January 24, 2022
Facebook Live: A Surprisingly Common Cause of Brain Fog & Dementia
Apollo Health’s Chief Science Officer, Dr. Dale Bredesen; Chief Health Liaison, Julie Gregory, and ReCODE Certified Coach Julie Luby were joined by mold expert Brian Karr for a Facebook Live about mold and how it impacts health and cognition, often contributing to dementia. Julie G. and Julie Luby discussed their own journeys with mold remediation. Brian shared how his personal health journey lead him to become an expert mold investigator, outlining practical steps to identify and remediate the source of mold in any building.
We’ve included a complete recording of the session and a full transcript below for your convenience.
Dr. Bredesen (00:00): Hi everybody. And welcome to Facebook Live. We have three fantastic guests today. We’re really fortunate to have Brian Karr, who is a world expert on home testing for molds, and of course, other things related to toxicity coming from your home. And Brian, welcome. Thank you so much for joining us. Really appreciate it. And we also have Julie Luby and Julie G. (who joins us pretty much every time) and who have both been users and both have been exposed to this sort of thing.
Dr. Bredesen (01:00): We thought this would be a really important area here at the beginning of the year, really important area to address because if you look at people with cognitive decline and you look at the patients coming in with SCI, with MCI, with Alzheimer’s disease, it has been surprising to us how many of these people do have exposures. And often as we’ve talked about before, they have multiple things. They often have insulin resistance, they often have some ongoing inflammation, they often have some gut issues, sometimes changes in their oral microbiomes. But one of the most prominent and one of the most, unfortunately malicious things is exposure to mycotoxins. And until you identify those and until you address them, you really don’t see a lot of improvement.
Dr. Bredesen (01:47): And several years ago I wrote a paper when we first discovered that so many of these people had this exposure. It was surprising that they tend to look a little different in their presentation. They tend to be more the non-amnestic presentations, where they’re having executive dysfunction. They tend to be often young people in their late 40s and early to mid 50s. Not always, but that’s a common one. They’re often APOE4-negative, though again, not always. So lots of important work to go through. And one of the biggest issues is what do you do about your home? What you do to determine, whether in fact you are exposed and then what do you do to fix that? So Brian, welcome. Maybe you could mention your website so everyone can take a quick look at what you’re doing.
Brian Karr (02:36): Yeah. So my name’s Brian Karr. I’m the co-founder of a company called We Inspect. Our website is yesweinspect.com. But we’re a home assessment company. We work only with people that are really suffering from mold exposure. That’s our niche, that’s our path, that’s what we worked on. And that’s really, we stumbled into this path years ago and realized just the massive need that there is for truly understanding what’s happening in your house and how that impacts the body. To your point, Dr. Bredesen, we see people on the other side. So you were describing what the clinical testing looks like. We see them once we’re talking to them, brain fog, multiple system problems. So you’re talking hormone imbalances, you’re talking sometimes reproductive issues, skin issues, gut issues is a really big thing.
Brian Karr (03:28): And when I’m talking with someone initially upfront, and they’re explaining a symptom set, that’s basically across their entire body, in my mind it just, we see it so often and we know that there’s a component there that’s going on, that’s triggering a lot of this stuff. And so basically what we do is we go into homes, we identify the source of where the problems are coming from, the source of the mold problem, where it is. This is probably the thing that is done most poorly in our industry, is actually figuring out where it’s coming from. If we don’t know where it’s coming from, there’s no way you can ever fix it. And so the inspectors that come in and take an air sample in the middle of a room, they’re failing you because they’re not identifying where it’s coming from. And even if that sample said there was a problem, what do you do to fix it? Got the whole house. How do you know where it came from?
Brian Karr (04:18): So it’s about understanding source and then understanding how that source is impacting living space, how it’s impacting heating air conditioning systems, which recirculate all that stuff around. And really, the environmental, the home system is so similar to the body. It’s a living system with a bunch of interconnected portions that impact each other. And so when you talk about treating the body, you don’t just go to one spot and say, that’s it and we’re done, and we’re done. There’s a lot of things that are going on you have to keep into account, the same thing in the house. And so that’s how we approach the house, where is it coming? How’s it moving? How do we address all of that stuff together with the goal of reducing the overall exposure significantly enough to where the occupant can create more of a balance with their living system, with their living home, with where they are and they can live together. So that’s really what we do.
Dr. Bredesen (05:10): Fantastic. And let me give an example, because this is why people don’t tend to pick up on this. One family, as an example, the husband got dementia, unknown reasons. Wife got nothing that she knew about, the son got respiratory problems. And so how could these be related? Well, it turned out they had massive, massive stachybotrys behind the walls discovered after the fact, they moved out. Fortunately the dementia didn’t get worse, but it’s never really gotten completely better. And this is from a case that I did see. But this is the sort of thing that comes up again and again and again.
Dr. Bredesen (05:46): And interestingly, in the Alzheimer’s community mold and mycotoxins aren’t even recognized formally as being a cause of Alzheimer’s. And yet, if you take people who are… So therefore, people aren’t even looking for it. If you actually take people who are looking for it in every patient, some of these practices have told me that up to 70% of their patients with cognitive decline have significant exposure. And you mentioned the brain fog and that, even for people who don’t go on to dementia, just the brain fog tends to haunt them and affects their everyday lives, affects what they’re doing with their jobs, on and on and on.
Dr. Bredesen (06:22): So Brian, could you tell us a little bit about testing itself? So there’s a Mycometric type of testing where you’re essentially using a swifter sort of thing and sending that in. There are plates that people like to use, but obviously you’re doing something more extensive. Could you talk about these different approaches and why one is better than the other?
Brian Karr (06:42): Yeah. It’s funny, it doesn’t have to be that one is the right answer. And I think for some reason we all think there’s this one magic bullet test that’s just going to tell us everything. As practitioners, you obviously know there’s not one test you do, and that it answers all your questions. But for some reason we think in the house, one test is just going to tell us everything that’s going on. It’s not so much there’s right and wrong tests. It’s what is the strength of a particular test and putting that test in a position to succeed? And then filling in the gaps with other testing that strengthens the overall sampling plan. So now we have a really solid understanding of what’s going on.
