Dear Living Well Daily Reader,
If you or a loved one suffers from Parkinson’s disease, it can feel like the bad news never stops coming.
The tremors, stiffness, fatigue and mood changes can make life miserable — and you’ve been told they’re only going to get worse.
For years, the mainstream hasn’t had a clue how to prevent Parkinson’s or turn back some of the damage. But now it looks like we’re on the cusp of a major breakthrough.
And believe it or not, we may have Hurricane Katrina to thank.
I’m sure you remember Katrina like it was yesterday. When it struck in 2005, New Orleans and other towns along the Gulf Coast were practically destroyed.
More than 1,200 people died, and the property damages reached $108 billion.
But for Professor Joan Bennett, Hurricane Katrina was a major “eureka” moment.
You see, Bennett was working as a professor at Tulane University in New Orleans and her home flooded. As the mold developed, she started developing serious neurological symptoms like constant headaches and dizziness.
And that’s what got Bennett thinking — what other neurological problems might be caused by mold?
When she took a job at Rutgers University, she ended up teaming up with scientists from Emory University to study how mold may affect brain chemicals.
And that’s when they made a pretty shocking discovery.
In a study on insects, they learned that a common component in mold, 1-Octen-3-ol (otherwise known as mushroom alcohol), has the power to kill off dopamine levels.
Dopamine is a key neurotransmitter, and declines in dopamine are a major trigger for Parkinson’s and its symptoms.
In fact, Bennett and her colleagues now believe that mold may be what’s causing a spike in Parkinson’s cases in rural areas, where mold tends to be more prevalent.
The bad news is that there are many people who have been living with mold exposure for years. The good news is that there’s something you can do about it.
You can find mold remediation specialists in your phone book, and they’d be happy to come to your home and charge a fortune for some mold tests.
But there’s plenty you can do on your own before things get that far. There are home tests for mold that you can buy at places like Home Depot (or online) for less than $50.
The best place to start is by focusing on areas where water may have pooled — like around appliances, bathrooms, the insulation and flooring in your basement or places where you had floods or leaks.
If you start to get some troubling results, it may be time for professional investigation and remediation (call your home insurer to see if any of it may be covered).
Mold removal can be costly. But we’re learning that it may hold the key to preventing Parkinson’s or keeping symptoms at bay.
Managing editor, Living Well Daily