Detoxifying from mold exposure is no easy task. How to detoxify from mold exposure? Here’s how to do it!
In my own experience, my journey to detoxify from mold took me a little over 2 years—about the same amount of time that I lived in the highly contaminated black moldy rental home that made me super sick.
At times, detoxifying from mold became a full time “job” between appointments, maintaining my supplement schedule and implementing my daily detox strategies, like sauna, IV therapies and lymph flushing.
Detoxifying from mold has to be particularly strategic if you have the “mold sickness” gene.
Do You Have the Mold Sickness Gene?
Toxic mold exposure wreaks havoc on your health—especially if you are one of the estimated 25% of the population who is a carrier (and sufferer) of the HLA-DR gene.
While our genes are NOT our destiny, carriers of the HLA-DR (human leukocyte antigen) gene are prone to develop chronic health issues involving systemic inflammation, whether the cause is mold, Lyme disease and other tick borne illnesses , gluten, and countless other triggers. HLA-DR makes a person SUPER sensitive and susceptible to biotoxin sickness and also makes detoxification VERY difficult.
The vast majority of those experiencing Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS) have the HLA DR/DQ genetic mutation, and these people often times will STILL struggle to detox their body from mold—even when they are removed from the home or office that provoked their illness.
That said, even if you are not an HLA DR/DQ gene carrier or you’ve got a mold allergy (not mold autoimmunity), detoxing mold out of your body requires several strategies beyond just moving or remediating the environmental mold problem.
How to Detoxify from Mold Exposure: 13 Essentials
How to detoxify from mold exposure easily? Here are 13 essential strategies I’ve found to be “game changers” for myself and my patients to detoxify from mold exposure.
#1. Get Out of the Moldy Environment
You cannot fully heal from toxic mold unless you are removed from mold. Otherwise it’s sort of like cleaning your room by stuffing your toys in the closet and under the bed. You may not see the toys when you first walk in, but if you don’t put them away, they will continue to clutter up your spaces.
#2. Stabilize & Support Your Immune System
Mast cell activation syndrome, autoimmunity and an “up-regulated immune system” are common conundrums people with toxic mold illness experience, resulting in all the mold illness symptoms people experience like:
Common Immune Symptoms
- Sinus issues
- Brain fog
- Memory problems
- Mood swings
- Difficulty concentrating
- Muscle aches
- Light sensitivity
- Chronic cough
- Metallic taste in the mouth
- Static shocks
- Sugar cravings
- Inability to regulate temperature
- Digestive issues
- Excessive thirst and frequent urination
- Multiple chemical sensitivities
- Food intolerances
While some people will feel better and symptoms will resolve when they simply remove themselves from the moldy environment, if you have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome, autoimmunity or you are super sensitive and highly reactive and stuck in the cell danger response, stabilizing the immune system is a no-brainer. Stabilizing the immune system may include:
- Mast cell stabilizer” supplements: like quercetin, quail egg, osha, Pycnogenol, PEA, feverfew, silymarin, luteolin, moringa, nettles, black cumin, perilla seed
- H1 blockers: cilantro, basil, thyme, ginger, onion, mangosteen, nigella sativa, Claritin, Allegra or Zyrtec
- H2 blockers: holy basil, ginger, Pepcid or Cimetidine (Prilosec)
- Inflammation modulators: Curcuma Longa, resveratrol, boswellia, skullcap
- Digestive immune support: DAO enzymes, low histamine probiotics, digestive bitters, trace mineral drops
#3. Retrain Your Limbic System
Similar to removing yourself from a moldy environment, you will not fully heal and detoxify from mold exposure until you calm down the limbic system and strengthen your vagus nerve (ie. The brain-gut connection and autonomic nervous system).
After experiencing toxic mold exposure, many patients who get mold illness experience an “up-regulated” stress response system, often referred to as the “amygdala hijack” or “over activated limbic system.”
The limbic system is the region of your brain that creates and stores memories, and serves to keep you safe. Your amygdala is a small almond-shaped mass that is part of the limbic system, responsible for experiencing and activating emotions (including danger and stress).