Brian Karr (07:20): So when we talk about different test types that are out there, the first and literally the most important thing, and I said it a minute ago, you have to know where the source is. So that actually goes beyond testing. And I think that that part is so important. Anyone can run a test. If you don’t know where to who run the test, it’s not going to work. So the big thing is to understand, and I joke about this a lot, but it’s totally true. The secret to finding hidden mold in any house is to actually not look for mold at all, it’s to look for signs of water damage.
Brian Karr (07:55): And not stuff that’s wet right now, because most things have dried up when we’re in homes we are in. But it’s areas where there was a previous water issue and it’s dried up, maybe you fixed it. You had the pipe leak, you fixed the outside, whatever was going on. But the water intrusion was never properly tested to see if there was a problem and in turn, if mold grew as a result of that water issue, it will now stay there literally forever until it gets removed. And fragments will break off of that colony and continue to move into a house and can continue to expose people. So even before you get to what test is the best test to use, it’s more about taking a step back and why am I testing a specific area? And what am I trying to figure out from that test? If that makes sense.
Brian Karr (08:37): So there’s really two different types of testing. There’s source identification testing, and then there’s dispersion testing, or cross-contamination, the mess that those made. So I use this analogy all the time, mold is like a factory. So if you’re driving down the street and there’s a factory on the side of the road, you can’t see what they’re making inside. The same way that I can’t see if there’s mold behind my wall potentially, but there’s smoke coming out of the top of that factory, that’s the byproduct of that factory. If I live in this house over here and I walk outside, I’m going to breathe in this smoke, this air pollution.
Brian Karr (09:10): Now a lot of people might say, “Oh, man, you live in a place with an air pollution problem.” No they don’t. They live in a place with a factory problem. Get rid of the factory first, then figure out what’s up here and clean this out so I could walk outside and breathe. Same thing in the house. The sources, the factories are typically in the walls, the ceilings, the floors, the cabinets, the structural components of the house. That’s typically where the sources are. So imagine you have these structural areas of the house and you basically have smoke emanating out at all time, the byproduct of that factory coming into the space, you then have a heating and air conditioning system. Most people have some version of ventilation that’s going on. That system sucks that up into the system and then spits it all over the house.
Brian Karr (09:54): So now you have sources where maybe you only had five or six sources, they get pulled in and the system spreads all over the place. Gravity brings all that down to the surfaces. As you walk around the house, you’re constantly popping this stuff up into your breathing zone. It’s this concept called the personal cloud effect. So imagine that guy from Charlie Brown, that kid with the cloud of dirt around him all the time-
Dr. Bredesen (10:15): Pigpen. Yeah.
Julie Luby (10:15): Pigpen.
Brian Karr (10:15): So we do that, walk around, pop stuff up, whatever. That’s our exposure pathway. So now we have ventilation, we have structural components, and we have our exposure pathway. There’s different testing you do at each level to figure out what’s happening there. And then how you have to either clean, remove, remediate and the order in which you do all of it. So from a source perspective, targeted air tests and surface tests are really the base. Now, when I say targeted, I don’t mean put an air sample in the middle of a room and take a sample. I mean, if I think there’s a problem in this wall, we put a little hole in this wall, about the size of a Sharpie pen, put a tube through it and collect an air sample from behind the wall. Get as close as you can to source. And that’s where air samples are really effective. They get less and less and less effective the further away you move from the source.
Brian Karr (11:07): So for a year I went out and I just did an internal study on our own. If I thought there was mold in this wall, I did the cavity sample on the wall. I took two, three steps away, put an air sampling pump at like breathing level, which is what all your local inspectors do. 80% of the time, this sample here said there was no problem when that sample there had a problem behind it. So at source level, it’s air, it’s surface targeted to where you go. When you start talking about the dispersion side of things, which is what is moving through the house, what’s in the air conditioning system, that’s where you get in to dust testing. You really want to do dust testing more than you want to do air samples. Again, air samples are so limited as you get further away from source and they give a false sense of security and literally cost people years of their lives thinking that their house isn’t a problem because the sample said there was no problem.
Brian Karr (11:54): Research has shown that the dust that settles in the house gets re-suspended into our breathing zone on a regular basis, and it accumulates and collects mold fragments, spores, mycotoxins and becomes our consistent exposure pathway. So what we need to do is understand what’s settling on this surfaces and we do the same type of testing in heating air conditioning system. Now we painted a picture of how your house is breathing, where it’s coming from and how you’re exposed to it.
Dr. Bredesen (12:21): Okay. So some just basic questions that we all need to know, when you look at houses across the board, is this is a problem in 5% of houses, 50% of houses, 90% of houses? Now we have obviously people who come to Facebook Live listening, who are in Australia, who are in Canada, who are in the US, who are in UK, who are in other places in Europe, South America, Asia. What’s your sense? Is this a relatively common thing in houses or relatively uncommon thing in homes?
Brian Karr (12:54): It’s beyond common. It’s an epidemic of a problem. It really, really is, for a lot of reasons. Building practices, how we understand what water actually means and how we take care of it. A lot of us, we don’t handle water issues correctly. And it’s not that we didn’t do it… Like we’re doing it maliciously, it’s just we don’t know how. It’s funny, when my dad got me my first car, the one thing he told me is, “You better change its oil every 3000 miles or your car’s going to explode.” I was taught this from a young age, take care of this thing.
Brian Karr (13:26): When you move into your first house, no one teaches you what to do. No one. You go 10, 20 years without ever looking at something, thinking that a water leak isn’t a problem, and this is the issue. The EPA says 50% of homes have water damage, I’m telling you this… And that’s reported water damage. Think of what they’re counting, floods, massive water events, things like that. Drips under sinks create massive mold problems. That doesn’t get reported in those numbers. The number is 90% plus. It really, really is. It’s an epidemic problem. And people who are more susceptible will react faster, but people who aren’t over time, they get beat down and then it can affect them too.
Dr. Bredesen (14:05): Absolutely. And then what’s your sense about people… One of the common things is that people say, “Well, I’m going to get remediated.” So let me start with … Let’s say that you have a leak in your house and let’s say, they say, “Oh, well, the leak was five years ago, 10 years ago.” Is there a lifetime where now the leak was long enough ago that you’re okay? Or will one leak at one point give you long term problems with mycotoxins?
