In this episode, I am speaking with Rajka Galbraith, MD – who is an expert in helping women achieve optimal health and educating people on disease prevention, and overcoming many diseases of lifestyle. We will talk about how to use testing to identify your fatigue root causes.
In this podcast, Dr. Galbraith and I discuss:
- Testing for mold
- The three most common symptoms of mold toxicity
- The biggest reasons why people don’t get better
- How mitochondria affect fatigue
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Ari: Hey, there. This is Ari. Welcome back to the Energy Blueprint Podcast. I am super excited to welcome back for the second time with my friend, Dr. Rajka Galbraith. This is going to be a part two episode following up on a previous podcast, which covered basically everything you need to know. Not everything, I guess, since we’re doing a part two, but a lot of what you need to know as far as the optimal tests to get done from a functional medicine perspective for people dealing with low energy levels or chronic fatigue.
A little bit of her background, if you didn’t hear it already in the first episode, Dr. Rajka has been successfully leading women and their families to optimal health for over two decades as a board-certified family medicine doctor. From delivering babies to managing family care and clinic and hospital, she’s now exclusively a leading functional Medicine consultant certified by the Institute for Functional Medicine and international speaker and mentor to practitioners, having trained hundreds of practitioners and an expert in environmentally acquired illnesses. As a woman and an entrepreneur, she’s passionate about empowering other women leaders to optimal health and performance.
Her ultimate goal is to empower women to optimal health and in turn, have them empower their families and their tribes to optimal health. She has expertise in resolving brain fog and environmentally acquired illnesses as well as nutrigenetics. Recently, she launched the Conquering Mold Community to provide a cost-effective means for people to heal from mycotoxin illness, and soon she will launch the Radiantly She community to recover women right from fatigue, brain fog, and weight gain. She also sees patients at the clinic she founded, Simply Health Institute, outside of Chicago.
I also want to mention it on a personal note, a little over a year ago, I found mold in my own house. I was experiencing some symptoms and we discovered basically a huge mold infestation in the walk-in closet that was about 10 feet away from my bed. That mold was probably growing for several months before we found it because it was actually hidden behind all these clothes and all this stuff that we had stacked in there.
After we found that, I reached out to Dr. Galbraith and she helped get me set up with testing urinary mycotoxin testing, which is something we’re going to talk about in this episode, which subsequently uncovered pretty severe mold poisoning especially with mycophenolic acid, which was off the charts, which is a very potent immunosuppressant compound. Which by the way is not an ideal time to have a very potent immunosuppressant compound in your body when COVID is around.
Anyway, I have subsequently for the last year or so been following the guidance of Dr. Galbraith as far as detoxifying from mold mycotoxins. She’s literally the person that I myself sought out to help me deal with mycotoxin illness. She’s been absolutely wonderful to work with. For anybody in that situation, I highly recommend doing the same. With all of that long intro out of the way, Dr. Galbraith, it’s such a pleasure to have you back.
Dr. Rajka: Thank you, Ari. It’s so great to be here. I think with our first episode, we got lots of great feedback. People just wanting more, what do I do next? Our goal for both of us is really to educate as many people as we can, so we can prevent needless suffering. Always a pleasure to help out my fellow compadre in the field. I’m glad you’re doing even better because I know at the time, you were doing pretty well, but on your own accord. I’m grateful to be back.
Ari: Thank you so much. For people who didn’t hear part one, tell us a little bit of maybe the succinct version of your personal journey and why you’re doing what you’re doing.
Dr. Rajka: It was really several decades of fatigue and each layer of learning got me to overcome all these symptoms and illnesses I had. It was really disheartening initially to not almost be able to achieve the three goals I had; the dream of being a doctor, the dream of getting married, the dream of having children. I went from so much fatigue that I almost didn’t finish residency to I was so profoundly fatigued, I think we joked last time, falling asleep on dates.
Then the ultimate slap in the face was then being told you’ve got unexplained infertility. Very, very sad. It took me lots of years, so eight years and almost another cost of a medical school education to recover my health. It’s been in very distinct steps because each decade, it seemed like I’d recover myself and I feel pretty good, and then something else would happen and be like, “Okay, what’s this?” I learned and studied some more and it wasn’t really until I had a deep dive to know that now I can keep myself well with all the things I’m doing and just channel support, so I don’t ever go back and regress. In fact, I feel more amazing now than I ever did in my 20s, and I’m 52.5. I feel great.
Organic acid testing to identify mold toxicity
Ari: Beautiful. Do you want to jump into following up on the previous episode? I want to cover mycotoxins in this episode and protocols around that or how to deal with that and how to test for it. Do you want to jump straight into that or do you want to go into a follow-up on testing for fatigue first?
