Hello to a verrrrry long over-due post.
I’ve missed blogging and writing, but, to say the least, it’s been a little busy over here.
Two words: Mold illness.
It happened. To me.
Not once. But twice. Which is why things have been quiet lately on the blog and social media…My body: fighting for its life to just feel normal and breathe again.
Asthma. Vomiting. Nausea. Shortness of breath. Chest pains. Full body tingling. Migraines. Insulin resistance. Candida and SIBO. IBS. General fatigue.
WHAT IS MOLD ILLNESS?
I used to hear the words “mold illness” and think: “Hmm…how bad can mold really be?”
Sure, I’d seen funky green mildew in college dorm showers and smelled musty clothes while looking for $79 Citizens for Humanity Jeans at Nordstrom Rack, but never really thought much more about mold…until of course it happened. To me. (Like everything else in life, right?).
For a crash course, let’s start with some basic ideas.
First: Mold illness is NOT an allergy.
The proper definition of mold illness is: “An acute and chronic, systemic inflammatory response syndrome acquired following exposure to the interior environment of a water-damaged building with resident toxigenic organisms.”
Mold illness is chronic inflammation within the body which is caused by an immune system that has gone haywire due to the toxic burden of mycotoxins—toxic mold spores from the mold itself. It’s been estimated that at least 25-percent of the population has the genetic and immune system predisposition that makes them more vulnerable to mold illness. They don’t detox mold and toxins out of their bodies well. Their immune system is weaker and easily irritated.
Second: That said, mold is often NOT the only culprit of “mold illness” symptomology. In many cases, people end up sick with mold and other immune-related issues and conditions.
OTHER toxins that ALSO cause “mold illness” symptoms and immune dysfunction are commonly found in our polluted environment, water and products (foods, home building materials, hygiene and beauty products), including, but not limited to: fungi, bacteria, actinomycetes and mycobacteria as well as inflammagens such as endotoxins, beta glucans, hemolysins, proteinases, mannans and volatile organic compounds (VOC’s). Couple LOTS of these toxins together, and no matter how clean you eat, IF your gut health, hormone health and/or immune system are NOT strong enough to combat them, then, Houston, you have a problem.
Hence, the term “mold illness”or “mycotoxin illness” is a subcategory of immune-related illnesses within the family of “Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS).” Other subcategories of these immune-related illnesses include:
- Biotoxin Illness (illness from other toxins, like chemicals and heavy metals)
- Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS)
- Sick building syndrome
- Multiple Chemical Sensitivity
- Chronic Fatigue
- Autoimmune Disease(s)
- Lyme Disease
- Ebstein Barr Virus
- Bacterial and/or Viral Infections: Babesia, Bartonella, Rickettsia, Mycoplasmas
MOLD ILLNESS SYMPTOMS
Mold illness and immune-related conditions are characterized by a variety of signs and symptoms—often that don’t go away by diet or lifestyle changes alone. Some common symptoms include:
- Abdominal pain
- “Adrenal fatigue”
- Allergies (foods, seasonal)
- Autoimmune conditions
- Blurred vision
- Brain fog
- Decreased concentration and learning
- Diagnoses of random health conditions and diseases (you’ve never had before)
- Difficult menses (females)
- Enlarged liver/spleen
- Food sensitivities (lots)
- Headaches & migraines
- Heat palpitations
- Histamine intolerance
- Light sensitivity
- Low blood pressure/BP drops when standing
- Mast Cell Activation Syndrome
- Memory difficulties
- Mouth sores
- Muscle cramps
- Persistant fatigue (effort for daily activities)
- Reoccurring SIBO and Candida
- Reoccurring sinus infections
- Scents/odors/chemical reactions
- Severe water retention
- Shortness of breath
- Skin problems: rash, redness, hives, itching, flushing
- Sinus congestion
- Sweats (especially night sweats)
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Tachycardia (racing heartrate)
- Tearing eyes
- Temperature (hot/cold) sensitivity and raynaud’s (ice cold hands and feet
- Thyroid problems
- Vision problems
- Vitamin B deficiency
- Weight loss or weight gain
Ultimately: Not feeling well…despite doing “all the things” to be healthy (like eating right, exercising, drinking water and sleeping).
