Mold and Your Health
We often hear about mold-related health problems from toxic molds such as Stachybotrys, strains of Aspergillus, Chaetomium, and Penicillium. Health problems can be so severe that some people have actually had to burn their homes. Although we are beginning to see a lot of exposure in the media regarding these molds, which is increasing awareness in our society about mold-related health issues, we often don't hear about the devastating health problems that are caused by common everyday molds present in all our environments or that these molds can have a significant impact on our brain and moods.
Mold is an invisible microscopic organism and it is everywhere. It is in the air and grows on everything. Typically we can't see it until it grows into larger colonies. It is the most widespread living organism in thousands of varieties -- indoors and out.
It puts out showers of mold spores into the air that can be in the millions. It is present in highest numbers in the spring and fall, but is present in all seasons and is often underestimated for the vast amount of havoc it can perpetrate on one's health.
Mold makes toxins called mycotoxins that can do the same damage to our health as any chemical such as formaldehyde, toluene, natural gas, or trichloroethylene. They can even initiate cancers, autoimmune disorders, chemical sensitivity, and just about any symptom you can think of, ranging from high blood pressure to depression and anxiety.
Not only do molds trigger typical organs involved in allergies such as the nose, chest, or skin with allergic rhinitis, sinusitis, asthma, rashes, hives, and eczema, but the brain can also be the target organ.
Just like toxins of any kind, the mycotoxins can disrupt neurotransmitters in the brain and the autonomic nervous system, thus becoming a primary cause of depression, generalized anxiety, anxiety attacks, panic attacks, obsessive compulsion, schizophrenia, tourette's syndrome, migraines, headaches, inability to concentrate, ravenous hunger or cravings for sugar, carbs, nicotine, caffeine or other psychotropic substances and many more.
In susceptible individuals, mold can also cause dermatitis, dizziness, fatigue, myalgias, irritability, weakness, burning eyes, arthritis, lower IQ, chest pain, shortness of breath, confusion, hyperactivity, symptoms attributed to MS, heart palpitations, cravings for sweets or carbohydrates, gastrointestinal distress such as irritable bowel, indigestion, heartburn, optical neuritis, and much more.
If you notice that your cravings for a particular mind-altering substance, hives, anxiety, depression or any mental or physiological symptom gets worse or develops on rainy days, or when you go in the basement or attic, or rake the leaves or other high mold areas, then this may be a significant trigger for you. By preventing mold growth in our living environment we can reduce these symptoms and improve our level of health.
Do you need help determining if mold is a problem for your health? You may want to check into Cynthia's holistic health counseling.
Steps to Prevent Mold Growth
- Mold is present on a variety of foods and can enter the bloodstream and affect the brain and body. Avoid moldy foods such as yeasts, aged, pickled, dried, or fermented products, all cheeses, sour breads, wines, all alcohol, dried fruits, bread, peanuts, pistachios, citrus fruits, condiments, anything with vinegar, pickles, smoked foods, oranges, melons, cantaloupes.
- Keep refrigerator trays, garbage pails, shower areas, laundry areas, and closets clean and dry.
- Make sure there are no leaks in plumbing where water and moisture can build up.
- To eradicate mold growth, clean with zephiran mixture 1 to 5 with water, Bon Ami, borax, hydrogen peroxide, vinegar, or baking soda.
- Clean any vulnerable areas, such as shower curtains, bathrooms, and laundry areas frequently to prevent mold from proliferating.
- Avoid barns, piles of leaves, basements or any other damp musty area.
- Keep tents in dry areas when storing and let them sit in the sun periodically to burn off the mold.
- Mold spores are found in house dust so keeping house clear of dust will decrease mold.
- Keep coils of air conditioning cleaned.
- Some people benefit from neutralizing doses from a doctor familiar with mold allergy.
- Use a damp mop to dust floors and a damp rag to dust furniture to prevent from blowing dust and mold around and flaring of symptoms.
- Open windows when vacuuming or where a mask and leave for a while after vacuuming.
- Use a quality air filter.
- Keep your home as moisture free as possible.
- Keeping your environment below 50% humidity will retard mold growth.
- Don't put clothes that you have worn back in your closet or drawer. Once you have put clothes on your body they develop mold.
- Keep vulnerable areas in the house clean, dry, and well-lit. The light will retard mold growth.
- Keep furniture in your house away from the wall so that air can circulate around all sides and prevent mold from growing on the wall and furniture.
- Good air circulation through the entire house is essential to prevent mold build up.
- Put cotton covers on furniture, mattresses, and pillows because these items usually harbor mold spores.
- Use a dehumidifier in the basement or any other damp room.
- Keep good drainage around your house.
- Avoid carpeting if possible as mold accumulates in it. Use throw rugs that can be washed frequently.
Mold sensitivity is often a sign that the individual has an issue with yeast overgrowth, so this should be explored and addressed as well.
On the other hand, some homes are so infested with mold that there is no way to eradicate it. There are mold test kits that can be purchased to measure the level of mold in your home. If mold spores are high, then relocating may be necessary to protect your health.
For some people with severe mold sensitivity, living in a dry climate can be very beneficial. Although this may seem like an extreme measure, it can often create drastic improvements in one's health.
Since any mold requires moistness and humidity to grow, the steps we take to prevent common everyday mold growth in our environments will also ensure that the more toxic molds will not proliferate as well.