Dr. Hotze and his guest, Dr. Alfred Johnson, a leading authority on mold allergies, toxicity and infections, discuss how to diagnose, detoxify and treat symptoms of mold toxicity.
Stacey B.: Welcome to Dr. Hotze’s Wellness Revolution. I’m Stacey Bandfield here with Dr. Steven Hotze, founder of the Hotze Health & Wellness Center and we have some great shows on tap for you today. But first, if you’ve not already downloaded our podcast, you can go to hotzepodcast.com, that’s H-O-T-Z-E podcast.com because we are passionate about health and there is a lot to be learned out there, isn’t there Dr. Hotze?
Dr. Hotze: Absolutely. We’re going to learn a lot today.
Stacey B.: Yes. We have got a doctor on today, Dr. Al Johnson and he is an expert on mold which sounds kind of icky at first, but you know what, mold is everywhere and it affects more of your lifestyle than you might think. Dr. Hotze, take it away.
Dr. Hotze: Thanks so much and thank each one of you for joining us today on Dr. Hotze’s Wellness Revolution. I believe that you and every individual needs a doctor and a staff of professionals who have the wherewithal and are trained to help you obtain and maintain health and wellness, naturally, so as you mature, you have energy, vitality and enthusiasm for life without using pharmaceutical drugs. We have a program set up here at the Hotze Health & Wellness Center to help you achieve that.
Today on our podcast, we have a longtime friend of mine of over 30 years, medical colleague, Dr. Al Johnson, who is the founder and owner of Johnson Medical Associates in Richardson, Texas. Dr. Johnson is a doctor of internal medicine. He trained under Dr. Bill Ray at the Environmental Center there in Dallas several decades ago, and so he specializes in environmental medicine. He specializes in allergy medicine. He specializes in the treatment of mold sensitivities and mold toxicities.
I wanted to bring him on because as you’re well aware in Houston, two years ago when Hurricane Harvey came through, we had horrific flooding in about five to 10% of the area and the homes were flooded. Some of them were completely under water. These homes have, people went in to remediate the homes, but I know that in fixing the homes up, there’s going to be a lot of problems with mold developing. I’m concerned about that and I wanted Dr. Johnson to talk about mold sensitivities, mold toxicity, mold allergies and how he handles that because it is his specialty and there’s going to be a lot of problems in Houston over the next several years with people with poor health who aren’t going to know what’s going on and they will simply be exposed to mold in their formerly flooded homes that they’ve tried to remediate but didn’t get it done effectively.
Al, thank you for joining us today.
Dr. Al Johnson: It’s my privilege. Thanks for having me.
Dr. Hotze: You bet. Tell us about your interest in mold and what you do to evaluate that at your medical center there in Dallas.
Dr. Al Johnson Yes, well there’s mold is all around us. There’s outdoor mold that we breathe every day. As you pointed out, Houston has a high mold count just in general because it’s a damper environment. Mold likes to grow in that damp environment. The problem is, is when that dampness gets inside your home or inside a building and then mold starts to grow, it can grow in the walls. It can grow where there’s been flooding. Anyplace where there’s dampness on the sheetrock, in the attic.
Dr. Hotze: In the air vents, too. Air conditioning.
Dr. Al Johnson: Air vents, the heating, air conditioning system. And then it gets dispersed. There’s concentration of the black molds inside which produce toxins and that’s what really tends to make people sick. They not only get exposed to concentration of the mold spores, which is the allergy factor, but mold such as Stachybotrys, Chaetomium, Aspergillus, Penicillium, produce different toxins and are neurotoxins. And they affect the nervous system, they affect the immune system, they affect the mitochondria and the result in that is, is people feel tired. They can’t think. They have numbness, tingling, shortness of breath but yet they don’t wheeze. They get dizzy, lightheaded and just become nonfunctional from the toxic part of it.