In order to “protect” you from danger, after going through a traumatic or health-debilitating toxic mold experience, the brain forms new neural pathways and circuits that go on “high alert” in the face of not only mold, but other new or stressful stimuli that may remind your body of being stressed out—like new environments or homes, certain foods, various smells and chemicals, people, job demands, workouts, etc. We sometimes call this a “brain on fire”, and many people who get really sick from toxic mold will have to do some serious brain-body work if they want to get better.
For example, I developed “multiple chemical sensitivity” and multiple food intolerances after living in toxic mold for years. When I moved out of the house that made me sick however, contrary to popular belief, I didn’t instantly “get better”.
In fact, I moved a total of 11 times over the course of 1 year because of how sensitive and over-activated my brain had become. New paint and new wood smells gave me shortness of breath, other buildings gave me headaches and brain fog, I became limited to eating only 5-10 foods because everything else made me constipated or gave me IBS. I experienced huge “set backs” whenever I pushed my body a little harder in the gym or a stressful meeting at work came up. My brain and body could not handle the load because it was trying to protect me from all sorts of stress by up-regulating my immune system and fight or flight response.
While there is no one-size-fits-all approach to “retraining the limbic system”, some of my go-to’s include:
Limbic System Retraining
- DNRS and The Gupta Program– Choose one
- Frequency Specific Micro-current Therapy
- Neurofeedback (practitioner)
- Heart Math
- Brain Tap
- Vital Side
- Energy work/healing
Vagus Nerve Exercises
- Coffee enemas + holding or “planking” for 10-15 minutes before releasing
- Gag reflex exercises (say “ahhhhh” with a tongue depressor)
- Gargling water for 50-60 seconds per swig, 2-3 times per day
- Relaxation (yoga, deep breathing, meditation)
- Tapping (EFT)
- Read: Vagus Nerve Books: Accessing the Healing Power of the Vagus Nerve & Activate Your Vagus Nerve
#4. Open Up Your Drainage Pathways
You have 7 “drainage pathways” or “cleansing channels” in your body that help your body remove excess wastes and toxins (including mycotoxins, bacteria, fungi and toxic mold in your body).
Your 7 drainage pathways include:
- Lymphatic system
- Circulatory system (blood)
- Liver & Gallbladder
If any or multiple of these pathways are “clogged” or not open, you cannot detox toxins effectively. For example, if you are not pooping daily, you’re not going to get far in detox. Poop helps excrete toxins, wastes and even excess hormones.
This is where “drainage support” and “lymph support” come into place in the form of supplements (often homeopathy) and lifestyle practices that keep your channels open.
*These practitioner-grade formulas require a practitioner to order.
- Pekana Big 3 Detox
- ToxEaseGL (Beyond Balance)
- Drainage Tone + Pure Body Clear (Energetix)
Poo Daily Hacks
- Magnesium citrate at bedtime and/or buffered vitamin C (1 tsp every hour until a bowel movement is produced=dose)
- Digestive bitter herbs (Iberogast, CarminaGest)
- Coffee enemas, no more than 1x per day
- Smooth Move tea
Lymph Moving Hacks
- Drink half your bodyweight in ounces of clean water daily
- Dry brushing
- Walks/standing breaks
- Sweat daily
- Don’t wear constricting
#5. Take the Right Binders
Binders are the “mops” that help mop up toxins once they start draining in the body. Binders are often essential because, without them, you can end up with tons of mobilized, circulating toxins in the body.
If you do a mycotoxin urine test to figure out what molds are in your body, your functional medicine practitioner can customize binders to your needs and the specific molds you’re dealing with.
Some examples of binders include:
- Chlorella, 1/8-1/2 cap to start; then 1-2 tablets (BioPure)
- Zeolite (BioPure)
- Modified Citrus Pectin (Pecta-Sol)
- Activated Charcoal
- Bentonite Clay (Yerba Prima)
- OptiFiber Lean (Xymogen)
- BioActive Carbon (Cell Core)
- Combo Formulas (GI Detox+, Ultra Binder, ToxEase Bind)
- Saccharomyces boulardii (Microbiome Labs)
- Welchol (prescription required)
#6. Follow a Mold Detox Diet
Rather than focusing entirely on removing foods, a mold detox diet seeks to support immune health and detoxification pathways (liver, gallbladder).