Dr. Rajka: Just a brief follow-up, so one of the things, and then it’ll segue right into mycotoxin illness because when you see the results on the organic acid testing, it can signify that fungus is there or even yeast overgrowth. I’ve changed how I’ve done things. It depends on what people are looking for, how well they feel, but a top-tier test, including blood work, would be organic acid. I’ve started the pendulum will always swing. We order a lot and then you say, “Okay, what can I not do with?” Now I’m back to ordering organic acid tests on almost everyone that comes through the doors if not at the first visit, at the second visit. There’s just so much to address.
For those that don’t know, an organic acid test is run just with a urine sample collected first thing in the morning. It looks for five different areas. One is looking at bacterial overgrowth, yeast, or fungal overgrowth in our GI tracks. It looks at our neurotransmitter status, which some people poopoo, but I’ve seen great clinical validity nutrient status as well as how does someone detoxify? You’ve got five separate areas with one test that you’ve hit. It’s a plethora of information. The biggest of that area is what is going on with the fungal colonization, or yeast colonization of someone’s gastrointestinal tract?
If I’m seeing that on an OAT test and someone has not reported being exposed to a water-damaged building, right away, I’m thinking, “We have to do the follow-up test, so then we can dive in.” The follow-up test to really solidify is there mycotoxin illness or not. Certainly, if someone is asymptomatic and they’ve got mold exposure, then they’re probably in that 70% that don’t have an issue. Remember, up to 30% of the population has a problem and is susceptible to mold, and you can test that with HLA typing. It’s not necessary to do. Typically, if someone comes into me sick or unwell, then they’re susceptible, especially if we find mold.
Mycotox testing top two companies that are running the testing is Great Plains Lab and RealTime Lab. Same thing, urine test. I do prefer it being provoked and that means that we’re getting an agent to try to draw it out of the body. In most instances, I’m doing glutathione, which some people don’t tolerate. If they don’t tolerate them, we have them do some sweating or sauna the night before. We provoke for about five days and then you collect the urine. It’s looking for distinct toxins that are being spilled in the urine. As you said, mycophenolic, and so ochratoxin, mycophenolic and citrinin and are all byproducts of ochratoxin. Then it looks at aflatoxin, zearalenone, and so on and so forth.
There’s a whole long list of them that we find. If you find it present and someone has symptoms. I’m not certain. If someone comes in well, you’re not going to go chasing after that. There are certain people that aren’t susceptible that it will never affect their health but for those of us it does, and I have that mold susceptibility so it’s a big deal if I’m exposed. We’re not talking one time you’re exposed to mold. It’s typically not the mold that you smell, but it’s the hidden mold that’s a bigger problem that people don’t even know. Like you said, you didn’t even know, right? How was it to collect the urine and do the testing? Not a big deal, right, Ari? Some people think it’s a big deal.
Ari: It was super easy. Blood tests are a bit intimidating. You have a little bit more resistance that comes up because you got to drive to a lab and you got to get needles stuck in your arm. Some people are just uncomfortable with that process. I’m uncomfortable with that process. I don’t freak out or anything. I don’t panic, but I generally don’t like needles poked into my body and I don’t like blood drawn out of my body. Also, the last time I did a comprehensive blood panel, it was a very comprehensive blood panel with so many different tests that they had to take many, many vials of blood.
I remember distinctly for about at least two days, if not three or four days afterwards, I could really feel the lack of blood when I was doing exercise. It felt like I’m exercising in elevation because it had dropped my red blood cell count significantly enough that my performance wasn’t there. All of that creates quite a bit of resistance. In contrast, the urinary mycotoxin tests, it’s first thing in the morning, you wake up and just grabbed a little plastic vile and you pee in a cup. It’s not a big deal at all. Then you stick it in the freezer and mail it in. Yes, that process is super easy.
Dr. Rajka: That’s why I love it too as a starting point, that organic acid test, for kids in particular because I can’t tell you how many kids are not going to be going in for blood draws. I can get a really pretty good overall picture as to what’s going on and then the microtox test just segues. There might be another question the listeners may want to know, who would you draw? Who would you do a mycotoxin test on? I think about doing a mycotoxin test on anyone who is just not responding to treatment.
If I see someone and we do just blood testing, typically with the usual protocol, even if I don’t know the results of the blood testing, by getting clear on their history, we get a minimum of 50% improvement if someone does some of what I’ve recommended. Not even all and so I don’t want to tell people to just do some, we want you doing as much as you can. 50% improvement, that’s huge. If I see someone who’s putting in a little bit of an effort and they get no improvement or they’re plotting along and they’re really not getting better, or they’re super sensitive, then I’m thinking something else is going on.
