The International Society for Environmentally Acquired Illness (ISEAI) is an exciting new organization whose stated mission is to “restore health to individuals with environmentally acquired illnesses through clinical practice, education, and research.” Environmentally acquired illnesses are those that are a result of environmental triggers such as mold, infection with tick-borne illnesses, chemical exposure from a variety of sources such as plastics, heavy metals, pesticides, personal care products, and electromagnetic frequencies, to name a few. This organization is responding to a desperate need as these sorts of conditions are becoming epidemic and more people are getting sicker and sicker. These illnesses all adversely impact the immune system and set up a chronic inflammatory response.
Here is some information from their website:
Exposure to triggers such as environmental toxins and infections can cause chronic inflammation in multiple body systems. These triggers cause damage to the immune system, the brain, the heart, the lungs, and many other body systems. Exposure to triggers is cumulative and can, over time, cause debilitating chronic illness and even death. An important part of the treatment of all EAIs is to reduce exposure to environmental triggers and to help the body to expel toxic buildup through detoxification. Treatment of EAIs is more likely to be successful if the patient and physician can identify the specific triggers affecting the patient’s health. EAIs are interconnected. For example: a person with biotoxin illness is likely to become more sensitive to chemicals and develop multiple chemical sensitivities (MCS). Likewise, a person who suffers from chronic Lyme disease is likely to become more sensitive to mold and other toxins found in water-damaged buildings. Some people who have become ill from exposure to one set of triggers may become sensitive to wi-fi exposure.”
It is thought that many illnesses may be caused or exacerbated by a person’s exposure to environmental toxins. These include:
- Alzheimer’s disease and dementia
- Epilepsy and other seizure disorders
- Dysautonomias such as postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS)
- Parkinson’s disease
- Autistic spectrum disorders
- Depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses
- Autoimmune diseases
- Diabetes (Type 2) and metabolic syndrome
- Cardiovascular disease
- Celiac disease, and other food sensitivities
- Leaky gut syndrome (LGS) and dysbiosis
- Asthma and allergies
- Pneumonia and COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
- Psoriasis and eczema
Chronic exposure to harmful environmental toxins and other triggers interferes with the normal functions of the body. They can affect the mind. It is not uncommon for children or adults with recurring exposures to moldy indoor environments at home, work, or school to develop multiple symptoms. Treatment of EAIs may lead to substantial improvement of health.
It is hard to imagine that so many diverse conditions could result from exposure to environmental toxins, “but it is a fact that people suffering from environmental exposure suffer an astonishingly wide range of severe symptoms. In fact, though the list is long, it understates the devastating consequences of environmentally acquired illness,” according to the ISEAI website.
I now routinely test most patients in my psychiatry practice for mold toxicity. I believe that it should be ruled out in cases of depression and anxiety accompanied by other medical and neurological symptoms—whether or not the patient is aware of water damage in the home. As mold toxins are so damaging to the immune system, once a patient is treated for mold toxicity and the immune system is strengthened, addressing other issues that may be present, like Chronic Lyme and co-infections, is better tolerated.
Laboratory testing for mold toxins has become less expensive and is done via urinalysis. Persons looking for more information might benefit from reading “Toxic: Heal Your Body from Mold Toxicity, Lyme Disease, Multiple Chemical Sensitivities and Chronic Environmental Illness,” by Neil Nathan, MD, a family practice doctor in California with a longstanding interest in treating chronic acquired environmental illness. Dr. Nathan is one of my mentors and I consult with him regularly. The cover of the book is pictured at the beginning of this page.