Because I know so many people who are dealing with this malady, I am going to share just a bit of my story and what has helped me with health issues associated with toxic mold exposure. I hope you are encouraged. Please feel free to share this post with others on your FB pages and other social media accounts. The more we get the word out about environmental toxins, the more people can be helped.
Before I begin, I must clarify that I am not a doctor and what you will read about in this post is from my personal experience. The content on this site is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Any views or opinions written in this blog should not be taken as fact or professional advice.
I must also state that prior to my perils with toxic mold I was pretty healthy. I had no underlining health issues or ailments other than a herniated disk from a decade prior. I ate healthily and exercised daily. I had and still have no addictions to drugs or alcohol.
So How Did I Get Sick?
A few minor symptoms began after I started working in an old building. During that time, there were a few remodeling projects while leaks caused wet carpets to smell.
I began to feel lightheaded and have nosebleeds.
Fast forward some time, and I started to feel really dizzy almost on a daily basis. I also had daily bouts of extreme fatigue, swelling, and inflammation. My memory started slipping so much so that I could not remember something that someone had told me minutes before. I noticed that my symptoms became far worse when I was in my office.
For years, I pushed myself to work and left home from my office each day, barely able to drive and deal with my responsibilities at home. I’d arrive home and crash in bed for several hours.
At work, I actually fainted a few times and dealt with a few bouts of subconjunctival hemorrhages. When this occurred I would rush to my doctor or to the ER.
I also began to run fevers (FUO – Fevers of unknown origin) each day after being at work for a few hours and had a very hard time breathing while in the office. I coughed constantly and wheezed almost daily (I do not have asthma and never have). I also was treated for walking Pneumonia several times during the first few years I worked in my office. I also started to experience itchy patches on my legs, and my scalp would bleed and come out in bloody scaly chunks. The nonstop scalp itching and bleeding were awful.
Around this time, I was diagnosed with Mitral Valve Prolapse, PVCs, Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, Fibromyalgia, POTS, Vasomotor Rhinitis and Hypersensitivity Pneumonitis. He said that my heart and lungs were acting abnormally. He sent me in to see a cardiologist and another specialist for testing and monitoring.
After long weekends as soon as I was back at work, I started noticing a very strong and putrid smell every time I walked into my office, and I also started noticing all kinds of chemical smells in the air as if they were assaulting me. I thought it was funny at the time when this happened but later learned that I was unmasking.
During this time, I stopped using essential oils and only used deodorants, moisturizers, and herbal beauty products that I made and sold at the time. I could not tolerate the smells of most products containing EOs, including popular organic brands; smelling them would cause anaphylactic reactions. This new intolerance to smells and chemicals happened out of nowhere. At the time, I had no idea why perfumes, EOs, and every other fragrance were making me so sick. Thankfully this period of suffering brought me a deeper understanding of the dangers of fragrances and EOs. But that’s a topic for another post.
Getting back to the putrid moldy smell, it seemed to be worse in the evenings and early in the morning and dissipated a bit each afternoon when all the doors were open, and the air was flowing freely. To help, I thought at the time that installing a HEPA filter and a dehumidifier in my small office space would keep me safer, but that was a Band-Aid on a massive wound. Although both of these things are helpful tools to keep the dust down and remove elevated moisture from the air, they do not fix the problem in a building that has water damage and mold.
I remember that the dehumidifier would fill up with 5 gallons of water twice a day. During those months, the humidistat I had purchased for my office gave a reading of 70% or higher. Quick side note – I recommend having a humidistat in every room of your home.
Unable to function and desperate for an answer, I continued researching and came across Dr. Rea’s work. I learned quite a bit more about fragrances and chemicals and what was happening to my body. I also mentioned my newfound symptoms to one of my doctors, and I asked if he could run a few more tests. We began a period of rigid testing, both before and after going to work. Results were compared for noticeable differences in temperature, blood pressure, wheezing, CO2, and a few other things.
One of my doctors recommended that we hire a company to check the air quality in my office, so we did our own tests first, and we also had samples of the air and dust particles around all the air vents and walls taken by a professional. The results were shocking and confirmed our suspicions. There was indeed a serious toxic mold problem in my personal office and also in other areas inside the building where I worked.