The allergies can cause the itchy eyes, the runny nose, the headaches. It causes fatigue also from the allergy part. And then the more severely exposed people that may be immunocompromised or have a history of allergies can get infected. They get mold growing in their sinuses or in their lungs and that can be the Aspergillus, the Penicillium, when that happens, they call it Aspergillosis pneumonia. These people are really sick. Usually they end up on IV antibiotics for the fungus, antifungals in the hospital. That’s the basic scenario.
There are 3 major problems with mold:
Dr. Hotze: Really there are three major problems with mold.
1. First and most common are people that have mold allergies, people that have inhalant allergy problems from weed, tree, grass, pollen, dust mite, mold spore and animal danders, are going to react to molds and that can just be in the external environment. From rain, it rains a lot in Houston, and so we have a moldy sort of climate. People have problems with that.
2. The second thing is that when they get mold in their internal environment, in their house, those molds, specific molds that you have mentioned, give off toxins and those toxins are neurotoxins so they can affect our neurological system and you described the symptoms that occur.
3. But then thirdly, sometimes people can, because their immune system has been overwhelmed, maybe they’ve just had just severe allergies, have a bad immune system. Maybe they have a low thyroid and their immune system is compromised from that or other issues, they can literally get infected with these various mold and the funguses in their body.
Those are three different levels and some people have all three, don’t they?
Dr. Al Johnson: Exactly.
Dr. Hotze: What is it? Oftentimes these individuals who present to conventional doctors with the dizziness, with the inability to think clearly, the fatigue, the muscle aches and pains, you routinely, your conventional doctor’s going to do routine blood tests on them and the blood test usually come back, everything comes back in the normal range and they don’t really have anything to hang their hat on. Why is it that most conventional doctors don’t think of mold toxicity or mold allergy or even mold infection when they see these patients?
Dr. Al Johnson: Well number one, many doctors just rely upon blood tests and they just use standard blood test that are kind of screening tests, but don’t know the questions to ask. Don’t know the tests to order and they haven’t been taught about what toxins do to the body. It’s not one of the subjects that really addressed in medical school. There’s very little in postgraduate education on it. And then there’s a big push to deny mold causes any problem because of the legal part of it, the insurance part of it. It’s really expensive to clean up and remediate buildings that are contaminated. There’s a push out there to have disinformation about it.
But the people that I see, come in with a story that is, “I feel pretty good when I’m away from my house or when I’m away from work. I go to work and as the day goes on, my headache picks up, I get more fatigued, I start coughing, my eyes itch and burn.” The same kind of stories can be at home and patients will say, “Well when I go on vacation, I feel pretty good but I come back to the house and I feel sick again. I get the headaches, the nausea, the dizziness, the fatigue.”
Those are common history things that make me aware to look at environmental factors, mold in particular, and now we have specific tests that can define what mold you’re exposed to. It’s a blood test. You look at IgG antibodies – there’s IgE antibodies that can be determined also through skin testing and you need to do intradermal skin testing, not prick testing for the molds, because that is not a really good way to test mold sensitivity.
And then there’s a urine test that is done to test for the mold toxins.
Dr. Hotze: What is the name of that test?
Dr. Al Johnson: That is a mycotoxin test by Realtime Labs in Carrollton, Texas.
Dr. Hotze: Most physicians are not trained to even think about mold toxicity and we know because there are people that have what is known as, you describe they have problems maybe in their home or at their place of work or maybe it’s at school. Remember, this can affect schools, too, and there are plenty of schools throughout the country that have mold growing in them that are adversely affecting the kids’ ability to really function well in those schools.
This is known too as a sick building syndrome. People say, “Boy, that building makes me sick.” It’s the sick building syndrome and really the underlying cause, the common underlying cause or the most common underlying cause, is mold growing in the building and putting off toxins which adversely affect an individual. Also, putting off mold spores that cause allergy reactions.
