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Mold is something we all encounter as a natural part of life. Maybe you’ve found some on food and realized it was time to throw it out. Perhaps you’ve even cleaned some of it from a damp corner of your kitchen. The tricky thing about mold is that it’s far more of a silent killer than most of us realize. However, if you’re familiar with the term “mold toxicity,” you know how serious it can be. So, what are some potential health effects of mold exposure, and what can we do to prevent them?  

What is Mold? 

Mold is a natural part of the environment, a member of Kingdom Fungi. When it stays outside where it should be, molds help break down dead organic matter, such as fallen trees or leaves. As such, this fungus prefers warm, wet places—which can sometimes include your house. Molds reproduce by releasing spores into the air. These potentially toxic spores can sneak inside through open windows or doors, on shoes and pets, and even through heating or air conditioning vents. [1] 

There are three things to know about mold and its health effects—It can be allergenic, pathogenic, and toxic.  

  1. You can be allergic Molds can be allergens for some people. If you’re reactive to other environmental allergens, like dust or pollen, you may be more likely to react to it. 
  2. Some are pathogenic These fungi tend to be pathogenic, which means they can lead to infection and/or disease. If an individual is unhealthy, they may be more susceptible to mold as a pathogen.  
  3. Mold can be toxic Molds produce toxins called mycotoxins, which are dangerous to animals and people. In fact, mycotoxins rank as some of the deadliest chemicals on the planet. You can encounter mycotoxins through inhalation, skin contact, or ingestion.  

Most houses in the United States have some level of mold. When you find it in your home, it’s already too late—you’ve already been breathing it in for a long while. If you’re seeing any in your home, you’re likely already experiencing some of its harmful effects. 

What are Some Health Effects of Mold?

As mentioned above, mycotoxins may be naturally occurring, but they’re still toxins and can cause serious health issues. Toxins of every sort produce inflammation in the body, and we know inflammation leads to dis-ease. If you encounter a species you’re allergic to, get an infection, or are exposed to too many mold toxins, it can lead to mold toxicity. Symptoms that may arise from mold exposure include:  

  • Brain fog, memory problems, or trouble focusing   
  • Headaches  
  • Fatigue and weakness  
  • Unexplained muscle cramping   
  • Aches and pains in the joints   
  • Persistent nerve pain  
  • Numbness and tingling  
  • Eye problems like irritation or light sensitivity 
  • Asthma 
  • Wheezing or shortness of breath 
  • Sinus problems 
  • Chronic coughing   
  • Tremors and vertigo  
  • Digestive issues like nausea, abdominal pain, or diarrhea 
  • Metallic taste in the mouth  
  • Difficulty in regulating body temperature, including night sweats  
  • Excessive thirst and increased urination  
  • Runny nose or congestion  
  • Sneezing  
  • Sore throat  
  • Lung irritation  
  • Skin rashes 

You may have just one of these symptoms or a collection of them. You may also have some symptoms at initial exposure that dissipate, and others that persist for weeks, months, or even years. 

How to Effectively Clean up and Remediate  

Mold spores are microscopic, meaning you can only see them when they accumulate in large numbers. Don’t assume the surface layer you see is the extent of the colony. It often runs far deeper (up to two feet into a wall) and needs more effort than you’d think. Sometimes, this means getting professional help to wipe out the entire colony. It may even require tearing out a wall in some cases.  

Here are some thoughts on where to start: 

  • Get a De-Humidifier As stated above, mold thrives best in warm, wet places. Get a de-humidifier and make the space too dry for it to grow. That means keeping your home’s humidity below 50%. 
  • Try Baking Soda & Peroxide  If you find mold on a piece of furniture, instead of just throwing it out, try a baking soda or hydrogen peroxide combination. Mix one teaspoon of baking soda into two cups of water. If you’re using peroxide, be sure it’s at a 3% concentration. 
  • Consider Tea Tree Essential Oil Tea tree oil has antifungal properties. Add a few drops of tea tree essential oil to enhance the above concoction. 

Remember, what you see on the surface isn’t all that’s there. Cleaning mold may take more treatments and elbow grease than you’d think necessary. Don’t stop too soon; you’ll allow the remaining mold to multiply and grow back. 

