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Can pumpkin spice save your life?

Updated: Nov 21, 2023

While the title might seem a little, well, click-bait-y, there's more to it than meets the eye.

In fact, the elements of pumpkin spice could potentially alleviate symptoms associated with mold illness. So put the artificial pumpkin spice back on the shelf and reach for the real deal to harness its potential health benefits.

First up, cinnamon. This popular spice is known by so many, and has numerous species which are used throughout the medicinal and culinary worlds: C. verum, C. zylanicum, C. cassia, C. loureiroi and C. citriodorum. Studies have shown that a mixed essential oil from various species of Cinnamomum, including Cinnamomum zeylanicum, demonstrates antifungal effects against Candida and various other fungi like Malassezia, Trichophyton, Microsporum, Cryptococcus, and Aspergillus. Plus, Cinnamomum species can increase action of antifungal medications such as Fluconazole, Ketoconazole, Amphotericin, Itraconazole, Clotrimazole, and Nystatin, particularly against Candida species. Plus it’s great at disrupting fungi biofilms, especially those produced by Candida! Finally, it enhances digestion by increasing the movement of the gut, which translates to increased appetite and reduction of bloating and gas!

Cloves, aka Syzygium aromaticum, contain the phytochemical eugenol (among others) and it demonstrates a myriad of health benefits. It's great for combating inflammation, pain, and of course - fungi. Clove essential oil demonstrates anti Candida effects. However it also packs a punch against some dangerous mycotoxin producers such as Aspergillus niger, Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus fumigatus. Plus, when it comes to keeping the skin healthy- its been shown to be effective against many dermatophytes (skin-loving fungi) including Epidermophyton, Trichophyton and Microsporum. Plus, cloves offer the added benefit of enhancing the effect of the antifungal medication fluconazole. Studies show that cloves can also reduce the risk of antifungal resistance for many of our extremely important antifungals - including ketoconazole, amphotericin B, itraconazole, clotrimazole, nystatin and others. And if that wasn't enough, it has an antispasmodic action in the gut, which can help to relieve cramping and digestive discomfort.

The third powerhouse of pumpkin spice is ginger or Zingiber officinale. Renowned for its digestive and anti-nausea properties, ginger is a versatile spice that also exhibits antimicrobial effects. Its active components, such as gingerol, lend it antifungal properties that may aid in combatting various fungi infections. Like other herbs listed here, ginger can enhance the effects of antifungal medications. What's more impressive is it's expansive efficacy against many molds including Aspergillus terrus, Aspergillus niger, Aspergillus flavus, Trichothecium roseum, Fusarium graminearum, Fusarium oxysporum, Fusarium monoliforme and Curvularia palliscens. And when it comes to helping out with mold illness, ginger is great for the histamine reactions seen with mold exposure. In fact, research has shown that it is just as effective as loratadine for allergic rhinitis. This of course means that it can potentially replace the use of loratadine, an H1 blocker, in mast cell activation protocols! Plus ginger has been shown effective against migraine headaches and the associated nausea and vomiting that some people experience. Realistically, the list goes on and on for ginger, and just like others on this list, it's great for digestion as it helps to increase gastric juices, stimulate bile flow (so necessary for effective detox), increases motility in the gut and reduces nausea!

Allspice, also know as Pimenta dioica -like others on this list- contains eugenol, which provides the botanical with antifungal activity against Candida, while also boosting the effectiveness of fluconazole. Interestingly enough, allspice also contains quercetin, which, as you know, is great for stabilizing mast cells. Plus, it's active against other mycotoxin producers such as Aspergillus niger and some Penicillium species. And if you know anything about cellular aging, you'll be happy to know that animal studies demonstrate allspice's ability to increase autophagy, a very important process that is responsible for the clean up of aged and damaged cells in the body.

Nutmeg, or Myristica fragrans, well known for its warm and welcoming flavor also offers plenty of health benefits, although one does have to display come caution with use, but we will get to this in a moment. Some research, which has combined silver nanoparticles with nutmeg, has demonstrated antifungal activity against Alternaira alternata, Fusarium oxysporum, and Pestalotiopis magniferae. It has also demonstrated pain-killing ability, along with liver and circulatory protectivity, and is even known to help manage blood sugar. Finally, it's even been documented to help reduce nervous aging and oxidative damage- something so important for those navigating mold illness. Along with the neuroprotection also comes its ability to reduce anxiety. But wait! Here's the disclaimer referenced earlier- while nutmeg is amazing- it's also intoxicating- quite literally. Nutmeg in large doses can not only cause hallucinations but can also be toxic to the liver. I say this not to scare you, but just to advise you not to try anything silly, as you can get pretty sick. However, a pinch here and there can be a wonder addition to your list of herbal allies.

Finally, we get to the underdog of PSL (Pumpkin Spice Life), black pepper or Piper nigrum. "But pepper doesn't belong in coffee let alone baked goods"-- try me. Before we discuss the benefits, I want to make a quick point. Adding trace amounts of interesting flavors to recipes can really round out and enhance existing flavors- for instance adding salt to baked goods, adding a dash of balsamic vinegar to strawberries, and adding bitters to beef stew- the list goes on. Therefore, the black pepper in pumpkin spice enhances all the other flavors-- but that's not the only benefit. Black pepper contains piperine which increases the absorption of carotenoids in the gut- perhaps the most well known synergist combo is piperine and curcumin (from turmeric). In addition to increased absorption of beneficial nutrients, it also shows moderate antifungal activity against Candida, and does a great job of breaking up fungal biofilms- such as those generated by C. neoformans- even the older, well formed biofilms!

It should be noted that nearly all of the above herbs are anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant in nature. This is great to keep sight of, as one of the ways that mycotoxins exert their negative impact is via oxidative damage. Incorporating the elements of pumpkin spice into your diet can not only enhance the flavor of your favorite dishes but also provide a plethora of health benefits. Therapeutic benefits of these plants, can be provided via food or even by essential oil preparations. If you do decide to try out essential oils, it is important that you choose a quality product. The essential oil world is the wild west- and many oils are extracted from plants grown in toxic conditions, and are then processed using chemicals dangerous to human health. Make sure you are purchasing organic oils that are either cold pressed or carbon dioxide (CO2) extracted.

for quality mixes, definitely check out Vibrant Blue Oils. While they do have a handful of individual oils, they have even more impressive professionally formulated organic blends specifically made to help address different issues including- histamine reactions, inattention, sympathetic overdrive, hormone imbalance, blood sugar issues, and even lymph and fascia complaints-- and so much more! There's no doubt that they include some of the powerhouse herbs listed above! Definitely check them out!

As always, thanks for reading! Be sure to sign up for my newsletter so that you can access my free e-book "Mold Prevention: 101".

If you feel like you need some help navigating your mold exposure experience, please reach out to the office to discuss being established as a client. We are always happy to help!

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