Clearly, if I get the history that, “Oh, yes, I grew up in a home and it flooded every summer or every spring when the rains were high,” then I know. Sometimes people don’t know and you have to think about, it’s not only your home but it’s your work environment and your car. Cars can get moldy. Unless you’re in one environment, you may not be able to identify a source and it could be an old or current exposure. We’re looking at people who have the three common symptoms, which are brain fog, fatigue or pain, or even nuance at anxiety or depression or panic.
The big major symptoms, not responding to the protocols like we normally would expect. My early protocols are really simple, diet and lifestyle, a handful of very targeted supplements. We’re talking two to three to four to five, no more than five, you don’t want to overwhelm someone. Almost always the ones I pinpoint at that first visit or what we’re continuing, I always identify that this is what they need on lab testing. It just helps me confirm. In fact, I may even beef it up a little more, or we have the history of the water-damaged building exposure. Those are the things I’m looking for to go to that next level of mycotox testing.
When should you get tested for mold toxicity
Ari: Just to clarify that, so it sounds like there’s two concepts where someone would want to do mycotoxin testing. One is my context where it’s I’ve discovered that there’s mold growing in the wall of my house. I know that I’ve been exposed to this for at least weeks, if not months. I need to figure out if my body is toxic from this mold exposure that I know I just had. Then the other context is I may not know about any mold exposure in my life at all, but I may just have weird unexplainable symptoms and a lot of the things that would normally make people better are not making me better. Now it’s time to figure out, hey, is mold a mycotoxin exposure at some point in my past, whether I know or not, is that a factor in my symptoms? Is that accurate?
Dr. Rajka: That is accurate. Those two contexts are super huge. I’d say, clearly, remember I said the top symptoms of brain fog, if you come in with already a diagnosis of dementia, we know that it’s the third subtype of Alzheimer’s disease that was described by Dr. Dale Bredesen. Then we get that testing right away just to make sure because you don’t want to wait even another month or two to try to remediate that.
Ari: Got you. The tests that you do to identify mold mycotoxin, you mentioned organic acids test as a preliminary test to maybe give you a clue, and then you used urinary mycotoxins test from Great Plains Laboratories or RealTime Laboratories, and/or, to see which specific mycotoxins the person is toxic in. Is that accurate?
Dr. Rajka: That’s accurate because the treatment all depends on which mycotoxins are present, which goes hand in hand with when do you know someone’s cleared. It’s really a clearance of the mycotoxin testing mycotoxins out of the urine. Other practitioners have other protocols, but that makes the most sense to me but that’s where I’m seeing the greatest resolution of symptoms, and then we know we’ve got our endpoint so you can stop treatment.
Ari: What does that look like for people? I can talk about my own personal experience, but I’m just talking about one sliver. I think I also did a partial protocol. I don’t know that I did the full all-out protocol because I didn’t have severe symptoms. You gave me the okay to do a more gentle protocol, I guess you could say. Give people a sense of maybe what if you’re toxic in this mycotoxin versus that one, how might the protocols start to look?
Dr. Rajka: I’m going to talk about the four reasons why people don’t get better and the four steps. The first step really is to prime the body. This is why people don’t get better sometimes and they’ve seen a handful of practitioners. By priming the body is that when our bodies, and you would know this because you love the mitochondria like I do, when you’re exposed to a threat, the mitochondria go into survival mode and they shut down. That’s a normal response. The problem is in some people, that might get stuck and then we call that the cell danger response.
Even if the threat’s been removed, say the mold exposure was when they were a young kid in their home growing up and it’s no longer there, the only way they know is to respond with the threats. Anything I give them to take to bind to detoxify makes them worse, or it doesn’t work. Usually, it makes them worse and so that’s not a good place to be, or they’re super sensitive to anything. We talk about two modalities to get them out. You really want to do vagus nerve retraining. The vagus nerve is the communication from gut to brain. It actually regulates our heartbeat.
If you hold your breath, you’re going to stimulate the vagus nerve and you’re going to slow the heart rate down. I teach patients a wide variety of modalities. Every patient that comes through my office gets taught heart math, and I send them out with the sensor because it’s a tangible result. We have good data behind it and we know that with just utilizing that, you can improve someone’s depression by 48%. No drug can do that and that’s in 6 to 9 weeks using it maybe 10 to 20 minutes a day. Huge. Then I’ll use another modality. We want a vagus nerve retraining.
