Learning more about Mold in your home, Mold Illness + Mold Toxicity
Hello and welcome! As always I’m so grateful you found your way to Salt + Honey + Sage! In this post I wanted to provide you a beginner's guide and dive a little deeper into our journey with mold. When we encountered this we didn’t know where to turn, what to believe or who to trust. I hope these resources are helpful to others if they are also struggling with any mold issues!
Like many others, our discovery of toxic mold exposure started with recurrent illnesses. My son had just started preschool so at first I just waved off the colds as coming from all the new germ exposure. But over the course of about 6 months both my kids had off and on double ear infections, sinus infections, high fevers, trouble sleeping, mood swings, food intolerances that became worse and seemed to take much longer than normal to overcome these sick spurts. I was also experiencing intense fatigue, heart palpitations, eye floaters, headaches, brain fog, confusion, facial muscle twitching, slurring words, electrical shocks, leg muscle twitches/spasms, loss of appetite but inability to loose weight, nausea, fevers, sinus infections, ear infections and trouble sleeping. I knew something was wrong but everyone around us including doctors felt that it was a just a bad cold and flu season for us. A friend at one point mentioned to me the possibility of mold exposure and so started my dive down the rabbit hole so to speak.
It took us weeks to figure out what kind testing to ask for to see if our bodies were reacting to mold. We also went through about 6-7 mold companies/inspectors until we found ones that actually knew what to look for and how to remediate properly. So many people during this time minimized what we were dealing with, both physically and with our home. This process has definitely taught me to trust my gut and follow my intuition! I’m so grateful for all of the information and guidance we have received this past year while healing. I’m going to list everything that helped us along the way so others who may be struggling can have a better starting place than we did!
Where to Begin
The first place that gave us a wealth of information was, ironically, a blog post! It amazes me how many other people have dealt with stealth infections and biotoxin illnesses. If you think you may be dealing with mold the first place you should head is this blog post by Jennifer Robins at Predominately Paleo to learn more! From physical symptoms, to mold types, how to find a trustworthy inspector, types of testing (for your body and your home), proper remediation and more Jennifer’s post literally helped us more than anything else at the start of our journey. Everything was laid out in an easy to understand and relatable format.
The second place everyone should go to is the Facebook group Toxic Mold — Rediscovering Health and Wellness to read the pinned post by Adam Glass. It is the most compressive list I've found with links to everything for a beginner. It covers where to start, a questionnaire, blood work, other body tests like sinus cultures, home tests, where to get help (for your body and home), how to handle contaminated things in your home like clothes and furniture plus much more! The other wonderful thing about this Facebook group was finding a community of other people who had also been through this. They were welcoming, kind and were able to answer so many questions and give advice + encouragement!
Another invaluable resource/company was PJ Harlow Wellness. She and her family also overcame a difficult journey with mold illness. Her companies mission is with a commitment to evaluate the impact, improve understanding & reach more who suffer in isolation, PJHW was produced to push the envelope of discussion regarding our toxic environment and provide a guided path to optimal wellness. They are a starting point for individuals & families to learn new concepts with regards to health and the environment. They empower clients and readers with the knowledge to figure out why & how toxins play a part in their life, the tools to understand what they can do to change, and the confidence and skill to bring balance & wellness back into their lives. Her very in-depth blog post on mold toxicity is a great place to start - check them out!
After trying 5 or 6 companies we were finally able to find a knowledgeable and trustworthy mold inspector (you never want the company that completes the remediation to also be doing the before or after testing). If you’re near the Pittsburgh, Pa area we were very happy with and would definitely recommend to others Dan Howard from Envirospect (www.envirospect.com). He was so helpful through out our entire process and his website was able to answer so many of our questions. The other inspectors walked quickly through the home, didn't look outside and missed multiple problem areas. Dan spends over 4 hours on the initial home inspection, searching inside and outside for a range of factors. He also did our re-test after the remediation was completed. Moving forward, I'd highly recommend this type of inspection and testing for anyone looking to purchase a home. The extra money would be well worth avoiding a home with a mold or water damage problem. If you're not in this area Dan may be able to help you find an inspector closer to you.
Through Dan Howard and recommendations from a few other local families who also had toxic mold in their homes we found Mold Medics (a remediation company) also in the Pittsburgh, Pa area. Where the other companies we spoke with downplayed our concerns and gave us the bare minimum of remediation plans, Mold Medics went above and beyond. Most states have little or no restrictions/guidelines on companies who remediate mold issues in residential or commercial buildings. Yet even without those Mold Medics goes multiple steps beyond what the average company does. They regularly help clients who’s homes have caused severe illnesses and they took our concerns seriously. They also gave us great tips to prevent problems in the future. We dealt with John Naumann - he was very knowledgeable, helpful and always available/easy to reach throughout the process when we had questions or concerns. I'd highly recommend this company and we will continue to use them every 3 yrs for routine air duct cleaning maintenance! They may also be able to help you find a remediation company closer to you if you're not in this area.
Healing your body + Finding a mold literate Doctor
Another thing we’ve learned is mold is a massive trigger for other underlying health issues that may have previously been somewhat dormant in your body. Things like Lyme + co-infections, viral issues like EBV, candida or yeast growth, autoimmune issues or leaky gut to name a few. It’s likely your general doctor just isn’t well versed enough in stealth infections like these to properly diagnose, test or treat you. If you’re truly suffering from stealth infections or biotoxin illness one of the most important things you can do to heal is find a doctor who specializes in this field. Especially one who is willing to run the necessary labs like the IgG mold 14 blood panel (lab corp was the only lab near us who could run this blood test) and CIRS testing (explained more in the post from Jennifer linked above). Try looking for a functional medicine MD, integrative physician, a mold friendly practitioner, or a Lyme Literate MD. Many chiropractors are also more widely versed in these and may be able guide you and order some of these tests. Two good places to start are this mold illness practitioners list and The Institute for Functional Medicine - Find A Practitioner (where you can type in your city and state to find functional medicine practitioners near you). If you're in the Pittsburgh, Pa area a few other doctors we've found helpful are Dr. Jaison Golojuh (he's helped our family for over 4 years and is wonderful with our kids too!), Dr. Noah Erickson, and Dr. Lobur. If you're not in this area - they might be able to help you find one that is closer to you or help you remotely. Another wonderful doctor to check out if you're struggling with any kind of stealth infection (mold, Lyme, heavy metal build up etc - which a lot of the time are all happening together) is Dr. Jess. She's a board-certified medical doctor and a certified Gerson Practitioner. An expert in the areas of stealth infections, environmental toxicity, regenerative medicine, ozone, and cannabis. Her passion lies in uncovering the mystery behind the chronic illness, whether that be stealth infections, heavy metals, stress/trauma or other environmental toxicities. There are real, root cause answers for WHY the body might be malfunctioning. She also has online courses so you can learn more at your own pace! I will also add that for women especially, toxic mold can wreak havoc with their hormones and seeing a hormone specialist can be beneficial!
Have more questions? Reach out to us!
The last few resources I'd like to leave you with are these two books:
- Toxic (heal your body from mold toxicity, Lyme disease, multiple chemical sensitivities, and chronic environmental illness) by Neil Nathan, MD
- Surviving Mold (Life in the Era of Dangerous Buildings) by Ritchie C. Shoemaker, MD
Along with Dr. Shoemaker's website Surviving Mold which is a wealth of information! This journey is never easy but hopefully this beginner's guide gave you a better starting point. As always, if you have any questions please send us an email - we love hearing from you!