Mold. Do you know it? Is it something you've ever given much thought to? Unfortunately, I can't seem to get it out of my mind, or my home right now. It's my reality.
But, first, before I tell you my story, I want to tell you the biggest health lesson I’ve learned and one that I hope you will take to heart.
The lesson is this: Listen to your gut instinct. Or, in other words, listen to your intuition.
I wish I would have listened to my gut instinct years ago. If I had, I would have pushed to explore the possibility of mold in my home and the effect it was having on my health. I could have saved myself years of suffering.
You see, for the last 10 years, I’ve struggled with depression, weight gain, fatigue, unbalanced hormones and skin issues. I was also diagnosed with auto-immune hypothyroidism, otherwise known as Hashimoto's disease. Although I didn't suspect mold right away, I did acknowledge that something wasn’t right. My husband was the one who finally pushed me to get help, and I’m so glad he did.
That’s when I found a functional medicine practitioner willing to work with me to uncover the answers. I wasn't interested in being told I was just getting old and I didn’t want to be given a bunch of meds to cover my symptoms.
I’ve always been health-minded, and many years ago, I started making more homemade foods. I was also in the habit of reading labels and choosing only household and body care products that had simple, safe ingredients. So, when my nurse practioner encouraged me to give up gluten, I didn't hesitate. I jumped into the research of the why and soon found a whole new way of using food as medicine.
It was about this time I also discovered Young Living essential oils. I have since become a strong believer in the power of aromatherapy. I’ll touch more on that later, but suffice it to say, they fit nicely into my life with my desire to use products that were non-toxic to my health and the health of my family. It’s only in looking back that I can see how life saving they really were, and still are, in my health journey.
Fast forward ten years, and even though I’ve made a ton of lifestyle changes, I’m still suffering. I could conclude that nothing I did worked and decide that weight gain is inevitable. That I’ll always be tired and fatigue will be my constant friend. That my thyroid is irreparable. That my depression is just genetic and I have to live with it. The list could go on.
But, that’s not the road I’ve chosen. In fact, thanks to the changes I’ve made, I have healed my thyroid and improved my gut. I have found using YL oils has helped reduce my toxic burden, lessen my sadness and lift my emotions. Progress has been made and I truly believe I would be a lot worse off if I had not taken the steps that I did.
But, I continued to have this gut feeling that I was missing something. That I hadn’t found the root cause. The main instigator of all my struggles. So I kept digging. The truth is, at this point, I did begin to suspect mold. But it wasn't something I knew much about or how to address. So, I pushed my instinct aside and tried everything else I knew to do to get well. I knocked on all the doors except mold.
When I felt like my doctor had taken me as far as she could, I sought another provider that was willing to do the extensive testing I was seeking. I was finished with the trial, error and guesswork.
It was the right decision.
Through a series of strategically ordered tests, I learned my cortisol levels were way beyond normal. That was the first red flag. Once I tested my home and found a high mold count, urine testing was done to check my mycotoxin levels. Unfortunately, the test came back showing crazy high numbers. My current diagnosis is that my body is in distress due to a mycotoxin called ochratoxin A. My doctor’s words to me were: “Your body is operating in survival mode.”
The good news is, my gut instinct tells me I’ve found the root cause of my symptoms. My mold illness is the reason that I continue to suffer.
My body is so busy fighting and trying to survive, it doesn’t have a lot of extra energy for normal life. To quote Bridgit Danner in her book The Ultimate Toxic Mold Recovery Guide “One of the most pervasive ways mold affects the whole body is by hamstringing the mitochondria-the energy producers of every cell. How you feel with mold illness, that deep exhaustion, that all-around something’s not right feeling-” The feeling I’ve been having for years- “ that’s the mitochondrial impairment. “
I’m relieved and overwhelmed all at the same time. I found my answer, but mold isn’t an easy fix and in the beginning, I had no clue where to even start. Where do I go? Who do I turn to? For someone who is an overfunctioner and likes control, (who can relate) mold has left me feeling helpless more times than I can count. It doesn’t help that the place I call home is no longer safe to me. That alone can feel suffocating at times.
