MARCoNS Treatment for Mold Illness Recovery:
Explaining the Infection and Looking at Its Connection to Environmental Mold
I am often asked if I tested positive for Multiple Antibiotic Resistant Coagulase Negative Staphylococci, or MARCoNs, when I had mold toxicity. (Note: MARCoNs is a staph infection that resides deep in the noses of 80% of people suffering from mold illness and other chronic inflammatory illnesses that is resistant to multiple antibiotics and is protected by biofilm.) People also are curious about my knowledge of effective MARCoNs treatment. Those especially interested are mold sufferers who no longer believe they are being exposed to mold and for whom serious inflammation is continuing, despite multiple and often elaborate interventions. Once diagnosed, MARCoNs can be such a difficult condition to effectively treat, that sufferers are desperate for tips and solutions. Many have even been told that it is what is preventing their full recovery.
The truth is, I was never specifically tested or medically treated for MARCoNs as part of my mold toxicity protocol. As I have shared before, chronic sinus symptoms were definitely a problem for me—facial pain and swelling, headaches, tooth pain, swollen nasal passages, sinus pressure, sinus drainage, etc., but, once we connected the mold in our home to ALL of our health symptoms, the focus of my treatment was on avoiding the antigen (mold) and stopping the cycle of inflammation in my body that the mold had ignited. And, even though MARCoNs doesn’t always present as sinus symptoms, in fact, most patients with MARCoNs report debilitating fatigue, sleep problems, and cognitive issues as their top complaints, I was lucky enough to have my neurological symptoms subside as my body cleared the mold with detox and other treatments. My protocol included many steps and a whole-body approach to healing. Once I set my body up to heal by tackling my environment and the mold mycotoxins inside of me, I never had to literally “dig deeper” or explore MARCoNs. It wasn’t necessary to do so for me to heal.
Do I think my doctors should’ve tested me for MARCoNs or looked for it as part of my diagnosis or overall mold-toxicity protocol? No. No, I don’t. At the time, in full transparency, I didn’t know much, if anything, about MARCoNs. It wasn’t something that was on my radar. I had read about it in the Shoemaker Protocol and about the “MARCoNs step” and use of BEG spray with EDTA in his treatment, but didn’t know much more. (Note: Bactroban, Edetate Disodium (EDTA), Gentamicin BEG nasal spray was designed to eliminate biofilm forming, antibiotic-resistant staphylococcus colonization in the sinus cavity. The spray addresses both the bacteria and the biofilm that protects it and works to eliminate it from the nasal passages. What is conspicuously missing in this formula is an antifungal component. More antibiotics without antifungals will perpetuate more fungal/candida growth and more different resistant bacterial species. So it is a never ending cycle. Fungal load reduction in both the nose and air is essential for long term recovery and the air is 5x more important than any medical treatment.) The deep nasal swab test sounded uncomfortable and treatment sounded aggressive and was known to not be all that effective, with many patients reporting the MARCoNs returning quite swiftly after treatment ended, or no relief in symptoms, despite treatment. In my opinion, just going after the MARCoNs seemed similar to the “kill the bug at all costs” approach we are all so familiar with from Western medicine. Also, my body is not one that responds well to the eradication approach, in fact, most of my treatment success had been from a much gentler detoxification framework, where the air I was breathing was the MOST IMPORTANT part of my treatment. In other words, a mold-free environment was my panacea. I actually wondered often if the main issue with those not being able to get rid of the MARCoNs was some continuing exposure that they weren’t aware of.
But today, with greater understanding of mold illness, has my stance changed? Do I think MARCoNs testing and treatment should come early on?
Not completely. Here is why:
I do still strongly believe that getting out of the moldy environment and establishing a protocol of proper detoxification are the MOST IMPORTANT components to recovery, but I also recognize that some people must target MARCoNs to be able to make a full recovery. I just look at the eradication approach a bit differently than what most of the standard MARCoNs treatments tout. I recognize that you must treat the fungal and not just the bacterial component of the issue. In what I have seen and what I have read, not only does this approach make the most sense, but it seems to help prevent the MARCoNs from reoccurring. This is because you treated the cause, mold.