Why so many symptoms?
The immune system is involved in almost every body process for body “balance.” Mast cells in particular are housed in our body tissues and are responsible for defending us against pathogens, stabilizing our immune system and releasing histamine and other substances during inflammatory and allergic reactions—especially when exposed to toxins, like mold.
When the body is out of balance, so are we. Ironically, many folks suffering from mold illness or other infections and toxic exposures don’t “look bad” or may not even seem deathly ill, but every one that goes through this illness experiences a tremendous loss in their quality of life.
HOW DO YOU KNOW MOLD IS THE PROBLEM?
Mold is everywhere—especially outside. But it starts to cause problems when indoor mold counts grow and are not eradicated or contained in the proper time (ie. Right away).
You definitely know you have mold when you smell the “musty” odor or you see small black or white specks along your damp bathroom or basement walls. Some mold is hidden growing behind wall coverings, inside dry walls or ceiling tiles. Mold is often found in areas where water has damaged building materials and furniture from flooding, rain during the initial building (without properly sealing materials) or plumbing leaks. Mold can also be found growing along walls where warm moist air condenses on cooler wall surfaces, such as inside cold exterior walls, HVAC systems (air filters)—switching between hot and cold, underneath beads, behind dressers, headboards, and in closets where articles are stored against walls. Mold most often grows in rooms with both high water usage and humidity, such as kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms, and basements.
Nevertheless, mold can easily goes undetected, under the radar for years, if not the lifetime of a home, since most people experiencing health side effects from mold and environmental toxins don’t initially suspect or think to assess for mold as a root cause behind headaches, IBS, hormone imbalances, brain fog, fatigue, and more.
Exhibit A: My recent mold illness (aka: “Moldageddon”).
After 30+ years spent riding on a roller coaster (and trying to figure out why’s behind illness and symptoms), I’ve finally figured out several “root causes” behind my own Mast Cell Activation Syndrome including: Mold illness, Lyme disease, and Ebsten Barr Reactivation.
Here’s a brief snippet of my mold illness journey, and how I came to discover the underlying reasons why my body hasn’t been “thriving” for many years (including: Mast Cell Activation Syndrome, Mold illness, Lyme disease, and Ebsten Barr Reactivation).
(Perhaps it can be some inspiration for you too that, no matter what your struggle—from infertility to a slow metabolism, migraines, allergies, ADHD, hypertension, etc.— when you figure out the root causes, your whole health can change).
MY MOLD STORY
1987-2017: Setting the Stage for Mold Illness
Our birth story—the way we enter the world and the first foods we eat (ie. Breast fed vs. bottle fed; processed foods vs. whole foods)—plays a big role in shaping our immune system…for our entire lives.
The stage for my own mold illness was set from day one when I entered the world as a C-section baby.
It’s common science now that C-section babies, compared to natural birth babies, have a completely different gut biome, negatively impacting their immune system due to a lower growth of beneficial bacteria. The first minutes of life are the most crucial for our gut health as we either swallow our mother’s natural gut bacteria down the vaginal canal (natural birth) or miss that step completely—exposed to hospital germs, airborne toxins and a fragment of gut microbes via C-section.
Although C-sections are an amazing procedure that do save and preserve life for many compromised moms and babies, without recognition and proactive gut support early on…the immune system and gut health of the baby suffers (ie. me).
Bad Gut=Perfect Storm for Mold Illness
As a kid, I was your classic case of a “gut problem” kiddo:
- Sinus infections
- Ear infections
- Strep throat
However, like many folks, I was told most of these symptoms were “normal” and in order to “be healthy” all I needed to do was take antibiotics, eat more Fiber One cereal and strawberries. Nevertheless, the symptoms continued and “gut problems” defined my entire childhood, teens and young adult life.
