Fatigue, muscle and joint pain, respiratory issues, brain fog, headaches, skin rashes, and mood fluctuations… Sounds familiar? You may have mold illness. Yep, these and many other chronic and unexplained symptoms can be the side effects of chronic mold exposure.

Mold issues are a growing concern and have to be taken very seriously. Symptoms can be widespread, chronic, and often challenging to treat. Fortunately, there are also some great and emerging options to help you overcome mold illness.

In this article, I want to talk about mold illness. I will answer all your questions: What is mold? Where does it hide? What are the symptoms of mold issues? And most importantly, how do you overcome mold illness? Let’s get started.


mold in a microscope

What Is Mold?

Did you know that there may be over 5 million species of fungi, including mold, yeast, and mushrooms (1)? They comprise 10 to 25% of our world’s biomass (2, 3, 4). They make up about 90% of the biomass of forest soil and 50% of agricultural soil (4). It’s truly amazing. I highly recommend the documentary, Fantastic Fungi, to learn about the fascinating world of fungi.

But what are fungi anyway? They are not plants, not animals. They are not bacteria or viruses. In fact, they are their own group of living organisms on our Earth.

There are so many types of fungi out there. They can be single-celled simple organisms, or very complex multicellular organisms, or anything in between. Fungi are found all over our planet — and even in our bodies.

Most fungi live on the land, especially in the soil or on plant materials. However, certain fungi, such as mold, can grow in your home and on your food.


Yeasts vs Mushrooms vs Mold

With so many different fungi species, there are three groups you may want to know about: yeasts, mushrooms, and mold.


Yeasts are tiny single-cell organisms that multiply by budding a daughter cell from a parent cell. Some yeasts are used in baking and brewing beer. Others may be commensal, as in they live in harmony with us, until they overgrow and become pathogenic and cause health issues, including Candida overgrowth (5, 6).


Macroscopic filamentous fungi are another type of fungi with a mycelium growing below ground and a fruiting body growing above. This body is commonly known as mushrooms or toadstools, made up of closely packed hyphae, creating the cap, stem, and other parts of the fungal structure. A cap of 10 cm or 4 inches of diameter may be able to make up to 100 million spores per hour, allowing mushrooms to spread rapidly. Edible mushrooms can be very nutritious. However, not all mushrooms are edible. Some are toxic and can be deadly (7, 8).


Mold is a type of fungi. There are over 100,000 mold species that have been identified. Chances are there are many more. The most common species of mold include Aspergillus, Cladosporium, Alternaria, Memnoniella, Penicillium, Trichoderma, and Stachybotrys (9, 10).

Mold can grow and thrive under a variety of conditions. It especially loves any warm, damp, and moist areas. Some species of mold particularly love growing in an indoor environment, hiding in your bathroom, behind wallpaper, under carpeting, behind old paint, in damp basements, or in the kitchen. They are a common problem in old and unkempt homes and buildings.

Other species of mold prefer the outdoor environment, hiding in the soil and plants. Some prefer growing on food, such as old bread or fruits. Some are versatile and can grow both indoors and outdoors. Completely escaping mold is clearly impossible. Reducing your mold exposure and treating potential mold toxicity is more important. I will get into this later in this article.


Beneficial Uses of Mold

You may not realize it, but mold has some beneficial uses too. For example, Koji mold, an aspergillus species of mold, is used for making soy sauce. Koji can also help to break down the starch in rice, barley, and sweet potatoes. It plays a role in the production of sake and other distilled spirits (11, 12).

Certain sausages incorporate starter cultures of molds to improve flavor and reduce bacterial spoilage during curing (13). Geotrichum candidum and Penicillium species are used for the production of certain cheeses, including brie, camembert, gorgonzola, and blue cheese (13).

Even more importantly, we can’t forget about medicine. Just think about antibiotics! Derived from Penicillium notatum, Alexander Fleming’s discovery of Penicillin in 1928 completely transformed medicine. Though antibiotics can be overprescribed and overused, leading to potential antibiotic resistance, they are still important and can be life-saving when it comes to serious bacterial infections (14, 15).

Red yeast rice has been used in China as both food and medicine for centuries. It is made by fermenting a type of yeast called Monascus purpureus over red rice. Today it is used for lowering cholesterol as it contains a chemical called monacolin K, which has the same structure as the drug lovastatin (16, 17).

