*This article was updated on August 2nd, 2023.
Have you been experiencing any stubborn, persistent symptoms lately that are seemingly unexplained? Does it seem like you have tried every over-the-counter medicine available to you and yet still get no relief?
You may be one of the many people unknowingly living with or working around mold that could be triggering your symptoms.
Today we’re going to explore exactly what toxic mold is, the signs and symptoms of toxic mold exposure, and most importantly – what steps you can take if you do determine that mold is the root of your symptoms. Let’s dive in.
What Is Toxic Mold? And How Does Mold Grow?
Mold is a natural part of our environment, serving an important role as nature’s “clean-up crew” by decomposing dead plants and animals. Molds spread by producing tiny reproductive cells known as spores that are released and wafted through the air. These mold spores, which tend to be harmless on their own, float in the air and occur naturally both indoors and outdoors – we are always breathing them in!
The mold spores we encounter each day outside can attach themselves to us by landing on our clothes, bags, and shoes, or even hitch a ride on our pet. This gives mold spores convenient access to our homes and workspaces when we go inside. Once inside our homes, these mold spores can attach to areas with moisture. Some of mold’s favorite places to grow are:1
- Ceiling tiles
- Wet cellulose products (such as paper, wood, and fiberboard)
Again, exposure to low levels of mold in and of itself isn’t necessarily a problem. But mold exposure becomes problematic when we encounter certain strains of mold that produce toxic compounds known as mycotoxins. These microscopic poisons are naturally produced by certain strains of mold and can make their way into our bodies via the food we eat and the air we breathe.
And if left unchecked, these tiny toxins can wreak havoc on your health.
Signs and Symptoms of Toxic Mold Exposure
Many patients are unaware that their home or workplace could be the breeding ground to their symptoms. In fact, it’s estimated that indoor pollutants, including toxic mold, are at a concentration of 2 to 5 times higher than that of the pollutants found outdoors and contribute to more than 50% of patients’ illnesses!2
By far, the most common health issue caused by mold is allergy. Mold-related allergic reactions include:3
- Red, itchy, and watery eyes
- Runny nose
If you’re someone who already has chronic or seasonal allergies, or suffers from a respiratory condition such as asthma or COPD, your allergic reaction to mold may be much more significant. These worsened allergic symptoms can cause symptoms such as:4
- Difficulty breathing
- Fatigue and lethargy
- Frequent chest cold
- Persistent coughing
- Sinus inflammation
While these symptoms are certainly problematic enough, if exposure to mold and its toxic metabolites becomes chronic, it can spiral into more serious concerns.
Signs and Symptoms of Long-Term Mold Exposure
In cases of long-term exposure, the effects of toxic mold can begin extending their reach throughout your entire body – leading to more serious symptoms such as:5
- Abdominal pain, bloating, and diarrhea
- Appetite swings and weight gain
- Difficulty concentrating
- Hair loss
- Increased thirst
- Joint pain
- Metallic taste in your mouth
- Muscle cramps
- Poor memory and confusion
- Sensitivity to light
- Tingling and numbness in your hands and feet
But the trouble still doesn’t end there. Exposure to toxic mold for extended periods of time can have even more serious consequences.
What Are the Long-Term Effects of Mold Exposure?
Mold and other fungi are able to mutate rapidly, affecting your immune system and even preventing it from working altogether. This can ultimately cause long-lasting health issues with serious complications.
Some of the diseases that have been directly linked to long-term mold exposure include:6,7
- Balkan nephropathy
- Hepatocellular carcinoma
- Internal organ damage
- Kashin-Beck disease
- Respiratory infections
- Reye’s syndrome
- Death, in some instances
With such serious and grave consequences, you’re probably curious if there’s a treatment for mold exposure.
Is There a Treatment for Mold Exposure?
The answer to that question is – yes, but it requires a long-term, big-picture approach. There isn’t a “cure” for mold exposure in the sense that you can simply take a medication or undergo a procedure and heal from exposure. Rather, treating mold exposure calls for a multi-pronged approach that includes:
- Addressing your environment
- Minimizing exposure
- Enhancing detoxification
- Giving your body the support it needs to heal
Let’s dive deeper into each of these.