When you evaluate an individual, and by the way, most of these patients, when they end up at conventional doctors’ offices, who don’t even think, it doesn’t even cross their mind, one, they could have allergies much less to mold, much less mold toxicity or mold infection. These doctors will commonly place these individuals on antidepressants, antianxiety medication, sleep medication, anti-inflammatory medication, and that does not address the problem. Frankly, it just makes the patients more toxic from the toxins that are in the pharmaceutical products that they’re taking.
I’m sure when you see individuals that come into your office, they’re probably, many of them are already on a host of pharmaceutical drugs.
Dr. Al Johnson: Yeah, that is absolutely true and they aren’t getting better. They only have side effects from them and they’re really frustrated because they’ve seen four or five different doctors, been to the ER numerous times, and they say, “Well, it’s just all in your head.” Well it is because the nervous system is affected.
Dr. Hotze: It is in your head. In your brain.
Stacey B.: Literally.
Dr. Hotze: You’re toxic.
Dr. Al Johnson: Exactly. In order to get these people well, you have to get rid of toxins first. Avoidance is the first thing. You have to define what’s going on. You need to get a good indoor air quality specialist to come in and test, look for mold spores. There are certified ones in the state of Texas. We now can measure mold volatile organic compounds, the odors and the chemicals that the mold puts off is directly related to those molds.
Dr. Hotze: We can measure mold toxins in the house, as well.
Dr. Al Johnson: Measure mold toxins. You can measure the volatile organic, the chemical that they put out which is a volatile one like the gasoline’s a volatile organic, benzene is, toluene, those type of things. Then you can measure the mycotoxin in the patient and you measure the patient’s antibodies to correlate it so you can correlate the whole exposure from what the house has to what the patient has to what they’re sensitive to and then what toxins they have in them. From a treatment standpoint, avoidance is the first thing. You have to get them out of that.
Dr. Hotze: Environment. Have to get them out of the house or the building.
Dr. Al Johnson: Exactly. Then you have to help their body detoxify. And that’s where nutrients come into play. Vitamin C, B complex, helps the liver process all this along with lipoic acid, glutathione.
Dr. Hotze: Glutathione.
Dr. Al Johnson: You need to lipolyse glutathione and Co-Q10. All those things then help detoxify. If the patient does not have a good detoxification mechanism and they’re weak, then we use hyperbaric oxygen treatment that helps speed up the mitochondria, to get oxygen to the tissues so they can heal. It helps detoxify, heals the tissues that have been damaged by the toxins and these people can recover.
Dr. Hotze: You also do allergy testing for the allergens, as well, and treat those, as well.
Dr. Al Johnson: Yeah. As part of the assessment, we find out where they’re allergic and then you get them on allergy treatment. Interesting enough, a lot of these patients are gluten sensitive, also. For some reason, the genetics on gluten makes them more susceptible and less able to detoxify and so many times you have to look at some of their basic foods to see whether they’re sensitive to that or gluten sensitive. Many of them are on a gluten-free diet, a dairy-free diet, and then there may be some other different foods that they end up sensitive to, also.
All these symptoms pile onto each other and so unless you’re really thorough in evaluating the patient, a doctor can really get confused and the patient says, “Well, I’m not getting any better.” You may be doing everything right but missed the gluten sensitivity.
Dr. Hotze: Exactly. That gluten, we here at the Hotze Health & Wellness Center, we just, we follow Dr. William Davis’ recommendation, don’t eat any wheat. Just don’t eat it because it causes a host of health problems. Not only is wheat a simple carbohydrate, which means it’s starch and converts to sugar, it’s got gliadin in it, it’s got gluten in it, amylopectin in it. These various different proteins in the wheat itself can cause damage, neurological damage, and they can cause an addiction and of course they can cause the production of small particles of lipoprotein which make you more easily prone to developing coronary artery disease.
We just eliminate wheat. If you want to be healthy, do your best to eliminate wheat and wheat products, all grain products. That goes for also using corn, potatoes and rice. We recommend that to just keep your sugar level down to a bare minimum.