Fast forward to age 10, when anorexia took root (story here), and the “brain-gut” connection totally dictated my disease, along with an all-out spiritual warfare for my life (Fun fact: over 90% of our serotonin—our feel-good brain chemicals—are produced in our gut, along with having MORE neurons—brain cells—in our gut than any other part of our peripheral nervous system! In short: if our gut is unhealthy, our mental health suffers).
Couple this with the fact that I am also an under-methylator (meaning: my liver does not detox efficiently), and my body was brewing the “perfect storm” for immune upheaval! Since 80% of our immune system is housed in our gut and our liver is responsible for filtering out every single toxin, food and substance we come into contact with, if our gut is unhealthy, our brain is unhealthy (ie. Lots of cortisol—our stress hormone), and our detox pathways and mechanisms are backed up and slow, then….mold exposure, toxin exposure and other environmental burdens can wreak havoc on our system.
My own history with anorexia and orthorexia is no different than many other women I have worked with in my practice over the past several years who ALSO have histories of anorexia, bulimia or other eating disorders AND end up getting diagnosed with autoimmune disease, MCAS (mast cell activation syndrome), mold illness, chronic fatigue and/or Lyme disease in their later years during recovery.
The gut-immune-brain axis is intertwined!
April 2017: Move In to My Dream (Hidden Mold) Home
When I moved into my “dream home” (with hidden mold) in the highly-coveted Mueller neighborhood in Austin, life was pretty good.
I was going on three years into my private practice as a nutritionist and therapist, and just beginning my own functional medicine education and career.
The 3-bed, 3-bath, less-than-10-year home was the nicest home I’d ever lived in my life, and although I was renting, I began thinking about buying and settling down very soon…making an offer on the actual home itself.
Summer 2017: Symptoms Begin
Then the early onset of symptoms began. Nothing crazy…just not feeling like myself.
- Shortness of breath was my most prominent symptom, along with:
- Increased food sensitivities (nuts, eggs, bananas, tomatoes, whey protein)
- Carbohydrate sensitivity (inability to tolerate fruit, potatoes, butternut squash)
- IBS (constipation and diarrhea)
- Bloating and gas
- General fatigue—despite nothing changing in my diet or exercise or diet.
However, it was easy to chalk my symptoms up to my busy, stressful lifestyle habits.
At the time, my business really began to take off and as an early start up entrepreneur, I found myself working 10 to 12 hour days behind a screen, broken up with workouts, meal times and evening business meet-ups in the community.
Fall 2017: Not Getting Better (“Adrenal Fatigue”, SIBO, Candida & Beyond!)
By the fall, my symptoms weren’t getting any better and I found myself diagnosed with “adrenal fatigue”, SIBO and candida overgrowth on lab testing.
Thankfully, with my newfound functional medicine knowledge, I had a good idea of “what to do” (or so I thought)—kill the pathogens of course with antimicrobial herbs, avoid starchy carbs (like the plague) and take plenty of adrenal adaptogens (like rhodiola and ashwaganda) to chill out my cortisol levels.
Little did I realize, there was more to the story. My treatments—aimed at treating (what I thought) was the root cause (“adrenal fatigue” and candida)—were actually more like symptom-chasers and bandaids to an even deeper underlying cause.
January 2018: GI Doctor
That winter, with lots of arm twisting from my mom (a nurse), who encouraged me to “see someone outside myself to help”, I booked an appointment with a local, conventional GI doc in town to see if they had anything to offer me that I was maybe missing.
(Might as well use my insurance, right?)
Although my SIBO was in remission on my followup test, candida and dysbiosis were still present, as were my increased gut symptoms (constipation, bloating, diarrhea) and continued food sensitivities.