After my doctors reviewed the results from the air quality tests, they were alarmed and concluded that I was having some sort of reaction to a sick building. Although our family doctor wasn’t really knowledgeable about toxic mold, he said that given my symptoms and what he had observed, I needed to leave that office as soon as possible. During this time, I also chatted with radio host Chris Fabry, and we exchanged emails about his toxic mold experience in Colorado. You can watch a video about what happened to his family here. The video is entitled “CBN news report on a family of 11 who suffered tremendously from mold exposure.”
I discussed the air quality test results with the building where I worked, only to be told that the air was clean and there was no issue. They lied to my employer, who was a tenant in the building, and to me.
Knowing that they were obviously lying and seeing my health seriously decline, leaving my workplace became a priority and was ordered by my physician.
Note that I was not the only person getting sick in the building where I worked. Others were experiencing different symptoms that seemed to worsen while they were at work. Several months before I planned on leaving, I traveled internationally to a location that had absolutely clear and crisp air. I wanted to see how my body would react. While reading Dr. Rea’s work and reading a booklet by Erik Johnson, I was interested and decided to take what many call a Mold Avoidance Sabbatical and kill two birds with one stone. I needed to travel anyway, and a vacation was also something I needed, so we traveled internationally for a few weeks, and I felt so much better—still not 100% but nowhere as sick as I was in my office.
There is a lot more to this story as I worked for about eight years in that sick building, and it destroyed my health completely. If you’d like to hear more about my story or learn about toxic mold and chemical-free living, please feel free to contact me for an educational consultation.
After leaving my moldy office, I began my road to recovery and set out to continue avoiding mold and chemicals as best as possible. I dreamt of the day I would feel like my old self again. During all of my years working in a sick building, things like walking to my car became difficult. Taking a shower took every ounce of energy and I’d have to rest or lie down afterward. Raising my hands to brush my hair or to cook or hug our children was unbearably painful. I spent almost every day with debilitating migraines, dizziness, abnormal heartbeats, fibromyalgia, intense fatigue, chronic pain, and chemical intolerances. Despite the health complications, my heart hurt more because of every moment I lost during those years with my children and my family.
I remember crying almost every day, it was a rough time. This period of daily sickness (before I left my office and for a bit after I left my office) has lasted a long time and is still an ongoing struggle for me but I am getting better, little by little. Although I am nowhere near as sick as I was while working in my moldy office, my body endured so much exposure to various toxic molds and chemicals that some experts Ive consulted with believe it may take me years to regain a somewhat clean bill of health; while others say that complete healing is impossible, due to long-term hypersensitivity that is caused by toxic mold exposure. I believe that as I continue to avoid toxic mold, I will be able to see more improvements as time goes on.
Although I am not completely symptom-free, I am so much better. I am no longer swollen all over my body which is a plus. I no longer have POTS. My fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue symptoms are pretty mild nowadays. I no longer wheeze, and I can walk without feeling like I’m about to collapse. Another remarkable improvement is that just a few weeks after leaving my office, my scalp stopped bleeding and cracking. Prior to leaving my workplace, I suffered for a few years from bleeding, itching scalp, and psoriasis. While in the office my scalp and neck itched so bad my clothes would get covered in dried skin and blood from my constant scratching. It was really awful.
The pain and swelling were unbearable. I also developed sores and black and blue blotches on my legs that would itch terribly every time I was in the office. Although I still have these marks on my body, they no longer get swollen or itch as they used to.
The coughing, bloody congestion, heart arrhythmias, eye infections, fevers, and dizziness cleared up too after I left my office, thank God. Also, the number of times I experienced anaphylactic reactions also reduced.
Even though this has been a really difficult time for my family and for me, I am so thankful to God for helping me through this process and equipping us with the wisdom to manage my health. In all honesty, I remember moments during the years I worked in my office when I just wanted to die and no one seemed to understand what I was going through. My main comfort was prayer.
If I am in any way able to keep pushing forward, it is because of God’s mighty hand. Without his help, I know for sure that I wouldn’t be alive. Faith in God and in his word has kept me afloat during some awful storms.
