Black Mold Toxicity: Black mold exposure and poisoning can lead to many long-lasting health issues. This generally misunderstood and often misdiagnosed illness can lead individuals to suffer unnecessarily. Today we highlight the common (and less common) symptoms of black mold toxicity and the top natural remedies to get rid of it and heal.
This article has been medically reviewed by Dr. Charles Penick, MD
is Black Mold?
Black mold, or Stachybotrys chartarum, is a type of fungus. It can exist in soil or grain, but most commonly, it appears in cellulose-rich building materials in a damp environment, especially if there has been water damage 1.
Black mold reproduces by forming microscopic spores that the naked human eye cannot see. For this reason, black mold often goes unnoticed until the problem is widespread. Black mold smells like mildew or must, and although it is generally dark black, it can also be slightly green or gray.
How Does Black Mold Toxicity Occur?
Black mold most often occurs in areas that are damp and humid or wet, especially if there has been water damage 1. Places like bathrooms, basements, and attics are more susceptible due to their warmer, damper nature. HVAC or air conditioning systems are also common areas that can develop black mold if moisture is in the air; this is especially insidious since the mold is then distributed across the house.
Along with these environmental conditions, black mold is most often present when cellulose is too 1. Cellulose is a material used in buildings and is found in various products, including insulation and wallpaper. It is a natural product, making it one of the most environmentally friendly products; however, it also feeds mold spores.
When cellulose is in a damp, warm environment, and especially if it comes in contact with water from a leak, black mold can quickly take over.
Black Mold Toxicity Symptoms
The symptoms of black mold toxicity often lead to misdiagnosis because they are similar to various illnesses and diseases. Because black mold toxicity is still widely misunderstood, and because black mold itself often goes unseen, proper diagnosis is not always straightforward.
Common symptoms for black mold toxicity include: 2-6
- Body aches
- Chronic fatigue
- Chronic coughing
- Irritation to eyes and mucous membranes
Natural Remedies for Black Mold
Recovering from black mold exposure requires a two-part approach. First, the environment in which the mold is occurring has to be addressed. Second, the body itself that has been exposed to mold needs to be healed because black mold spores can make their way into the body’s airways and wreak havoc on health.
In the Home (or Office)
Address Leak or Moisture: first and foremost, the source of the mold has to be targetted. Finding the cause of black mold requires addressing the leak or high moisture areas in the house or office. Some tools to reduce moisture and dampness include:
- Invest in a high-quality dehumidifier (or perhaps more than one) — you want to keep moisture under 50%
- Keep as much flowing fresh air as possible: open windows, fans, and general ventilation.
- Dry wet areas after use (like showers)
- Leave the fan on in the bathroom for 30 minutes after finishing a shower
- Wash shower curtains, towels, rugs, and bath mats regularly
- Keep indoor plants (they absorb moisture from the air)
- Have HVAC or air conditioning systems checked for mold and cleaned periodically. Since they are connected to all the living spaces, making sure that they are not ground zero for a black mold infestation is key
- Have plumbing checked regularly to avoid any unknown leaks
- Avoid carpet if possible; they are more likely to harbor mold underneath
Throw it Out: if items have come in contact with black mold, it is important to throw them away. This can be true for an entire house if the black mold infestation is bad enough; sometimes, moving is the best option for your health. Since black mold spores are invisible to the naked eye, keeping items (like stuffed animals, clothes, and books) that have come in contact with black mold spores can lead to re-infecting the home (or new home).
Throwing it out is most important when it comes to porous materials. A study that explored the effective anti-bacterial and fungal nature of 5 different agents highlighted their inability to get rid of mold spores on porous surfaces 7. Glass, metal, plastic, and varnished wood are examples of non-porous materials, while untreated wood, drapes, carpet, and cardboard are porous.