Many mold illness patients find they feel best initially on an AIP (autoimmune) paleo diet, higher in sustainable proteins, healthy fats and lower starch, well-cooked vegetables, sticking to about 25-75 grams of “starchy carbs” or fruits per day, and eating enough calories. The top most allergenic and immune up regulating foods are limited for at least 30 to 90 days, including:
- Peanuts & Legumes (beans)
- Gluten & grains
- Nighshade spices (chili, paprika, curcumin, etc.)
Meals may be broken up in to 2 to 3 meals per day. Some people find they feel better when they do intermittent fasting (12-16 hours of fasting, followed by an 8-12 hour feeding window), but IF and under-eating are definitely not necessary to detox from mold.
The AIP approach is sometimes also combined with a short-term low-histamine approach for 2 to 3 weeks if they have MCAS (mast cell activation syndrome) as they stabilize their immune system and support their DAO enzyme reserves that help break histamine-rich foods down. Histamine-stimulating foods that may cause immune overactivation for some folks (especially if eaten frequently or in large quantities) include:
- Fermented foods (like sauerkraut, pickles, kombucha, yogurt)
- Nuts & dairy products
- Citrus fruits
- Nutritional yeast
- Condiments (mustard, salad dressings, ketchup)
- Leftovers (especially 2-3 day old meats and fish)
- Deli meats, sausage, bacon, canned fish/meats
No you do NOT need to avoid histamine-rich foods forever, nor cut them all out completely. Instead, you need to improve your digestion (point #8), lighten the “load” of histamine in your diet (maybe 1-2 small servings in a day versus tons of histamine-rich foods). and aim to gradually incorporate as much diversity in your diet as possible with nutrient-dense foods in order to diversify your gut with healthy bacteria.
What foods are known to fight inflammation and stabilize mast cells naturally? The following list is a selection of anti-inflammatory foods, in no particular order, to consider adding:
- Dark leafy greens (chard, kale, bok choy, etc.)
- Other green veggies: green beans, asparagus, broccoli, zucchini, Brussels sprouts
- Sustainable, pasture raised and grass-fed meats
- Wild caught fresh fish
- Soluble and pre-biotic fibers: cooked carrots, cooked beets, cooked and cooled sweet potatoes/red potatoes/fingerling potatoes, leeks, parsnips, rutabaga, winter squash, summer squash
- 1-2 servings of fresh fruit daily
- Fresh herbs (parsley, basil, cilantro, etc.)
- Herbal teas (nettle, chamomile, dandelion, ginger, turmeric)
- Yerba mate (instead of coffee)
- Healthy fats: ghee, coconut (oil, butter, MCT), sunflower seed butter, extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil, olives (as tolerated), macadamia nuts (lower histamine)
#7. Flush Your Sinuses
MARCONS (Multiple Antibiotic Resistant Coagulase Negative Staphylococci) is an antibiotic-resistant staph infection that resides in the nasal passages of a vast majority of people with bio-toxin illness (like mold illness).
This is why “flushing” the sinuses is crucial in addition to your binders and drainage support. A good starting place is doing daily nasal rinses with filtered clean water and sea salt, like Dr. Hana’s NasoPure. I also recommend XClear saline xylitol spray, a homemade Lugol’s iodine nasal rinse or an olive leaf spray early on while stabilizing the immune system.
If necessary, a prescription-strength compounded anti-fungal nose spray may also be indicated such as Bactroan/EDTA/Itraconazole as prescribed by your doctor, and integrated slowly to prevent any HERX (die off) reactions.
#8. Cleanse Your Gut
Your gut is the gateway to health—immune system and detox included. Mold and gut health don’t play nice together. Candida fungal overgrowth, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) and dysbiosis are often byproducts of chronic mold illness.
While a total gut healing protocol is beyond the scope of this article, some essentials to consider include:
- Digestive enzymes, digestive bitters and HCL/apple cider vinegar to support digestive mechanics
- Anti-fungal GI and systemic treatments (natural herbs like A-FNG, biocidin Pro-Myco and Pau d’ Arco, as well as Rx prescriptions like Nystatin, Neomycin and Itraconazole as directed by your doctor)
- SIBO treatment (natural antimicrobials like this and this, triple probiotic therapy with soil based organisms, lacto-bifido formulas and sacchromyces boulardii, and/or possibly a short course of Xifaxin if prescibed by your doctor)
Also, don’t forget liver and gallbladder support! Phosphatydlcholine in particular is amazing for strengthening the gallbladder.