So what have I done to help me on this journey?
For starters, I took a deep look into my emotional and spiritual health. I came to grips with the fact that I had to deal with some fear and anxiety about my condition that I knew could make my condition worse. I began to pray fervently and make a list of the things I was stressing about. I committed to doing my best about my situation and leaving the rest to God.
It may sound silly, but when we panic or are stressed, our bodies begin to produce stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline—the body kind of hunkers down in what is known as the flight or fight response.
This response begins to trigger changes in our body which show such up as high blood pressure, muscle tension and inflammation, rapid heartbeat, increased sweating, and other symptoms.
Another thing I did was go through all the past issues that had affected me. I thought long and hard and tried to analyze if I was harboring any resentment, anger, or sadness towards a person or situation. I tried to think of any hidden hurts that I hadn’t dealt with.
My goal in this process was to be free from anything that could make me sicker. It was a hard process, and I learned a lot about myself. It is something I recommend that everyone does on a weekly or monthly basis.
If you are an angry, sad, or temperamental person and harbor feelings of rage and resentment, it can make you sicker. It makes the world of difference to confess those feelings and be done with it. In my case, I asked God for healing and for forgiveness for anything that I found that was not right. Doing that has been liberating, to say the least. I still struggle with moments where I feel depressed or upset because, in reality, losing your health and moments with your family because of illnesses that you didn’t bring on yourself can be very traumatic. Healing takes time….and dealing with our grief takes time too.
Next, I focused on my diet.
I already had been following a very healthy diet for years and consumed a balanced diet full of healthy fats, organic greens, vegetables, and sprouted grains. I avoided all GMOs and synthetic ingredients. I also consumed grass-fed, pastured animal products.
So I really did not have to change much, but one thing was unavoidable, I had to give up all grains, most sugars, and some carbs because, at the time, they seemed to bother me. This will be different for everyone. Removing grains was the hardest part, as I loved eating sprouted grains. I am also a very dedicated cook, and I develop recipes for various dietary protocols, so when I am creating a new recipe, everything I need is made from scratch. Losing a lot of my fun and comforting foods was very hard. Making sprouted bread and eating it with raw cultured butter is definitely one of the things I miss the most. But the change was necessary for me personally, so I got over it fairly quickly.
As part of my dietary change, I began to add larger amounts of raw foods (think carrot and lemon juice), pre and probiotics into my daily diet. My idea in all of this was to starve any fungus in my body and eliminate pathogens trying to take up residence where they don’t belong! As a side effect, I hoped to reduce the swelling, water retention, and inflammation I was dealing with after leaving my office.
To give you an idea of my diet, here is what a typical day looks like for me:
-a glass of water at room temperature with my pre/probiotics and lemon juice
-a hardboiled egg, pastured beef bacon, and an herbal apoptogenic hot tea made with Tulsi, Cinnamon, and coconut milk or raw cream.
-¾ cup of soaked GMO-free sprouted oats (my only cheat) or raw goat or cow yogurt (cultured for at least 24 hrs. to eliminate lactose) topped with sprouted cashews or almonds. I also make a large fruit and green smoothie using raw greens, strawberries, flaxseeds, chia seeds, and sprouted pumpkin seeds. I use sprouted seeds and oats to help with toxin removal.
Somedays I bake a flour-less muffin and add lots of ghee and eat it along with my smoothie. With that, I am all set until lunchtime.
-a cup of homemade broth using ox tail, chicken feet, and cow knuckles (broth is an amazing food full of nutrients and minerals. Great to heal the digestive tract and soothe upset stomachs)
Note* some with histamine issues cannot tolerate broth so a vegetable stock is often a better option in this case.