Anyway, so the program that you offer is a complete evaluation of the patient’s home life or work life, where they feel sick. You determine the symptoms. They’ve been to a bunch of doctors, so you know that they have something going on and the conventional doctors just haven’t been able to discover it. You know about mold because you treat it. I don’t know, I have to bet over the last 20 years, you’ve treated thousands of patients with mold toxicity.
Dr. Al Johnson: Exactly.
Dr. Hotze: You know this and you’re well known, you’re one of the leading authorities in the country, if not the world, on the treatment of individuals with mold allergy, mold toxicity and individuals that have mold infections. Now tell us about that last question or the last topic we’ve eluded to. Tell us about mold infections. How do make that diagnosis of a mold infection in the body?
Dr. Al Johnson: The two places where the mold can take up residency is in your sinuses and then in your lungs, typically in this situation.
Dr. Hotze: And how do you treat that? Do you treat with antifungals, obviously?
Dr. Al Johnson: Yeah, there are antifungals to use, either oral or IV. And then depending on what type of fungus is there depends on what type of antifungal you use. I use a nasal, special nasal swab that looks at the DNA for bacteria and fungus. With this methodology you don’t have to depend upon fungus growing. It doesn’t grow very well. It takes a long time. But within four or five days, I can have the results back on the DNA culture. Whether there’s fungus or bacteria there.
Chest x-rays help you with pulmonary conditions. Sometimes they have a chronic cough, the chest x-ray is negative. You have to do a CT scan of the chest to look more specifically at infiltrates where the mold may be. If that fails and they still have a cough and they act like they are infected, then they need a bronchoscopy with bronchial washings and that’s where a little scope goes down, looks into your lungs, squirt some water in there, suck it out. Then use culture techniques to find out what actually is there.
If they’re really infected and they come in coughing, they’re coughing up sputum, then you can just culture mold out of what they cough up, out of the sputum and know exactly what’s going on with that.
Dr. Hotze: Individuals, obviously it depends how severe, how sick the person is, but once you clear up the home and sometimes they just have to, it’s hard to remediate a home. Sometimes they have to just move into another location. But if they can remediate the home, that’s not inexpensive to do that. We know that can cost tens of thousands of dollars to get rid of the mold or replace the vents or replace the walls.
The second thing, but you’re going to test everybody for allergies and if they have allergies, you’ll treat them for that and then you detoxify using various vitamins and minerals, as well as hyperbaric oxygen. I want have you back on another podcast and talk about hyperbaric oxygen treatment not just for mold sensitivity and mold toxicity. Dr. Johnson has the hyperbaric oxygen treatment centers of Texas. He has the largest treatment center in Texas. He has five hyperbaric machines and people come from all over the world to be treated there for hyperbaric oxygen treatment.
We’re going to pick up and have another podcast with him in the near future. Thank you for joining us today and thank you Dr. Johnson for sharing your medical expertise with us on the whole issue of mold allergy, mold toxicity and mold infection.
And if anybody has problems with, that your physicians can’t seem to figure out, Dr. Johnson is a resource in the Dallas area. Here at the Hotze Health & Wellness Center, we can also test and treat you for allergies to mold and to other allergens and help determine your problem. If you need hyperbaric oxygen treatment, Dr. Johnson supplies that at his center in the Dallas area.
Thank you again, Al, for joining us today. We look forward to visiting with you in the near future.
Stacey B.: Oh, and Dr. Johnson, how can people find you if they want to know more about the hyperbaric oxygen therapy? What’s the best way to reach you?
Stacey B.: Perfect. Thank you for your great work, sir. And again, all of you out there, if you would like to know about natural approaches to getting healthy and well, just give us a call at 281-698-8698. That’s 281-698-8698. Thank you for joining us today on Dr. Hotze’s Wellness Revolution.