Say someone can’t afford a sensor. You can do humming, singing, gargling. These are all things to regulate the vagus nerve. Maybe a partner will have to do it, but if you have someone look your mouth and you say, ah, and the palette doesn’t elevate very much, or you don’t have a very good gag reflex, that’s pretty much a tip-off that the vagus nerve is not being triggered as it should be. A lot of that happens not even from just mold, just from being chronically stressed so that all suppress that. Super huge, vagal nerve retraining.
Ari: Real quick and sorry to digress. What is the link between mycotoxins and the vagus nerve? How are they linked physiologically?
Dr. Rajka: Physiologically it’s just a stressor. A mycotoxin illness does cause a component of adrenal dysfunction too as well and so then it’s just a way out of it, I guess. I don’t know. It’s a by-product more than a direct insult. It’s really just that someone’s gotten in the threat or the mycotoxin exposure is a threat to the body and in some people, it just triggers a cell danger response. It’s just to help them get out of not only adrenal dysfunction and have more energy but then allow them to respond to the usual therapies. The vagus nerve controls parasympathetic.
Then you’ve got the limbic nervous system which is your drive, your sympathetic. That gets dysregulated and that’s an even bigger challenge. That’s really what I think is the driving force. I use two different modalities, I’ll recommend patients really review. One called Dynamic Neural Retraining System, DNRS. The other one is the Gupta Program. DNRS uses positive affirmations. It’s an online training program. A couple of hundred dollars. I think $250 online. Gupta’s program is more meditative and also serves the same purpose. I was just reading or listening to the book, The Art of Impossible.
The gentleman who wrote it was sick with Lyme disease and couldn’t get out of bed. After three years of antibiotics, just couldn’t get out of bed. He was contemplating suicide. I hear this a lot and it makes me sad when someone comes in and they’re thinking, “I have to end my life because I feel that unwell.” A friend took him surfing and he got into the moment and then it was a wreck for two weeks and he decided to keep doing it in over eight months. He used it as a meditative time. That was his way of getting into that. In my personal opinion, I think he had cell danger response. That’s why he wasn’t healing with antibiotics and all the usual treatment.
He got himself about 80-90% better over a course of eight months. Each time he went back, his recovery got better and better and better. That’s the testament of how powerful this is. What I’ve seen clinically is anywhere from 50-90% improvement using one or the other modality. Prime the body, that’s the first step. By priming the body, it’s also the usual things we do; eat right, sleep right, hydrate, make sure you’re having good bowel movements. If you’re toxic, two a day. If you’re well, then at least one day. Once that’s primed, then we go in. The first step is you want to treat it in the right order. What do I mean by that?
Typically mold trumps all the other things out there. Trumps lime, it trumps heavy metals. In fact, what I’ve seen come through the doors is if someone’s key laded for heavy metals or treated for Lyme, they tank or they do worse. That’s the tip off that maybe there’s mold going on if they do worse. The first step in the right order is finding the mycotoxins film. That’s why testing is important. You have ochratoxin is bound. There’s preferential binders. Typically, we think of things like charcoal or colestyramine, which is a prescription medication ironically to lower triglycerides in the body so it’s a binder. Then Welchol same thing, utilized for abnormal lipid profiles.
You want to identify the toxins and treat. We start low and go slow. It’s not a race to the finish. In fact, we can make you worse if we throw all the binders on at one time. It’s a gradual incremental thing. People say, “How often should I increase?” I’m like, “Every three to seven days, you’re going up the dose.” Really sensitive people say we’re going to utilize the activated charcoal as the first step, is that if you tend to react to everything, maybe you’re doing half capsule. Maybe you’re doing three-quarters of a capsule and then you’ll gradually increasing.
Mold toxins, gut health, and colonization
Some people you don’t necessarily even need to be on the full doses, but small doses of all the appropriate binders can work synergistically. Treat in the right order. That’s super important. The third step to this is then you want to treat the GI colonization if you see it. The OAT test will tell me is it yeast, or is it fungal or is it both. You’ll go in after with the appropriate either antifungal medication so there’s prescription ones or there’s herbal ones. If there’s mold overgrowth, typically the prescription ones do work a little bit better. These guys are sneaky so they oftentimes will create a biofilm. We give agents to break down the biofilm while we’re treating the gut.
Ari: This is as far as I can tell, and I’ve tried to look into this quite a bit with my own personal interest in mycotoxins given that I had mycotoxins poisoning. I’ve been fascinated with the concept of mold colonization. These things often seem to get conflated by a lot of practitioners. I’m under the impression that it’s somewhat controversial, there’s a different state within the functional medicine community as compared to the conventional medical community. Maybe you can help me dissect this.
