Updated: Feb 10, 2021
Imagine not being able to sleep all night because you're hot, flustered, sweating, then freezing, pull off blanket, pull on blanket. You're walking up and down your house because you have this raging throbbing headache and back pain that you've never experienced quite to this extend. You look at the time, 2am. 3am. 5am, thinking, 'I'm going crazy'. Just like this GIF.
Well, this was me.
'What is going on? This has never happened to me before'.
I knew there was something in my room that was triggering these horrible symptoms, plus I knew it was suppressing my immune system because I was waking up with a blocked nose. But I couldn't figure it out for a few days. I even avoided entering my room so slept on my couch in the living room for the next few days until I could figure out what was going on.
What was lurking in my room, making me go physically and mentally crazy?
When I got back from a 2 week Japan trip, in February 2020, we had mega floods in the Northern Rivers. I had left my windows open for fresh air, but locked my room door. An already humid area, combined with more humidity from the floods was only a recipe for disaster.
A mould, disaster.
Only a few months prior, I visited my best friend living in Sydney, where I noticed that a couple of pairs of her black suede boots were covered in mould. Like most people, she had mistakenly assumed it was just dust. I asked if she had any flu-like symptoms, respiratory issues, headaches, aches and pains, or more fatigue than usual. She said she hadn't, but her housemate's asthma had flared up since moving in.
So as I lay in bed resting from a huge day working on monthly detox retreats, with a blocked nose, soldiering on through the week (terrible Naturopath, I know!), I finally observed what looked like 'dust' on my wooden bed-head.
Just like my friend's suede boots.
I suddenly had a Madonna, 'I've seen it all before' moment, and thought, uh oh, I'm dealing with the most resilient species on this planet - fungi!
I then checked my entire bed frame. Covered in mould. I check my wooden dressing table. Covered in mould. I check my clothes in the wardrobe. My linen clothes, covered in mould.
As I was working flat out on a detox retreat, and knew I needed an entire day to thoroughly clean these personally uninvited visitors infesting my room, so only had the Sunday to complete my mouldy mission.
Gloves on, mask on, my ghost busters outfit on, music blaring, windows open, I cleared everything in my room. I created a 'Good riddance mould' spray by mixing bicarb soda, white vinegar, clove and tea-tree essential oil. This mould was infested everywhere, especially behind my bed frame and dressing table facing flat to the wall. Thank God I was wearing a face mask, this was disturbingly nasty to wipe down. Because mould hides in dark places due to being more moist, I picked up my mattress only to discover even more infesting alongside my bed-frame adjacent to my mattress - great!
After airing out my room for a couple of days to remove the vinegar smell from my room, it was habitable again. I can sleep in peace now.
In terms of supporting my immune system, for the next few days I ate fresh fruit and vegetables, added fresh coriander to meals each day to support detoxification with a drop of food-grade clove oil, administered practitioner quality zinc and liposomal vitamin C, and performed a series of colonics to aid in the removal of any mould inside my body (if you don't know why I love colonics so much, here's why).
The scary thing was, I was exposed to mould for less than a week. People are exposed to this for YEARS not knowing simply because they cannot always see or smell mould.
Here are some of the symptoms of chronic mould exposure or what it can exacerbate:
Asthma, bronchitis, even pneumonia
Muscle and joint aches and pain
Brain fog, lowered memory and concentration
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Exposure to mould is something I ask every single patient. It could be the missing piece to your health puzzle. Whether it be from work, your home, even where you grew up. It has significant effects on your health.
What is mould and where does it come from?
Mould is a type of fungus that reproduces through spores. They inhabit everywhere on this planet as they are nature's greatest decomposers. Fungal spores are present in every indoor environment, in the air and in the settled dust.
Remember photosynthesis in Chemistry class? Carbon dioxide and water are converted into glucose (sugar/energy) and oxygen by light and chlorophyll (plants). Well, mould lacks chlorophyll, therefore, not needing light to grow.
In addition to that, they can remain dormant for a while, by while I mean even years, as their growth depends on sufficient amounts of moisture, temperature and pH. *sigh, great!*
Around 120 different types of fungi are associated with poor indoor air quality and 400 are related to diseases related not just to humans, but to animals and plants too.
As mould thrives in humid environments, you'll be sure to find them in water-damaged buildings, newer properties being built with inadequate ventilation. Other sources of their growth include new fungicides into building materials and paints creating different strains of fungi potentially more dangerous to our health and the use of cheap man-made timbers like plywood and chipboard make it easier for fungi to use as a food source - who knew!
Where is it appearing and what to do about it?
The most effective way to address mould is to locate and eliminate the source of moisture.
Wettest areas of your home? Is there condensation on the walls, mirrors or windows in the bathroom, laundry and/or kitchen? This could be due to a build up of water from poor ventilation. Visible mould at base of the shower, toilet, lifting tiles in the shower or in the grounding and silicone? This can mean that the water proofing or caulking is no longer effective.
Ensure exhaust fans are on and windows are open while cooking, showering and laundering.
Clean the exhaust fan and grill with a microfibre cloth regularly.
Take shorter or cold showers (please don't hate me, just a suggestion for not-so-fungi-sake)
Avoid drying wet clothes in small rooms
Allow wet towels and bath mats to completely dry between use.
Ensure to turn on exhaust fan and open windows and doors if using dryer
If any mould is in the silicone of your shower, it must be replaced
Multiple rooms? On clothes? Shoes? Furniture? High humidity is likely to be the source of moisture
On warm days, open windows, doors even closets and wardrobes to bring air flow into the home
Move furniture away from the corners of walls to promote air flow
Frequently air bedding, rugs, furniture, curtains in the sun
Avoid indoor plants in bedrooms
Install a whole-house dehumidifier to keep the humidity below 60%
In cooler months, keep air conditioner on continuously
Keep your HEPA air-purifier on at all times, especially while you sleep
Visible on the ceiling? The moisture is likely to be coming from the roof. Uninsulated ceilings increases the likelihood of condensation and mould.
Check the roof for any clogged gutters, missing or broken roof tiles, broken or missing flashing and any other entry point for water.
For new homes, check the parking (foil wrap) isn't in direct contact with the roof and there is a sufficient gap.
How to accurately check with a pro?
That is my mould toxicity story. Sometimes I wonder, why this happened to me. But when I reflect, I'm oddly glad I was acutely exposed to mould toxicity and dealt with it quickly, because sometimes life experiences teach us how to warn others.
Bec is obsessed with your gut...in more of an enthusiastic-than-creepy way! Book online for a consultation with Bec or contact us to learn more about how Natural Medicine and Colon Hydrotherapy can help you say good-bye to your gut issues!
*This blog is for educational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always consult your doctor or other qualified health practitioners before acting on information on this article, particularly if you have a medical condition, taking medication or if you are pregnant.