Mold. It's something I loathe and have intentionally avoided. Yet here I am writing about mold and I'm already bored with this blog post. Can't we just talk about something fun!?! Pink Unicorns, flying pigs, red zebras....I'd talk about dirt any day to avoid the topic of mold. It's been a substantial part of my journey towards health and I would be remiss to not talk about something that has affected me in a significant way. I've come to realize with Lyme disease that there are many individual factors in a patients healing and progress. For the vast majority of patients that are infected with Lyme disease they are simultaneously affected by mold toxicity as well. The two often go hand in hand.
While fighting Lyme the body becomes hyperactive to environmental intoxicants including: toxins, VOC's, mold, and chemicals. For some this sensitivity precedes their actual Lyme infection. Toxic mold throws assaults at the immune system which eventually weakens the body by overloading it with mycotoxins. For others, the sensitivity begins after their Lyme infection along with a plethora of other not-so-pleasant sensitivities. It's a running joke in our family that I need to live in a plastic bubble in order to heal. I know most Lyme patients feel my pain on this one! In order to heal from Lyme disease it's crucial that individuals live in a mold and toxin free environment. The body is already burdened enough..this is a non negotiable.
Within the last 10 years there have been some significant medical discoveries surrounding genetics and mold. Have you ever wondered why it is that two people can live in the same house and one can become deathly ill while another completely unscathed? There's a reason and it's not all in the sick patients head. This amazing discovery from Dr. Richie Shoemaker is changing the medical community (albeit very slowly!) revealing the harmful, and sometimes deadly, affects of mold on the human body. Dr. Shoemaker discovered amongst many of his very sick patients that some carried an HLA-DR gene. Simply put, the HLA gene inhibits the body from tagging and removing mold from the body leaving individuals defenseless all the while accumulating harmful amounts of mold in the body. One in four individuals lacks the genetic make up to identify mold as a toxin and thus lacks to ability to detoxify it from the body. So with every breath inhaled the toxic burden within becomes greater and more burdensome. This continues and goes on until the individuals toxic bucket becomes so full that it initiates negative chain reactions throughout the body.
For some individuals they may simultaneously experience a trigger event (major illness or high amounts of stress) and for these individuals the Chronic Inflammatory Response (CIRS) becomes activated throughout the body. This inflammatory response is a full blown cytokine storm that includes a plethora of unpleasant symptoms that include brain fog, headaches, muscle twitching, joint pain, ice pick pain, static shocks, eye and skin irritations, metallic taste in mouth, sinus problems, cough, appetite swings, mood swings, insomnia and many more (see I told you I hate mold...I have good reason). This state of inflammation will only continue to perpetuate physical symptoms until the individual remediates the mold or removes themselves from the environment all together and seeks treatment from a knowledgeable doctor. Finding a good doctor is a whole other topic for another day but know they are out there. I encourage you to hop on over to Dr. Richie Shoemaker's website to check out his website with an abundance of information on CIRS as well as where to find qualified physicians. A good and knowledgeable doctor is worth the time, travel, and financial resources!
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) more than a quarter of U. S. buildings are water-damaged. This number is low in my opinion. As our climate is changing and our housing material becomes cheaper we find ourselves living in homes that are in essence made of the very thing that mold loves to consume (organic surfaces where there tends to be elevated moisture such as drywall, HVAC units, carpets and baseboards, and windowsills). Not only should the home environment be considered but also our work environment. Then there's basements which most likely than harbor a musty odor caused from high humidity and a lack of temperature regulation.
I think we dangerously underrate the toxicity and harm that mold can cause and figure it's just a part of life. We see it, we clean it, we move on. What we fail to do is wonder why it is there in the first place and take appropriate measure remediate. This mentality causes us to overlook the underlying source and can cause a great deal of harm. While I don't want you falling off your rocker if you see mold I do want you to have a greater appreciation for the destructive nature it can have on your health. The aforementioned symptoms shouldn't be taken lightly and can compound over time to produce some very negative and serious health consequences. As a personal note here... I am months into my Lyme journey treating hard core and going extreme in many of my approaches. I ignorantly didn't look at one main factor in my healing... my home environment! I didn't have any major sources of mold going on but rather several factors combined (high humidity, HVAC problems and one really horrible looking vent in our closet) that were stacking against me to add insult to injury. Being genetically susceptible to mold illness and unable to detoxify mold properly my "toxic bucket" overflowed fairly quickly. These toxins remain in the body rent free causing all kinds of havoc weakening the body and causing inflammation. Eviction notice has been posted.