Cyclosporine, which is isolated from the fungus Tolypocladium inflatum, was discovered in 1971  by J. F. Borel. It helps to suppress T cells without excessive toxicity (18). It is often prescribed for transplant patients to reduce the risk of post-transplant organ rejection. Furthermore, it may also be helpful for rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases.

Lastly, molds help the decomposition of dead plant and animal matter. This means that they play an important role in material biodegradation, enabling decay and rotting and releasing carbon and other materials back into the environment to be reused by other living beings (19).  The planet would become very cluttered with dead plants and animals if it weren’t for the amazing decompensation activity of mold!


Problems with Mold and Fungi

Mold produces mycotoxins. What are mycotoxins? They are toxic compounds that are produced by certain types of fungi. They are the root cause behind most mold-related issues. Though mold and fungi are living organisms, mycotoxins are not alive. Mold creates mycotoxins to compete against other molds.  We are just the innocent bystanders in a mold war.  Sadly, the molds, mycotoxins and other toxic elements in water damaged buildings can lead to a long list of chronic symptoms and health issues.

One of the major issues with mycotoxins is that they can spread far and wide very quickly.  A small damp spot in the corner of your bathtub allows mold to grow and like a match to dry tinder, the mold’s microscopic spores and mycotoxins can spread. Before you know it, you may have a mold problem all over your bathroom or other areas of your home, despite starting with one minimal issue.

The fact that mold mycotoxins are so tiny that you can’t even see them is even more alarming. Mycotoxins move through your indoor air without your awareness. You can breathe them in unknowingly, ending up with a myriad of health issues.

Mold and fungi mycotoxin exposure may lead to allergy or hypersensitivity (IgE, IgG) reactions, increased susceptibility to infections, mycotoxicoses, alimentary toxic aleukia, environmental enteropathy, environmentally acquired illness, chronic inflammatory response syndrome (CIRS), systemic fungal infections, mast cell activation syndrome (MCAS) and all sorts of other health issues (20, 21, 22, 23). Research has found that chronic mold exposure may increase the risk and play a role in allergies, respiratory and lung issues, asthma, and skin problems (24, 25).

It may play a role in brain and neurological health issues (26, 27). Mycotoxins may play a role in chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), mitochondrial dysfunction, chronic migraines and headaches, general malaise, fibromyalgia, and other chronic health issues (28, 29).


Types of Mold Mycotoxins

The most common species of mold include Aspergillus, Cladosporium, Alternaria, Memnoniella, Penicillium, and Stachybotrys. The mycotoxins coming from mold are the main culprit behind your mold-related symptoms.

There are six main categories of mycotoxins, including:

  • Trichothecenes: Trichothecenes come from the Fusarium, Stachybotrys, and other black molds. These include about 170 different toxins that may grow on soil or plants. These mycotoxins are highly toxic to humans. (and our beloved pets, too! They may lead to nervous system problems, gastrointestinal issues, bleeding disorders, skin issues breathing and lung problems, and sinus problems (30, 31).
  • Gliotoxins: Gliotoxins are mycotoxins from Aspergillus and Candida. They are very common mycotoxins that carry a serious risk to your immune system. They may also impact your brain, lungs, and bone marrow health (32, 33).
  • Aflatoxins: Aflatoxins can be found in peanuts and other plant foods. They may also be found in animal-based foods fed on aflatoxin-contaminated feed. They can affect the health of your kidneys, liver, and lungs (34, 35).
  • Ochratoxins: Ochratoxins are mainly in food. They may also hide in heating ducts and water-damaged buildings. Ochratoxins include Penicillium and Aspergillus. They may impact the health of your immune system, kidneys, liver, and bladder (36, 37).
  • Mycophenolic acid: Mycophenolic acid comes from Penicillium. It can impact your immune system health and increases your risk of Candida overgrowth, Clostridia infections, miscarriage, and birth defects (38, 39). However, it may help with psoriasis and as an immunosuppressant for renal transplants (40, 41).
  • Citrinin: Citrinin is made by Aspergillus, Penicillium, and other similar types of mold. It may impact your immune function and damage your kidneys (42, 43).


a bathroom where mold could hide

Where Mold Hides

Mold may hide in both your home, your office, your school and also in your food. Testing for mold mycotoxins may not always reflect mold issues coming from food sources (more on this later in this article, in the ‘Testing for Mold Illness’ section), which makes it even more important that you are aware of potential mold in your food.


