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Morgellons: A Personal Account

Contents -

My Story

A couple of years ago my son and I both had problems with itching (actually more of a feeling of being bit) and dark spots that suddenly appeared on our bodies. Until recently I thought the itching was due to a mold allergy and I never was totally sure about the spots, but now I'm not so sure exactly what we had. I was just reading an article on Morgellons and was blown away by some of the the similarities between the symptoms the Morgellon patients described and our experiences.

Update: 10/10/07 - Part of the Problem was from Pet Hay

It took me a long time to figure out the exact trigger for our itching and black spots, but it eventually I realized what it was. I would feed our pet guinea pigs hay at night before going to bed. That is also often when I would clean out their cage, too, which has hay spread around all over it. My skin developed the black spots in the places where my hands or feet touched my skin after contact with the hay. I think my feet got exposed because the hay has a lot of dust along with it and it gets into the air and on the floor near their cage, and I often walk barefoot around the house so the dust got on my feet. I don't know if the itching was from the hay, some chemicals, or microscopic fungus or bugs in the hay, but I'm sure now that it was something in the hay that was the main trigger. I suspect that the rainy weather, the fungus in the soup, the vitamin A overload as explained below and other factors in our diets played a role, but in retrospect the spots only occurred in places where my skin touched my hands or feet after they were exposed to the hay.

My son who had the itching is the other person in the house who feeds the pigs and cleans their cage. So I think it was contact with the hay that caused the spots and itching. Perhaps the reason the other family members didn't develop the same problems is that we are the only two who take care of the piggies. I put in air cleaners near the hay and we always wash our hands after touching the hay now.

Since my site has been up another person has written to me who developed the itching and black spots after adopting guinea pigs and feeding them the same kind of hay we feed our piggies. Interestingly, one school of thought about Morgellons is that it is linked to Agrobacterium, a type of bacteria that has an ability to transfer DNA between itself and plants, and for this reason it is used in plant genetic engineering, including pasture grasses,. However, researchers from Department of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, State University of New York have found that "agrobacterium can transport its T-DNA to human cells and integrate it into their genome."

When we had the itching issues, my son and I both felt like we were being bitten all over, we had dark dots develop on our skin, the doctors we saw were disbelieving and treated us like hypochondriacs despite the obvious spots (who can make up dark spots imbedded in your skin?), we live in Northern California where many of the cases of Morgellons seem to occur, and we have a history of fibromyalgia, a condition commonly linked to Morgellons, from a connective tissue disorder called Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. I could not sleep at night as I felt like I was being bitten all over, yet a visual examination of my skin showed nothing except the dark dots. I tried putting on anti-fungal creams, but it was impractical to put the creams over my whole body.


Food for Thought for Mogellons Skeptics

A study published in February, 2007 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that human skin contain over 182 species of bacteria, many of them previously unknown. Researchers have concluded that we carry with us thousands of species of microbes, many times for years, decades, or for our entire lifespan. As such, it is to be expected that some of these types of bacteria or other microorganisms would cause adverse and/or unusual symptoms from time to time.

When doctors act like people are hypochondriacs because they do not have symptoms that fit with any established medical disorder, they are simply failing to comprehend the limited knowledge that current medical science has regarding the human body and all of the possible health ailments that can occur.

If you look through the diseases listed in old medical textbooks compared to current medical books, the lists of covered disease changes and greatly expands through the years. As such, it is illogical to: 1) assume that what we consider today to be modern medicine currently knows about every disease that really exists (or will ever exist); 2) assume that modern medicine has tests for every disease that can possibly afflict humans; and 3) assume everyone with symptoms of a disease we don't have tests for today is delusional or a hypochondriac. If doctors had taken that stance 100 years ago, then people with as-of-then undiscovered disorders such as cystic fibrosis, Lyme disease and Epstein-Barr would have been considered mentally ill because they had disorders that were not yet defined and did not have tests to diagnose.

In 100 years from now medical textbooks will most likely have as many new diseases and tests for those diseases listed as medical books of today have compared to medical books from early 1900's.

"If we all worked on the assumption that what is accepted as true is really true, there would be little hope of advance."
Orville Wright


All of these symptoms we had also seem to be linked to Morgellons, except we didn't have the dark fibers coming out of the spots as most Morgellons patients report. The thing that really hit home to me in reading the Morgellon article was the feeling of being bitten constantly and all over the body. We had this happen to us. It felt like we were being bitten by chiggers except there were no chiggers or obvious bite marks.

I'm really interested in herbal, Ayurvedic and holistic medicine, which have a lot of treatment ideas for itching, mold and fungal issues, so our itching lasted only a few weeks before we found some effective treatments. While it lasted, it sure was creepy, to say the least.

