My Journey With Mould And Mycotoxins (2022)

Welcome to my blog ‘My Journey With Mould And Mycotoxins’.

I have written extensively on mould and mycotoxins, you may like to check out the blog series click here. Posts include:

My Experience And History With Mould

As a certified functional medicine practitioner I have supported clients with mould related illness for the last 7-8 years (as of 2023), and for the last 4-5 years the majority of my clinical practice has been this. However, it was when we , my wife and I developed a ‘mould problem’ in our own house, that I *truly* appreciated the challenges that arise.

  • How do we find out what caused the problem?
  • Who do we trust when it comes to finding answers?
  • Is the mould even a problem for our health? What if it’s not toxic mould?
  • Should everyone test in the house?  Or only members of the family that are symptomatic?
  • How concerned should we be – do we need to find a solution as quickly as possible or can we take our time and make sure we do things right?

So I thought I would write a blog sharing our experience and our thinking, and how we navigated this.

I have now lived in three buildings that had a mould issue:

  • At university – we had such a bad water leak that one evening the kitchen ceiling fell on to the kitchen table – luckily no one was sitting at the table!
  • At our previous property which we rented. There was a leak from the bathroom that was above the kitchen. I noticed damage and swelling of the kitchen ceiling. The landlord simply created a hole in the kitchen ceiling to allow the water/damage to dry out, and then plastered over the hole. At the time I was not knowledgeable around any of this but my wife developed a terrible chronic cough (it really was terrible!), and I developed psoriasis, brain fog, and anxiety symptoms, as well as an exacerbation of histamine symptoms.
  • At our current house – mould started to appear in the corner of our kitchen and the following year, having thought we had dealt with it, we noticed rising damp on the side of the kitchen.

Watch my interview with Dr. Jill Crista all about mould and mycotoxins, author of Break The Mold:

Testing The House For Mould

We got Action Dry in to do an evaluation of our indoor air quality.

 

 

 

We also spoke with Sysco-Environmental about their home tests too – this can be helpful to understand what mould species are present.

I had a local surveyor come and look at the property to understand what might be the underlying cause of the issue – we had our suspicions which were proved right. Out patio, which the last owner laid, was slightly slanted towards the house and there wasn’t adequate drainage. He also thought some of the mould may be related to condensation from our dryer.

Recommended Companies For Mould Testing In Your Home

Health Tech To Help When Treating Mould And Mycotoxins

I decided to approach this with as much logic as possible, and do things systematically. It’s easy to panic and throw loads of money at the problem. But, depending on how much we are suffering, sometimes we need to be patient. I’ve had clients camp in the garden because their health was so effect from mould in their home, fortunately we were not like this. Katie’s cough certainly had returned though, so we felt like the mould/damp was starting to effect her health. And with Oscar, our 19 month old, being particular susceptible because of his age/weight/body size we wanted to act, but act sensibly.

I bought a hygrometer (something that measures humidity) which showed that the humidity in the kitchen got as high as 75%! Not good when it comes to mould (well….great for the mould, not great for the humans living there!). So I bought a dehumidifier which had very good ratings on Which?. We already had an Air Doctor, which is an air purifier, and feel this helped improve Katie’s cough.

These two things were left on 24/7 in the kitchen and we really feel made a difference – there was noticeably less condensation throughout the house. I was amazed at how regularly we had to empty the 12 litre tray – twice a day! The machine was sucking up 24 litres of water from the air in 24 hours!

Mould And Mycotoxin Testing

We decided not to test initially. We were confident that the mould was causing at least one of us health issues (I didn’t notice any changes to health but I didn’t spend as much time in the house and thus didn’t have as much exposure). But more importantly Katie was breastfeeding and we were still being exposed as the underlying issue hadn’t been dealt with, yet.

When you do want to test there are two companies offering mycotoxin testing: Mosaic Diagnostics and Real Time Labs. I recommend working with a mould literate practitioner. Check out my blog Mycotoxin testing: Everything You Need To Know for a deep dive in to the testing for mould and mycotoxins.

