The number one topic we get in the messages and inbox are people sharing their discoveries of mould, or chronic and strange illnesses with no answers and I want to thank you for understanding I simply cannot get back to them all and reply with individual advice. That said, I can give you tonnes to go on with and empower yourself, so to that end, I’ve put together everything I’ve written, recorded and resourced on my journey having to largely figure it out myself in 2016 when things got very very bad for me over the course of 2015-2016 progressively (of the symptoms below, for example, I had all but 2 of them!). It’s incredible to see how much awareness has grown for the importance of a healthy indoor home, school and workspace since a few of us in this wellness conversation became affected by bizarre and mystery symptoms and had to piece it all together to support others. My hope one day is that this is an easily diagnosed, treatable illness and that we have legislation to ensure air conditioners must be cleaned annually and thoroughly by law, that landlords must provide commercial dehumidifiers while fixing residential leaks to avoid mould growth and that the average Joe doesn’t have to spend tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars, moving, replacing all their possessions, fighting dodgy builders and bad waterproofing work and on and on and on. How do we get there? One step at a time but we can’t do it feeling unwell so here goes…
When you get sicker and sicker and have symptoms that affect multiple systems in your body but blood tests say ‘normal’ and everyone is puzzled and shoulder shrugging and at best trying to treat a few symptoms you’re experiencing and you spend thousands of dollars on appointments, tests, scans, medication, supplements, therapies and NOTHING IS GETTING BETTER ONLY WORSE – it’s incomprehensible and a very dark experience. I remember wishing I had something that sounded as scary as my symptoms were. It would be easier than all the shoulder shrugs and “you’re a mystery” I was getting or the insinuations that I had some sort of psychosomatic response. I remember being asked by a travel agent if anyone in our family required a wheelchair for a trip that was in a few months’ time, and with how sick I’d become and with new symptoms piling on every week, I remember thinking to myself “I wonder if I should say yes just in case?”. I could barely walk my son to school down the road at one point.
You doubt people, the system, yourself, your loved ones doubt YOU, friends distance themselves, your practitioners tell you “you’ve just got to relax more” or “how about you go see a psychologist?” and it is just so very disappointing that our medical and natural therapies systems are not better equipped to understand and teach the impact our indoor environments can have on our health.
I have been there, I understand what you may be going through. It can and will almost certainly get better.
Please do go and see your doctor to rule anything else out before you decide it might be mould, given a multi-system illness like this could be any number of things and I’m a big fan of the rule out. This resource post is not intended to treat, diagnose or cure you, it’s designed to help those that need somewhere to turn once you suspect mould at the heart of your home and health woes.
Here are some of the symptoms attributed to a root cause of prolonged water-damaged building exposure/living:
- Muscle Cramps
- Unusual Pain
- Ice Pick Pain – shooting pains appearing anywhere in the body, any time.
- Light Sensitivity
- Red Eyes
- Blurred Vision
- Tearing eyes – like a constant drip – I had ocular surgery for this before I knew I had mould illness – a complete waste of $4K!
- Sinus Problems
- Shortness of Breath
- Abdominal Pain
- Diarrhoea and/or constipation
- Joint Pain
- Morning Stiffness
- Exhaustion and poor recovery after any exercise
- Memory Issues
- Focus/Concentration Issues
- Word Recollection Issues
- Decreased Learning of New Knowledge
- Skin Sensitivity
- Mood Swings
- Appetite Swings
- Sweats (especially night sweats)
- Temperature Regulation or Dysregulation Problems
- Excessive Thirst
- Increased Urination
- Static Shocks
- Metallic Taste
- Tremors, spasms or twitching
- Heart palpitations, arrhythmias POTS or tachycardia (spent 2K on cardiology tests to be told my heart was ‘fine’)
- Anxiety, Depression, general melancholy or a feeling like you cannot access joy
Here are some cues that your home might either be water damaged or too humid and either obviously or secretly harbouring mould:
- Humidity indoors is regularly over 60% (test with a hygrometer)
- Dark house
- Ground floor or house built directly on ground with no ventilation underneath
- Musty smell
- Visible mould/fungi
- Bubbling paint
- Mould under sinks or visible swelling of wood in bathroom/kitchen cabinetry
- Gaps in the grout where water can sink under and spread
- Black staining on floorboards – usually near edges of the room
- Peeling paint
- A feeling that surfaces/carpet/walls are damp or wet, regardless of rain but enhanced perhaps by rain
- Staining on ceilings of something that wet it then dried
- People in the house have unexplained symptoms and often feel better when spending time away from the house on holidays or at school/work.
