Last November, a tide of microorganisms hit the gulf coast of Mexico and spread over 130 miles along Florida’s southwest coast. The Florida toxic red tide is caused by a marine algae called Karenia brevis, which emits brevetoxins harmful to human health.
Similar to how mold emits mycotoxins, this algae produces a biotoxin that can be inhaled and cause lung related symptoms. They can also cause massive fish kills and harm marine mammals, seabirds, and sea turtles. Manatees are also affected and have had to be placed in critical care treatment facilities and relocated.
Toxic red tide isn’t the only harmful bloom that can happen. In fact, harmful algae blooms have been reported in all 50 states. Blue-green algae, red tides, and other cyanobacteria are all potential blooms that can negatively affect human health and aquatic ecosystems. When algaes and cyanobacteria bloom in waterways it chokes the natural processes and sometimes emits harmful biotoxins.
The problem with the red tide, is it’s persistent. The red tide has even forced the governor Florida to declare a state of emergency in seven counties. Florida's red tide serves as a warning to all of us about the ever changing landscape of our environment and potential impacts they environmental has on our health.
It appears that this red tide is caused by farming fertilizer runoff and other pollutants. This has resulted in people calling for stricter agriculture regulations. While this is a good start, chances are as our climate changes and we continue to affect the world’s ecosystems, we will continue to see consequences like these.
People close to the red tide are reporting symptoms, so it’s important to know what to look out for.
9 Toxic Red Tide Symptoms
If you notice any of the following symptoms you should seek medical attention immediately and reduce your activity near waterways. Symptoms of toxic red tide include:
- A ‘tickle’ in your throat, called ‘red tide tickle’
- Asthma-like symptoms
- Rashes and other skin irritation
- Red, itchy eyes
- Brain fog
- Bronchial constriction
- Weak immune system
Children are especially susceptible to the effects of biotoxins because of their lower body weight and their malleable stages of development. Similar to other mycotoxins, it’s possible cumulative effects could cause more perplexing, chronic issues.
Effects of Toxic Red Tide
The main mechanism behind how this algae affects the human body occurs when airborne biotoxins are inhaled. They are then bound to voltage-gated sodium channels, which causes the depolarization of nerve cells – this process interferes with nerve transmission. This is why some of the symptoms of toxic red tide are neurological in nature.
The primary brevetoxin is called PbTx-2, which over time is converted into PbTx-3. This happens when the cells rupture, which releases the toxin into the environment where it can be inhaled. People can also be affected by consuming shellfish that have been poisoned with this biotoxin, so it’s a good idea to check where your seafood is coming from.
At this point in time the main method for dealing with red tide is to personally avoid it. Scientists are hard at work trying to figure out how to get this problem under control but until then we have to take care of ourselves.
Similar to mold, I suspect some people are more sensitive to the biotoxin released by the algae more than others. If you are along Florida waterways and develop cold or flu-like symptoms or suddenly develop breathing issues I strongly suggest you consider relocating.
3 Steps to Reduce the Effects of Toxic Red Tide
If you can remove yourself from being close to the toxic red tide, that is the ideal scenario. However, if you cannot relocate or you live in the proximity of the red tide but don’t necessarily feel the symptoms, there are a few steps you can take to reduce the effects on your body.
- Reduce toxin exposure – We are exposed to an unprecedented amount of chemicals each day. A lot of what I do for my patients involves reducing impacts of these chemicals in their life. I often say to think of your body is a bucket, and each chemical is a grain of sand. While a few grains here or there isn’t a big deal, when you pile on the toxins eventually it can become very heavy and seriously weigh your health down. You can learn more about how to reduce your toxin exposure with my free guide here: Reduce Your Daily Toxin Exposure
- Heal a leaky gut – Making sure your gut is in tip-top shape is one of the best things you can do for your health. Unfortunately, due to the American diet and many other lifestyle factors (including how many toxins we’re exposed to) many of us are susceptible to what’s called ‘leaky gut.’ Leaky gut is when the gastrointestinal line is compromised and particles such as food, toxins, and proteins can leak through the lining into the bloodstream and cause widespread inflammation and health complications. If you live in the Florida area near the red tide I recommend looking into ways to support your gut. You can learn more in my blog: 9 Simple Steps to Heal Leaky Gut Syndrome Fast
- Take toxin binders and other detox supplements – Binders and detox supplements help your body eliminate harmful toxins more effectively. When it comes to reducing your overall toxic burden, supporting your body in every way possible really adds up, which is why I recommend:
- GI Detox
- Activated Charcoal
You can learn more about toxin binders in my blog: Safe and Effective Toxin Binders that Actually Work
Overall, the effects of the red tide on your health are very similar to the effects of mold, which I regularly write about. If you’ve been exposed to the red tide, you can read more about effective treatments in my free guide: Exposed to Mold? Now What? This is an excellent starting point for anyone who needs more information on what to do when they’ve been exposed to harmful biotoxins.
Even if you aren’t feeling the effects of the toxic red tide on your health and live near the affect areas, I strongly recommend you support your natural detox pathways to the best of your ability.
I believe we are only going to continue seeing more situations like the red tide. So it’s up to us to spread the word about reducing the burden of these assaults on our health.
Do you know anyone in the Florida area? Be sure to share this article with them.
* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The product mentioned in this article are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The information in this article is not intended to replace any recommendations or relationship with your physician. Please review references sited at end of article for scientific support of any claims made.