Addressing Your Environment: How to Remove Toxic Mold
If you know you’ve been exposed to mold, priority number one is removing yourself from the environment where there is contamination. Attempts to detox and heal will be futile if you’re still in an environment that is flooding your system with toxic mold spores. Sometimes cleaning mold yourself makes sense, and sometimes it’s highly discouraged.
First, let’s look at some cases when cleaning mold yourself would be appropriate:8
- Only a small area is affected
- The mold is growing on areas that are easy to clean – like glass or tile
- There is growth on hard to clean areas, like carpet, that can be removed and replaced
- You don’t have any current health issues that will be made worse with increased exposure to mold growth
Call in an expert to clean the mold growth if:
- An area 3 feet by 3 feet or larger is affected
- A flood occurred that may have been contaminated with sewage
- There is mold in your HVAC system
- The mold has grown on wood that cannot be removed
- You are already experiencing symptoms of mold exposure
- You have a medical condition, such as asthma, that will be worsened around the mold
- There is a smell of mold but you cannot find it
- You aren’t in possession of the correct tools
- You have any concerns or doubts on how to remove the mold correctly
If you determine you need help from an expert, I highly encourage you to seek the assistance of an Indoor Environmental Professional (click here to learn exactly what an Indoor Environmental Professional is and how they can help). Now, let’s look at what you can do if you believe that your mold growth is suitable to be removed by yourself.
How Should You Clean Mold?
To tackle mold in your home without the help of a professional, you’ll first want to clean all surfaces with a mold-eliminating cleaner. Some solutions you can use to remove mold include:
- SURFACE Guard: Surface Guard is an enzyme mold stain cleaner, which safely and effectively cleans mold stains on wood and other substrates – leaving behind a protective layer and slight citrus scent.
- BioBalance: BioBalance has an entire lineup of natural, citrus-based mold remedy products ranging from surface wipes, to carpet and furniture treatments, and even a fog kit to safely treat mold in every nook and cranny of your home or office.
- DIY: If you’d rather go the do-it-yourself route, you can also use either undiluted white vinegar or create a 50/50 mixture of water and ammonia. Spray and then rinse after three hours. Be sure to take proper safety precautions and wear a mask, gloves, and goggles.
You’ll also want to address some other, easy-to-overlook components such as:
- Your laundry: Mold spores can weasel their way into your clothes, so you’ll want to thoroughly wash all clothing and bedding. I recommend using either EC3 Laundry Additive or MicroBalance Laundry to rinse away bacteria and mold spores that get trapped in your clothing and other fabrics that regular washing alone can’t eliminate.
- Your indoor air quality: Mold spores can be floating around in your indoor air, so I strongly suggest investing high-quality air filters for your home and office. I personally recommend the Healthmate Plus model from Austin Air. Call Amy at (303) 993-7910 to order!
Once you’ve eliminated all signs of mold, it’s time to be proactive and take some steps to prevent mold growth from coming back.
Steps You Can Take to Prevent Mold Growth
As you read earlier, it’s nearly impossible to prevent all mold growth since spores are always floating in the air. However, there are some steps you can take to discourage future growths:9
- Control the moisture by investing in a dehumidifier and keep humidity levels under 60%
- Dry wet spots quickly
- Improve air flow by opening doors and moving furniture away from walls
- Keep your basement ventilated
- Leave your bathroom fan on for 30 minutes after showering
- Dry your bathtub or shower with a squeegee
- Clean shower curtains, towels, rugs, and loofahs regularly
- Open a window or turn on a fan while cooking
- Use MicroBalance Laundry additive for each load of laundry
- Keep areas prone to mold growth cleaned, disinfected, and dry
- Drain and unclog HVAC units regularly
- Fix leaks immediately
Although you can never guarantee that mold won’t return, these steps can go a long way in keeping your home mold free. Now that we’ve got addressing your environment out of the way, let’s dive into the rest of the steps.