#9. Get Fresh Air
I always feel better outside, more than inside toxic air. One of my dearest “mold angels” and mentors often would tell me to: “Hug a tree”, “go on a walk”, “open the windows”, and “get sunshine.”
Fresh air is medicine for the mold patient, and a refreshing break from the contaminants lurking in many buildings today. If you are feeling super “bogged down” by mold, even consider going on a “sabbatical” to a fresh, open air space (the mountains, nature, even the beach for some folks who are beach people like me).
#10. Sweat Daily
Let those toxins flow. Sweating is a natural way of detoxing through your skin. And I’m not talking intense cardio spin sessions or running 5 miles every day. Simply moving and ‘flowing’ in a way that energizes—doesn’t deplete you.
Often times, individuals with severe mold illness are low on energy, strength and aerobic capacity—making walking up the stairs or doing your daily activities (like grocery shopping and laundry) more difficult.
If this is you, a few simple ways to ‘break a sweat include:
- Infrared sauna sessions (this became a daily ritual for me; you can buy a reasonably priced Therasage Travel Sauna or invest in my favorite Sunlighten Sauna; also if you are not in the market of buying your own sauna, many cities now have community-based infrared sauna studios where you can book a time slot to go break a sweat)
- Heated/warmed yoga (another daily ritual)
- Detox baths (homemade salts)
#11. Follow a Non-Toxic Lifestyle
Going through toxic mold makes you more aware of the toxins surrounding us in our daily life. In fact, I believe toxins in our products, air and food are the “new” sugar—a huge trigger to many of the chronic diseases we see today (obesity, diabetes, hormone imbalances, autoimmunity).A “non toxic lifestyle” includes foods, hygiene and cleaning products you use, makeup, air purification, water purification and beyond. Gradually replace and overhaul toxic products and environmental pathogens with non-toxics.
This step goes deep and is a life long journey (once you start down the non-toxic path, there is no going back). Don’t let being perfect get in the way of “good” and “cleaner.” Every little bit helps.
A few key areas to start include:
- Use mycotoxin-cleaning and toxin free laundry care (I love Branch Basics, plus Epsom salts, Borax and EC3 TOGETHER for getting spores out of my clothes)
- Drink clean water—like the Radiant Life Mineral Osmosis System. Wake Water Co filters, Berkey water filter or natural spring water
- Invest in a quality air purifier for several rooms in your mold-free home; if you’re in between spots, get a cheaper one to sleep with by your head
- Replace toxic toothpastes like Colgate and Crest with a non-toxic, fluoride free version
- Buy organic produce and grass-fed, pasture-raised, wild-caught meats
#12. Support Mitochondria
Mitochondria are the “power houses” of all cellular processes. They give your body energy to fight off infections, stress and toxins. They increase ATP and cellular respiration, so your body is not “starved” of manpower.
Mold illness crushes mitochondrial reserves. This step can be a huge game changer for helping increase healthy oxygen levels in the body and cells to fight the battle of overcoming mycotoxin illness. Consider this on how to detoxify from mold exposure.
I work with a compounding supplement pharmacy to create specific formulas for my patients and help them come out on top; however some individual mitochondrial supports to consider include:
- L-Carnitine (CarniClear)
- B Vitamin Complex
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
- Liposomal Glutathione/NAC
…Just to name a few.
I also often suggest IV therapies to give your body a big nutrient booster that surpasses the GI tract—including Vitamin C, phosphatydlcholine and glutathione.
#13. Don’t Go It Alone
There is strength in numbers. Without a doubt, I know I could not have overcome mold illness on my own, and unfortunately, Dr. Google searching will only get you so far.
The good news is? There are some AMAZING clinicians out there who know how to help and you do NOT have to stay stuck or sick “forever” recovering or feeling unwell from toxic mold.
A mold-literate clinician is the “icing on the cake” for helping you customize a unique mold healing protocol for you, as well as helping you leave no stone unturned in your mold detoxifying journey.
Often times, co-infections (like Lyme, Rickettsia, Babesia, Bartonella) may be at play, along with other gut-related symptomology, immune and hormone imbalances to address.
The bottom line: Don’t go it alone. Reach out to schedule an initial consultation today and we can help you get on the road to recovery too.