March 25, 2022 By Leanne Vogel March 25, 2022
My experience with parasites, mold & metals – a HUGE issue in my health journey.
Personal share time? If you have your life all figured out, and your health is top-notch, you can skip this one…
I’ve felt unwell since around 2009. Progressively, slowly but surely, a steady decline in my digestive function, mental function, and energy overall. It’s been slight, which is why I thought it was more dietary than anything.
I won’t bore you with the SUPER long list of all the things I was experiencing, but here’s a short list: chronic inflammation, random food sensitivities, anal itching, headaches, mood swings, breathing issues (gasping for air), dizziness, brain fog, acne, poor memory, adverse reactions to foods, bloating after eating, pain after eating, constantly hungry/empty feeling in stomach, constipation, dry skin, anal itching, dry lips, eye floaters, unclear vision, grinding teeth, drooling at night, itching at night, intense neck pain, muscle pains, intense muscle twitching, sinus issues, congestion, wheezing, earaches, lymph node swelling, joint pain, anxiety, overwhelm, ongoing confusion with where I was/what I was doing, exhaustion that would hit at random times during the day… these symptoms were intense and they were affecting my day to day
I’ve worked with countless functional medicine doctors and conventional doctors, received all sorts of diagnosis like fibromyalgia, lupus, hypothyroidism, depression, ADD… I’ve been prescribed countless medications, and still, at the end of the day… nothing really stuck.
The keto diet was just about the only thing that moved the needle, and I am so thankful for the 7+ years I spent eating this way. Though it didn’t get me all the way better, it was the only thing that helped me get a handle on things, and kept me about 50% better, consistently. And, when you’re feeling super crummy, 50% is a miracle.
I had an eating disorder (anorexia, bulimia & orthorexia) from 2000 to 2017. Being malnourished that long, you begin to think that ALL symptoms you’re experiencing are related to the food/nutrients you didn’t get while sick. I’d thought that my issues were rooted in food. I mean, how could they not be?
When you tell a doctor you’ve struggled through an eating disorder for most of your life, they tend to use this to inform all their decisions for your care plan. ALL of them. I have yet to meet a conventional doctor that hasn’t blamed my having an eating disorder on every darn symptom I’ve ever had.
I know that not eating a lot, for 2 decades, and bingeing/purging my way through high school and my twenties has done damage to my body. But there was something deeper happening and for the longest time, I thought the only option could be food, hitting the proper macros, and nailing down just the right workout program.
Boy, was I wrong.
I started Healthful Pursuit as a way for me to share my pursuit, of health through various stages of my life. No way when we started designing the first logo back in 2010 that I’d ever dream that the blog would still be around today, and that I’d be sitting here writing about mold, parasites, and heavy metals as being the absolute root cause to my ongoing health issues.
Yet here we are, and here we go.
In 2013, I was diagnosed with amenorrhea. The doctor said it was because I didn’t eat enough but didn’t see an issue with me having a lack of period because I didn’t want to get pregnant (red flag).
After the amenorrhea diagnosis, my doctor agreed to put me on hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to see if it would get my period back. HRT = artificial hormones (what was I thinking?!) all it did was make me gain weight, made me mentally crazy, and… never did help me to get my period back.
What started off as a means of regulating hormone weight gain, ended up resulting in improved hormones (without the use of artificial garbage), getting off my ADHD medication, and a 3-part book deal.
It’s been a wild ride.
Keto helped my hormones immensely. DHEA, estrogen, testosterone, progesterone all increased. I got my period back after eating keto for about a year. THIS WAS HUGE. All doctors I’d seen (we saw a lot lol) said that I would never, ever have a natural period, ever.
I’m going on 7 years WITH a natural period. So… thanks keto!
But here’s where keto didn’t totally help: my poor little adrenals.
Knowing what I know now, this is a major red flag. Adrenals don’t just go sideways for no reason. And, my adrenals were SIDEWAYS, let me tell you. Since about 2013, I’d been on Hydrocortisone as a means to support my adrenals.
And no, I never asked the doctor WHY my adrenals weren’t working properly, I just took the medication (spoiler alert, my adrenals were acting that way because I was living in mold).
This is my DUTCH panel after doing absolutely everything I could do nutritionally and lifestyle wise. There was nothing else I could tweak to make that cortisol pattern any better.
Just the other day, I was scrolling through old YouTube videos where I shared my journey of adrenal dysfunction way back in 2015. This was when I was keto. I thought, that if I could get my carbohydrate intake juuuust right (using carb ups), I could fix my adrenals.