-sweet potato and cauliflower mashed with ghee
– grass-fed or pastured meats
– mixed greens salad without commercial dressings (instead, I use EVO, lemon juice, and sauerkraut on top)
Cultured strawberry and mango ice cream (lactose-free)
-Cream of broccoli or cauliflower with wild Mahi Mahi and grain-free biscuits
A Bit Regarding Supplements
I am not a fan of supplementing or taking 25 pills every 3 hours. I believe that the bulk of our nutrition should come from our diet and from herbs. However, when your body is slammed with toxins and in a state of chronic illness, supplementing can really make a difference because toxins cause malabsorption issues so it takes higher amounts of beneficial vitamins and nutrients to help the body heal. That said, it is absolutely critical to remove yourself from a sick environment. Taking supplements and doing protocols while still working or living in a water-damaged building is like placing a tiny Band-Aid on a massive cut.
Here are a few of the supplements and herbs that I took after I left the moldy building where I worked. I took the supplements twice a day, and most of the herbs I took 3 to 4 times a day.
Bentonite Clay (for drinking and bathing) Note* Some clays are high in heavy metals so only purchase from companies that do third-party testing.
Nasal rinses with Xlear
Liposomal and or Ionic Zinc
Vitamin D3 with K2
Milk Thistle tincture
Pau D arco tincture
Astragalus tincture and Gaia Herbs capsules
Ashwagandha tincture and capsules by Gaia Herbs
Burdock root tincture
Lemon Balm Tea & Tincture
Olive leaf tincture
Dandelion leaf/root tincture
Plantain, Stinging Nettles, Milky Oats, Red Clover, and other nourishing herbs in tea.
Dragons Blood tincture
Cats Claw in tea and tincture
Homemade Herbal Bitters
Electrolyte Drinks (I have a few recipes here)
Herbal Cleanse for Parasites – A note about parasites. If you have left a moldy environment and you are still very sick, think of parasites. Parasites can harbor mold toxins inside so eventually, you have to work on eliminating them, but this shouldn’t be the first thing targeted for everyone. Supporting our digestion along with our kidneys and our liver is super important before we start killing things and detoxifying. We must also support our lymphatic system and make sure that our lymph is moving. Daily lymphatic massages and jumping jacks are great ways to stimulate lymph flow.
For beauty and everyday needs I used and still use the following:
-Herbal ACV rinse for my hair
-Kaolin clay mixed with water as a scalp exfoliant. I also used an amazing mineral-rich South American clay that my dad would bring back for me when he traveled.
-Chamomile, rose petals, plantain leaf, thyme, and rosemary tea in a glass spray bottle to spray in my hair after washing.
–Raw shea butter blended with coconut oil and herbal-infused EVO (extra virgin olive oil) to moisturize my skin
-Home-made infused oils with calendula, comfrey, rose, lavender, and yarrow for hair and skin
-Powdered tea and clay mixed with a mashed banana or avocado for facials
-Avocado, blended with thyme and honey for hair masks and to help my itchy scalp
-ACV armpit detox for smelly underarms.
–Herbal baths for detoxing and supporting the liver and lymphatic system
-Homemade herbal and food-based makeup (reach out for a consultation if you’d like to learn about this)
It seems like a lot of changes but in my case, I was not able to afford medical treatment and expensive supplements, so I had to start doing the best I could to help myself feel better. When I first left the moldy office, I wrote my own protocol and had a printed page taped on my kitchen and bathroom walls, so I wouldn’t forget. By avoiding mold and by following my own “broke mama mold protocol”, I have seen really great changes.
I know that a big part of my inflammation, coughing, wheezing, dizziness, and psoriasis going away was the fact that I left the contaminated building where I worked. Although diet, medical treatment, and supplements will help with recovery, nothing is more important than removing yourself from an unclean and unsafe environment. This is the most important step and must not be avoided! I’ll also add that I had to trash clothing, books, and porous furniture from my office. I didn’t take anything home with me because I didn’t want to contaminate my home and the mere smell of those things made me sick.
No matter what your situation is please know that there is always hope.
These years have been very difficult but there is always light at the end of the darkest day. No winter lasts forever and no night is so dark that the morning sun does not appear. I have to constantly remind myself of this because on hard days I just want to give up and that’s OK, but I don’t ever want to get stuck in hopelessness because I know from experience that it will drain all the life out of me.
So for today and every day, I just live one moment, one hour, and one task at a time because it is all this broken body can handle right now.
God Bless You!
For other helpful resources on Toxic Mold check out the links below.