Playboy founder Hugh Hefner’s widow Crystal Hefner lived with “Hef” in the Playboy mansion for 10 years. The mansion lifestyle revolved around lavish parties with celebrities and Playmates, but it wasn’t always a good time for Crystal. In fact, she began experiencing brain fog, anxiety, and other health issues. In a candid conversation with Dr. Daniel Amen on an episode of his show Scan My Brain, Crystal discussed her struggles with emotional and cognitive health and explored what might have been causing them.
“I’ve had a really hard time recently,” she says, adding that she has been diagnosed with many health conditions. “I feel kind of like a shell of my former self.”
Crystal spoke about her search to discover the root causes of her issues. She began to suspect that the famed Playboy mansion, which was originally built in the 1920s, might be contributing to her brain health problems. Despite the fact that the mansion was a sprawling property with over 21,000 square feet, Crystal spent the vast majority of her time in a small space called “the vanity.”
Concerned about the air quality and the possibility of mold in the area, she eventually brought in a mold inspector who told her, “There’s mold everywhere. There’s fungus in these vents right above where you’ve been sitting for the last 8 years.”
While living in the Playboy mansion, Playmate Crystal Hefner began experiencing brain fog, anxiety, and other health issues. In a candid conversation with Dr. Daniel Amen, she explored what might have been causing these problems. Click To Tweet
MOLD, MENTAL HEALTH, AND BRAIN FOG
Brain SPECT imaging studies show that exposure to toxins, such as mold, harms the brain and is associated with overall decreased cerebral blood flow in a pattern called scalloping. Research indicates that mold causes inflammation in the brain and can lead to emotional, cognitive, and behavioral dysfunction.
For example, a study in Archives of Environmental Health involving 100 people found that mold exposure led to impaired cognition and emotional issues in every one of the study participants. A 2020 animal study in Brain, Behavior, and Immunity involved administering toxic or nontoxic Stachybotrys spores or a saline solution in the nose. The toxic spores increased immune response in the hippocampus and both toxic and nontoxic spores reduced neurogenesis—new cell growth—and led to marked memory decline. An increase in anxiety-like behavior was also noted from the nontoxic spores.
In humans, exposure to toxic mold has been linked to a range of psychological and cognitive symptoms, including:
In any instance of mold exposure, the first step to healing is to remove yourself from the moldy environment or do mold remediation. That’s what Crystal did. “Because of me, Playboy had to do a $2.5 million mold remediation at the mansion,” she says.
CONCUSSIONS, LYME DISEASE, AND COMPLEX MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES
For the vast majority of people who are struggling with psychiatric issues or cognitive dysfunction, there are multiple contributing factors. This is true for Crystal too. In addition to being exposed to toxic mold, she had been diagnosed with Lyme disease, and her SPECT scan showed signs of a past head injury.
Lyme disease, which is transmitted through tick bites, increases the risk of a wide range of neurological and psychological disorders, including anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), anger issues, dementia-like symptoms, chronic fatigue, and suicidal thoughts and behaviors.
Similarly, head injuries are a major cause of psychiatric issues, as well as memory loss and brain fog. At Amen Clinics, brain SPECT imaging shows that an astounding 40% of patients have experienced head trauma, although many of them don’t recall an injury. And most of them never made the connection between their mental health or cognitive issues and past head trauma.
To overcome the consequences of Lyme disease, it’s important to treat the underlying infection. Seeing an integrative medicine physician who is trained in diagnosing and treating Lyme disease is a good place to start.
As for head injuries, putting the brain in a healing environment with nutritious foods, supportive supplements, and healthy thinking patterns can help optimize brain function. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT), which increases oxygen to the brain, has been found to accelerate healing. In fact, a study in Plos One that used brain SPECT imaging found that HBOT can help reverse the damage from mild traumatic brain injuries and enhance cognitive functions.
WHEN EMOTIONAL TRAUMA ADDS TO PSYCHOLOGICAL PROBLEMS
Another key piece that often contributes to problems with mental health and cognitive function is emotional trauma. This was also the case for Crystal, who lived through several traumatic events during her formative years. First, her father passed away when she was just 12 years old. Then her high school boyfriend joined the military and lost his life in Afghanistan. When multiple traumas add up, it leads to an increased likelihood of issues like anxiety, depression, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Addressing past emotional trauma is an important step in the journey to wellness. Psychotherapy can be helpful for many people. Research has also found that a special type of therapy called eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) can have powerfully beneficial effects on trauma survivors. This technique helps eliminate the emotional charges linked to memories of traumatic events.
HEALING FROM MULTIPLE BRAIN HEALTH RISK FACTORS
To overcome brain fog, anxiety, and other issues, it is critical to identify and treat all of the contributing factors. Only by addressing the many root causes of brain dysfunction can you truly heal and achieve overall mental and cognitive well-being.
Anxiety, brain fog, and other mental health issues can’t wait. At Amen Clinics, we’re here for you. We offer in-clinic brain scanning and appointments, as well as mental telehealth, clinical evaluations, and therapy for adults, teens, children, and couples. Find out more by speaking to a specialist today at 888-288-9834 or visit our contact page here.