So many of my clients recently seem to have had exposure to mould – either in a previous property or their current home. This isn’t really surprising as the risk of a property being water damaged – thorough broken pipes, leaking showers, broken roof tiles, flooding or condensation is pretty high.
The problem is that for some people, this mould exposure can cause myriad issues. Interestingly though, not everyone reacts the same – so you may be suffering while others around you are completely fine.
The effects of mould
The musty smell you get from a damp room indicates that there are volatile organic compounds being produced. As you likely know from gloss painting a door, VOCs can lead to headaches, fatigue and nausea amongst other symptoms, and can exacerbate asthma – the VOCs that moulds produce are no different in this respect.
Some of the toxins these moulds produce can disrupt hormonal balance, and nerve function as well as gut bacterial balance (among other things) and these issues tend to be more of a problem if you’re not so good at detoxifying them.
Also, as they are rightly seen as a threat by the immune system, they can lead to activation of histamine producing mast cells – potentially leading to allergy symptoms, or just increasing the level of circulating histamine (which if you are histamine intolerant is never good).
I heard a talk yesterday where a clinician suggested one way of seeing whether mould is exacerbating your symptoms, is to go camping for a couple of weeks (though don’t take a mouldy tent and ensure you’ve cleaned your clothes just before you go so you haven’t got any residual mould spores on them!). If you feel better then you have some indication that mould could be a contributing factor.
Though getting away anywhere right now seems a dream (though it might be a bit cold…), I am not sure this is a particularly well controlled experiment – as you are also likely increasing your time spent outside and being grounded, and being away from artificial light sources, other pollution, and work stress.
There are also some functional tests that you can do to check if you have fungal infections or mould allergy. Your exposure to mould toxins can also be assessed by looking for the presence of these toxins in your urine. Unfortunately though, these tests are not always conclusive proof that mould is contributing to your health issues. For example, you may be excreting all the toxins you are exposed to, so though your test shows high levels of toxins, these are not actually causing you any issues. Conversely, you could be holding on to those toxins tight – and so though none show up in the test, they are still wreaking havoc internally.
What can you do?
If it turns out that environmental mould is a problem for you – what then? In the short term, investing in a HEPA air filter or some air purifying plants, as well as making sure you’re opening the window can be a good start. Longer term it is probably best to get someone in to locate the mould (if you can’t easily see it), and then remediate the property (taking out contaminated building materials as well as other soft furnishings). If you are able to move out temporarily while all this is going on, that would probably be helpful as killing off mould can release more toxins. Clearly, none of this comes cheap though.
Ensuring you are hydrated also helps to flush out the toxins, and using a binder to help your body excrete these can also help (though working with a nutrition professional on this last bit is useful, as you may need to go low and slow, or work on other systems first before you start, in case you make things worse).
If any mould/fungus has taken up residency in your body, which is more likely if you have a weak immune system, anti-microbial agents can help to tackle this. Rotating these or using these for short periods with breaks may help to reduce resistance developing.
For my clients with histamine intolerance, I am always looking to see what is contributing to their histamine load – either inputs (from the environment or immune system) or issues preventing its breakdown (e.g. enzyme function and detoxification capability). Mould is one of the things on my radar.
If you are interested in finding out more there are a few good books about mould toxicity that I would recommend.
Neil Nathan. MD (2018) ‘Toxic: Heal your body’. Victory Belt Publishing Inc., Las Vegas
Dr Jill Crista (2018) ‘Break the mould: 5 tools to conquer mould and take back your health’. Wellness Ink Publishing