I have an entire Youtube Playlist worth of videos on Mold! Hop into this link to watch.
Some common symptoms of mold illness are chronic sinus infections, eczema, asthma, chronic upper respiratory infections, suppressed immune system, extreme fatigue, headaches and migraines, pain in the head and behind your eyes, allergies.
This is often misdiagnosed by physicians and missed by home inspectors, and sadly there are a lot of people out there that are sick because of this. So let’s discuss what to do about it.
There are many different types of molds. We can put them into two broad categories, outdoor mold, and indoor mold. Outdoor molds co-evolved with humans and we’re generally able to tolerate them fairly well. Sometimes these molds get inside on your shoes or from open doors, but this isn’t much of a problem.
The second type of mold is “newer” evolutionarily speaking. This is the type of mold that grows on drywall, insulation, and other types of building materials that it uses for food. These molds are much more problematic for humans and these are the ones that cause all the problems you hear about.
Out of those indoor molds that are problematic there are many different strains. Some are lighter and can float in the air more easily but others like Stachybocherous are sticky and heavy and don’t float around much at all. This is a really important point because this is why air sampling is often wrong.
I’ve heard from so many people that they had an inspector come and do air sampling and they were told there was no mold and everything was clear, but yet they know they had a big leak in the basement and it was covered in black mold. That’s because the air sample is set up several feet off the ground and it couldn’t capture the sticky heavy spores sitting on the ground.
Now, this doesn’t mean air sampling is completely useless, when done right it can be a piece of the puzzle. What does it mean to do it right? The inspector should agitate the area before taking the sample. So if there’s carpet he should beat. The carpet with a broom before taking the air sample.
In my opinion, the best way to get started is with an ERMI. This was developed by the EPA and stands for environmental relative mold index. It basically ranks how moldy your house is compared to other houses. If it’s a lot moldier, you know you have a problem. But most importantly, the ERMI is a Swiffer cloth that will capture all of the big bad sticky heavy spores that have settled on flat surfaces.
Hiring an inspector usually runs anywhere from $500 to $5000 but you can do an ERMI yourself for around $300. If you find mold, then you can move on from there to hire an inspector to help you find out exactly where it’s hiding and what to do about it, but if you don't find any, you might have saved yourself a few thousand dollars.
If you start with an inspector, they might tell you there’s nothing there, but if you have an ERMI on hand showing mold, there’s more motivation to look long and hard until you find the problem.
When you do get an inspector, try to find one that has some gear to bring with them like thermal imaging cameras to look for cold spots, which would help diagnose something like a hidden in-wall pipe leak.
If you do suspect that you’ve been exposed to mold, either in the past or in a current home or work environment, the next step is to test yourself to see if it’s impacting your health. Unfortunately, most conventional Drs are not trained in mold illness, and out of the Drs that are, there’s a lot of disagreement as to proper testing and treatment.
As a former mold illness sufferer myself, I’ve dove deep into the world of mold illness and healing and learned a lot along the way.
There are a few ways you can get started testing for mold at varying price points.
#1: The VCS – this stands for visual contrast sensitivity and can be taken at VCStest.com for just $5. This is just a basic screening but is a nice, cheap, and easy place to start. The results will tell you if it’s likely that you’ve been exposed to biotoxins (mold) and are suffering from biotoxin illness as a result. It is 92% sensitive to biotoxin illness. This is quick, easy, noninvasive, and can be done from the comfort of your own home just using your computer screen.
#2: The Urine Mycotoxin test – this is a urine test that looks for excretions of the metabolites of various molds. It gives you a breakdown of the types of molds in your body as well as the amounts so it can be really useful to follow in treatment as well to see if treatment is going well. This isn’t a cheap test and can run around $350 depending on the provider. You will need a registered provider of some sort to order this for you (I order this test for my clients as a registered provider).
#3: Marcons – this one is particularly important if you have chronic sinus issues. Marcons are a type of antibiotic-resistant staph that colonizes the nasal cavities. The MARCONS test is a nasal swab that will tell you which antibiotics the staph is resistant to or sensitive to so treatment (via a nasal spray) can be customized. While this can technically be done at home by yourself, I don’t recommend it. The swab goes VERY high into your nasal cavities and I believe it’s best done by a trained professional.