I don't know now if we had a variation of Morgellons or something else, but as soon as I read the articles about the dark spots, the feeling of being bitten all over, the occurrences in California, the unsympathetic doctors and the links to fibromyalgia I wanted to put up this site and share our experiences in the hopes that others may find some of our treatments of interest.

I also wanted to put this site up to tell people out there with Morgellons that I believe you completely. I have had many of the same symptoms and so has my son. If you are like my son and I, you most likely just have some nutritional deficiencies that are lowering your immune system and a less than robust liver that is not taking care of some fungal, mold or parasitic type infection like it should.

My son and I also have historically had problems with deficiencies of magnesium, vitamin B12 and zinc, which are are needed to help the liver deal with toxins, fungal infections, and parasites. Deficiencies of magnesium and zinc have also been implicated in depression, ADD and ADHD, and fibromyalgia--all conditions linked to Morgellons. As such, perhaps nutritional deficiencies may be a common denominator in many of the symptoms associated with the disorders.

Our History

My son and I both started itching and feeling like we were being bitten all over a couple of years ago during the rainy season. We both developed dark dots in our skin. My son's spots started first and occurred the day after he had Chinese food for dinner with hot and sour soup. I developed the spots and itching a week later but realized it was also after consuming Chinese food from the same restaurant, again with hot and sour soup. I remember getting dressed the next morning and noticed all of these dark dots had appeared on my thighs and elsewhere on my body literally overnight.

I looked up the usual ingredients the hot and sour soup is made from and found that they include tree ear fungus and dried mushroom, which is also a fungus. I suspect consuming the tree ear fungus and mushrooms along with mold I found in our window frames from the rainy weather were giving us some kind of fungal / mold overload type of reaction.

One other freaky thing that happened was that both of the soles of our feet turned orange during this time. In hindsight I think this was because I had started a diet and I was eating a lot of raw veggies, especially carrots, and I was sharing them with my son. I know now that we were consuming so much beta-carotene (which gets converted in the body into vitamin A) from the carrots that it was taxing our livers . My husband and son who don't like to eat raw carrots were exposed to the same windows with mold in the sills and ate the same Chinese food, but they didn't develop any itching. I think the catalyst was the overload of beta carotene being converted into vitamin A putting a strain on our livers and impairing their abilities to help us fend off the fungal / mold infection. Another person who had symptoms of Morgellons noted that she first started having health issue after bug bombing her house, which could also tax the liver. Like my son, along with the Morgellons she also had signs of chemical sensitivities and food allergies. In her case she recovered after following an anti-Candida (yeast) diet.

I know now that too much vitamin A can cause liver abnormalities and liver abnormalities are often linked to itching. I suspect this is because when the liver is over taxed it can't take care of toxins, fungus and parasites on your body as effectively as a healthy liver can. You know that clean feeling you have after you take as shower? I think that feeling is because right after showering your skin is generally free of other microscopic parasitic life forms - be it mold, fungi, or some other kinds of critters science doesn't have a name for yet.

 

Vitamin A and Your Liver

"Even vitamin A can stress your liver's capabilities if you dramatically exceed the recommended daily value."

"The silent alarm: your liver filters the fallout from a toxic world, but symptoms of disease can stay dormant for decades." from Natural Health magazine

Which I realize now getting too much vitamin A is easy to do if you eat a lot of carrots each day and it is possible to have your skin turn orange just from eating carrots. One carrot provides much more than 100% of the RDA for vitamin A. So when my son and I were each eating 3 or 4 carrots a day, we were getting up to almost 1,000% of the RDA for vitamin A in one day alone. Over a period of weeks, this was probably a lot more vitamin A than our livers could handle and eventually our skin actually started to turn orange.

 

I've read since all of this happened that many skin conditions, including brown spots on the skin, are linked to poor liver function. This is because if the liver cannot detoxify toxins like it should, the next way your body tries to get rid of them is to push them out through your skin. One of my natural health books noted that one possible cause of dark spots on the skin was poor liver functioning.

My husband pointed out to me that when a fish died in our aquarium or when we've found a dead rodent in our yard, it didn't take long before the bodies were decomposed by microscopic organisms. Our bodies our most likely teeming with these organisms normally as we walk around day to day and they only become problematic when we are in a weakened state and can't fend them off. When you are in robust health they are not a problem, when you are dead they literally eat away at your body, and when you are not dead but not really healthy either perhaps the microbes are just starting to get the upper hand and you can actually feel them on and under your skin.

Anyway, looking back now, I think my son and I overtaxed our livers with way too much vitamin A from too many carrots. Then our livers were unable to effectively deal with the overload of fungus in our diets when we had the hot and sour soup. I think there was a cumulative effect, especially on top of the mold we had in our window sills from rainy season. I had my husband take out all of the window panes and bleach the frames to remove any mold or fungus, and then he started itching a bit too, but for him it took much more mold exposure to develop any symptoms.