I was going to the bathroom at least 4 to 6 times per day and had lost 15 pounds over the past 6 months—feeling like, no matter how healthy I ate, or water I drank, or how much I worked out, nothing was working.
One look at my chart though and Dr. M was unimpressed: Constipation, bloating, loose stools. Nothing super abnormal (at least according to her) or warranting much after-thought.
“However, just to be sure…Let’s schedule you for a colonoscopy.”
March 2018: The Day MCAS Started: Colonoscopy
“C-Day” went down. Big time. In fact, during the 24-hour fasting prep day, I actually went down.
24-hours without food, boatloads of sugar-free Vitamin Water and an entire bottle of Miralax laxative powder led me to the ER after passing out on the stairs at 11 p.m. at night—eight hours before reporting to the colonoscopy exam table.
The EMT’s and ER nurses didn’t bat an eye. “It happens all the time,” they said.
I went through with the colonoscopy to discover another symptom: Colitis—irritable bowel disease, and a “mega colon”.
“Just take this (prescription steroid) and eat more fiber,” Dr. M said sending mean my way.
“Don’t come back unless things get worse,” she added.
They did get worse…But Dr. M wouldn’t know how to deal.
April 2018-December 2018: Mast Cell Activation Syndrome
After my colonoscopy, my gut microbiome was a complete wreck: Cleansed from my 24 hour fast, yes. But also completely topsy turvy. I contracted 3 pathogenic bacteria from the hospital procedure itself and was wiped clean of many of the healthy gut bacteria I had prior (at least according to my pre and post stool test).
Given that 80% of our immune system is in our gut, my immune system began to go nuts!Couple this with still living in my “dream home” that I’d later discover had mold, and my MCAS roller coaster began.
MCAS is the street name for “Mast Cell Activation Syndrome”—an immune condition in which mast cells located in every tissue throughout the body inappropriately and excessively release chemical mediators (like histamine), resulting in a range of chronic symptoms, sometimes including anaphylaxis or near-anaphylaxis attacks.
For me, my MCAS resulted in a rocky two years of varying inflammatory symptoms and conditions that no conventional doctor or ER workup could explain.
In the early stages (April-December 2018), every 6-8 weeks, my body—still living in mold—would present with a random assortment of diseases and symptoms I had never experienced before.
These “diseases” and symptoms included:
- Brain Fog
- Chest Pain
- Diabetes & Hypoglycemia
- Escalating IBS
- Chronic Fatigue
- B12 Anemia
- Vitamin D Deficiency
What gives? I continued to chase symptoms with supplements, vitamins and continued to press in to eating a super clean, anti-inflammatory diet, but…NOTHING. WAS. WORKING.
Winter 2019: Heart Attack x 3?
By January 2019, I’d seen well over 20 doctors, traveled to see a functional medicine specialist in California, spent 3 days in the hospital for a series workup of tests and had visited the ER nearly 10 times…with no answers still.
I felt stuck.
Then…the heart and chest pains really began. Between January and March, my primary symptoms of labored breathing, chest pains, shortness of breath and asthma began to escalate—again, sending me to the ER.
The nursing staff and doctors seemingly cringed when they saw me come in…again.
But I couldn’t breathe.
Surely, something was wrong. Something they were missing.
A pulmonary embolism? A brain clot? A collapsed valve? Fluid buildup?
March 2019: MOLD!!!!!!
I bolted out of bed. Panting. Panting. Panting.
What is going on?
Clenching my chest, I reached for my iPhone on my nightstand and started Googling: Chest pain. Middle of the night. Heart attack.
What do I do?
Of course, Dr. Google told me to go to the ER. It didn’t give me any other solutions.
So I did. Threw my sweat pants and flip flops on, grabbed my backpack and keys, and I was out the door.
Different day. Same story.
“You’re not having a heart attack,” Dr. Hung said. Adding, “You know, there are times conventional medicine will fail you…This is one of them.”