If you're still unconvinced that mold is dangerous let me just remind you what we read in the Old Testament of the Scriptures "If the mildew reappears in the house after the stones have been torn out and the house scraped and plastered, the priest is to go and examine it and, if the mildew has spread in the house, it is a destructive mildew; the house is unclean. It must be torn down—its stones, timbers and all the plaster—and taken out of the town to an unclean place." Leviticus 14:43. Below I want to share tips and tricks with you about how to investigate your home for mold, how to prevent mold, and how to treat mold if you find it.
When to suspect mold growth in your home:
There is a distinct musty odor. It may come and go or be constant. It may be in the basement or in a particular room.
Since moving into your new home your (or family members) health has taken a turn for the worse.
You have unexplainable heath symptoms that do not seem to correlate and that baffle physicians.
You have dark colored stains/ spots on your ceiling where there was once water intrusion.
Your yard slopes towards the house and the ground around it remains saturated for long periods of time.
The humidity in your home is consistently above 50% on any given day.
Windows have visible black mold growth lining the edges.
You see visible mold growth in various places, especially your register vents and window sills.
How To Test For Mold In Your Home
To tap test carpet, couches, chairs, clothing, and curtains you can purchase EC3 mold plates found online here. These are a great inexpensive option.
Purchase and use an ERMI or HRTSMI test kit from Mycometrics or Envirobiomics that will be mailed to your home/business for testing and instructions. These tests are considered the "gold standard" in mold testing.These tests give you a history of mold in your residence. This is both good and bad. While it gives a long history it may not give an accurate reading of what is currently going on. I suggest using this test initially and then retesting after several months have passed and clean up has taken place.
Search online for a mold dog. Yep...it's a thing and pretty awesome if you ask me. I find this the most helpful to know where exactly the mold problems are located in your home. It's often hard to know that you have a mold issue without the knowledge of where it it. This is the solution to your problem.
How To Prevent Mold From Growing In Your Home:
Use dehumidifiers. You can purchase stand alone units or HVAC attachments. Either way this is important (especially if you live in a humid region.)
Purchase a humidistat to monitor the humidity inside your home/basement and aim to keep it between 30-50%.
Have a basement? A dehumidifier (or several) is a must have item. Having a significant portion under ground where the surrounding areas have naturally wet conditions ensures high humidity within the walls.
Heat and cool your basement so as to prevent elevated humidity year round.
Regularly dust you home and use your vacuum to clean floors (mold feeds off dust and debris). Sweeping your floors just sends mold on an airborne roller coaster ride.
Clean up moisture and water spills quickly.
Repair leaks immediately and replace drywall if necessary. Don't take the wait and see approach. Mold needs only a water source, humidity and 48 hours to begin to grow.
Regularly burn EC3 candles and clean with EC3 Mold Spray. Available for purchase here
Avoid carpeting and opt for hard wood floors instead.
Regularly clean your bathroom tiles and grout and spray with a mold preventative.
How To Treat Mold That Has Taken Up Residence In Your Home:
Begin by protecting yourself by wearing a proper mask. Don't run the risk of exposing yourself in the process of trying to clean up.
Hire a mold remediation company to come out and do a whole house inspection of your residence and vehicle for further investigation. I've found this to be very helpful and well worth the money. Don't be timid to ask questions and seek out solutions to your homes environment. A good inspector will take the time to educate you on ways to better the health of your home.
If your mold problem is minor resist the temptation to treat it with bleach. Although bleach products are often used for hard clean up jobs they are no match for mold! Mold likes to grow fungal roots into porous materials and pouring bleach will only do that...bleach it white but leaves the fungal root system intact.
Use hydrogen peroxide, vinegar, or EC3 mold products to treat the mold. Let sit for a few minutes and clean up with a cloth you can easily dispose of.
Use undiluted vinegar in a spray bottle to spray onto moldy area. Let it sit for about 30-60 minutes. Rinse with water and wipe the surface clean to dry. Vinegar is a mild acid which can kill 82% of mold species. (Baking soda is often used along with vinegar for killing different species of mold). source
For a heavy duty job bring out the hydrogen peroxide. Use 3% concentration in a spray bottle to saturate the moldy area. Let the treated area sit for approximately 10-20 minutes. Hydrogen peroxide is an excellent treatment for mold and mold maintenance. It impressively possesses anti-fungal, antiviral and, antibacterial properties that put others cleaners to shame.
Purchase EC3 Mold Spray to treat your mold or prevent it from growing. This is an all natural product and one I use regularly.
To treat clothes that have been contaminated by mold use a mixture of EC3 Laundry Additive in the clothing softener dispenser, 1 cup of vinegar and 1 cup of Borax added to your regular load of laundry detergent. Clean clothes with warm/hot water.
Resources For Further Reading/Viewing
The Better Healt Guy search "mold"
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Disclaimer: I am not a licensed doctor and do not diagnose or treat disease. Please do not substitute the tips I have shared today for the personalized advice of your healthcare practitioner. I have share the above information for educational and encouragement purposes only.