Mold in Your Home

It may hide in your home in moist, damp, and warm areas, areas with moisture, water leaks, or water damage.Some top places where mold may be found include (44):

  • Your bathroom, including the bathtub, sink, tiles, walls, toilet, and shower curtains, especially behind the walls where the piping is located.
  • Under carpeting and rugs
  • Behind old wallpaper
  • Behind old paint
  • Behind drywall
  • Under upholstery
  • Your kitchen, including the sink, tiles, walls, behind the stove, behind the dishwasher, the fridge, and window sills
  • Places with leaks, flooding, or other moisture issues, such as pipes, roofs, and windows, sliding glass doors
  • Indoor plants, especially the soil
  • Washing machine, dryer, and the laundry room, in general
  • Air conditioning and heating vents
  • Under the mattress and cushions
  • In the basement, the attic, and the garage
  • From poor drainage outside the home leaking in
  • From sprinkler systems hitting the exterior of the house (a huge problem in California!)
  • Clothing, especially if there is too much humidity in your home or your closet is damp


Mold in Food

You may also find mold in your food (45). Sometimes it’s very obvious. If you notice a grey, blue, or brown spot on your bread, for example, chances are it’s mold. In other cases, it may not be so obvious, and you may not notice it until you start feeling sick after eating moldy food.

If you notice mold on your food, it’s important that you dispose of the entire food (e.g., the entire loaf of bread, the entire box of contaminated cereal) instead of just removing the moldy section. Mold mycotoxins spread fast and may be affecting other parts of your food without being visible to the eye yet. Paying attention to the expiration date and storing your food properly may help to reduce mold growth on food.

Foods that may contain mold or are at a high risk of mold contamination and mold growth may include:

  • Cereals
  • Rye
  • Wheat
  • Maize
  • Ground nuts
  • Tree nuts
  • Figs, dates, and dried fruits
  • Milk and milk products
  • Coffee beans
  • Damaged apples
  • Apple juice
  • Processed and smoked meat
  • Condiments
  • Processed foods
  • Pizza dough
  • Bread and baked goods


tired woman with mold illness

Signs and Symptoms of Mold Illness or Chronic Mold Exposure

Signs and symptoms of chronic mold exposure or mold illness may include:

  • Fatigue
  • Malaise
  • Muscle aches and pain
  • Joint pain
  • Allergies
  • Asthma flare-ups
  • Chronic sinus congestion or runny nose
  • Coughing and sneezing
  • Sore throat
  • Eye irritation and redness
  • Skin rashes and other skin problems
  • Nausea and other digestive complaints
  • Migraines or headaches
  • Brain fog
  • Memory issues
  • Trouble focusing
  • Mood fluctuations
  • Anxiety or depression
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Vertigo or dizziness
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Tinnitus
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Chronic pain
  • Ice pick pains
  • Autoimmune issues
  • Immune system suppression
  • Histamine intolerance
  • Mast cell activation issues


mold cells

Mold and Other Health Issues

Mold mycotoxin issues rarely come alone. They often co-occur with other chronic problems. In some cases, mold issues may directly cause or at least increase your risk of other issues. In other cases, having a chronic health issue, such as having Lyme disease, may make you more sensitive to mold mycotoxins, causing even more problems. It is also possible that mold mycotoxin illness can occur simultaneously with another condition such as a toxic metal exposure or pesticide poisoning or Lyme disease but then the symptoms overlap and sorting out the whole story becomes more difficult and complex.


Mold and Mast Cell Activation

Over the years, I’ve treated hundreds of patients with mold toxicity issues. I noticed that many of them were getting sicker and sicker because of — as I later found out — mast cell activation syndrome (MCAS). Having MCAS may cause complications and prolong  treatment.


What Is MCAS?

You may think about your mast cells as the first responders of your immune system. They are born in the bone marrow along with our red and white blood cells, then migrate to areas in the tissue near areas of interface with the outside world, where they can monitor for perceived threats to the body.

Mast cells can be found all over the body, including in mucosal membranes, like the GI tract and respiratory tract, near the surface of the skin, near blood vessels and near nerve cells, and in the brain! They contain hundreds of chemical messengers known as mediators, including histamine, heparin, leukotrienes, serotonin, and other inflammatory chemicals called cytokines and chemokines.