There were a number of factors that contributed to our health issues, but I think a poor functioning liver was a root cause. My younger son has had problems with multiple chemical sensitivities during this time, too.

Similarities with Morgellons

I suspect that perhaps people with Morgellons may have some similarities with the conditions my son and I had. If you have Morgellons, do your symptoms get worse when:

  • You are in damp areas or when you get sweaty?
  • Re-wear clothes without washing them?
  • Are around mold or dust?
  • Take a hot shower or go in the bathroom after someone else has just taken a hot shower?
  • When you open the vegetable crisper drawer in the fridge?
  • Around old books?
  • Eat anything with sugar, dairy products (especially cheese), bread or other foods made with yeast, starchy foods, or raw fruit?
  • Get worse when you drink coffee or alcohol (substances that tax the liver)?

Many of the holistic treatments and anti-yeast type diets out there in books and on the web, especially the ones that advocate consuming mostly raw foods, are actually ones that made us worse. The best advice for fungal infections we found was to follow the "kapha lowering" and "pitta increasing" diets from Ayurvedic medicine.

Do you feel better if you have a cup of hot water with some freshly squeezed lemon? Lemon has natural antifungal and antimicrobiotic properties, so if lemon juice helps then I suspect this may be an indicator that itching is due to some kind of microscopic critters the lemon juice is killing in your system. A number of patients with the disorder have reported being helped from prescription antibiotics.

Conventional Medical Advice That Did Not Help Us

The first medical doctor we went to see said my son suffered from eczema and gave him a moisturizer. I pointed out that the small bumps she said were eczema he had all of his life but he had never itched before so that was unlikely to be the cause. I also noted that it would be illogical for eczema on my son to make me itch, and that since moisture made him worse a moisturizer was not a logical solution. She just got extremely nasty at this point that I dared question her skills and said she could help us if I would just listen to her. But I did listen to her and nothing she said made any sense. Nothing she said explained why we were the only two people in our family who were itching and being bit and also why we were the only two people in our family who had orange skin on their feet and in the palms of their hands. If I had followed her treatments I think we'd both still be being bitten all over and maybe even having the fiber thingys growing out of our skin by now.

Helpful Natural Treatments

Ayurvedic medicine developed in India, a generally hot, moist climate most likely conducive to tropical fungal and bacterial infections, so their literature has some of the best natural tips for preventing parasitic and fungal types of disorders. Check out this link for more information: A food plan to balance a kapha dosha.

As I noted earlier, I think to get rid of fungal / parasitic infections it is best to follow the Ayurveda advice to "lower kapha levels" and "increase pitta levels". (I think the modern equivalent to this traditional advice is to eat more foods that are acidic, bitter, help speed up your metabolism and kill unwanted fungus and bacteria.)

The logic behind eating mostly cooked foods in Ayurveda medicine for "lowering kapha", as mentioned in the previous link, means any fungal or mold on your food has most likely been killed in the cooking process. This make things easier on your liver and gives it more capacity to take care of existing microbes that may be on your body or in your digestive tract.

In any event, the conventional medical doctors we saw were pretty useless in treating us, but we had excellent results experimenting with simple and nontoxic treatment ideas in Ayurvedic (traditional Indian) and holistic health books.

I have a collection of hundreds of herbal, Ayurvedic and holistic health books so I just kept trying different treatments and diets until I found stuff that worked. We pretty much followed the Ayruveda and natural health books advice for itching and mold allergies and we both recovered in a short period of time.

We also saw a different doctor who was more rational and sympathetic than the one mentioned above. She did note that my son had orange skin on his hands and feet and knew that it could be from too much vitamin A. She suggested we keep a food diary which helped us both tremendously. We realized from the diary that our itching did seem to occur more after eating specific foods, especially ones that were more likely to have fungus or mold on them. Besides cutting out carrots and other vitamin A rich foods until our skin returned to normal, the specific treatments that helped us are listed in the following sections of my site:

Allergic to Mold? Learn how to get rid of mold around the house and how diet changes might help.

Multiple Chemical Sensitivity - the steps that helped my son get his life back to normal.

Liver Functioning and Skin That Itches

I didn't realize it much at the time, but there also many foods you can eat that are supposed to specifically be good for your liver, which may help with itching disorders. Here are some articles on the subject that may be of interest:

Foods for a Healthy Liver

Keep Your Liver Strong and Healthy

My Ayurvedic medicine books specifically mention that bitter foods are good for the liver. Other books have mentioned foods such as radicchio, fresh squeezed lemon in water, artichokes, grapefruit and broccoli as being good for liver function.