#4: Shoemaker Labs – this is actually an entire series of blood labs that Dr. Shoemaker has determined to be most helpful in diagnosing mold illness (technically known as CIRS – chronic inflammatory response syndrome). All in all, it’s about 25 tubes of blood when followed to a T, but I’ve found the most important ones to follow to monitor the inflammation caused by mold is: C4a, MMP9, TGFb, VEGf. Some others he recommends like MSH and VIP don’t tend to move very much in the course of treatment so I don’t follow them as closely as the first set. These are the only testing options on this list that can be covered by insurance, however for anything to be covered you must first get a diagnosis code from your physician who also must be the one to order them. These are great labs to follow if you can find a doctor trained in utilizing them properly to help guide treatment protocols.
The main goal of healing from mold illness is to remove the mold from your body. If you’re sick from mold, you most likely are in the 25% of the population that has the HLA gene that makes it extremely difficult for your body to find and remove the mold from your body by yourself.
One of the body’s main ways of removing toxins is through the liver and into the bile. The bile is excreted into your GI tract where it can be removed through bowel movements. If bile isn’t removed from the body it will be reabsorbed and recycled as a way of maintaining energy efficiency.
This is why binders are ALWAYS used in treating mold. There are different types of binders for different types of mold, so knowing what type of mold you’re dealing with is incredibly helpful here. The binders grab on to the bile so that it can’t be recycled, and it is removed with the next bowel movement.
My preferred binder is BioToxin Binder by CellCore which you can grab here: www.cellcore.com with this code: HB6MKFS5
Going to the bathroom daily is also super important to healing from mold illness. For tips on improving bowel movements and eliminating constipation read my blog on constipation.
People with mold illness often have overgrowths of candida and bacteria in their gut so a gut healing protocol is another important step when dealing with mold illness.
Eating a really clean paleo diet is also a good place to start. People with mold illness often have elevated anti-gliadin antibodies which means gluten is incredibly toxic for their body. I recommend a gluten-free, grain-free Paleo diet while healing from mold illness.
Something else you’re going to want to look at is thyroid health. I have a full blog post on exactly how to test your thyroid (hint: most Drs do it wrong!) you can check out here: Thyroid Testing and a free downloadable PDF on how to order your own thyroid labs properly, or work together with your doctor to get them ordered correctly, as well as how to interpret the results here: Free Thyroid Guide.
Another major major way to eliminate mold from the body is via the skin. This is why many functional medicine doctors have their mold patients purchase saunas. I have two videos on sauna use so check those out for more details on how to use a sauna properly here: Benefits of Sauna Use and here: How to Use a Sauna to Detox. If you are looking to buy one my favorite brand is Therasage portable sauna which you can find here: Therasage. Use the code KBWellness for a discount on your Therasage sauna too!
Mold suppresses the immune system to allow itself an opportunity to grow unchecked in the body so you’re going to need to work on stealth infections as well. Dr. Jess Peatross has lots of great information about stealth infections so be sure to check her out here: DrJessMD.com.
Some examples of common infections in mold patients are mycoplasma, cytomegalovirus, Epstein Barr virus, herpes symplex virus, and cocksackie virus. These are often the culprit behind the crushing fatigue and mystery symptoms you may experience if you have mold illness.
As you can see, dealing with mold illness is a lot of work. I really only scratched the surface here because to really do this topic justice I need to work with my clients every single week for around 3-6 months.
Tackling mold illness isn’t something you’re generally going to want to do on your own. I recommend putting together a mini team to help you heal. One member would be a functional medicine doctor trained in Neil Nathan’s protocol or Dr. Shoemaker’s protocol that can write any prescriptions needed, for example, an antifungal for candida, and the second would be an experienced practitioner like myself that has dealt with mold illness personally that can help walk you through the proper steps of gut-healing, dietary changes, detoxification protocols, sauna usage and more. Pulling in a chiropractor or acupuncturist can help accelerate your healing even further.
But whatever you do, please have hope. While healing from mold illness is overwhelming and scary, I’m living proof, it can be done.
Questions? Email me at [email protected]