Your mast cells are an essential part of your body. When your body is exposed to an infection, a toxin, an allergen, or another trigger, your mast cells will come to your rescue. They will inform your immune system about the danger. In response, your mast cells will release inflammatory mediators in a process called degranulation. This is a crucial protective mechanism that helps to fight pathogens and other harm and supports your recovery from infections, allergens, and toxins. While during this process, you may experience symptoms, such as a runny nose from a cold or redness and swelling from allergens, this is just a reminder that your immune system is doing its job.

Unfortunately, in about one-fifth of the population, mast cells can become overactive or dysregulated. This means that they will release inflammatory mediators and chemicals even once the initial danger has passed or when there is no danger in sight. You may end up reacting to non-dangerous foods, smells, and other substances. This creates havoc in your system, causing widespread symptoms and chronic health issues. This is a condition known as Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (46).


Mold and Mast Cells

Just like with other potential harmful invaders, your body will react to mold mycotoxins similarly. Your mast cells will release histamine and other inflammatory mediators to deal with mold mycotoxins exposure. This may result in symptoms from respiratory issues to skin problems. This normally wouldn’t be an issue.

However, if you are exposed to mold on a daily basis from consuming moldy food regularly or living or working in a mold-infested, water damaged building, this can turn into a more serious problem. Due to the constant exposure to mold, your immune system will be on high alert 24/7.

Being on high alert constantly and trying to protect yourself from ongoing danger on a daily basis may cause ongoing inflammation, ongoing immune response, ongoing mast cell activation, and the overproduction of mast cell mediators (47).

Research has shown that mold may trigger a mast cell-cytokine immune response, resulting in asthma, respiratory issues, fatigue, headaches, brain fog, nausea, and other symptoms (48). Ongoing mast cell activation leads to increased histamine release. This means that your body may end up having an increasingly difficult time cleaning up excess histamine, which may result in mast cell-related histamine intolerance and related symptoms.

As you can see, chronic mold exposure can increase the risk of MCAS. However, there are also many patients who already had MCAS before running into chronic mold exposure issues. Having pre-existing MCAS may mean that your body may end up having a more severe response to mold than it would otherwise. This can increase symptoms and complicate recovery from both mold illness and MCAS.


Mold and Lyme Disease

I want to take a moment to touch on the connection between mold illness and Lyme disease. Working with patients with Lyme diease, led me to realizing that many of my patients also had Mold exposure and mold toxin illness!  My patients were not getting better despite their sophisticated Lyme protocol. I knew I had to dig deeper and found that Mold illness was holding their recovery back.

What Is Lyme Disease?

Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi predominately and by other species of Borrelia, such as Borrelia afzelli, Borrelia garinii, and others. It is transmitted by infected black-legged ticks. It’s the most common vector-borne disease in the US. Symptoms of acute Lyme disease may include a bull’s eye rash, fatigue, headache, and fever, though you may not experience symptoms at all. When left untreated, Lyme disease may spread to your joints, nervous system, and heart (49).

Untreated Lyme disease may also lead to chronic Lyme disease, which is an increasingly common, very serious, yet often ignored chronic health issue. Chronic Lyme disease may lead to fatigue, joint and muscle pain, respiratory issues, shortness of breath, dizziness, headaches, and many other chronic symptoms (50).

Lyme co-infections are another major issue when it comes to Lyme disease. Co-infections  often are responsible for many of the symptoms and complications. Lyme co-infections may include bartonellosis, anaplasmosis, babesiosis, Powassan virus, and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and Tick Borne Relapsing fever infections.  (51).

Lyme Disease and Mold

My clinical experience and recent data suggest that mold illness and Lyme disease can commonly co-occur. Similarly to mold illness, Lyme disease is also characterized by a dysregulated immune system and an overproduction of pro-inflammatory cytokines. Mold exposure may weaken your immune system function. This can make it difficult for your body to remove toxins and pathogens and deal with infections. This may compromise your recovery from Lyme disease, even if you are receiving proper treatment from a knowledgeable Lyme disease doctor.

Since Lyme disease can also affect your immune function, it may heighten your immune response to mold. Since symptoms of mold toxicity and Lyme disease can overlap, diagnosis and treatment can be tricky. It’s critical that we identify and treat Lyme disease and the co-infections AND mold illness in patients with both. Without treating the underlying mold issues, your Lyme symptoms may not get better. Without treating Lyme disease, you may be more susceptible to mold and symptoms of mold illness (52).


Mold and Autoimmunity

I’ve also noticed a connection between mold and autoimmunity. Many patients with autoimmune diseases also have mold illness.