For sure; in a body where adrenals are 100% being affected by lack of food, too much exercise, and/or the improper ratio of macros, carbohydrate timing will effectively support the adrenals. Problem was, I unknowingly had lived in mold and this had done a number on my adrenals, caused my gut to become leaky, and I’d picked up a little visitor called entamoeba histolytica (a pathogenic parasite) in Dominican Republic back in 2013. This soup of issues were affecting my adrenals more than a “perfect carbohydrate macro” could make up for.
Fast forward to 2020, and I still had adrenal issues. Keto massively improved much of this, but I’d been slowly regressing since about 2018 – dealing with more and more and more symptoms.
December 2020, I decided to get a GI Map test (a functional stool test I use with my clients to check on gut function) because of some persistent GI issues I’d had for years. Constipation was the name of the game for me, something I’d struggled with for over a decade. I thought it was stress, overwhelm, and a lack of fiber in the diet, so kept shifting things and nothing really worked well. Magnesium worked for awhile, but it stopped working around this time also.
The GI Map came back as showing that I had a pathogenic parasite – entamoeba histolytica. Not super ideal.
At that point, I went on months of parasite cleanses with the guidance of a practitioner, and the darn parasite came back over and over. Symptoms would get better, then worse again.
Then, I tested my home for mold, my body for mycotoxins, and sure enough, the testing came back as confirmed mycotoxins. And, these results were from an unprovoked test. I didn’t know what I was doing, so I just peed in the sample cup and mailed it off.
Why is the mold significant here? When the body is subjected to a biological toxin (mold and Lyme are both biological toxins) it weakens the immune, causes leaky gut, and makes it a hospitable place for parasites to setup camp. This had been going on in my body, unbeknownst to me, since about 2009 when we’d lived in a water damaged apartment for about 2 years.
So, there I was with a positive mycotoxin test, a parasite that wouldn’t die… and NO CLUE who to ask for help, what to do about it, where to even begin.
It was then that I decided I needed to learn all the things. So, I studied under Dr. Jessica Peatross, Emily Morrow, Dr. Klinghardt, Dr Neil Nathan, Michael Rutherford, and a bunch of others… I took classes, received 3 new certifications… The more I learned about mold, parasites, metals, and Lyme disease, the more I was disappointed I hadn’t learned about it sooner.
I remember feeling the same way about keto when I’d stumbled on it back in 2014 – like, WHY didn’t they teach us this in school?!
Perhaps you’ve felt the same with certain things you’ve learned about your body?
In the process of figuring out why my body couldn’t fight off a parasite, I was introduced to drainage pathways (how the body rids itself of… everything).
Your drainage pathways include: lungs, skin (sweat), lymph, liver, bowels, kidneys, you get the idea.
Sweat is a HUGE component of lymphatic and mitochondria (think: energy/adrenal) health. And, a strong pathway for removing mycotoxins (mold) from the body.
There was no way I could afford a full-size sauna in our small home, so I started going to the gym to get my sweat pathway open (this is a PROCESS).
Then, I stumbled on sauna blankets – an inexpensive way to sweat at home, without taking up too much space (it’s the size of a sleeping bag and rolls up just like one, too).
I’ve been using my sauna blanket since October 2021, and am so impressed with how good my body has gotten at sweating, and how much better I feel after each session.
So much so, that I wanted to create a resource for you highlighting…
Drainage pathways, they make ALL of this work CLICK.
As of writing this blog post I am 100% parasite free, mycotoxin-free, and completely detoxed from arsenic (sourced from all the collagen I was eating, this is a story for another time).
There were a lot of things I messed up on throughout this process, until I went back to school and learned it for myself. Probably the biggest mistake of them ALL was not listening to my gut and ignoring symptoms thinking I could fight my way through them by getting the perfect diet. I wasted a good amount of time thinking macro adjustments would make all the difference for me.
If I could impart some knowledge I’ve gained through this process of discovering the root cause to my chronic issues, they’d have to be:
OK that’s all from me, for now. I hope that by sharing my story, there’s at least one lady reading this right now (hi!) that feels validated and hopeful through the reading of my story. If you feel like something is going on, work with a qualified practitioner (ha! Crazy that I am one of those now), and dig in to discover that thing that’s setting your body off.
Hi! I’m Leanne (RHN FBCS)
a Keto Nutritionist, host of The Keto Diet Podcast, and best-selling author of The Keto Diet & Keto for Women. I want to live in a world where every woman has access to knowledge to better her health.