Minimizing Exposure: The Low Mold Diet
Some foods are notorious for being contaminated with mycotoxins. A few of these mycotoxin-tainted foods include:
- Alcoholic beverages
- Black pepper
- Dried fruit
Your diet can actually be a pivotal piece of the puzzle when it comes to healing from mold exposure – which is why I almost always advise my mold patients to follow a low-mold diet. Click here to read more about exactly what a low-mold diet entails.
Up next is enhancing your detoxification.
Enhance Detoxification: Detoxing From Mold
Mold and other toxins can accumulate in your body – essentially clogging up your natural, built-in detoxification pathways. That’s why it’s important to incorporate some strategies that can boost your ability to mobilize and eliminate any mold that’s lurking within your tissues and cells. To tackle this accumulation of toxic compounds, I’ve created two powerful protocols to supercharge your body’s ability to detox.
First up is my Detox Bundle:
My Detox Bundle is a more broad-spectrum detox protocol that follows a strategic 3-step process that goes like this:
Phase 1: Mobilize Toxins
Mold and other toxins can accumulate in your tissues, so it’s important to help your body package them up and mobilize them to get ready for removal. I recommend first taking Glutathione Essentials. You see, glutathione is a naturally-occurring antioxidant that also serves as a master detoxifier – drawing out, binding to, and transporting toxins across cell membranes so they can be properly flushed out of your body.
I also suggest pairing glutathione with Liver Essentials which contains all of the key ingredients needed to support your liver as it works to transform these mobilized toxins into water-soluble agents for excretion.
Phase 2: Excrete Toxins
Once mycotoxins and other toxic compounds are mobilized, it’s time to get them out of your body. We do this primarily through the digestive tract via a substance known as bile. Bile is produced by your liver and carries freshly packaged and mobilized toxins from your liver and delivers them into your gut to be eliminated.
The best way to support this excretion process is with targeted binders that contain an electrostatic charge to attract the toxins and escort them or pull them out through the gut. It’s best to take a high quality, broad-spectrum binder like ZeoBind Plus which contains zeolite, activated charcoal, and humic and fulvic acids to ensure your maximizing toxin excretion.
Phase 3: Replenish the Body
As you are mobilizing and excreting the toxins, it’s important to replenish your body. Prolonged exposure to toxins can be dehydrating, so be sure to drink plenty of clean water and consider adding electrolytes or mixing up one of my tasty Pink Drinks. It can also be helpful to add in Mineral Essentials to replenish your essential minerals.
You can grab your own Detox Bundle through my online store. You can even get 15% off all orders of $400 or more! Up next is my Miracle Mold Detox Box.
I teamed up with Dr. Christopher Shade and Quicksilver Scientific® to create a comprehensive detoxification kit designed to specifically target exposure to toxic mold. Each Miracle Mold Detox Box contains everything you need to complete a comprehensive 30-day mold detox which includes:
- Liver Sauce
- Liposomal Glutathione Complex
- NAD+ Gold
- Ultra Binder Sensitive Formula
- Quinton Hypertonic
- Quinton Isotonic
- Step-by-step instructions that will guide you through every step of the 30-day protocol
This unique combination of nutrients is scientifically proven to support your body through mold detoxification by:
- Upregulating your body’s natural detoxification cycle
- Boosting your cell’s ability to release stored mycotoxins
- Magnetizing and binding to mycotoxins so they can be properly excreted
- Supporting energy production
- Reducing inflammation triggered by exposure to mycotoxins
- Promoting cellular recovery and mitochondrial health
- Assisting in remineralization to support healthy electrolyte balance
Other Ways to Enhance Detoxification:
Some additional detox-boosting methods that can amplify your ability to eradicate mold include:
- Other detox binders: Detox binders contain porous molecules that magnetize and trap internal mycotoxins so they can be excreted. I recommend the Ultra Binder, Activated Charcoal, Upgraded Coconut Charcoal, and the GI Detox.