Treating Mould And Mycotoxins

We were already supporting ourselves via diet and lifestyle to the best of our ability, and with improved air quality with the purifier and dehumidifier, and opening the undoes and patio doors every morning for a while we were doing what we could. We decided on the following:

  • Do what we can to improve the environment to reduce mould and mycotoxins (ensure humidity is low, use the purifier, keep it well ventilated).
  • Keep ourselves (generally) healthy. This means everything from morning sunlight exposure and infrared lamps, to exercise, sauna, heathy diet, nasal breathing, etc etc.
  • Katie was very limited what she could supplement due to breastfeeding and I felt pretty good health wise fortunately. In different circumstances, while we waited for the issue to be addressed, we would have considered: a binder, detox support (rotating between liposomal glutathione, milk thistle, NAC among others), an anti-fungal. There is no point doing inexpensive program when you are still being exposed to mould. But that also doesn’t mean you should do nothing. Three supplements to support key processes t o me makes sense.

You may like to read my blog 5 Things To Know When Living In Mould.

Coffee, Mould And Mycotoxins

For the coffee lovers among you, I highly recommend checking out Exhale Coffee. They have selected coffee beans which are have confirmed in laboratory testing to be free of mould and mycotoxins and other nasties such as pesticides and metals, as well as being the highest in the good stuff such as chlorogenic acid – one of the most researched compounds in coffee that provides so many of its health benefits. Check out my blogs on coffee here.

Low Mould Diet For Treating Mould and Mycotoxins

For some it can be important to reduce their intake or foods and beverages that are frequently contaminated with mould and mycotoxins, as well as food that can exacerbate any imbalance within the microbiome (the gut can often get colonised with mould and we often see fungal overgrowths too). These include:

  • Coffee
  • Nuts
  • Dried fruit
  • Certain grains
  • Sugary foods and drinks.
  • Mushrooms

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Summary: My Journey With Mould And Mycotoxins

  • By a hygrometer.
  • Consider an air purifier and dehumifider.
  • Get advice on what the underlying cause is.
  • Consider testing the home – either with a Petri dish test, or, via a company like action dry.
  • Consider testing yourself or a family member for mould and mycotoxins.
  • Ensure you are supporting your own health and resilience – work with an experienced health practitioner who is mould literate (and read some of my other posts).

There is always context that is needed to be considered when making these kinds of decisions. For example it’s possible you have no visible mould in your home, it might be behind the wall paper or under the floor boards. This is when some of the above testing becomes more important. We had visible mould and dampness reducing the importance of additional testing (in my opinion). But what about when you have unexplainable symptoms, no ones been able to find our a reason why, then you may consider doing a urine mycotoxin test on yourself to evaluate your body burden. And then you may need to have someone in like Action Dry to see whether you are currently being exposed to mould and mycotoxins or if it was a previous exposure.

Books To Help Your Journey With Mould And Mycotoxins:

Research For Your Journey With Mould And Mycotoxins:

  1. Detection of Mycotoxins in Patients With Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  2. Dampness and Mold Hypersensitivity Syndrome and Vaccination as Risk Factors for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  3. The Putative Role of Viruses, Bacteria, and Chronic Fungal Biotoxin Exposure in the Genesis of Intractable Fatigue Accompanied by Cognitive and Physical Disability
  4. Chronic Illness Associated With Mold and Mycotoxins: Is Naso-Sinus Fungal Biofilm the Culprit?
  5. Mycotoxin: Its Impact on Gut Health and Microbiota
  6. A Review of the Mechanism of Injury and Treatment Approaches for Illness Resulting From Exposure to Water-Damaged Buildings, Mold, and Mycotoxins
  7. Deficient Glutathione in the Pathophysiology of Mycotoxin-Related Illness
  8. Role of Mycotoxins in the Pathobiology of Autism: A First Evidence
  9. Mycotoxins and human disease: a largely ignored global health issue
  10. Mycotoxins
  11. Ochratoxin A and human health risk: A review of the evidence
  12. A Review of the Diagnosis and Treat of Ochratoxin A Inhalational Exposure Associated with Human Illness and Kidney Disease including Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis 
  13. Milićević, D. R., Škrinjar, M., and Baltić, T. (2010). Real and perceived risks for mycotoxin contamination in foods and feeds: challenges for food safety control. Toxins 2, 572–592
  14. Mycotoxins by Bennett and M. Klich.
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