Brian Karr (14:32): It’s long-term. It’s really long-term. I don’t have the number in front of me, but I’ve seen the research studies. I’m trying to figure out half-lives of mycotoxins. And it’s a fricking long time basically. So that’s the summary of that. The thing is though, is that mycotoxins aren’t the only thing. We hear toxic mold, and we think mycotoxins are the core of the issue. That’s not the only thing that triggers all this stuff. The fragments that break off of the colonies, the spores that come off, anyone who has this susceptibility and we’ve heard CIRS, we’ve heard all these different diagnoses.
Brian Karr (15:04): I did a presentation at the Indoor Air Quality Association, which is our biggest association, a couple of years ago. And it was about how to remediate homes for hypersensitive people? I wanted to reframe what hypersensitive meant for the people who were in the room, because a lot of times a remediator comes in and they get somebody who’s a hypersensitive person and they hate working with that person. They’re annoying, whatever. They don’t like working with that person. Here’s the deal, and we know a lot of this, 24, 25% of people have the genetic predisposition, they can’t detox properly. That’s the big number that a lot of people know, but then start looking, how many people have an autoimmune disorder? How many people have Lyme disease? How many people have PANS or PANDAS? Fill in the blank with everything else. That number of people that we can call hypersensitive, 40, 45% of the US population falls into that group. We’re not talking about a few people. We’re talking about a large number of people here.
Brian Karr (16:01): And so it’s reframing, it’s not remediating for the subset of the population that’s just, whatever, they’re extra. It’s really changing the standard of how we remediate for everyone because literally almost half of the entire world falls within this category.
Dr. Bredesen (16:17): Yeah. It’s a great point. And I just was talking to a patient and her physician this morning who had classic mycotoxin presented with Alzheimer’s disease and actually went on a trial, amyloid positive PET scan, ApoE4-positive, classic story, had some executive disfunction, began in her 50s and has done great with testing. And still has some increase in her TGF-beta 1 but has chemical sensitivity as one of her presenting features. Again, very common with mold, has high urinary mycotoxins. So as you say, you start at adding all these things together and you start realizing how incredibly common this is. Now, one of the points that’s been made is that we just didn’t realize that when people started building homes and said, “Hey, let’s build it out of this stuff. Well, let’s build it out of,” what’s been called mold food. If you’re going to build a house, is there a best way to build it to prevent yourself from having problems or at least to minimize your potential problems with mycotoxin exposure?
Brian Karr (17:22): It’s funny, literally yesterday, I’m working on a project with somebody where they are very sensitive. I won’t go on all the symptoms, but they fall in this category. They ended up moving out of their house. They’re getting a custom house built for them right now. Not like a track home, that where it’s just you have to pick, but literally the only house that’s getting built, it’s theirs, they’re working with a green building person. They’re working with a specialized con… They’re putting this team around them.
Brian Karr (17:48): So they just enclosed the exterior of the house. So they put up all the studs, they just wrapped the house, it’s now closed from the elements. And she wanted us to come out and take a look at it. And she was like, “I’ve had green contractors and this and that come through here. We don’t really think that there’s going to be a lot, but we want to look at everything before we close up the walls because we want to make sure.”
Brian Karr (18:11): I’m not even kidding, we walk into this house and within 10 minutes, at least half of all of the building materials that are in the house were covered in mold. At least half of them. And this is not the first time that this has happened either. This is a continuous thing. This is why there’s an epidemic problem, because part of what’s happening in the build, one, where the lumber is stored, these guys aren’t storing the lumber properly to protect it. They’re just keeping it outside. It’s doing whatever. Then you come to the property, you start constructing the property, it rains while the property’s getting built, bam, everything’s soaked. And then they’ll like, “Cool, we’re going to wrap it all up now and put it together.” And bam, you’ve just built a massive mold problem in your house.
Dr. Bredesen (18:54): Wow. Yeah.
Brian Karr (18:55): What this woman is doing is actually great, she’s handling it the right way and bringing us in at that point is great too, because now we could go in say, “Okay, we need to remediate all of this. You have to remediate all of this now that it’s closed and get rid of all of this source.” That’s all source behind her walls that’s there. And then you can close it up and now you can start creating a healthy home. Not everyone has the ability to build custom. So there’s this thing. And I don’t tell that story because I feel like some people will start freaking out. There’s no escaping this, every house has this. I’ll never get away from this.
Brian Karr (19:31): Here’s what I’ve found, and you tell me if you’ve seen the same thing. The way that I’ve seen it, our bodies are meant to detox stuff. It’s not like it’s not meant to have some of this stuff that it moves through. It’s just that when we get into this dysbiosis, when it just gets overloaded, we just can’t keep up. So I think we’ve all heard the immune system funnel analogy in some way. You’re getting exposed to stuff at the top of your funnel. You’re detoxing on the way down. And then the bottom of the funnel is where it comes out. So when I talk to clients, I talk about, we’re trying to address both ends of this funnel. On my end, we’re trying to limit what’s coming in the top. We’re not getting rid of everything. It’s not possible. But we’re trying to what’s coming in. And then when they work with someone like you, how do we open up the hole at the bottom to make it bigger-
Dr. Bredesen (20:18): Yeah. [crosstalk 00:20:19].
Brian Karr (20:18) … so your drainage pathways can move better? And you can detox better and come back. So you can be in a house, I guarantee you, my house where there is no mold problem meaning there’s no water issues that stuff has been handled. I guarantee you, when it was built there was mold on some of the framing in this house, guaranteed. But because we don’t have all these excess problems and it’s being managed and I’m at a health position doing some things to support myself, it’s not affecting me. And that’s going to be the same for everyone. So it’s not about zero exposure. It’s about reducing overall body burden and then supporting body with the other things that are going on.
Dr. Bredesen (20:58): Right. And then I know there are lots of places that will say, “Well, we have a mold remediation approach that’s better. We have a very toxic thing. You leave your house for a few days and then we do all these things that are going to be very toxic.” Do you have a favorite mold remediation approach?