Where Else Might Mold be Hiding?

If you’ve found one colony, chances are that it’s not the only infestation in your home. Look around and see where else you might need to do some deep cleaning. Here are some places to look: 

Building Materials Mold clings to porous materials, so check the wood, paper, and fabric in your home. Is there mold in or on your ceiling tiles? How about the drywall? In your crawlspaces? On your window frames? Carpet? Insulation? Paint or wallpaper? Once mold grows in these, removing and replacing the materials is the only way to ensure it’s gone. [2] Also, check your HVAC systems to make sure there isn’t any mold growing in there. 

Food Check your food as well! Nuts, grains, cheeses, fruits, veggies, and meats can all become moldy. The last thing you want to do is ingest mold toxins. When storing food like grains, nuts, seeds, dried fruit, or coffee, keep it somewhere cool and dry. If you’re wondering whether you’ve had something in the fridge too long, use the website, StillTasty.com as your shelf-life guide.  

Yourself Clearing the mold growing inside your body is more challenging. The best way to set yourself up for success is first to get tested. Find out how much mold you have via a mold-focused urine test. Then talk with your Wellness Way practitioner about how best to clear it. Activated charcoal, glutathione, bentonite clay, chlorophyll, and raw garlic are natural supplements that can address internal mold. However, you have to know which mycotoxins you’re addressing. Different supplements work better for different mold toxins. 

Cutting back your sugar intake and taking saunas also support the detoxification process. Just drink plenty of water if you do any of that! 

Other Ways to Prevent Mold

Mold grows where it is damp, warm, and dark. It tends to accumulate where there’s standing water or frequent moisture. The best way to find mold—and prevent it—is to ask yourself where moisture might settle. Then address potential causes (leaks, condensation, etc.) and keep the area clean and dry. You can set your home up for success in a few other ways. 

  • Don’t go to bed with wet hair. If that’s been a habit in the past and you suspect mold, check your pillow. 
  • Don’t put your dishes away while they’re still wet. 
  • Don’t leave dirty dishes out. 
  • Check for leaking pipes, wet basements, and unsealed attics.  
  • Make sure the attic and basement are well-ventilated.  
  • Wipe condensation off windowsills and blinds, especially in winter when it’s harder to air out the house by opening a window. 
  • Fix water leaks immediately and use fans to further dry the area after wiping up the water. 
  • Clean up all water spilled within 24-48 hours (about 2 days) to keep potential water damage to a minimum.  
  • Invest in a high-quality air filter, like a HEPA- or MERV-certified one. 
  • Get a HEPA vacuum cleaner. 
  • Invest in a UV light air purifier.  
  • Replace leaky windows to minimize condensation.  
  • Keep carpet out of higher moisture rooms, like bathrooms or laundry rooms. 
  • Wash shower curtains or keep them drawn to allow them to air dry completely.  
  • Air out the house by opening windows when possible.  
  • Don’t leave wet clothes and towels sitting in the laundry bin. Wash and dry them as soon as possible.  
  • Ventilate showering, cooking, and laundry areas.  
  • You may need an ANSI/IICRC S520 certified professional remediator to get that mold out of your house. 

As always, the biggest thing you can do for your health is to adopt healthy habits in all areas of life. Starting with these simple ways to keep moisture to a minimum is an excellent way to save yourself a lot of pain and money. To learn more about mold and mold illness, check out this video: 

If you suspect mold illness or have any other chronic health issues, contact a Wellness Way clinic for thorough testing and guidance on your health journey. 

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Disclaimer: This content is for educational purposes only. It’s not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your Wellness Way clinic or personal physician, especially if currently taking prescription or over-the-counter medications. Pregnant women, in particular, should seek the advice of a physician before trying any herb or supplement listed on this website. Always speak with your individual clinic before adding any medication, herb, or nutritional supplement to your health protocol. Information and statements regarding dietary supplements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

One Comment

  • Zachary Tomlinson says:

    Thanks for explaining how molds could be a hassle if left unattended. I never knew that they could cause headaches if exposed regularly. I should keep this in mind and hire mold removal experts since I plan to invest in a new apartment someday in the future.

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