My understanding, or what was intuitive for me was if you have mold growing in your house and you’re exposed to that, you’re getting, let’s say, exposed to mycotoxins, you’re getting exposed mold spores that are in the air, and more than likely, your body will process those in a way you’re metabolizing and detoxifying those compounds. There’s this other issue, which is mold colonization. That those mold spores can get into your system. They can get into, let’s say, your respiratory cavities or your guts, and then colonize, and then be producing mycotoxins from inside of your body.
There’s an issue whether a mold detoxification protocol entails just binders to bind the mycotoxins from the exposure from your home. All that really needs to be done is remediation of the home, let’s say, knocking down the wall and repairing it and getting rid of the mold, or whether you also need to take anti-mold compounds, antifungal compounds that help kill the stuff that’s in your body. Just help me and everybody else discern and differentiate between those two issues.
Dr. Rajka: That’s the million-dollar question. I love that you asked that. As a practitioner, my protocols are always evolving. I’d say the sicker you are- Someone who comes in with dementia, I would take it a little more seriously and say, “Hey, likely we need to also treat the GI colonization because if you don’t and you get rid of the mold, the mold overgrowth in the gut will just make it all come back once you start the binders.” I wish there were a way to test this to say, “How about those that come in and some more of a new exposure? They didn’t have an exposure as a kid?”
One gentleman that saw me recently, he was in a hotel room for five days. That’s the straw that broke the camel’s back. Clearly, he had some imbalances and he was just thrown under the bus for a year. He got out of the environment after five days. Presumptively, so he never tested the home. They actually moved fairly shortly after and he was alert to it and this new home has tested safe so we don’t know his other exposure. I would say probably the longer you’re in it, really important to treat.
In general, most of us are treating, but I like to listen to the patient as well and say, “Hey, you’re right. Anytime you tamper with the microbiome, you’re going to be adjusting it and you’re going to have the repercussions. A perfect example is people who have insulin resistance so they’re pre-diabetic or early diabetic, sometimes we’ll use berberine, which is an herbal, but I caution against using that for too long. I might help them lose weight and get them out of that but you don’t want to be on anything long-term. I got to always weigh the risks and balances. That becomes almost a case-to-case basis. Maybe we’ll do a follow-up once more studies are done.
One of the studies they did do if it hasn’t been published, it will be, and Dr. Neil Nathan ran was they actually fed people moldy foods to see can moldy foods increase this mycotoxin excretion in the urine and they found they didn’t, so this is truly from water-damaged buildings. We know that but I wish there were more of a quantifiable. Right now we’re treating based on protocols that were set by those before us and what we’re seeing and whether we’re seeing clearance or not.
Ari: It sounds like mold and mycotoxins in coffee issue was probably overblown given that.
Dr. Rajka: Yes, probably overblown. I would say the only time maybe you can have mycotoxins elements and mold allergy in all in one, and then that would be probably more of an issue or someone who’s just super sensitive. It’ll just make them sick. It’s a different reaction, completely different reaction.
Ari: I have some practitioner friends of mine who when I’ve talked to them about the issue of colonization upon mold exposure, their way of framing it is more what is the health context of the person who was exposed? Are they a young person in relatively good health or do they have a strong microbiome that can likely resist colonization from some opportunistic mold exposure, or are they someone who’s elderly in poor health status already? If so, the colonization aspect of things is much more likely to happen in the person in poor health or old age. Do you agree with that framing or not?
Dr. Rajka: I do agree with it. I am currently treating everyone, but the interesting thing is reflecting on the demographic, most of my patients who are seeking treatment right now are 50 plus starting to get 40 to 50. I have a few children I’m treating so I think I would tread differently in those instances. Really the true test will be to say, “Hey, if you get clearance is to retest three months, six months down the road,” and make sure it’s sustained as long as they’re out of the environment. Yes, super important. I agree, you should probably look at it differently. They’re going to have different—
Why patients should be heard on their healing journey
Ari: Little personal anecdote. When I was very young, when I was a teenager, I struggled with asthma. I had read a book at that time written by someone, not any expert or something like that, but someone who was saying, “Hey, I’ve got the acne solution.” He wrote a book, an eBook that I bought as a teenager that had all these methods to help fix the acne. One aspect of it is everybody’s got parasites and so you have to kill the parasites and everybody’s got candida and so you’ve got to kill the candida. I remember at that time trying all this stuff and taking all these anti-parasitic stuff, black walnut, and wormwood.