Then, something within me—in my heart and head—flashed, like a lightbulb:
I wonder if it’s…mold?
I truly believe it was God putting that message on my heart. And little did I know, I was about to go on a very long, winding adventure, in the quest to overcome.
The next day, Tim Taylor, the local “Mold Man”, was at my front door with his mold inspection test equipment—ready to tackle the scene.
Sure enough, he found this (black mold) saturated on the HVAC system, along with mold in one of our home’s side wall’s from the Hurricane Harvey flood the previous year.
Concurrently, I order myself a mycotoxin/mold urine test kit from Great Plains Lab only to find not one, but FOUR types of mold housed in my body-explaining my symptoms, particularly the asthma and respiratory issues that had progressively worsened over the past two years.
March-April 2019: Getting Out of Mold
Once I discovered the mold, it was “game on.”
The #1 critical step in dealing with mold illness is…getting out of there!
True healing and detox cannot begin if you are in a moldy environment (no matter how many binders or supplements you take).
Moving out, along with leaving my belongings behind, were two game-changers I knew I had to do.
I spent the next 3 weeks on one of my dearest friends’ couches as a vagabond, while looking for a “clean place” to live and trying to figure out what stuff to keep—and what to toss.
Going through mold is a lot like a house fire—many things, especially porous things (clothes, wood, plastic, linens, mattresses, etc.), become contaminated and must be tossed.
I scoured the internet for articles and lists and stories of others who had experienced mold. Surely I didn’t really need to toss my things? Surely mold is not that bad…
However, as time would tell, my “stuff” was saturated with the musty, sickening scent of mycotoxins—the toxic spore byproducts from my moldy home—and I came to realize if I really wanted to leave mold behind and get well, that included most of my contaminated things.
You can be exposed to mold both by breathing air containing mold spores (mycotoxins) and by touching and using moldy items, eating moldy food or accidental hand to mouth contact.
Getting Rid of Moldy Things
Deciding whether to toss or keep your belongings really depends on the extent and severity of mold contamination in both your environment as well as your health. However, in my personal experience, I found getting rid of (most) everything from the moldy home that made me sick was the best thing I could do. I call it “Marie Kando-ing” your life.
- Stuffed animals
- Art work
- Papers (loose; mycotoxins feeds off of all paper products, using it as food to survive, expand and grow.)
- Food (dry herbs, spices, pantry and fridge items)
- Opened supplements
- Sponges and foam
- Paper products
- Pictures (take pictures of your pictures)
- Air purifiers, Dehumidifiers & space heaters used in the moldy environment
- Vacuums of all kinds (Any vacuum that was used to suck up toxic mold spores and mycotoxins)
- Hair dryers
- Dry clean-only clothes
- Down Feather/Puffy Coats (any clothing 1/2 inch thick or more)
- Fur (coats, rugs, decor)
- Cork, wool, hemp, rubber
- Wood kitchen items (cutting boards, spoons, rolling pins, etc.)
- Ironing boards
- Silk plans
- Washer-friendly clothes (proper, thorough washing is necessary: Try washing your clothingin 3 loads. First load, clear ammonia only, two cups per load. Then a second load of just one cup borax PLUS 2-3 oz. of EC3 Laundry Additive and scent-free detergent, then a 3rd and final load of only Epsom Salts)
- Electronics & equipment (tv’s, cameras, etc.)
- Cell phones & laptops
- Leather chairs
- Hard suitcases
- es & laptops
- Canned goods, unopened water bottles, unopened jars or unopened and sealed non perishable items and frozen items that were vacuum sealed
- Irons/flat irons/curling irons
- Kitchen utensils, pots, pans, dishes, bakeware, silverware, glasses & gadgets (except wood)
- Anything made of glass, rock, clay, stone or concrete.
At first it was hard to part with most everything…until I realized how sick mycotoxins and environmental toxins were making me.