Acid Base Balance and Feeling Itchy

Based on my personal experience, I also suspect that acid base balance may also be an important part of keeping pathogenic microbes at bay. I've noticed that when my urine pH is in the normal to slightly acidic range, I never have any itchy or crawly feelings. They seem to occur only mainly when my ph is off balance towards being too alkaline. I think this is because urine pH may be a rough indicator of the pH in the intestinal tract, and an acidic environment is one of the body's defenses against unwanted bacteria, fungus, etc.

At one time I was having trouble with an over acid stomach, so I started drinking lots of raw, alkaline juices to try to lower my pH levels. It worked to lower my pH, but also noticed that I started getting itchy, little chigger like bites on my skin. So for several days I would change my pH by eating either more alkaline or acid foods, and oddly, the bites and the itching from the bites seemed to only occur when I was on the extreme alkaline diet.

The foods that seemed to help restore my body to a normal pH condition the fastest from being too acid were Mountain High yogurt with active cultures (the bacteria help to make the GI tract more acid) and red meat.

Watch the Glycemic Index

I've noticed that I have more problems with itching when I eat a lot of sugarly foods or refined carbohydrates. I have a relative who has experienced the same problems.

I think this happens because when our blood sugar is high, we are providing nourishment for fungus and other microscopic critters that live on the skin. This may be why people with diabetes often suffer from fungal infections.

Visit my page on itching for more information on low glycemic diets.

Psychiatric Symptoms / Delusional Parasitosis

Some doctors attribute Morgellons symptoms to purely a mental health disorder called delusional parasitosis because the symptoms are almost identical to ones commonly reported by paranoiacs and schizophrenics. Thinking outside the box here, what if the "skin crawling" reports by mentally ill people were really true, and the cause of the skin crawling feeling these people report had the same cause as their mental illness? What if people with paranoia and schizophrenia were actually telling the truth and had nutritional deficiencies combined with poorly functioning immune systems that caused both the mental illness and the crawly skin?

Common Current Medical View -

People are mentally ill => they report have crawling feelings on their skin because they are crazy.

Note: This current conventional medical view ignores thousands of studies linking mental illness to poor nutrition. It also does not explain why so many unrelated mentally ill people who could not have possibly known each other, because of geographic and historical time period differences, all report the exact same symptoms of creepy, crawly skin feelings.

Alternative View -

Nutritional deficiencies / imbalances => impaired immune systems, poor liver functioning, and poor brain functioning resulting in outwards signs of mental illness.

Note: The above view is may be more logical because it takes into account all of the thousands of studies on PubMed linking mental illness to poor nutrition. It also provides a logical explanation of why mentally ill people throughout the world and throughout time often report the same creepy skin feelings.

If you look on PubMed, there are numerous studies linking paranoia and schizophrenia to nutritional deficiencies. Beside being a factor in mental illness, nutritional deficiencies can also impair the immune system and the functioning of the liver, the organ responsible for neutralizing toxins, germs, fungus and bacteria from the blood. Listed below is a small sample of some of the studies linking schizophrenia and paranoia to poor nutritional status.

Schizophrenia linked to prenatal nutritional deficiency

Low essential fatty acid and B-vitamin status in a subgroup of patients with schizophrenia and its response to dietary supplementation.

Vitamin B12 levels are low in hospitalized psychiatric patients.

If you go to PubMed, a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine that includes over 17 million citations from MEDLINE and other life science journals for biomedical articles, you can easily find thousands of studies linking many forms of mental illness to nutritional deficiencies. Other studies have often shown that these same deficiencies can also negatively impact the immune system. If you look at actual research studies of the causes of both mental illness and compromised immune systems, you can find some logical answers as to why a skin crawling feeling and mental illness may go hand in hand. It may be that both symptoms occur together because they share some underlying, organic, causative factors.

 

 

 

Related sections of interest:

Allergic to mold? Diet changes might help.

Beneficial Bacteria

Diet Tips for Irritable Bowel

Read my Section on Sinus Infections

Itchy Skin / Sensitive Skin

MCS (Multiple Chemical Sensitivities)

 

Selected Links:

CDC Requests Bay Area Morgellons Study - The federal Centers for Disease Control has asked Kaiser Permanente to begin the nationís first epidemiologic study of Morgellons Disease. (Story from San Francisco Chronicle SFGate site) I think it is unfortunate that this study is being conducted by Kaiser, since they are clearly not a neutral party with regards to Morgellons disease. Many patients have complained online in forums that Kaiser doctors have already decided that people who report Morgellon symptoms are delusional. To conduct a good study, you need a person or group to conduct it that is truly neutral in the outcome. Kaiser is not neutral because if they decide that Morgellons is a real disease then they will be making some of their own doctors look stupid and perhaps subject themselves to malpractice lawsuits.

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