How to test? There’s debate about the best way but if you can’t get enough of a visual clue there’s water damage/mould, then most of the reputable remediators around the world use the ERMI or HERTSMI dust collecting sample test, which is a PCR test, to assess the mould spore count in the home, above using culture tests collected on glass or in petri dishes. From experience I have to say I agree – The ERMI has been the best test for us. You can google how to find one locally and can often do this test independently to first gauge the severity of the issues, before engaging a remediator or building biologist. I use NSJ ENviro (previously known as mould lab) in Australia. David Lark is our best mycologist and has been supporting families for years in this space.
Here are all the blogs and podcasts we’ve done on mould:
- My whole mold / mould story
- 10 ways to avoid mould/water damaged buildings when hunting for a property
- 10 ‘mouldy’ foods to avoid when healing from mould exposure
- Home Humidity: What Causes It, What To Do About It
- How to Choose a Low Tox Air Purifier
- Low Tox Practitioner Recommendations – You’ll find a few practitioners well versed in supporting mould affected patients, here.
- Show #55: Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome with Dr. Sandeep Gupta
- Show #77: Alexx Stuart talks about moving from a water damaged building – what to take, what to leave, how to clean and more
- Show #191 – Alexx on what to look for to avoid water damage when choosing a home
- Show #169 – Dr Ann Shippy: Treatment protocols for mold illness
- Show #192 – Building Biologist Corrine Segura from “My Chemical Free House” speaks about her fails and wins in designing mould free homes for herself and others
- Show #222 – Dr Beth O’Hara: Mast Cell Activation Syndrome
- Show #234 – Dr Sandeep Gupta on Clinical Developments with CIRS / Mold Illness
- Show #237 – Dr Beth O’Hara on Detoxification for Sensitive Peeps
- Show #260 – Dr Perry Nickleston on Brain detox
- Show#277 – Brendan Vermeire on neuroinflammation and mental health (we talk mould during this ep from this perspective)
- Show #288 – Michael Rubino on Water damage, ERMI testing (we analyse some of my old ones) and all things mould
- Show #295 – Andy Pace – Signs your home is toxic and what to do instead (relevant to renters, renovators and owners alike)
- Show #299 – Andy Pace – Building a healthy home from the ground up – great for developing your healthy home literacy whether you’re building or not!
And a few I’ve done on trauma/the sympathetic nervous system trap that keeps you reacting strongly even when the danger is gone. You’re not just healing the physical body when you’ve experienced chronic illness and medical trauma, your brain needs a lot of support too.
Here’s a great Aussie website that lists good doctors/remediators, things like which blood tests to get, what research to share with your doctor and tonnes of other resources:
And here are two Facebook groups – one Aussie and the other more USA based. Something to keep in mind when you’re really unwell with mould/mold is that anxiety and those ‘wired beyond control’ vibes can be high. These groups have a lot of distressed people in them and a lot of pictures of mould-contaminated buildings so if you’re anxious right now or really feeling quite dark, I hear you and completely understand, and I mention this as a word of warning for you to know that perhaps it’s best not to set those groups to receiving every notification, and only dipping in when you need to ask or research something. They are great places though, to share your situation/current challenge whether it’s “I’ve found mould under the bed what should I do” to taking pictures to help identify something.
And of course the Low Tox Club, our low-cost membership which is about all things low tox, not just mould of course, but where many members have been through or are navigating mould and one of our member monthly ebooks has been a deep dive in clean home air with special club member Q&A’s on condensation, air conditioning, building biology and architecture/renovation all in the members dashboard. We have wonderful naturopathic support as well as an architect and building biologists among our experts hanging out in there. Come join us there!
If you can hire a building biologist to support your journey you have a list of qualified graduates in Australia here and can google for your region in the world also, something like “Building Biologist directory UK” etc. They will help test for moisture, assess the damage in relation to health symptoms as to what needs to be done in the immediate or long term, and help with testing sample options, remediation options, helping you decide what to throw out and keep etc. A truly special professional to have in your corner if the budget allows for it. If it doesn’t, use the Toxic Mould Support group as a brains trust to help you.
A few accounts to follow on Instagram if mould is an issue for you with integrative doctors that speak to it often (you don’t have to agree with every one of their views to appreciate the support you receive in one area, is my view)
- Dr Jill Crista
- Brendan Vermeire – The Holistic Savage
- Jill Carnahan
- Jess Petross MD
- Ann Shippy
- Dr Scanestraro
- And Beth O’Hara’s website “Mast Cell 360” if mast cells/histamine are big players for you.