April 2019: Multiple Chemical Sensitivity
I moved into a “new build” home and my rental room was on the ground floor—right next to the garage, where car fumes and construction materials off-gassed—VOC city. Big time. This along with new paint, cheap particle board cabinets, synthetic carpet and vinyl flooring and within the first 24 hours of living there, I felt like I was being “gassed” in a gas chamber.
My little mold-infested lungs and weakened immune system could not detox the strong chemical insults and my asthma and heart attack like symptoms—sharp pains, chest tightening, labored breathing—continued.
I quickly realized that recovering from mold illness involves more than just an escape from mold AND that mold, alone, is often not the only issue.
The some 25% of the population that has the “mold sensitive” gene also are candidates for Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, chronic fatigue, Lupus, Celiac, Mast Cell Activation Syndrome, Lyme Disease and more.
I prepared to move again for the second (of 10 more) times in less than 9 months.
May 2019: Finding Mold-Free Refuge + Keeping Symptoms at Bay
As luck would have it, another room for rent opened up down the street in a sweet girl’s house and I moved in: top floor, clean air, no VOCs or mold, great neighborhood. I felt like I was living in a palace in my 150-square-foot room.
After 2 months of living in “fight or flight”, I could finally breathe.
The healing could begin!
I threw out and returned everything that I had owned in the previous two homes, and I commenced an anti-fungal supplement protocol, along with binders to eliminate the mold from my body and natural antihistamines to support my immune system. I also incorporated heated yoga daily and fresh air walks as often as I could. Sleep was essential, as was plenty of clean filtered water.
Gradually, I went from feeling like death to new life; I got my creative energy back to finish writing my latest book; and things were looking like mold was in the clear…until they were not.
My worst nightmare: Moldageddon 2.0 happened.
November 2019: Moldageddon 2.0 (Cross-Contaminated)
A lot of people wonder: “Is mold truly harmful to our health—after all, isn’t mold everywhere?!” And, many folks who don’t get sick like those with mold illness think, “Are the people who complain they are sick from mold toxins lying or crazy?”
Answer: Yes and no.
Mold itself is not necessarily harmful, but the mycotoxins from mold are what make it toxic—especially for those with weakened immune systems. Mycotoxins DON’T play nice.
Mycotoxins happen when mold accumulates indoors in poorly ventilated or water damaged buildings.
Mycotoxin species, like trichothecenes, actually have been used as the basis of chemical weapons by the United States, the former Soviet Union, Britain, Israel, and France in recent and past history.
Come November, my body took another hit when mycotoxins came out to play.
All was going well, until…a new roommate moved in, along with “mycotoxin city.” A self-proclaimed hoarder, the new roommate brought along boxes full of clothes, household decor, kitchenware and other items that radiated with mold—cross contaminating the house.
Cross contamination happens when mycotoxins bind to fabrics, synthetic carpets and other porous items—spreading like wildfire. The air quality in a home can also quickly go south as spores get swallowed up in the HVAC (air filter).
Is this really happening again?
Nausea. Vomiting. Whole body tingling. Asthma. Chest pains.
And like that, I was out like a light. Back on the streets.
December 2019-February 2020: No Place to Go
Going through mold feels a lot like what happens when you see someone on the side of the road with a flat tire, but never stop. I am horrible at asking for help and very much, wanting to climb out on my own, didn’t say much…to anyone about it.
Over the next few months, I looked and tested at least 40 different homes in central Austin—all with mold—realizing, that the statistic that “50% of all buildings have mold or water damage” actually looked more like 90-100%!
Mold is everywhere; but again, toxic mold happens only when water damage in new construction or ongoing maintenance in a home for proper air quality and moisture is not attended to.
During this time, I also stumbled into 3 different leases—a house in northwest Austin (where lots of the “old money” lives), a brand new condo, and brand new apartment—all of which equally came back as “positive” mold infested homes.