Mold and MARCoNs
To break things down a little further:
The mechanism (Mayo Clinic 1999 study) in patients with chronic sinusitis genetics is that mold lands on the sinus mucosa, and an immune reaction occurs in which eosinophyls (white blood cells) come into the mucosa to destroy it. They rupture releasing major basic protein. This destroys the fungus but also destroys the cilia and mucosa, causing pits to form. The resulting pits trap mucous and start bacterial growth. The interesting thing is that all of these microscopic pits provide a lattice-like structure for the cross linking of bacteria and fungi, thus the term biofilm.
In other words, the pitting allows the two to cohabitate and help each other to be more resilient. But, if there are no pits for latticework, there is also no biofilm. This is why, according to Dr. Dennis, “The biofilm resolves in most cases with antifungal nasal sprays, irrigations, and /or nebulizations.”
So, when mold is the undeniable agitator and cause of MARCoNs, in addition to the bacteria, mycotoxin-producing molds are present. Thus, going after the mold in the environment, in the nose, and in the body is usually enough to also eradicate the infection. This obviously takes time and doesn’t occur overnight, but, if done correctly, will fully heal most people and will give them relief of all symptoms—including MARCoNs. I saw this firsthand in my personal journey as my labs continued to improve in a clean environment with no MARCoNs-specific treatment of my nasal passages. This is not to say that there are not times when specific nasal and sinus treatments are warranted for full recovery (I’ll discuss this later), but, in my opinion, these are more successful when targeted at reestablishing the nasal biome or in the removal of fungus and mycotoxins.
What About Living in a Moldy Environment Creates the Perfect Set-up for MARCoNs?
Think of your nose and nasal passages like your gut: It also has a microbiome and within it, millions of different bacteria living there, keeping us healthy. Thus, bacteria and fungi are present in the noses of all, normal, healthy people. In other words, almost everyone has staph in their nose. They aren’t problematic until something like mycotoxin-producing molds are being inhaled every day. (Note: We also know that moldy environments contain high levels of bacteria, microbes, viruses, etc., which is why they are particularly dangerous to health.) Why? Well, because inhaled mycotoxins can cross the blood/brain barrier and ignite a chronic immune response. While your body is inflamed fighting the toxins, your IgG antibody subclasses are lowered causing immune suppression (Dennis paper) and emergence of illness from all other bacteria, viruses, illnesses or another sleeping autoimmune diseases, like Epstein-Barr or Lyme. Thus, your body can no longer keep the staph in your nasal passages in check, nor can it keep away other inflammatory illnesses and/or disease. You are then a veritable petri dish for whichever bug wants to dominate.
Mold, Your Hormones, and MARCoNs
When you are living or working in a moldy environment, the toxic onslaught may, at first, stimulate the body to produce more stress- and immune-modulating hormones in an effort to throw everything it has at survival. But eventually, when the exposure continues, or fungal/bacterial overgrowth in the body occurs, hormone production lowers or ceases—it just peters out. At this point, actual pituitary and brain damage can occur. For the most part, it is reversible, but without the right interventions, it can get difficult.
Now, let’s focus in on the pituitary gland specifically:
Some mycotoxins secreted by mold are neurotoxins that can damage the pituitary gland which is all neural tissue and cause some or all pituitary hormones (growth hormone, thyroid, cortisol, etc.) to be lowered over time, especially when exposure is ongoing. All of these hormones are important to health and wellbeing, but growth hormone, because it is responsible for cellular repair and for making new cells, is sort of the master puppeteer. Thus, when growth hormone is depleted or no longer produced, your cells do not heal or repair and you cannot fight disease, illness, infection, or . . . MARCoNs. (Note: Growth hormone is low in over 53% of patients who have mold exposure and a reported energy score of 5 or less with 10 being high normal energy.)
When you remove the mycotoxins early in mold exposure (from the person’s environment, sinus, and brain through detox), hormone levels usually recover because growth hormone recovers. Sometimes, growth hormone will need to be supplemented by injection to assist in new tissue replacement if brain damage is too long and/or severe, and/or if the brain and pituitary damage will not return to normal with other interventions. (Note: This should be evaluated in blood tests looking for mid-normal hormone values. “Normal values” are not normal–they are derived by taking, say 1,000 all comers, without removing those who are obviously ill on a questionnaire, so some sick folks are used in the calculation and it becomes a bell curve.) Growth hormone replacement then becomes key for healing some patients, because their bodies cannot recover, repair, or overcome other invaders, like MARCoNs, without it.