What Are Autoimmune Diseases?

Your immune system is your personal defense system that protects your body from viruses, bacteria, other pathogens, allergens, and toxins. In a healthy body, your immune system is able to recognize these pathogens as not being part of you and of being harmful to your health. They are able to destroy them without harming your body.

If you have an autoimmune condition, it means that your immune system is confused, and it attacks healthy cells in your body by mistake, confusing them with pathogenic invaders. There are over 80 different types of autoimmune diseases that we currently know of. They may affect any area of your body. Some may affect specific areas, others have more widespread symptoms.

For example, in rheumatoid arthritis, your immune system attacks your joints, lungs, and eyes. In psoriasis, the immune system attacks the skin, and in psoriatic arthritis, the joints too. Whereas in alopecia areata, your immune system affects the skin, causing hair loss. In Celiac disease, your immune system impacts digestion. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and Graves’ disease, the immune system attacks the thyroid. In lupus, the immune system may cause damage to the skin, joints, heart, lungs, kidneys, circulating blood cells, and brain (53).

Mold, Immune Dysregulation, and Autoimmunity

Chronic mold exposure may be among the potential triggers for immune dysregulation, inflammatory reactivity, and autoimmunity. Mold mycotoxins attack your immune system. They trigger free radical production and may activate inflammasomes, which are innate immune system receptors/sensors that create inflammation in response to pathogens. Chronic mold exposure may lead to a constant immune reaction that makes your immune system go into overdrive and eventually become dysregulated. Over time, this may result in autoimmunity (33, 54).  This may also explain why people don’t get immediately better when they leave a moldy environment, their immune systems are dysregulated and on fire!

Additionally, having an autoimmune condition, especially if you are using immune-suppressing medication, may also contribute to mold illness. A healthy immune system may be able to deal with mold exposure more effectively than a compromised or suppressed immune system. Long-term use of steroids, such as corticosteroids and prednisone, for chronic pain and autoimmunity, and other immune modulating medications, can lead to immune suppression. If your immune system is suppressed, you may become more susceptible to mold and may be more likely to develop mold-related illness. The longer your immune system is being suppressed, the higher your risk of suffering from mold illness.

Moreover, if you are dealing with an autoimmune disease, it may compromise and slow your recovery from mold illness. Your body has a lot of issues to deal with and you and your healthcare team have to address all of these aspects during treatment.


Mold and Other Issues

Finally, mold illness may co-occur with a number of other chronic health issues. In some cases, mold illness may be the first or final trigger causing these health issues. In other cases, chronic health issues may make your immune system weaker and more susceptible to mold illness. Chronic health issues that may co-occur with mold illness we need to look for may include CFS, fibromyalgia, migraines, headaches, allergies, food reactions, brain and neurological issues, and mental health issues (24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29). It’s critical to address all potential underlying and co-occurring conditions to restore your health.


testing with a microscope

Testing for Mold Illness

Mold may hide both in your home and your food. However, mycotoxin testing may not reflect mold toxicity from food. Though mold is often found in food and much of the medical literature focuses on mycotoxins in urine from food, it has been my clinical experience and the experience of my colleagues that the urine mycotoxin testing that is done currently reflects mycotoxins from water-damaged buildings.

I’m on the board of the International Society for Environmentally Acquired Illness (ISEAI). With ISEAI, we did a small pilot study and had participants avoid moldy foods and complete a test (55). Then we asked them to eat moldy foods and complete a test. We found that there was no increase in urine mycotoxins above baseline while eating moldy foods. Though this was a small study it reinforces the idea that mold contamination in food is NOT the primary source of mycotoxin results in current mycotoxin testing. I believe that a lot of the medical literature focuses on the developing world, where there may be fewer resources devoted to minimizing contaminated foods, such as the use of ozone or binder use in livestock.

When I first started looking at mold illness and treatment, I was seeing patients with Lyme disease. Despite treatment, they were not getting better. I knew I needed to look elsewhere and this is when I discovered the work of Dr. Ritchie Shoemaker. I am very grateful to Dr. Shoemaker for bringing the topic of mold toxin illness to our awareness as an issue for many patients.

Dr. Shoemaker showed that there were certain HLA haplotypes (DR/DQ) that immunologically couldn’t “perceive” the mycotoxins and therefore had trouble clearing these mycotoxins from the body. HLA haplotypes are a series of HLA genes (loci-alleles) that you inherit in groups, one from each of your parents (56). He found that the HLA DR/DQ haplotypes associated with mycotoxin illness were thought to be in 25% of the population. However, they were actually in over 90% of the patients in my functional medicine practice and in complex chronic illness patients (57, 58).  A number of my colleagues reported the same statistics!