Is it me?
In great part, yes. My body had still not fully cleansed from mold, and mold infested environments and stress were like adding fuel to fire.
But also in great part, no.
Mold is everywhere, and it is not going anywhere if we continue to not do something about it.
Thanks to poorly constructed buildings and cheap building materials, “global warming” and the infiltration of toxins in our homes (hygiene/cleaning products, water sources, etc.), our environment is a breeding ground for mold contamination more than ever. Interestingly, early research is also showing mold also grows like wildfire in the presence of EMF’s (electromagnetic frequencies) from cell phones and WiFi.
A well known medical practitioner, Dr. Klinghardt, uncovered a connection between EMF and mold.
During his research, he found that EMFs could be responsible for driving certain molds to produce mycotoxins. During his research, he found that EMFs could be responsible for driving certain molds to produce Mycotoxins. In other words, electromagnetic fields could be making molds more aggressive and reactive. He found that mold spores grew at 600 times the regular rate due to the EMF radiation exposure.
Fresh clean, breathable air simply is hard to come by.
March 1, 2020: Just Breathe: Mexico Here I Come (My Healing Detox Retreat Adventure)
It is time.
In order to push the “reset” button, and come back stronger from my most recent mold setback, I am embarking upon a detox adventure to Sanoviv, a functional medicine wellness and detox center in Baja, Mexico—one of the cities with the cleanest air in the world—where I am planning to just breathe.
A power packed week of mold detox are on the horizon, and while I feel 70-80% better just being out of mold, there is more work to be done.
HOW TO DETOX FROM MOLD: FAST TRACK
In order to recover from mold illness and stabilize the immune system, there is no getting around detox.
“Detox” is a buzz word that gets thrown around in the wellness world, and intermittent fasting, celery juice and colonics have become as common in health circles as fried chicken joints, 7-11’s and PAWN shops are in sketchier parts of town.
However, not all detox methods or programs are created the same. Nor are all detox methods beneficial (especially if you do too much detox at once and your body is not ready).
My own detox protocol from mycotoxin illness includes a compilation of nutrition, supplements, lifestyle hacks and therapies/modalities to assist the body in pulling mold and fungus out of my body, like:
- Clean space. The #1 essential for aiding the body in recovery is finding a cleaner, mold-free spot in order to allow healing to begin.
- Nutrient-dense foods. Tons of colorful veggies, MCT oil, prebiotic fibers, organic proteins, essential fatty acids; and avoiding the moldy and immune flaring culprits for now with an anti-inflammatory, autoimmune bent; also aiming for VARIETY and abundance of calories and nutrients is essential for me since my body tends to lose weight when it is STRESSED.
- Marie Kando my LIFE. I threw out EVERYTHING that was contaminated: clothes, furniture, kitchenware, books, papers…Walked away from everything like a fire had happened.
- Daily sweat. Heated yoga and infrared sauna.
- Moderate-intensity exercise. Not pushing it too hard; but moving daily.
- Fresh air walks & sunshine. I feel wayyyyy better outside in fresh air than I do inside.
- Time in the Word & prayer. My meditation.
- Minimum 7-8 hours.
- Just saying no. Detoxing from the commitments, energy drains, people pleasing and things that don’t energize or spark joy.
- Clean water. LOTS of it. Celery juice. I LOVE celery juice.
- IV therapies. PC, Glutathione, Vitamin C, Magnesium, NAD.
- Smart Supplements
- Activated charcoal, clay, pectin.
- Vitamin B complex, Vitamin D3, Vitamin K2, CoQ10.
- Gut support. Quality probiotics, bile acid support, liver support-milk thistle, dandelion root)
- Immune boosters. Lipisomal glutathione, Buffered Vitamin C.
- Pooing. Daily. Some people do colonics and coffee enemas. I have done a few coffee enemas, but have found that by just making sure I am going DAILY (and on good days, TWICE a day) feels good for my gut. I use digestive bitters, bile acids and digestive enzymes as needed.