What if You Test Positive for MARCoNs?
Clearing MARCoNs and/or a fungal infection of the sinuses can be done only after you remove yourself from the moldy environment. You can definitely start to do things to alleviate the cellular stress and to quell the inflammatory response prior to leaving the moldy environment, but realize that nothing will work on a long-term basis until you are out of the mold.
Things that will ALWAYS help, even in a sub-optimal environment:
HEPA air filters and HEPA vacuuming, fogging with Ec3, Ec3 candles, and Ec3 laundry additive, saline nose washes with CitriDrops, Sinus Defense, sticking to a diet that eliminates gluten, introducing some binders, and adding healthy fats and DHA supplements to stabilize brain function.
Treatment for Mold Illness That Addresses MARCoNs:
- 2-3 times daily nasal rinses using distilled or purified water, ChitoRhino packets and 2-3 drops of CitriDrops Dietary Supplement. This is a particularly wonderful nasal rinse formula, because the Chitosan is antifungal, antiviral, and antibacterial, and it soothes the nasal passages. It is also proven to bust biofilm, so its use can help other treatments get to the bugs much easier. The CitriDrops are also antifungal and antibacterial and can eliminate staph and molds from the nose. I like to use this nasal wash 1 time daily for mold maintenance and to keep my nasal passages free of any inflammatory mold. It really helps and keeps me well.
- There are many different options for nasal sprays, and different ones may be more beneficial depending on the type of mycotoxin involved. (Note: Dr. Neil Nathan’s book Toxic does an excellent job of breaking down different mycotoxins and which respond best to which treatments.) Luckily, there are many natural and over-the-counter treatment options for both MARCoNs and fungal infections. Nasal sprays I have found to be effective include Argentyn 23, Citridrops nasal spray, Xlear, and a probiotic spray (like making a homemade one using Megasporebiotic). The probiotic spray was particularly helpful for me, because it helped to repopulate my nasal passages with bacteria that work to prevent MARCoNs from forming. It is an approach that turns away from eradication and looks more towards reestablishing a healthy biome, where infection cannot subsist. I find myself moving more in that direction with my health these days, because it is more of a longevity approach and less of a symptom treatment approach. Talk to your practitioner to determine which dosage and formula(s) may be right for you.
- Stick to a gluten-free, Anti-Candida Diet is also extremely important at this time, because MARCoNs and fungal colonization in the body from Candida has been shown to secrete gliotoxin, a powerful neurotoxin. You want to be doing everything you can at this point to discourage Candida from thriving, thus not feeding it with the foods that you are putting into your body is a good and helpful action to take.
- Addressing the immune system and the body’s innate ability to process mold toxins also important. Transfer Factor that is contained in Sinus Defense does this by stimulating the body to impart immunity against some of the most common molds and indoor allergens. It also contains antiviral immunities to help prevent some of the “sleeping viruses” and autoimmune issues from cropping up when the immune system is under attack and extremely taxed.
- Addressing the pituitary and endocrine system has to be done, because otherwise, you risk hormonal disruption and/or depletion. I find CellTropin to be a helpful tool for this. It contains pituitary factors and Astragalus Root for immune system boosting. Sometimes, the homeopathic stimulation is all that is required to get the body signaling and secreting hormones again. I also find l-theanine supplementation to be helpful for hormone regulation and for sleep. I use 200-250 mg of 1-theanine 2 times per day.
What About When Basic Interventions Do Not Work?
If there are symptoms, like pus, inflammation, and edema in an endoscopic sinus exam, treatment must include a prescription antifungal, like Amphotericin B or Voriconazole nasal spray or nebulization, and a spray that has two antibiotics that will kill the MARCoNs. These antibiotics will be determined by sensitivity testing and should be structurally different, like gentamicin and vancomycin. In addition, and I think this is particularly of note, Dr. Dennis has found that the MRV Vaccine (strep, staph, diplococcus, pneumococcus, Hemophilus) as an intradermal injection is extremely helpful for these patients. He and many other mold literate docs have also found that if no antifungal is used, all antibiotics prescriptions will fail long term and other resistant bacteria will grow—you definitely do not want or need that!