All these antifungal stuff that was supposed to kill the candida that that was causing my acne. Anyway, my point is to say that I actually had a long history of trying lots of intense antifungal and antiparasitic compounds. I can’t say that I ever noticed any benefit from doing so. 20 years since then as I’ve been studying health since then, obviously there’s been a huge explosion of knowledge around the microbiome since then and understanding also of how, for example, antibiotics can screw up one’s microbiome.
I would say I err on the side of not tampering in the context that someone like myself who’s already in good health or, for example, my son who was in the bedroom with us also exposed to that mold and had symptoms from that mold exposure, he had sinus issues, congestion, and runny nose frequently for a few months during that mold exposure time. My inclination with both him and myself was to not do any intense anti-fungal protocol to treat colonization or suspect colonization or any nose rinsing or anything like that, because I didn’t want to screw up what was already a very healthy microbiome in my case and his case.
I know we had discussions around that and we had a bit of a back and forth and you were okay with me doing that but I just want listeners to hear what your take is on my thought process and my decision-making process.
Dr. Rajka: Here’s what I’ve always known even before I knew functional medicine that you got to listen to the patient and their instinct. Sometimes even before I knew functional medicine, I would say, what do you think is going on? Sometimes they really honest-to-goodness wouldn’t know, but sometimes they would, or say when it came to a child, you’re really worried. I can see that. I’ve reassured you, what is your fear around this? Sometimes it would be unwarranted, it’s because they’re rightfully so being mama bear, papa bear but sometimes they really knew that there was something else underlying and so we’d go explore it. I’ve always had that collaborative relationship.
That’s part of what I think makes myself and many of us in the field good practitioners is that you have to also use your medical knowledge, use a history, use the labs but then you also have to combine it and you add in that the instinct and your gut instinct is probably right. It’s funny that you said, “Hey, I did all these things they said would help.” I wonder, what do you think was the biggest needle mover with your acne? I have a suspicion, but just wondering.
Ari: I’ve always been an extreme personality and at that time, I was an aspiring bodybuilder. I was doing all this crazy stuff and doing extreme diets and taking all kinds of supplements and stuff like that and taking huge amounts of protein and huge amounts of dairy, huge amounts of meat in order to try to build muscle, and overeating in general.
I think that in context with a young teenager’s hormonal state probably combined with some nutrient imbalances. I was probably deficient in some nutrients didn’t have the proper balance of certain things, zinc, copper, vitamin A which have a link to acne. I would suspect that given the nature of my extreme diets and everything I was doing with that, I think that was probably a major cause of what I was experiencing. I’m curious what your intuitive hunch is.
Dr. Rajka: That was it, is that it was likely diet and nutrients are the top two. That’s the top two things I target. Remember priming the body, we’re doing that is diet and nutrients. I’ve just recently treated a bodybuilder and his inflammatory profile and his lip were all over the show because he was car bloating and eating way too much. If you can get the diet right and that’s where we always start. There was an interesting documentary called The Gut Movie. You probably have heard of it. I did a showing here and they highlighted a producer out of Australia who ate the standard Australian diet. Ironically, it’s called SAD, just like our standard American diet, which is SAD.
He flew to Namibia in Africa and they did a stool sample before he flew. Then for one week in Africa, he ate with the local indigenous people what they ate. It was all whole foods, obviously, nothing processed and they did a stool sample at the end of one week. In one week, he reset his whole microbiome. That’s a testament. You really should balance that with how sick are you like you had said. Most people who are coming to me are pretty sick. You’re the exception and we’re working in a different capacity too. Listen to the instinct, listen to the story, where on the spectrum of illness do they lie, and then make your decision.
I’ve had people get really, really sick from having a colonoscopy so that wipes out the whole microbiome of your large intestine. Now I just found a company yesterday at a conference that makes a probiotics suppository. If someone needs a colonoscopy, then you can support them, or coffee enemas are utilized to detox from mycotoxin illness or just in general as detox strategies. That’s a way to support the microbiome, but with food first. That’s what I was going to say. I think it was probably food and nutrients.
Ari: Totally. One other thing that I probably should mention in that context is I would eat the same things every day and probably lack of diet variation, I probably developed some intolerance or allergy to some of these foods that I just consume two, three times every single day for years. Probably also a factor. I definitely agree with your hunch on that one. One other question I have regarding mold mycotoxin testing, and this is something you and I encountered a couple of months ago when we got the results of my most recent tests. The good news is I’m completely free of mycophenolic acid what was off the charts, it was 800 something on the initial test.
