It’s been a while since I wrote! It’s been a long hot summer and time just got away from me!
One important aspect of biotoxin illness is our genetic make up. We are all individuals and our genes are only one part of the larger picture. Our environment also plays an important role in illness But not everyone who is in a moldy environment gets sick, right? Well, not exactly. I believe everyone gets sick if exposed for a longer amount of time in a water damaged building. However, just how sick and the way in which they get sick differ.
In my next post, I’ll talk much more on inflammation. But in short, the root of illness in most cases is inflammation. Inflammation can look different and feel different depending on a slew of variables. I’ll tell a little story that happened recently and will delve into HLA and why it matters.
About five days ago, my knee swelled and felt very tight. I have had knee issues off and on since childhood. In fact, I was told at a young age that I had “water” on my knee and would likely suffer periodic pain forever. My dad also has bad knees, so I figured it is genetic and it is something I will just suffer from. So when my knee swelled and got tight and difficult to walk, I just succumbed to this idea and called my dad. He has averted knee surgery using natural methods of reducing knee inflammation and I wanted in on this bit of information. He told me about hyluronic acid and callogen II. I picked up a bottle of this along with a knee brace while my husband planned to build better stairs. Our RV steps are very hard to walk down, so he began plans for steps with an adjoining deck.
Yesterday, after Ian came home from work, I came inside and smelled mold. This made my heart sink. Living in the RV for nearly 17 months, we’ve yet to have a mold problem. I could tell this smell wasn’t “major.” I don’t know how to explain that. I could just tell. But we had to figure it out. The wonderful husband that he is, he went right to work looking for the source. This eventually led him to our dehumidifier. We clean the reservoir regularly, but pink slime continues to show up since it is almost constantly wet. As Ian looked more closely, he noticed some black gunk. He took the dehumidifier outside and took it apart. He found that there was mold on the coils and in other areas as well.
Coincidentally, approximately a hour later, I noticed my swelling in my knee had gone down significantly. This morning I woke up 100% recovered. As we were talking last night, Ian asked when my knee started hurting. I told him about 4 days prior. He said “that’s when we moved the dehumidifier into our room.” Ah. It made perfect sense.
The moral of this story is that you don’t have to be in a hospital bed, a mental institution, puking over a toilet or coughing your lungs out to be affected by mold. Just that tiny little bit caused my knee to have some pretty major inflammation. Could this have been a coincidence? That my knee pain came on suddenly and simply left suddenly? Sure. I guess if you want believe that, you might as well stop reading. But it just seems like a giant leap that someone who has not had knee issues in quite some time and no injury to the knee, would have their knee become inflamed when a moldy appliance enters the bedroom and then promptly the inflammation goes away upon removal of said appliance to be a coincidence.
What does this have to do with HLA? In short, susceptibility. Let me start at the beginning.
HLA stands for Human Leukocyte Antigen. It is a marker found on most cells in the human body and we have many many types. HLA types are used to match organ donors with recipients, helps identify celiac disease and, in our case, identify the susceptibility to biotoxin illnesses. The blood test one can get is called HLA DR typing. As I’ve mentioned previously, 24% of the population is susceptible to getting biotoxin illness. For this 24%, they are more likely to get quite sick when exposed to very small amounts of biotoxins.
Let’s take a closer look at what a biotoxin is. Bio means life. Toxin is “an antigenic poison or venom of plant or animal origin, especially one produced by or derived from microorganisms and causing disease when present at low concentration in the body.” (Google) Do you see what I see? The word “antigen” shows up both in Human Leukocyte ANTIGEN and in the definition of toxin. In very simple terms, an antigen is a molecule which can produce an immunologic response in the body. So HLA, just by definitions alone, are sets of genes having something to due with human immune responses and biotoxins are living organisms that cause disease (having an immune response) when present at low concentrations in the body.
Now that we know what a biotoxin is and how it relates to this HLA typing (figuring out the haplotype, or series of genes which are inherited together), what are some sources of biotoxins? The topic of this post is mold. Molds produce myco (relating to fungi) toxins (good thing we covered this word already!). Mycotoxins are produced when fungi are in competition with each other. For example, when there is a water damaged building, there is often more than one type of mold. This creates a catastrophic scenario for the humans and pets inhabiting the building. As these molds fight with each other, they throw off their toxins in order to kill other molds. However, with humans and pets in the building as well, they are breathing in these toxins as well. But molds aren’t the only biological organism putting off toxins. Others include blue-green algae, lyme, actinobacteria, certain fish and the poison from a brown recluse spider.
The above is not a short list. It isn’t terribly long, but when you look at the sheer numbers of toxins put out by molds, lyme (a bacterial infection), actniobacteria, some reef fish and poison of a brown recluse, they greatly outnumber humans. Mycotoxins, for example, are the chemical toxic metabolite of mold. Each spore contains many of these toxins. In our house we had an air sample done. It was just a very quick vacuum suck of a tiny amount of air from just a tiny bit behind a wall. In mold spores alone, of just one of the species found, there were over 26,000 spores. I can’t even imagine the measurement of the mycotoxins within those spores. But it surely outnumbered the 5 people and 2 cats living in that house!
Ritchie Shoemaker, in his vast and exacting research, found there are several different HLA haplotypes in humans that make some much more susceptible to these biotoxins then others. But remember, a toxin is a toxin and by definition, it only takes a small amount to cause an immune response/disease. No one is immune from effects of a toxin. It is just that some can become sicker quicker with a smaller amount.
The test one would get is called the HLA DR by PCR and you get this through LabCorp. It is a simple blood test and results take about 2 weeks. Once you get the results, they look something like this:
Really, unless you are a doctor or geneticist, this will look foreign to you. However, a brilliant fellow moldie, Adam Glass, came up with this handy dandy calculator!!!
If you use my lab results above in the calculator, you will see 2 DRB1’s, 2 DRB3’s, 2 DRB4s, 2 DRB5s and 2 DQB1s. Simply plug the first number after the * into the calculator. For example, in the first input box in the calculator, I would enter 04 because my lab sheet reads “DRB1*04…” Do you see where I’m talking about? Go ahead and practice with my results. After all numbers have been entered, the screen should say this:
I am 4-3-53 and 15-6-51. Basically, I’m screwed. I am multisusceptible meaning that I am susceptible to all biotixins AND susceptible to post lyme. So if I am infected with lyme, not only will I get sicker quicker, I will get post lyme syndrome which, in short means I will be sicker quicker and LONGER. My daughter shares the 15-6-51 with me and both my boys share the 4-3-53. All kids got the 1-5 from their dad. I may write more of this later. Here is a list of the haplotypes:
Dinoflagellates (fish/mostly marine plankton)
MARCoNS (multiple antibiotic resistant staph infection:
15-6-51 (yes, the same as I have which is also post lyme)
4-3-53 (same as mine which is also multi susceptible)
Chronic Fatigue from Lyme Vaccine Lymerix:
Gardisil vaccine should be avoided:
11-3-52B (bet your doctor didn’t tell you THIS)
NOTE: In some cases, you will see a backwards slash. Such as this: 4-7/8-53. This refers to two haplotypes. Either 4-7-53 or 4-8-53. I just tried to save myself some typing as I’ve been at this a couple of hours!
Any others are low risk or benign. Having none of the above does not mean you can’t get sick. It just may take higher amounts of the toxin.
Thanks for reading! Feel free to ask any questions you have! I’m no doctor, but I do have nearly 9 years of research into this!