For Margaret Christensen, M.D., fatigue, pain and brain fog were a way of life. Then she uncovered the surprising culprit and the natural strategies that restored her health.
There’s no other way… I’m going to have to close my business, Margaret Christensen, M.D., accepted, sadly. ″I was a doctor with a successful ob-gyn practice, but I’d become so tired over the past couple of years that I could no longer function. My health was in crisis. I figured slowing down was the only way to get my life back. Still, for someone who was always top of her class, giving up felt as painful as the fatigue.
Barely getting by.
″At first, my sleepiness seemed warranted: I had four little kids, and my nights had been disrupted for years while I delivered babies at the hospital. I also figured, My adrenals are burned-out. But following my chronic fatigue came strange whole-body pain and brain fog. I’d always enjoyed rapid-fire thinking, but suddenly, I had trouble making decisions — totally out of character for a take-charge person. I consulted several colleagues, and they all said, ‘Oh honey, you’re just depressed. Take antidepressants.’ But nothing helped.
″Later, despite the fact that I was no longer working, I still didn’t feel rested. And my family’s health also declined. Nobody felt good: asthma, allergies, migraines, food sensitivities, mental health issues. It was so stressful. Due to the exhaustion, my husband and I fought more and decided to divorce. By the time I moved houses, I was ready for a fresh start. I cleaned up my diet, choosing organic, avoiding grains and taking vitamins, and I felt a bit better.
″A few years later, however, my energy collapsed again. All my old symptoms returned with a vengeance. I was back to working, and my office building had water leaks, so someone suggested I visit the Environmental Health Center in town. There, I tested positive for toxic mold exposure. My urine sample showed very high levels of mycotoxins, including trichothecenes, which suppress the immune system.
″That’s when I started to connect the dots… When I sold our house after the divorce, the inspection found an invisible water leak that was causing mold to circulate through our air-conditioning system. The new owners agreed to remediate the situation, and I never thought about it again. But suddenly, I knew that mold must have been behind many of the symptoms we were feeling. We’d been poisoned by our surroundings!
Healthy at last!
″The more I learned, the more my eyes were opened. It was clear that sleep problems were a common manifestation of mold exposure. I also read about changes in mood and behavior caused by toxins. One stat said the divorce rate for couples exposed to mold was as high as 95 percent!
″Looking back, I suspected I’d grown up in a house with mold and had been re-exposed in my college dorm. I discovered it can be easy to recover from a single mold exposure, but it gets harder to heal after repeat occurrences. The reason: Mycotoxins are fat-soluble, which means they stay in your brain and organs, accumulating over time. The damage can get worse under stress (like sick kids and a failed marriage!) or if you have a history of antibiotic use (for my teenage sinus infections!), which strips the gut of immunity-boosting bacteria. No wonder my health was a mess.
″This time, I sought the help of a functional medicine doctor. I learned to ‘mobilize’ the trapped toxins with sweating, lymphatic drainage, Epsom salt baths and other techniques. Then I supplemented with charcoal, clay and chlorella to grab on to the mold particles and remove them with my waste so they wouldn’t recirculate through my body. ″Within two months, my fatigue lifted and my brain fog disappeared.
With mold cases, there are always two ‘patients’: the person and the building. So the other part of my healing was getting out of that sickly office space.
″This journey changed my life. I shifted my career to focus on functional medicine. I named my practice Carpathia, after the ship that rescued the survivors of the Titanic. I know firsthand how many people are suffering — I was in the conventional medicine world for 18 years and even I couldn’t get better. Whereas conventional medicine only treats the tip of the iceberg, I work to uncover the underlying causes below the surface.
“Now, 20 years later, I’m sharing my healing resources at ToxicMoldProject.com. I don’t want anyone to go through the misery I did. I’m so grateful I have the energy to tackle this. Mold exposure is so common. I want healing to become common too!”
Could you have been exposed to mold?
Ninety-nine percent of women are exposed to energy-draining mold. If you’re struggling with exhaustion, check your symptoms to determine if you have been exposed to mycotoxins produced by mold.
This story originally appeared in our print magazine.