Essential Oils: essential oils can be powerful tools both in the home and for the body when it comes to getting rid of and healing from mold exposure. You can use essential oils to clean up areas that have been affected by black mold, especially in conjuncture with white vinegar, baking soda, and hydrogen peroxide.
Oils that help get rid of mold from surfaces include: 8-10
- Cinnamon oil
- Thyme oil
- Clove oil
- Tea tree oil
- Oregano oil
- Anise oil
- Egyptian geranium oil
Simply add 1 tsp of essential oil to a spray bottle with one cup of water or white vinegar and spray the affected area. You can do this initially directly on a moldy surface and then scrub the moldy area down. Or you can use an essential oil spray on a surface after using hydrogen peroxide or bi-carb soda and left without washing it off to help ensure the mold does not return.
Hydrogen Peroxide: hydrogen peroxide is an effective mold killer. Studies highlight hydrogen peroxide’s ability to kill bacteria, viruses, fungi, and mold spores 11 (without the nasty side effects of harsh agents like bleach).Hydrogen peroxide works by breaking down the essential makeup of these organisms, including proteins and DNA 12.
A 3% diluted hydrogen peroxide solution should be used in a spray bottle and sprayed all over the affected area to saturate with hydrogen peroxide thoroughly. Leave on for 10 minutes, and then scrub to remove all the stains. Wipe down the surface afterward and discard all the scrubbers used to clean the area 13. Ideally, seal the area with an anti-fungal essential oil spray (mentioned above).
Baking Soda: baking soda is probably the most gentle option but provides an effective killing agent for mold. It adsorbs, which pulls moisture from the surface and deodorizes, helping remove the musty smell that mold leaves behind.
To use, add two tablespoons to a cup of water and use a spray bottle to saturate the area. Scrub well using a brush to remove any visible mold. Wipe down the surface afterward and discard all the scrubbers used to clean the area 13. Ideally, seal the area with an anti-fungal essential oil spray (mentioned above).
In the Body
Binders: zeolites, charcoal, or other true binders like BIND are extremely helpful in trapping and eliminating mold spore mycotoxins from inside the body 14. Binders need to be taken mindfully hours away from other foods or medications so that they can go to work on the pathogens, bacteria, and fungus that is already present in the system (as opposed to binding with food or medications in the stomach and gut).
Foods: certain foods support the immune system and excretion of mold spores, including ginger, turmeric, garlic, chlorophyll, cruciferous vegetables, leafy green vegetables, high quality organic pasture-raised animal products, and good fats like avocado, butter, olive oil, lard, and tallow 15.
The anti-mold diet is essentially an anti-inflammatory diet. As such, you want to avoid foods that will trigger an inflammatory immune response. This will allow your body to focus on healing and regenerating. Foods to avoid include refined sugars and flours, vegetable and seed oils, fried foods, and keeping alcohol to an absolute minimum.
Sugar, in particular, is to be avoided since glucose feeds fungus 16. Whether it be candida or black mold, keeping sugar intake as close to zero as possible will help starve fungus proliferation.
Essential Oils: with use inside the home and on the body, targetted essential oils can help support recovery from mold exposure 8-10. Histamine is a chemical compound released by the cells in response to injury, allergic or inflammatory reactions, causing smooth muscle contraction and dilation of capillaries. While histamine release is a standard defense mechanism, an exaggerated histamine response can bind to cell receptor sites, causing irritation and chronic inflammation.
You can use this combination of organic and wildcrafted essential oils of Blue Tansy, Roman Chamomile, Lavender, Manuka, Rosemary, Peppermint, Spruce, Ravensara, and Vetiver in a base of fractionated coconut oil in three ways:
- Rubbed along the inside nostrils using a cotton swab
- Rubbed clockwise on the belly
- Diffused with a diffuser into the entire space
Histamine Blends for Mold
Recognize these signs?
