cooling effect, which helps to reduce the amount of inflammation in your brain’s frontal lobes. We use Neil Med Sinus Rinse or the Breathe Easy Sinus Rinse from ENT Dr. Donald Dennis at MicroBalanceHealthProducts.com. Our biotoxin protocol for sinus rinsing additionally includes the use of botanicals like Biocidin or specific citrus essential oils.11
Essential oils can also be utilized to decrease brain inflammation using a diffuser, one to consider is frankincense. Expensive but worth it. Always make sure you buy high-quality essential oils. We recommend the Young Living brand due to its long history of excellence in delivering a high-quality product.
LAUGH and SMILE A LOT!
Finally, one easy step in your journey is to sing. Yes, Sing. Did you know that singing is a natural antidepressant? We try to get patients to play loud, happy songs in their car to help encourage vagus nerve stimulation. We have been told for generations to “put a smile on our face.” Turns out this was great advice! Smiling on purpose activates all the cranial nerves in the face, disrupts the pathway, and helps to activate the parasympathetic nervous system. 12
Watching things that are fun, joyful, and uplifting such as Youtube videos of smiling babies, dogs, and kittens can be really helpful in brain recovery. Consider fun joyful videos of flash mobs as well. Whatever makes you sing, smile, and laugh, do it! We understand that dealing with anxiety on a daily basis can be stressful. Take the time to take deep cleansing breaths, and remember you are working on a treatment plan and things will get better. Contact us at Carpathia Collaborative to get started on a customized treatment plan that works.
For information about many other approaches to naturally healing anxiety please see the myriad resources available through Trudy Scott’s Anxiety Summit, in which Dr. Christensen is interviewed.