However, quiet time with God, prayer and using my oils always calms me and gives me a better perspective. Plus, once I became more knowledgeable of my enemy, the more empowered I felt. I have been fueling my body with good nutrition, a lot of antioxidants, glutathione, fresh air, daily walks outside, and exercise at the gym (when my energy level allows). I guard my sleep and listen to what my body needs. Some days that's a lot of rest.
Like I mentioned earlier, essential oils have also played an important role in my health journey, and dealing with the mold is no exception. There are many essential oils that have the properties we need when fighting mold. Unfortunately, because I’m a Young Living brand partner and there are FDA guidelines prohibiting me from making claims, I cannot use the words I’d like to use to explain how these oils can help. But they do, and if you do some research on your own, you will find out why.
Among others, I use YL’s tea tree essential oil, Purification and Thieves to clean the air in my home. Thieves is a blend with cinnamon, clove, eucalyptus, lemon and rosemary. If you’d like to know how it got its name, ask me later and I’ll tell you the cool story.
Since my everyday go -to cleaner has the powerful blend of Thieves already in it, I use that to clean surfaces. Vinegar is also effective at cleaning mold. Add 1 cup vinegar and boost it with 15 drops Thieves and 15 drops Tea tree. Wait 5 minutes after you spray and then wipe away.
To further clean the air in my home, I have a few air purifiers and I use diffusers. I also have a dehumidifier in the basement,
The argument can be made that ultrasonic diffusers output water into the air, thus encouraging humid conditions and mold growth. However, I have not found that to be true. We have a humidity reading in our home below the 40% recommendation. I feel that my diffusers are only outputting a small amount of water and I don’t ever witness excess moisture around the diffusers. However, If you’re concerned about this, try an atomizing diffuser It's one that dispenses the oil straight from the bottle with no water involved.
Let me explain more on why I diffuse.
What you breathe in plays a critical role in your overall well-being. Both emotional and physical. The air quality inside your home has been found to be up to ten times more toxic than the air outside of your home- even if you don't have mold!
Gary D Young says in "Aromatherapy; The Essential Beginning"
"It has been said that when essential oils are diffused in the home, they have the ability to increase oxygen levels and negative ions in the home .... Essential oils have the electrical magnetic attraction to fracture the molecular chain of chemicals and take them out of the air. This process renders them non-toxic to the body. "
He goes on to say "Scientists in European countries have found that essential oils will bond to metallics & chemicals and carry them out of the body. They do this by working as a natural chelator, inhibiting these toxic substances from staying in the tissues. Essential oils remove dust particles out of the air, and when diffused in the home, can be the greatest air filtration system in the world."
I also use essential oils to support my mental and emotional health. According to David Stewart in Healing Oils of the Bible
“One drop of essential oil contains enough molecules to cover every cell in our body with 400,000 molecules. Considering it only takes one molecule of the right kind to open a receptor site and communicate with the DNA to alter cellular function, you can see how one drop of oil can have profound effects on the body, brain, and emotions.”
I found this to be true many times over. Lavender, Frankincense, Joy, Valor, Lemon, and Orange have lifted me out of some low places.
All this to say, if mold is an issue, I can’t stress enough the importance of getting rid of it and removing yourself from your environment. Leave your home during remediation, if at all possible. I haven’t been able to do that yet, but I do have future hopes of leaving and starting over. Even if I am able to get my home free and clear of mold mycotoxins, because I have lived with it for many years, there is a lot of psychological damage that has been done and I’m skeptical I will fully be able to heal living in the place that made me sick. Believe it or not, there is PTSD surrounding mold illness and even something called mold rage that may follow me wherever I go.
My goal here is not to leave you feeling discouraged and afraid to even explore the possibilities of mold in your life. Rather, I hope to be that person who walks before you and is able to offer you encouragement and support pointing you to resources I have found to be helpful in my journey.
I want to encourage you to follow your gut instinct/ intuition.. To be your biggest advocate in your health. If you have symptoms of any kind, find out why. Maybe it's not mold, but maybe it is. Don’t rule it out. Mold can hide undetected wherever water is.
Resources I've found helpful:
David Stewart in Healing Oils of the Bible,
Gary D Young "Aromatherapy; The Essential Beginning"
Bridgit Danner in her book The Ultimate Toxic Mold Recovery Guide