* Brain fog and learning difficulties
* Constantly challenged sleep issues
* Weakened immunity and chronic illness
* Terrible mood swings, anxiety and/or depression
* Gut issues, brain fog, fatigue, neurologic symptoms
*Chronic sinus infections like bronchitis, asthma or migraines
* Reacting to chemicals, smells, foods, medications, and more
These signs and symptoms show up when your body releases a chemical called histamine which is released in response to mold exposure.
All of those mysterious chronic symptoms are a signal that histamine is at work.
Histamine is released in response to hidden (and often undiagnosed) mold exposure. Mold can hide inside and outside your home – in basements, floorboards, and even dishwashers – and spread its spores and mycotoxins through the air. Mold toxicity symptoms may come on quickly if you move into a new home or workspace but more commonly they develop over time.
Often you do not know that your space has a mold issue. At first, your body systems may be keeping it somewhat under control. But, over time, the level of toxins becomes too overwhelming for your detox systems.
That means organ function is compromised. Resulting in an over-activated histamine response contributing to allergy symptoms, digestive challenges, and brain fog. And those things contribute to long-term health struggles.
Solving allergy issues now is safeguarding your health for the future. For those with mold toxicity issues, there is a solution that is literally a deep breath away.
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Black mold is a severe fungal problem that can interfere with human health. Black mold spores often show up in damp, warm environments or where there is a water leak. The problem is generally present when cellulose is used in building materials in this wet environment. Getting rid of black mold in the home is possible by using anti-fungal essential oils, proper cleaning agents like baking soda and hydrogen peroxide. In the body, getting rid of mold occurs by eating an anti-inflammatory diet, using binders, and using targetted essential oils.
Medical Disclaimer: This article is based upon the opinions of Dr. Daniel Pompa. The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as a sharing of knowledge and information from the research and experience of Dr. Pompa and his associates. This article has been medically reviewed by Dr. Charles Penick, MD for accuracy of the information provided, but Dr. Pompa encourages you to make your own health care decisions based upon your research and in partnership with a qualified health care professional.
1 “Facts about Stachybotrys Chartarum (Aka ‘Black Mold’).” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 16 Dec. 2019, www.cdc.gov/mold/stachy.htm.
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8 Yang, Vina W., and Carol A. Clausen. “Antifungal Effect of Essential Oils on Southern Yellow Pine.” International Biodeterioration & Biodegradation, vol. 59, no. 4, 2007, pp. 302–306., doi:10.1016/j.ibiod.2006.09.004.
9 Elgayyar, M., et al. “Antimicrobial Activity of Essential Oils from Plants against Selected Pathogenic and Saprophytic Microorganisms.” Journal of Food Protection, vol. 64, no. 7, 2001, pp. 1019–1024., doi:10.4315/0362-028x-64.7.1019.
10 Sridhar, Soundharrajan Radhakrishanan, et al. “Antifungal Activity of Some Essential Oils.” Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, vol. 51, no. 26, 2003, pp. 7596–7599., doi:10.1021/jf0344082.
11 “Chemical Disinfectants.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 18 Sept. 2016,www.cdc.gov/infectioncontrol/guidelines/disinfection/disinfection-methods/chemical.html#Hydrogen.
12 Şahiner, Aslı et al. “Comparison of bactericidal and fungicidal efficacy of antiseptic formulations according to EN 13727 and EN 13624 standards.” Turkish journal of medical sciences vol. 49,5 1564-1567. 24 Oct. 2019, doi:10.3906/sag-1906-53
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14 Whitlow, Lon. (2006). Evaluation of mycotoxin binders. Proceedings of the 4th Mid-Atlantic Nutrition Conference.
15 Childs, et al. “Diet and Immune Function.” Nutrients, vol. 11, no. 8, 2019, p. 1933., doi:10.3390/nu11081933.
16 Otašević, S et al. “The dietary modification and treatment of intestinal Candida overgrowth – a pilot study.” Journal de mycologie medicale vol. 28,4 (2018): 623-627. doi:10.1016/j.mycmed.2018.08.002