In my practice, I found that whether someone had Shoemaker’s “dreaded genes” or not, genetics did not impact the severity of illness nor their speed of recovery. Considering that having these genes didn’t seem to impact diagnosis, treatment, and outcome, the cost of these genetic tests, and often the lack of insurance coverage, I stopped checking genetics.

This is important to mention because a lot of doctors trained by Dr. Shoemaker may still order a list of unhelpful and expensive bloodwork. My goal is to make the testing process simple and only recommend testing that is necessary and may affect treatment and recovery.

The testing Dr. Shoemaker and some doctors may recommend look at other non-specific markers, such as Transforming growth factor beta 1, C4a, MMP-9, MSH, VIP, etc. The only tests I use sparingly, when necessary, are TGF beta1, MMP9, and rarely C4a, which is more difficult for labs to do accurately. Occasionally, I will use TGF beta 1 as a screening for an inflammatory response.

What I’ve personally found more useful is urine mycotoxin testing. There are some great tests for this, with 3 main labs, including RealTime Labs, Great Plains Laboratory, and Vibrant America.  I prefer RealTime Labs as it is the most revealing and useful to track over time to ensure the resolution of the mold and mycotoxin exposures.

I also like using Dr. Andrew Campbell’s mycotoxin IgE and IgG panel. He also has information on his website and articles. These tests can help us find out who is having an immunological response to exposures.

Over the years of treating mold toxicity issues in patients, I’ve witnessed that many people are becoming sicker and sicker. Today we understand that this is because of MCAS. Having MCAS can lead to complications, further testing, more treatment strategies, and an increased duration of treatment. We have to begin with treating MCAS first, then move on to mold and other potential issues.

Finally, it’s incredibly important to understand the whole picture, rule out other health issues, and diagnose related and unrelated health issues you may also be dealing with. I recommend looking at a differential diagnosis, checking for Lyme disease and co-infections, immune dysregulation and suppression, autoimmune conditions, allergies, food reactions, MCAS, and other chronic issues. Testing for these issues can help get a sense of the treatment trajectory even if you and your healthcare team tackle mold first.


sample in laboratory

Recommendations for Mold

So you’ve been exposed to mold and are experiencing symptoms of mold illness. You want to improve your symptoms and regain your health. I’ve got you. Read on to learn more about my recommendations for mold illness and my mold protocol.

The best way to ensure full recovery is to work with a functional medicine doctor (hint: me! You can check out the new patient process for my practice here, or schedule with my functional nutritionist  here.). It’s important that we uncover any underlying or co-existing health issues. Just missing one small piece of the puzzle may keep you in a cycle of  symptoms. However, if you are not yet ready to set up an appointment, follow these suggestions to improve your health.


Start with the Basics

First, we need to start with some basic principles to reduce mold exposure as much as possible and support your body.

  • Avoid moldy environments. You need to get out of the moldy environment as soon as possible. If you are able to move, great! Take nothing with you and put your beloved belongings in storage. If you can’t move, see if you can stay in a mold-free area for a while instead. Some of my patients have lived in a tent in their back yard or moved in with a family member temporarily. I understand that this may not be possible either. If it’s not possible to move or change jobs to avoid the mold, the next step is to remove mold and take measures to reduce further mold growth. Please see my next blog on information regarding your home and belongings!  If you are able to remove yourself from the moldy environment, do your best to prevent re-exposure. In my experience, patients with mold issues tend to be attracted to moldy environments. It’s important that you are careful. More on this in the next blog, also! I also recommend checking out my environmental masterclass to learn more about strategies to use if you live in a moldy environment.
  • Drink plenty of water. Aim for 1 ounce per every kilogram of body weight or more. Make sure it’s high-quality water, such as purified water or spring water, instead of municipal tap water.
  • Get as much quality sleep as possible. Aim for at least 7 to 9 hours. If your body is healing, you may need more sleep, naps, or rest.
  • Avoid foods that you are sensitive to, as well as foods that feed yeast and mold, such as sugar, grains, corn, alcohol, and most dairy, moldy and fermented foods.
  • Limit your exposure to EMF radiation and WIFI. Keep your phone out of your room at night and turn off your WiFi. Keep your phone in airplane mode when not in use. Not only does mold appear to flourish in high EMF environments, but people who are mold exposed are also often particularly sensitive to the effects of EMF.
  • Use a high-quality air filtration system to reduce mold toxicity in your indoor air.
  • Reduce exposure to chemicals in cleaning, body, and beauty products, pesticides in non-organic food, fragrances, plastics, and so on.
  • Exercise cautiously. Your body is under a lot of stress and you need to honor your recovery. While moving your body is beneficial for your health, you may benefit from an easy and slow yoga session or short walk versus a hard workout.
  • Work with a doctor to look at potential underlying or co-existing conditions, such as MCAS or Lyme disease. There are many wonderful functional, integrative and naturopathic physicians out there. Given the complexity of these conditions, I would recommend seeking out someone who has knowledge of how to manage this level of complexity. The International Society for Environmentally Acquired Illness (ISEAI) is a great resource, check it out here.
  • Calm your mast cells if you have mast cell activation syndrome. Follow my blog for more tips on MCAS.