Brian Karr (21:14): Yeah. It’s removed the source of the problem and stop trying to come in with some magic potion that’s going to fix it all. That’s really what the big key is. We talked about how there’s source issue and how it’s moving through the house. You have to remove source. To remove source means if you have mold growing on something or discoloration on something, you don’t just wipe it up and clean it and walk away. It also means that yes, maybe there was mold in this wall, you take out the drywall. You don’t just put new drywall on, the drywall wasn’t the only thing that was impacted. There’s framing components back there, there’s debris back there where it’s all settled into. The biggest problem that I see, I actually made an eBook that’s called 10 Biggest Remediation Mistakes. If people want to grab it, it’s from www.remediationmistakes.com.
Brian Karr (22:00): The ten biggest mistakes that I see happen in remediation. One of the biggest ones is that you’re not removing source. There’s an order to events that have to happen. But I’ll say this, the biggest thing that people get sold into ends up costing a lot of money. And then they end up still being sick, is a remediator coming in and saying, “Okay, we don’t have to do all this removal and stuff. We’ve got this really cool fog. This fog is magic. It goes through your house. Not only does it kill everything that’s alive, but apparently it also deactivates chemical compounds. And apparently it also handles…” It’s this thing that handles everything in the world-
Dr. Bredesen (22:36): Yeah. Magic [crosstalk 00:22:36].
Brian Karr (22:35): … and, oh, it gets behind the walls. And oh, it does all this stuff. Let’s just assume that it does that. Let’s just assume it kills everything, which it doesn’t, by the way, but let’s assume it does. Killing it is not removing it. Remember we talked about how old water damage areas that are dry now and the mold is still there for 10 years, that mold is dead. It’s not growing anymore. But the fragments and the particles are still in the space. You have to remove that particle load out of the house too. So you can kill everything all day long, you’re still going to be exposed and still going to trigger stuff. So the biggest thing is source removal. There’s a whole flow in this. I don’t want to take up the whole time talking about it, but there’s an entire process and a step by step flow of how you do all of this stuff the right way. That download will be a good step for people to get some eyes on that.
Dr. Bredesen (23:20): Yeah. It’s a great point. And of course, as Dr. Shoemaker and others have pointed out, we’re not just, as you mentioned here, we’re not just dealing with one thing, a mycotoxin, we’re dealing with spores, we’re dealing with fragments of organisms, we’re dealing with actinomycins, we’re dealing with volatile, organic compounds that these things often produce. On and on and on. This is a toxic soup that unfortunately many of us live in. And so it really is, as you said, it’s a dynamic process. You’re getting some input, you’re getting some outgoing and you want to decrease the input and increase the detox and you get, so you get going in the right direction.
Dr. Bredesen (23:56): So let’s move over for a minute. Let’s talk about some real world examples. I know that both Julie Luby and Julie G. have had interaction with you and have interaction with mycotoxins and affecting themselves. So Julie Luby, could you talk a little bit about your… And I want to thank Julie Luby for coming on today. She has COVID 19 probably. I don’t know if it’s Omicron or Delta or what it is but thank you so much for coming on despite your illness. I hope you’re doing well. I hope that you’re very resilient with all the good things that you’re doing. And please tell us a little bit about your relationship and how you’ve dealt with your own mycotoxin exposure.
Julie Luby (24:36): Sure. And in my story, I found out, because I had gut issues that would not clear up. And so that’s really how my functional medicine practitioner figured out to look for mold in my system. And when we looked for it, we found one and started detoxing. And then the second test, I had five that were off the charts. And I think this is really common. I see it in my health coaching clients as well, where you see the tip of the iceberg first and then as you prepare your detox system, as you support the liver and the kidneys and everything, then you can start getting rid of it. And so that second test, I actually was off the charts on many. So I will tell you, it was-
Dr. Bredesen (25:19): What kind of test? Was it urinary mycotoxin? What kind of test?
Julie Luby (25:21): Urinary. Yeah.
Dr. Bredesen (25:22): Yeah.
Julie Luby (25:22): Urinary mycotoxin. Sure.
Dr. Bredesen (25:23): Okay.
Julie Luby (25:25): And I will tell you that it’s a tough place to be in. My was not affected. So I did ERMI tests on both the office that I work in, which is not in my home because I was hoping maybe that’s where my exposure was, as well as my home, but found it definitely in my home. So then the decision is, okay, we’ve got to figure out what to do about this. We did call Brian in to inspect our home. It was probably the best decision we ever made, is to have somebody who really knew what they were doing to find all the problems. We had plenty. And when you talk about, do things go away with time? We had a kid’s bathroom that had had a leak maybe 15 or 20 years ago. That turned out to be one of the highest count areas of our house.
Julie Luby (26:12): It was dry, it was cleaned up, but underneath the cabinet, it was still just spewing out from the little factory there. Still had very high counts until we got rid of it. But it was tough because we had a house that we had lived in for a long time. My husband designed it, he’s an architect, so he did not want to move. I was in the camp of maybe I should just move, but he really wanted to stay. So that took us down the remediation path rather than the move path. And so it took a long time though. There were so many things identified. The house is old, it’s got a brick basement, which is basically porous. And this all happened right at the beginning of COVID too, which is just a great time to remediate your house and invite people in.
Julie Luby (26:56): So we started with waterproofing the basement from the outset. We actually dug a trench around our 100 year old house and waterproofed the brick. We put a new roof on. We took just about every one of Brian’s suggestions and slowly worked at it. I will tell you the hardest thing to find though, was somebody who knew what they were doing as a remediator in our town. And Brian worked with them. We had several conference calls. He was so generous with his time to help train them on really this is the approach that works. And he was very gentle and kind when they wanted to go a different way. But I think we persisted, and we removed everything from the house. I went through a total Marie Kondo phase and got rid of just about everything and we really took it very seriously.
Dr. Bredesen (27:52): Has it improved the … What originally took you there, the original symptoms, have they been improved with what’s been done?