- Regular bowel movements: Detox binders can trap toxins, but your bowels are what shuttle them out of your body. Constipation or suboptimal bowel movements can prevent detoxification, so it can be helpful to incorporate things like gentle laxatives, magnesium citrate, or buffered C powder to keep your bowels functioning normally while on binders.
- Infrared sauna: Infrared sauna therapy can optimize cellular function – allowing them to more readily shuttle mycotoxins out of your tissues to be excreted. Infrared saunas also stimulate a deep sweat which allows toxins to be removed via your sweat glands.
- Take antifungal medications and herbs: Supplements like Dr. Jill Essential Oil and Caprylic Acid can promote microbial balance and to help protect the immune system from microbial stressors like toxic mold.
Amplifying your detoxification is key when it comes to healing from exposure to toxic mold.
Support Your Body in Healing: How to Heal From Toxic Mold
Mold is highly dysregulating and damaging. So it’s important to support your body in recovering by doing things like:
- Addressing underlying infections:Test and be treated for hidden infections, bacterial colonizations and candida overgrowth.
- Prioritize rest and relaxation: Sleep deprivation is like kryptonite to your immune system – which can make healing from mold an uphill battle. So be sure you’re making time for plenty of relaxation and logging a minimum of 7-8 hours of quality sleep per night.
- Manage stress levels: Stress and negative emotions can put a serious damper on your immune system and your ability to heal, so it’s important to ensure you’re managing stress and making time for fun and connection too.
- Keep your gut happy and healthy: Your gut plays a pivotal role in detoxification, immunity, and just about every other facet of your health. Learn how you can keep your gut happy and healthy by clicking right here.
Because recovering from mold exposure requires such a comprehensive and detailed-oriented approach, it can be immensely helpful to seek out the guidance of an experienced Integrative and Functional Medicine Doctor. They can help guide you through every step of the process so you can begin your healing journey as quickly as possible.
Are You Concerned That You’ve Been Exposed to Toxic Mold?
Toxic mold can trigger a barrage of symptoms that can be difficult to pinpoint. For that reason I cannot overemphasize the importance of working with a Functional Medicine Doctor who is well versed dealing with mold cases. And I also cannot overemphasize the importance of being your own advocate by staying educated and informed.
I am passionate about helping to empower my patients and readers with the knowledge and resources they need to advocate for their own health and well-being. That’s why I’ve got hundreds of free resources on my blog and my YouTube channel to keep you up-to-date with science-backed and easy-to-understand information.
If you want to learn even more about healing from toxic mold, you’ve got to check out my new book Unexpected: Finding Resilience Through Functional Medicine, Science, and Faith.
In it, I detail my own battle with mold exposure along with a laundry list of other health and life challenges. While I definitely dive into the struggles, I also share how I healed, recovered, and came back stronger than before. I held nothing back in this book in the hopes that I can offer a sense of hope and direction in helping others create a life full of vibrant health, true connection, and deep fulfillment.
Now it’s time to hear from you. Were you surprised to learn the many different symptoms that can be triggered by mold exposure? If you’ve recovered from mold exposure, what strategies helped you the most? Leave your questions and thoughts in the comments below!
- Facts about Stachybotrys chartarum | Mold | CDC
- Indoor Air Quality Explained – Welcome to Austin Air Systems. Clinically Proven Air Purifiers.
- Mold Exposure: Symptoms, Treatment, Tests, Food & Harmful (medicinenet.com)
- Black mold exposure: Symptoms, treatment, and prevention (medicalnewstoday.com)
- Black Mold: Exposure, Symptoms, Treatment, and More (healthline.com)
- Long Term Effects of Black Mold | Black Mold Symptoms (sanitred.com)
- Toxic Black Mold (Stachybotrys) (moldpedia.com)
- Do It Yourself Mold Removal ……..When is it safe to remove mold? (mold-advisor.com)
- How to Get Rid of Mold – The Home Depot
* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The product mentioned in this article are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The information in this article is not intended to replace any recommendations or relationship with your physician. Please review references sited at end of article for scientific support of any claims made.