I think what was considered high was above 35 or something like that. I was 830 or something to that effect. This most recent test showed I’m at a zero on mycophenolic acid so that’s processed. I have what seems to me to be very low-level toxicities in I think ochratoxin and one other one, I forget which one. There was also some disagreements between the two tests, the one from RealTime Labs and the Great Plains Labs urinary mycotoxin tests. What is your take on the cross-validation of those tests or the degree of validity? Does the disagreement there speak in any way to lack of validity of these tests, or is there an issue there?
Dr. Rajka: I think that historically what we’re seeing is Great Plains picks up ochratoxin better and all of its byproducts, so citrulline and mycophenolic. RealTime tends to pick up the gliotoxins, trichothecenes, and aflatoxin. Glio, afla, trichothecenes better. It could have been that although I’ve had a person come up with negative recently RealTime’s. Everything was negative and then had positive on Great Plains, or as you mobilize out of the body, you pull other things.
I think we should always be questioning, always question because it’s going to change. I’ve been doing functional medicine almost a decade, and probably mycotoxin almost for the past three, four years now. The protocols are vastly different. I keep adjusting it. That’s why I tell people that I’m treating you even when I’m not treating you because I’m at some conference, I’m jotting down notes. If it’s an emergency, I need to stop something or start something, I’m contacting them in between appointments. Typically, it’s not an emergency and then we’re going to change the protocol the next time I see them. Always question.
I think the discrepancy that we’ve seen is that one tends to pick up one better than the others. Don’t even get me started, is it doesn’t correlate to what we’re finding in our homes. I wish that would correlate so we can identify. That’s why I started the mold community is I’m bringing together all the experts. I’m providing just foundation because remember, if I can get someone 50 to 90% better with things that don’t require any binders and make them functional, that’s huge for someone’s life.
I’m going to be interviewing experts. I’m interviewing one later today. We didn’t even touch upon the mass cell activation syndrome that makes it very difficult to recover as well. That’ll be a little later today. It’s just amazing because I want answers too. There’s a lot of confusion especially when it comes to the home and testing. Always question and I’ll be doing that. I’m going to keep revising the protocols as things unfold and really tailoring it. It’s very individualized when someone comes to see me.
Ari: Good news for me, I’m back to 100% at this point. I would say most of 2020 after, I think, several months-long of that mold exposure, I had all these weird and unusual symptoms start to crop up. I would wake up every morning with a lot of stuffiness in my nose, my son did too. Both he and I became proned to getting respiratory infections. At the beginning of the year, towards the beginning as COVID was starting to hit, or actually just before it was really being publicized, I got some severe respiratory infection, the worst respiratory infection that I’ve ever had in my life. My son got it too. Very unusual, very atypical and really, I was coughing so severely that all my neck muscles were sore and in pain.
It’s very rare for me to cough. What was most unusual, it lasted about five or six weeks instead of the typical thing which if I get a cold, you have very mild symptoms for three or four days, and then by seven days into it, you’re back in action. In this case, I was out of commission and couldn’t really exercise for about five or six weeks. It was only after a month or two later when COVID started getting more publicity that I realized, “Hey, maybe I got COVID.” I still don’t know for sure if that was COVID or if it was some other type of thing, like maybe whooping cough or some other respiratory infection that was just really exacerbated because I was also poisoned with mold.
For all of 2020 basically, I had some of those kinds of symptoms. I would say lower energy than I should have been. My immune system did not feel strong, I felt prone to infection. Probably the biggest symptom was a really decreased tolerance to exercise. I could only do a third or a fourth as much exercise as I normally would be able to before I would really feel my body crash and get fatigued or get prone to catching a cold or something like that. I would really feel the immune suppression from it. I just couldn’t tolerate and recover from a significant amount of exercise.
I’m very happy to say that now, about a little more than a year later, I’m doing tons of exercise now and feeling great and feeling 100%. I frame all this context only to ask you the question, give some people some sense of how long it takes to recover from mycotoxin illness. I’ve heard some people say it takes years. Other people say you can do it in a much shorter period of time. Obviously, I guess it depends on the severity of the case. What’s your overarching take on how long it takes people to recover from mycotoxin poison?
Dr. Rajka: You hit the nail on the head. It’s typically one to two years once you’re out of the environment. I think that you’re on that shorter end of the spectrum because you are healthier going into it, probably a shorter exposure and that bodes well. You would not be recovered from mycotoxin illness and exercising at this level if you were still sick from it. That really bodes well. We use clinical indicators. If our lab testing shows X and someone looks Y, you have to say, “What’s going on here?” I’m really happy to hear that. How’s your son doing?