Julie Luby (27:59): Yes, absolutely. I no longer have SIBO. I got rid of my SIBO after years, which I never thought I would, honestly. Never thought I would. And other symptoms too. And my doctor is very pleased with how my biomarkers are all coming back into range now. So things have improved. I won’t say everything’s 100%. I get frustrated. I will tell you that ERMI tests after a remediation aren’t necessarily the right way to test. So we tested, we made sure we got rid of the sources that we had identified. And so I feel better about it.
Dr. Bredesen (28:39): Yeah. A number of years ago, one patient came to Dr. Anne Hathaway and this patient presented with classic Lewy body disease. And 99% of doctors would just say, “Yeah, Lewy body disease. We don’t know where it comes from.” And what Anne found was that this person had ducks in his home full of mold and also rat droppings, unfortunately. And so literally was living, just as Brian had talked about earlier, was living and this stuff just spewing out. And he actually did much better with his Lewy body disease. And again, Lewy body disease in the neurologic community is we don’t know where it comes from. Well, this guy, when he had his ducks clean, actually did very well for a few years. Now, ultimately he started having symptoms again. So again, it comes back to what Brian said earlier, there is this balance, you’ve got to look at. But again, the vast majority of physicians would never have bothered to look there for a source of Lewy body disease.
Dr. Bredesen (29:35): So, Julie, let’s move on to you. And I know you’ve been through similar things and obviously you have healed yourself with so many different things with the metabolic issues that you started with. With of course, the Babesia that you found later on. And then more recently you have begun to find that yes, there are mycotoxin issues as well. So maybe if you could talk a little bit about your own experience.
Julie Gregory (29:57): Yeah. You always describe cognitive decline as peeling back the layers of the onion. And I’m now on the mold part of my journey. And I’m so grateful to Julie for sharing Brian, because I couldn’t find anyone who understood how to identify the source of mold. So I’ve done multiple ERMIs, multiple gravity plate testing, I’ve done the urinary mycotoxins and everything indicates, wow, I have a huge problem. But we cannot find the source of the mold. And I’m a little terrified as you were speaking, Brian, because we’ve done a lot of remediation already, we gutted three bathrooms and we found some mold in all three and we cut out the drywall and we left the framework part. So I mean, that makes me very nervous.
Brian Karr (30:56): It’s okay. It’s okay. Part one’s… Because that happens a lot. We’ll work with people they … The path to get to us, it’s we’re usually not the first person that someone comes to. It’s multiple doctors before they even figured out that mold was an issue. And then it’s multiple inspections and multiple failed remediations. And then finally the roads get here. In a scenario like that, we’re probably going to cavity test in those walls where we know there was previous issues to stop check them and just make sure there’s nothing else going on back there. So we’re going to do, we haven’t it done yet, but we’re going to do a pretty big pre-inspection history gathering download. And I’m going to ask you a whole lot of stuff, very, very similar to a medical onboarding packet that you do. And then it’s going to help us map out a lot of the plan.
Julie Gregory (31:41): I feel so grateful to have found your company. And I’m so excited for you guys to come around and to figure this out. We love our home, and we’d like to live here for a little while longer, and I’d like it to be safe. And right now I feel like it isn’t. So I am looking forward to remediating and getting things right. But I know it’s going to be a long journey.
Dr. Bredesen (32:05): Yeah.
Brian Karr (32:06): Yeah.
Dr. Bredesen (32:06): This is really helpful. Thanks to all of you. It is interesting, this is part of 21st century health. We’re all dealing with trying to get healthy in a century in which the vast majority of physicians are practicing 20th century medicine and completely oblivious to what’s going on with mycotoxins and with leaky gut and with so many of these issues. And so it takes some courage, and it takes some persistence to find these things. Brian, I just wanted to ask you briefly, before we go on to some questions, we’ve got some great questions here. How did you train yourself? There’s no obvious school you go to, you don’t get a Ph.D. in “moldology” or mycology.
Brian Karr (32:47): [crosstalk 00:32:47].
Dr. Bredesen (32:47): How did you figure out, okay, this is what’s actually driving the problem?
Brian Karr (32:52): Honestly, I had my own issue. So many people that are in this field have their own issues. I forget how long ago, close to 10 years ago. But I was in an apartment. I had just been laid off from an advertising job that I was on. It was around the 2008 time period where there’s that stuff going on. So I’m looking for a job. I’m sitting on my bed, I’m on monster.com, by the way, don’t search jobs that makes me fulfilled. Nothing comes up. So I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. Anyways, I’m sitting there, I’m looking, I feel something on my hand. I feel again, I look up, my ceiling is leaking. I see the stain start to spread on the ceiling. Holy crap, my ceilings about to fall on me. I dive out of my bed with my computer and bam flood down, broke the ceiling, comes down in the room.
Brian Karr (33:41): So anyways, I called the landlord. I’m freaking out. I’m like, “Oh, get somebody. Can somebody come figure this thing out?” And so this story is everybody’s story, to some extent. Landlord sends out somebody, comes out, fixes the leak, says everything’s cool and everything is dry now. And you’re good. Go ahead, move back in. And at the time, I didn’t know any better. Who was I? I didn’t know any of this stuff. So you put trust in people. You think this person runs buildings, they handle this stuff and whatever. So I moved back in.
Brian Karr (34:14): Over the next few weeks to a month, to a little after that, I started noticing I wasn’t thinking as quickly as normally I do. I’m really sharp. I’m really quick typically. And I start noticing this. So my wife now, who I was dating at the time, her dad is my mentor, is now my father-in-law, his name’s Mark Levy. Very well-known guy in this space is one of the top indoor environmental guys that there is. She’s like, “You should call my dad. What you’re describing in symptoms and stuff. He says, he talks to people like that.” And again, it’s a long time ago. I don’t understand. I’m like, “Ugh, I’m not going to do that. Whatever.”
Brian Karr (34:54): A couple of more weeks goes by. I start getting eczema, psoriasis type patches on my face. And now I’m like, “All right, enough is enough.” So I call him, he comes over. In between that I had called my landlord because I started messing up and freaking out. Landlord sends out a local inspector, inspector comes in the house, spends 20, 30 minutes at the house, takes an air sample in my room, one outside and says, “Okay, everything’s cool sample looks great.”