Layer These Strategies as Needed and Tolerated

Once you have the basics down, it’s time to start with some strategic supplementation and other deeper detoxification strategies. Layer these recommendations as tolerated. Again, working directly with a functional medicine practitioner may be the best option to figure out what you personally need.



Mycotoxins circulate throughout the body, passing in and out of cell membranes and eventually end up in the liver, collect in the gallbladder, and then are excreted into the bile, where they get re-absorbed into the body through the enterohepatic re-circulation.

In order to interrupt this cycle, we must use binders in the GI tract to attach to the mycotoxins and escort them out of the body, thereby lowering a total load of mycotoxins in your body. Intestinal binding agents, toxin binders, or binders are various substances that ‘bind’ to toxins. They either attract them through a negative charge or trap them and then help to remove them through bowel movements (59, 60).

Binders also vary based on their affinity to bind certain mycotoxins. The binders you are using should be chosen depending on the mycotoxins present. Your protocol should be personalized to you based on your mycotoxin testing, home testing, and tolerance level. This process needs to go as slowly as the body can handle. Some people must be very gentle and start low and slowly increase the amount of binders. Any increase in symptoms should be managed by reducing or even stopping the binders temporarily.

Some of my favorite binders include Activated Charcoal and bentonite clay. I also frequently recommend using binders along with Binder Plus with propolmannan, a highly purified, natural dietary fiber, or another fiber to help remove mycotoxins attach to binders and support digestion.



Glutathione is the master antioxidant. Mold mycotoxins may deplete your body’s glutathione levels. Supplementation may help to improve your levels. It also helps remove mycotoxins from the body. Glutathione is also important for reducing oxidative stress and cellular damage and supporting liver detoxification (61).

If you have sulfur issues, you may have difficulty tolerating this. It’s important that you work with a practitioner to determine if it’s right for you or figure out the right dose. Doses are usually around 250 mg up to 1000 mg daily orally. Start with a low dose unless advised otherwise. Glutathione can also be administered intravenously. I recommend Tri-Fortify Liposomal Glutathione to use at home.  I like N-acetyl cysteine or NAC also but sulfur sensitive folks may have trouble with this supplement as well since it supplies the sulfur molecules for glutathione.

You may also consider Alpha Lipoic Acid or R-Lipoic Acid. Glutathione is a great antioxidant that helps the body make glutathione if not able to tolerate glutathione directly. It may help to support your body in recovering from mold illness (62). It also helps with neuropathy and balancing blood sugars. I recommend 600mg of ALA or 100mg RLA.


Phosphatidylcholine (PC)

Phospholipid is a type of lipid molecule. It serves as the main building block of your cell membranes. Phosphatidylcholine (PC) is one of our major phospholipids located in the plasma membrane of your cells. It supports enzymatic processes, cellular signaling, and producing certain molecular compounds. It may help to improve mitochondrial, gut, and brain health (63, 64, 65).

When it comes to mold illness, PC may help to support detoxification and restore healthy cellular functioning. PC makes up most of your cell membranes, so supplementation may offer support to replace old and damaged cellular parts with new and healthy cell membranes for better cellular function.

When old and damaged cellular parts are removed, the toxins, including mycotoxins, attached to them will be discarded as well. The new cell membranes, on the other hand, will be more equipped to shield you from mycotoxins and other toxins. I recommend that you begin with 1 capsule daily or 1/8 tsp daily, and every week or so you can increase your dose by 1 capsule or 1/8 tsp up to 6 to 8 capsules or 1 tbsp daily.  Sensitive patients may need to start with even smaller doses.