- NOT isolating thyself. Illness can be exhausting, but by making an effort to spend time with friends and family is life giving to my soul.
- Working with my OWN team. Even though I am a functional medicine practitioner myself, I did not want to be my own practitioner. I interviewed several doctors, and feel really solid about the team I have chosen to support me in my own journey.
- A Non-Toxic Retreat or Vacation. Take a break! In the craziness of trying to find a place to live and start healing, all I have really wanted is to just reset and take a break from mold.
- The Secret Sauce: Gut Love. A missing link I see in MANY detox protocols—from mold to juice cleanses, liver detox supplements, and beyond—is the emphasis on supporting, healing and rebuilding the gut microbiome. The gut is the gateway to our health—it’s where about 80% of your immune system is housed and you have more bacteria than cells in your body that dictate and influence our cellular function and bodily processes (from metabolism, to hormone release, mitochondrial function, detox pathways, and more).
After all: our gut is what digests, absorbs and utilizes every nutrient we eat, drop of water we drink and toxin we come into contact with on a daily basis. That said, many “mold protocols” and detoxes out there focus heavily on binders (like activated charcoal and clays) to remove mold, along with immune system boosters and stabilizers (like quercetin and glutathione), and obviously getting out of the mold…but don’t emphasize the power of regaining our health and strength when our gut bug “army” is in a healthier place. Mold wreaks havoc on the gut (to say the least), often resulting in candida and systemic fungal overgrowth in nasal cavities, lungs, skin, the mouth and more. Enter: Addressing any dysbiosis or gut imbalances with targeted herbs, antimicrobials and/or anti-fungals, as well as fostering a healthier gut ecosphere with select quality probiotics, gut-loving (mold-free) foods and stomach acid + digestive enzyme support (bile acids, HCL or apple cider vinegar shots, digestive enzymes and cholagogue foods—like celery, apples, beets, bitter greens, ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, fenugreek, fennel, and artichoke.
HEALING TAKES TIME
People often ask me: “What does mold illness feel like?”
In the thick of the illness, it literally felt like I had mold throughout my entire body. In my lungs. In my chest. In my gut. In my brain. In my nasal cavities. Clogged up. And that’s exactly what my test results showed: elevated mycotoxins in my body; yeast and candida; bacterial dysbiosis. Icky.
However, I so believe that, when given the right tools, the body innately wants to heal itself.
I’ve found that, as I have begun giving my body the right tools…healing and strength is coming back rather quickly.
I also believe that, everything we go through in life happens for a reason. The Lord allowed this tough, long health journey to happen in my life to teach me lessons that no medical textbook could have taught me.
In fact, instead of going back to medical school this year (like I initially planned), I’ve been training in my residency for complex, “mysterious” chronic illnesses (that Dr. Google can’t solve).
Although I have a journey ahead (it didn’t take me overnight to get really sick), with a “plan of attack” in place, I know I will overcome…and I know that, if you’ve been struggling with your own share of “unsolved” health issues or mold illness or Lyme disease (or any other mystery, complex unsolved illness) that YOU can and will overcome too…when given the right tools.
Mold/mycotoxin illness and Lyme disease are weird illnesses in that many folks (doctors included) believe there is NO cure—that they will always be sick…or always have to live in a bubble…
However, in my experience, and knowing what I know about addressing the root cause(s) of illness, when you really get to those ROOTS and strengthen your body’s “army” (your gut health, your immune system, your mitochondria, your detox pathways, your hormones, your toxic burden), then illness really fades away.
Although we DO live in a toxic world and toxins like mold, and EMF’s, and chemicals in our food and products are not going anywhere…focus on the inside, and the outside (illness) has less room to play.
Repeat: When given the right tools, the body innately wants to heal itself.
I am moving on from complex chronic illness…and invite you to believe that your body can also do the same.