Brian Karr (35:20): Meantime, finally get Mark to come in. He comes through, he spends two hours in my 800 square foot apartment. So think about how long that is in a small space. He finds eight different source problems. Some of it is not even in my room. Some of it is from that flood thing that happened, he found stuff in the kitchen and the other bathroom and all these places and basically, fast forward helped me get out of my lease because I needed to get out of the house. So he helps me navigate this whole process. And after that happened, I look at him, still looking for that job to make me feel fulfilled on Monster, and I’m like, “Dude, I want to work for you. I want to do this. Let me work for you.” And keep in mind, I’m not married to this girl yet. This is still just my girlfriend. So I’m getting in bed with the family. It just resonated so much with me.
Brian Karr (36:10): Anyways, that happens. I train with Mark for years. And then we, myself and my cousin, there’s a whole family connection here. But anyways, we start the national version of this company of what we were doing locally. And that’s We Inspect, that’s where it came from. So it all stemmed for me having an issue, learning how to do it from the best that there is, and expanding that to try to help as many people as I can.
Dr. Bredesen (36:39): And it’s amazing how many people could be helped, and they don’t realize that this is a problem. As you said, with all these different conditions. So we’ve got some fantastic questions here. Let’s run through these. So Val says, Val from New South Wales, Australia. Ballina. Okay, fantastic. Good to have you Val. She says, I’ve been judicious with removing mold including water filter as well. Do you see it in, Brian, do you see it in water sources for people, their drinking water sources?
Brian Karr (37:10): Yeah. In water itself, like the pipes and stuff you’re going to be more bacteria and the other additives, like fluoride and heavy metals and stuff like that. But think like your refrigerator, water dispenser. So anyone who has one of those, when we’re off of this, go look up where the ice comes out of your refrigerator and I’m telling you, half of you are going to find mold growing on it, just like that. So these water source areas where there’s rubber hoses and there’s these things where they come out, we never clean this stuff. We never look at it. We never think of it. And then you can start having mold grow in those spots.
Dr. Bredesen (37:45): Yeah. Good point. And actually Lance, just our host and CTO here just sent us the other day a photo from a guy who worked with a national restaurant chain that will go unnamed. And just showing this massive amount of mold where they’ve got the limes for serving some of the food. So it’s really scary.
Dr. Bredesen (38:07): Okay. And then here’s one from Ogie who says, “Yeah, mold caused my insulin resistance because I don’t do carbs even in my 30s.” So again, yeah, people, we see kids, as I mentioned earlier, the child who had respiratory issues that turned out to be related to stachybotrys exposure and stachybotrys related toxins.
Dr. Bredesen (38:26): Robin says hello from Charlotte. Majority of my clients have mold illness. Yeah. What a great point Robin. And so again, it’s something when we have people, physicians that we’ve trained, who are dealing with cognitive decline, they must learn about mycotoxins or refer people to someone who’s got expertise in this area because you can’t simply say, “Well, I just won’t do that part. And I won’t refer,” because you’re not going to get the best outcomes from your patients.
Dr. Bredesen (38:54): And then Ogie again, once we got out of the house, we were well, pink tongues. Once we get back inside, our tongues are white and we’re sick. Yeah. So again, so many as Dr. Shoemaker and others have pointed out, you notice as he pointed out, you can go into a home and within 20 minutes or so you feel, Brian, do you have that same thing where you can actually feel different when you go into a home with mold?
Brian Karr (39:18): I’m not as sensitive as a lot of people, but I immediately start scanning every single place that I walk into. So I’ve got another problem, is that I just can’t stop looking for stuff. It’s like I see the matrix now. So I got that going on.
Dr. Bredesen (39:32): And a lot of people will say, “Well, I don’t smell it.” So my question for you is, how many of the mold homes that you go into, you can actually smell it versus those where you don’t smell it, but it turns out that it’s there?
Brian Karr (39:45): Almost none of them. The percentage where there’s this massive odor is very, very minimal. The smell that you’re smelling is an off gassing from mold that is actively eating. It’s the digestive enzyme of that mold that’s feeding. The problem is most mole problems in houses are not currently wet and currently feeding. There are these previous issues, like Julie talked about that we found in her place, which means there’s going to be no odor. And a lot of times you’re not even moisture detected. So it’s why it’s so important to know what to look for and where to look for it that’s outside of relying on an infrared camera or think that some tools just going to tell you everything. Or your nose, whatever it might be.
Dr. Bredesen (40:27): Absolutely. So yeah. Again, important fundamental point, if you don’t smell mold, by no means, does that exclude the possibility that there is mold related illness going on in the people who are living there. Let’s see. Eric says, if you look at the first cluster of chronic fatigue syndrome as a cluster of teachers in a single room, a teacher’s lounge, others, one room away didn’t get sick. That’s how powerful stachybotrys can be, one location and one room can do the trick. Yes. And I am assuming this is Eric from the Incline Village cluster. Love to have you come and talk to us about this. This is a huge issue. And again, it was one of the early points within Kline Village to show that, yeah, there’s something out there that we have to understand better.
Dr. Bredesen (41:10): I do think this is a largely unexplored area of medicine, despite the excellent work by Dr. Shoemaker and Dr. Mary Ackerley and Dr. Mary Kay Ross, and so many other experts in this area, it’s still an area that is not accepted. And as I said, in the Alzheimer’s community, there is no discussion. This is one of the causes and one of the contributors to this common and very difficult problem to treat.
Dr. Bredesen (41:34): Valerie says, a lot of people know about respiratory effect, but only now is brain fog related. Yeah. Great point. And I think brain fog has really come up largely because of COVID 19. So common with COVID. And again, these are all additive and even sometimes synergistic. So we always say anyone who’s had COVID, please get on active prevention. Similarly, anyone who’s had water intrusion, water damage in their building, please get on active prevention so we can really reduce the global burden of dementia. Huge issue. And you mentioned living in the subtropics, yeah. And I know Florida has an issue. And Brian, could you say from a national perspective, do you see this everywhere? Or do you worry more about places like Florida where it’s very humid, where I grew up? Do you worry more about it? I know Mary Ackerley points out that Arizona, you’d think would be one of the best because it’s so dry and yet they see a ton of mycotoxin related illness there. Are there better and worse places to live?