And for nervous system/trauma repair, some great accounts to follow:
I often get asked what supplements I’ve taken or where I get them from. My anti-inflammatory list is on Iherb all in one spot if you want to research any of those. If you’re really inflamed and in need of ‘SOS calm the farm’ support a couple of super safe options on the list are Baicalin, Nettle and Quercetin. Fish oil has been imperative for general heart/brain support and charcoal taken away from meals, has been very useful to me to bind and excrete the toxins, while when my digestive system was on strike, the Mag07 kept everything moving – you don’t want to hit the detoxification if you can’t move it through the poop shoot or sweat! Please, this is not to be taken as medical advice, but I recognise that often people have spent so much money seeing practitioners and hitting dead ends, that a couple of pointers for you to then do your own research can be a godsend as they were for me in the early days.
Indoor excess humidity WITHOUT signs of water damage?
Courses that will be integral to feeling empowered in your mold/mould story navigation.
Inflammation Ninja – I wrote this course with the support of a handful of fine integrative health professionals to support you if you’re in SOS mode to calm the farm in your body while you work on your long game. For $98AUD it is truly a great low cost support if you are feeling lost and unwell right now. A free year’s membership into the Low Tox Club is included (worth $49!)
My favourite two online courses to recommend to people on the mould road are provided by two very inspiring gents both with the surname Gupta, but that’s where the similarity of the offering ends. Both vital courses in their own rights.
Dr Sandeep Gupta who you would have seen above has been on the show a couple of times talking about mould, is Australia’s most highly regarded Integrative Physician in the CIRS arena – and boy does it feel like an arena to be in there healing from it! Sandeep has put together Mould Illness Made Simple, as what I feel is the ultimate tool to support you in learning what’s not only happening inside your body, and how to navigate that with your health team, but also with so much vital information on building health, choosing a home, remediation considerations, and so, so much more. If you feel like “You just need to know what to do and how to become literate enough to have the conversations you need to to achieve your goals of getting better and fixing or finding a home, I honestly wouldn’t be without this course and would recommend everyone do it. Sandeep has given Low tox peeps 10% off the course costs with the code Lowtox10 too.
The Gupta Program (Use ‘LOWTOXLIFE’ to receive $50 off The Gupta Program full membership option)
Just before I interviewed Ashok Gupta on the show late last year, my nervous system had been fried once again after what I thought was an idyllic house move. Buzzing skin sensations, palpitations, twitching, my digestion went on strike again… I spiralled to a dark place quickly having all the symptoms come back. When I identified that there were undisclosed previous leaks in our beautiful new apartment only 3 years old, AND that we were across the road from a cluster of 5 phone towers it all made sense, but what I had started to find interesting, having been around the block with these “move and health-dive” experiences a few times now, was just how quickly my body sent itself into a full-blown danger response, whereas the first water-damaged building where my initial CIRS developed, took 7 years to fully manifest. I wondered whether my body had learnt this fast response? I wondered whether I was perhaps “over-primed” in some way. I wondered whether what I was experiencing was something similar to PTSD, and my research led me to find a piece of the puzzle often not explored in chronic illness, which is just that: when you hope to recover from a trauma the body or mind has experienced, you need to retrain the brain, not just heal the physical parts or remove the offending toxins.
BINGO. Ashok’s program helps the brain retrain itself, and if you look at the Trust Pilot reviews there are many, many people who have experienced dramatic improvements in all sorts of medical, psychiatric diagnoses by following the steps of the program. So, if you have MCAS, Multiple chemical sensitivity, ME/CFS, Mould or EMF sensitivity or really anything chronic that has caused you to feel endangered and traumatised with seemingly no way out, Please do consider Ashok’s work and forget the free 28 day version as that is not the method – it will however provide a couple of nice calming tools for you. While the couple of exercises and videos on the free version are lovely, none of the program exercises can be shared in there because they all form part of a very methodical process to help support your brain to heal. Take a listen to the shows I’ve done with Ashok and take it from me – this course will honestly help inspire hope and healing and I’m just so grateful to have come across it. And there you have it. A bumper set of resources all in one spot for you. Thank you for respecting my personal boundaries in a community our size, in that I am not able to advise in private messages or emails what you need to do in your situation. not a medical professional nor a building biologist and while I can share my experiences and resources that have helped me, I cannot give out personal advice on what you need to do. I can, however, if you are feeling overwhelmed by how to piece it all together and move forward, offer my health coaching services to keep you moving forward and on track and in the right frame of mind to heal, which you can enquire about at [email protected]