Nasal Sprays

I recommend using nasal sprays, especially if you are dealing with fungal sinusitis or respiratory issues related to mold mycotoxins (66). Xlear nasal spray is an over-the-counter xylitol nasal spray that has biofilm busting capacity. I recommend 1 to 2 sprays in each nostril twice daily. Nasal saline rinses a few times a day can also be helpful. Some people may need stronger or more prescription options, such as BE (Bacitracin / EDTA), if sinus symptoms are present.  Compounded nasal anti-fungal medications are also very supportive. Ozone insufflation can also be used.


Oral Antifungals

I tend to recommend oral antifungals for serious mold illness. This is more controversial, though I found that Dr. Campbell is onto something when it comes to the benefits of oral antifungals (67, 68). Recently I have found the use of systemic antifungals, such as itraconazole and oral amphotericin B, to be tremendously helpful. This makes me suspect colonization of the molds in the body, though there is currently no way to determine if it’s true. My patients tend to improve with the use of some antifungals. Oral nystatin can be prescribed for gastrointestinal candida. Herbal antifungals, such as Pau D’Arco, Holy Basil, Olive leaf, Thyme, and Oil of Oregano are possible options.


Infrared Sauna

I recommend using a sauna, specifically infrared sauna, for enhanced excretion. Infrared sauna is a special type of sauna that uses an infrared heater that releases a non-invasive light therapy called Far Infrared Technology (FIR) that can penetrate your skin up to 1.5 to 3 inches below the surface, supporting detoxification through sweating. IThese saunas may allow more effective detoxification compared to other types of saunas (69, 70).

Infrared saunas can help remove environmental toxins, mycotoxins, biotoxins, and toxic metals from the body through sweat. Even firefighters,who encounter a lot of environmental toxins in their work, use them  (71, 72). Ideally, I recommend using an infrared sauna once or twice a day for 20 to 30 minutes each session, though you may need to start with just a few minutes and work up from there. Follow it up with a cold shower or cold water plunge to support autophagy and immune health.  See my blog on Sauna and Cold plunge here.


Coffee Enemas or Colonics

Colon hydrotherapy and coffee enemas may also help to reduce your toxin load. I recommend them for enhanced mobilization, getting mycotoxins and waste out of the gastrointestinal tract, and overcoming enterohepatic re-circulation. Though we still need more research to understand the potential benefits of enemas and colonics, current research suggests that they may be helpful and have no serious side effects (73).

Colon hydrotherapy is an alternative healing strategy that helps to flush out toxins from the colon with water. It is practiced in safe therapeutic settings with a trained professional. Coffee enemas are enemas that help to clean out the lower colon with a mix of water and coffee. Enemas can be practiced at home.  Using coffee in your enemas instead of water alone may help to enhance the elimination of mycotoxins, fungal infections, and other toxins, liver detoxification, and the removal of waste (74).


Hyperbaric Medicine

Hyperbaric medicine is a therapeutic strategy that uses oxygen at a higher pressure level than our atmosphere. Under normal circumstances, the air you breathe has 21% oxygen. Hyperbaric medicine uses air that is 100% oxygenated due to increased pressure. It is commonly used to treat deep-sea divers and scuba divers for decompression sickness. It may be used to treat monoxide poisoning, infections of the skin and bone, hearing loss, and diabetic foot ulcers, and all kinds of other issues (75). Though I don’t recommend this to everyone, hyperbaric medicine can be very helpful to some patients.


Final Reminder

Remember: healing is complex and individualized. Everyone heals at a different rate. You may be dealing with higher mold exposure, more sensitivities, or more co-existing or underlying health issues than others. It’s important that you honor your progress. Remember, one step at a time. Slow and steady will get there. And if you need support, don’t hesitate to reach out here.


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Next Steps

Are you dealing with symptoms of chronic mold exposure, mold illness, or other chronic health issues? We can help. If you want to improve your health, I welcome you to schedule a functional nutrition consultation with my nutritionist, Sarah. Visit our store for products.

And stay tuned for more information to help you uncover the root cause of your health issues, improve your nutrition, repair your body, and regain your health naturally.

You can set up a consultation with us at the Spring Center for individualized support here. You can schedule a nutrition consultation with Sarah here.