Brian Karr (42:35): Not really. The majority of what is causing this stuff is not where you live, it’s the interior space where you live. Meaning what’s happening in your house. Most of this stuff is internal water issues that weren’t fixed or that you didn’t know about. A leak under the sink, your toilet’s leaking, this or that. That has nothing to do with living in Florida. That just has to do with your house having water issues.
Brian Karr (42:57): Now, when you’re in a more humid space like that, there are a couple of little extra things that may happen, but that’s not the bulk of what’s going on. More so in the heating air conditioning systems, if you have a fresh air intake in the south, pushing 70% humidity into your air conditioning system, good luck. That thing is covering the mold. So there are some little things that you do depending on where you are that might change a little, but at the end of the day, it is mostly what’s happening in the house. I’m from Vegas, a bunch of people in Arizona. These are all desert dry climates. It happens everywhere.
Dr. Bredesen (43:32): Yeah. Great point. And Eric continues here saying, what is remarkable is that not a single doctor or researcher in the world who read about the original chronic fatigue syndrome cohort was able to recognize that this was a mold incident. Eric, such a good point. And one of the things that’s really intrigued me is that what we’re seeing, we’re seeing the same thing with all Alzheimer’s, politics and finance always trump the truth. So you go to look at what’s happened, for example, the drug that recently, $28 billion put into a drug that doesn’t work, but there’s all sorts of political pressure to get this to be approved and finally it is approved. Even though it doesn’t work. So this is an issue.
Dr. Bredesen (44:18): And I do think, what’s happened in the finance world and even with things like Theranos, is that there is now a whistleblower’s law, so that whistleblowers can actually participate in a positive way so that they can get something back from telling the truth, from blowing the whistle. And I think that they need to enact the same sort of thing for things like chronic fatigue. So the whistleblower can say, “Hey, these guys are doing all the stuff that actually is inappropriate. Let’s recognize the truth here.” But right now there is no incentive. The people who are the establishment are saying, “We’re going to do what we’re always going to do.” The people who are saying, “Well, we’re going to pay for your healthcare. We don’t want to pay more for your healthcare. We want to pay less for your healthcare.” Of course. So unfortunately it’s a crazy situation.
Dr. Bredesen (45:09): And Ogie says, my house is brand new and built with moldy wood. Yeah. Again, goes back to what Brian said earlier, great points. So Brian, if someone’s built their whole house with moldy wood, what are you going to do? Do you have them knock it down and build it again with non-moldy wood? Or can you deal with the fact that it’s been built with moldy wood?
Brian Karr (45:31): Yeah. A lot of people could deal with it to an extent. It depends on how much. And at first you’d be like, “Well, how do I know how much? All the walls are up, there’s no way for me to know how much.” A great way to get a feel of the wood that was used to build your house is go up in your attic and see all the wood that’s exposed up there. So they’re using the same wood to build your whole house. If your entire attic is covered when you walk up there, all right, that’s probably representative of maybe what’s going on in other places of the house.
Brian Karr (45:58): But keep in mind, what I was saying before, there’s going to be stuff everywhere. It’s about stopping more active things that are happening and adding to that overall burden. And then there are things that we need to be doing on a regular basis on the maintenance perspective in our house, going back to that car example that I gave a long time ago, that nobody does. We all should have high end air filtration units in our house. You don’t have to be sick to have it. You need it. You need it in every room where you spend a lot of time and you need one on your air conditioning system to protect it. It’d be like me saying, “You know what? I’m just going to drink tap water forever. And I don’t think you need filtered water.” Of course, we feel like we need filtered water. There are little things that we can do to help balance out that overall burden of what’s going on in the house. And for some people, if the house was really built in a way that was really problematic, then maybe they won’t be able to.
Brian Karr (46:50): The other thing that happens in builds is that they’re creating all this disruption. So it’s not so much that there’s just mold on some of the framing behind the walls, but during the construction process, they basically pasted it all off and sprayed it all over the place. Then you come into the house and the way they clean the house is a cosmetic clean. They’re not cleaning the house in a way to get defined particle out of the air that’s floating around and different things that are going on. So if you did construction on a house on a bunch of moldy wood, you put it all back together, the construction company cleans it, you come back in, all that stuff that’s settled on surfaces that we talked about, it’s still there. You’re getting exposed. You’re going to get a heavy hit.
Brian Karr (47:30): A lot of times, people in a new house, if we just clean the house properly. And maybe if there are a couple of things that are going on, they can rebalance themselves with the house. It’s just an understanding of did the air conditioning systems get impacted already from all of that going on and what do we have to do with those? So it’s again, understanding that breathing cycle of the house and trying to reduce that overall load as much as you can.
Dr. Bredesen (47:54): And do you have favorite HEPA filters and how many of these should people have in their homes?
Brian Karr (48:01): Yeah, I do. I have. I mean, I’ll say, I have, in my house, I have two kids. Each one of their rooms has one. I’ve got my bedroom that has one. I’ve got my main living kitchen space that has a separate one. I have one in my gym. Anywhere that I spend a good amount of time, I put one in. I don’t own my house. So I can’t put one on my air conditioning system, but you better believe I would, if I could. We have Intellipures. I really like Intellipures a lot. They filter to a small particle size. They have a disinfectant filtration technology that doesn’t allow microbes to grow on the filters as they come in. So I’m a big fan of those. I’ve had those for a long time. I literally have five of them in my place.
Dr. Bredesen (48:45): And when you say you’d put one on your air conditioning, what do you mean by that? Is it a filter that goes over the intake? Or what is it that you’re actually putting? And do you do the same for heating?
Brian Karr (48:56): Yeah. So basically what it is, so your air conditioning system has a mechanical unit. Think like a box somewhere. So for some people it’s in their garage, some people’s in their attic, some people’s in the basement. It’s where all the duct work connects to this box. It’s not the thing that’s outside of the house, that’s your condenser, your air doesn’t go through that. It’s the thing that’s inside the house with the ducts that connect. So basically, if you look up at your ceiling, as you’re going around your house, you’ll have some smaller vents and then you’ll have some big ones. The small ones are called the supply vents. That’s the air that’s getting pushed out. So that’s the hotter cold air that’s coming out. The bigger ones are called your return vents. The bigger vents are sucking the air in from the house. And then this is what goes into the unit.