Ari: He’s doing awesome. He’s 100% as well.
Dr. Rajka: That’s amazing. It’s really bringing light. A lot of people don’t even know it exists, number one, and number two, they have no idea the impact on their health. The sooner you can treat it, the sooner then you can just move on with your life and then enjoy. It sounds like you’re in a nicer environment these days with the animals in the background. That’s huge.
Who should get tested for mycotoxins
Ari: Absolutely. Is there any other guidance that you want to leave people with? We’re coming to the last few minutes here. Do you want to leave people with just a couple of thoughts on maybe emphasizing which kind of person should seek out mycotoxin testing and anything else that you can think of as far as what you want to leave people with?
Dr. Rajka: The type of person that really should seek this out is anyone who is far down the rabbit hole, so really sick, no one knows what’s going on, or even mild to moderately sick that it isn’t responding. Anywhere in the spectrum, the worse off you are, the quicker you should be tested immediately. The ones that are mild, it really just depends if they respond to the usual measures. If you’re eating a healthy diet and sleeping, and you’re still not better, you’ve worked with a practitioner or if you’ve seen a practitioner and maybe they don’t treat mold illness, then you really should be seeking out the answers to, is this mold and being tested?
Just know key is priming the body, finding that person to work with, whether it’s on a community study like we’re doing or one-on-one. That’s my goal. I want to break the barrier of, can we do this? Without having to see people one-on-one. It’s a lot harder to see one patient at a time over the course of an hour or more versus handling 100 people that you educate and then they can empower themselves to get better. Then just know that there are other things aside from mold. If it’s not mold, there are other red hearings you should be exploring so Lyme and metals.
I typically will do that a little later in the course. We didn’t touch upon but you can also do environmental toxin testing. We’re all exposed, but you’d be surprised some of my healthiest living patients. They eat organic, they do all the right things and I’ve identified really high markers for things like thyroids and now you have to go say what is it. Water, you have to have a clean source of water. Get the foundation right. If you’ve been unwell to chronically unwell and it’s not getting better with the usual steps, or if you’re chronically unwell and no one knows, then get tested for mold and take action. Get out of the environment, get treatment so that you can live the rest of your life.
Ari: Beautiful. Dr. Galbraith, thank you so much for coming on the show and doing this. To everybody listening, I just want to give obviously my personal endorsement. You’ve just heard that I’ve specifically sought out Dr. Galbraith’s care for myself and for my son for our own mold poisoning. That gives you pretty much the strongest personal endorsement that I could possibly give someone. I just mentioned that we’ve done the most recent bout of testing which show that I’ve pretty much cleared the vast majority of this, and I’m now feeling great and so is my son.
I also want to mention that, as I said before in the context of doing some of the more aggressive protocols, antifungals, and stuff, I really appreciate how she listened to me and respected my view and my take on things. In contrast to some doctors who are a bit overly assertive and need things done their way, and it’s their way or the highway, she really respected me and listened to my take on things, and worked with me to find a balance between what I wanted and the optimal protocol from her perspective. I just really appreciate it if you guys are with unexplained symptoms and not getting anywhere or you have a known mycotoxin exposure, I really encourage you to seek out her care.
Also, I want to mention there’s no affiliate links or anything. I don’t make any money off of you seeking out her care. This is just my own personal doctor who’s been treating me for a mycotoxin illness and I wanted to give her a platform to help others who are struggling with this issue. Dr. Galbraith, thank you again so much. I look forward to the next conversation. One last thing is where can people reach out to you if they are interested in working with you?
Dr. Rajka: The most cost-effective means is the newly launched Conquering Mold Community at conqueringmold.com. One-to-one care, they would go to drrajka.com. I’m sure you can post that link. Soon I’m launching by the time this is up a community to target fatigue in women, fatigue, hormonal imbalances, even the weight gain. That community is being launched and named Radiantly She so that will be radiantlyshe.com.
Ari: You have a Conquering Mold Community as well, right?
Dr. Rajka: Yes. The Conquering Mold Community is just conqueringmold.com. It’s pretty cost-effective. Like I keep telling people, it’s less than a cup of coffee a day to get you better.
Ari: Awesome. Thank you so much, my friend. Really appreciate it and look forward to the next conversation.
Dr. Rajka: Thank you, Ari.
Organic acid testing to identify mold toxicity (11:03)
When should you get tested for mold toxicity (18:45)
The link between mycotoxins and the vagus nerve (23:40)
Mold toxins, gut health, and colonization (28:00)
Why patients should be heard on their healing journey (34:56)
Who should get tested for mycotoxins (49:53)