Brian Karr (49:39): So what you do is that you put this filter, so if this is your duct line running through, and this is that big box, that’s right here, you stick the filter right there before it hits the big box. This filters everything out from multiple duct lines. It’ll come in and it’ll filter it out at this one spot, hit the unit and then it will heat and cool and do what it needs to do. So it’s a component that slides in between the duct and the mechanical piece.
Dr. Bredesen (50:02): Fantastic. Okay. Then Jill asks, what kind of toxins come from mold? And of course we call them mycotoxins and they are everything from the stachybotrys, the trichothecenes, the ochratoxin A, and I don’t know, do you get in, in your work, do you look at specific toxins or are you looking mainly just at what is the source of them?
Brian Karr (50:23): No, we show the whole picture. The mycotoxin piece is tough because I mean, when this all started, we talked about Shoemaker earlier, and we even talked about how he doesn’t even really think mycotoxins are a problem. So a lot of the initial research was very mold, mold, mold, mold, you have mold illness. This is what it is, whatever, that’s [inaudible 00:50:44]. And then all these smart practitioners out there were like, “Oh, man, these mycotoxin things, these are a problem. We should probably start looking at this stuff.”
Brian Karr (50:51): We start getting called, can we test for this? Can we figure this out? Testing for it wasn’t the hard part, but then the hard part was, if we’re finding it in a house, how do you get rid of this thing? How do you get rid of these toxins that are in the house? And it wasn’t easy. And nobody really knew how to do it. This is mid to late 2000s when all of this is happening. And so it put us on this two year long journey of us doing trial and error on all of our clients, essentially with all these different processes, ended up being about $3 million of all the remediation budgets added together-
Dr. Bredesen (51:21): Oh, my gosh.
Brian Karr (51:21): … to figure this thing out.
Dr. Bredesen (51:21): Whoa.
Brian Karr (51:23): At the end, the thing that figured it out, the thing that really clicked, I wake up in the middle of the night, one night, with the light bulb that goes off. We were very focused on fine particle cleaning, which you’ll find everybody has a fine particle protocol. Everyone has one. You search one, they got one. It’s the best thing that’s ever happened, it’s great. Fine particle cleaning. It’s a component of what you need to do. We were doing that at the time, and we weren’t clearing mycotoxins all the time. A lot of the time, but not all the time. So why wasn’t that happening?
Brian Karr (51:50): So I took a step back and think, so this is your mold colony, what’s happening is the mycotoxin gets produced over the colony like lava over a volcano. Creates a little toxic mold and then any other molds or bacteria coming over, it’s meant to kill those to protect its territory, and that’s what it does. What’s happening is that you have a bunch of microscopic chemical spills going on, everywhere. That’s what’s happening. But we were so focused on what was floating in the air, that, again, it goes back to source removal. We weren’t getting rid of the source of the chemical into the surface.
Brian Karr (52:22): So we started looking to, what happens at a factory, if there’s a chemical spill? How did we clean the factory to let the work come back in? What do they do? Turns out you don’t just go in there and fog the place and leave, which is what everybody wants to do. There’s a specific wiping process, there’s this and that. So we took elements of that, put it into what we did and working over that period of time. All of a sudden it started working.
Brian Karr (52:45): So understanding the biotoxin component, there’s three things that we’re worried about in remediation. One is the source growth. Second in importance is the biotoxin off spread of that. And then third in importance after that is then the fungal fragment load that’s left over. So you’re always going to have a little bit of fragment load left over. This is what Julie was talking about on the ERMIs afterwards. People think they’re going to get a clean ERMI after remediation, it doesn’t happen. There’s always something there.
Brian Karr (53:17): For some reason. Well, I know why, we all know ERMI, and so we think ERMI is the end all be all of measurement, but when you rank the importance, if all the source, let’s just talk stachybotrys, let’s just stay there. If you get rid of the source that’s creating all these toxins, we now know that the factory is gone. And that analogy with the factory and the smoke. Factory is gone. The second piece is the mycotoxins they created. So that’s the smoke. We test for that. If the mycotoxins are gone and we have just a couple of random fragments of stachybotrys colony that still up, floating around, but we know the toxins aren’t there anymore and we know that the source is gone, then is that really that big of a problem? And I posed this question to a couple of different doctors, I won’t say their name, because I don’t know if they want me to say it online-
Dr. Bredesen (54:01): Sure.
Brian Karr (54:02): … but I asked them that question and I was like, “At the end of the day, if we know that the source is gone and we know that the mycotoxins are gone and we look at a fungal load, is our body going to look at a fragment of aspergillus different than one of penicillin, different than one of stachybotrys?” For example. Or, “Is our body going to see it as the same, assuming we haven’t had some sort of previous exposure that creates an autoimmune response or something?” And basically, the response was, “If all of that stuff is the same and you don’t have a previous issue, your body’s going to look at it in a very similar way.” And if that’s the case, then seeing one or two fragments of stach on a post ERMI, when we know the toxins have been gone through testing, and we know the sources are gone, are not the end of the world. And so that’s how we put it together the post testing philosophy.
Dr. Bredesen (54:48): Yeah. Excellent. Okay. We’ve got many, many more fantastic questions. We’re going to have to take them online here because we’ve run out of time, but this has been so fantastic. Again, something that is really not dealt with by the vast majority of physicians that unfortunately such a common cause of so many problems, including cognitive decline that we discuss all the time. So Brian, thanks so much. Just great to have you on. Thanks to Brian. Thanks to Julie. Thanks to Julie. We’re going to need to follow up at some point. Would you consider coming on again at some point?
Brian Karr (55:19): 100%. I was so excited to get the invite. I’ve been wanting to chat with you for a long time. So this is a big… I’m excited about today. So thank you for the opportunity.
Dr. Bredesen (55:29): Fantastic. Thank you so much. All right.
Brian Karr (55:31): All right.
Dr. Bredesen (55:32): Take care, everyone.
Brian Karr (55:34): Bye-bye.
Dr. Bredesen (55:34): Bye-bye.