How to Treat a Moldy House? Living in the Pacific North West
As previously mentioned in my Candida & Fungal blog, a fungal infection can cause a myriad of health issues. Patients come to me every day with a fungal or mold issue. In some it causes weight gain, others respiratory issues, others bloating and gastrointestinal (GI) issues, or in others virtually every other chronic illness out there. One common question is do I have mold in my house? And this then leads to How to Treat a Moldy House?
Mold loves to grow in a dark, warm, moist environment. While this fits the human body perfectly, it also is many homes in moist environments, especially up here in the Pacific Northwest (PNW). Previously while in practice in Arizona one would think mold issues in houses wouldn’t occur. Sadly this is not the case. It’s especially not the case in the Pacific North West.
Many People get Sick After Moving into a Moldy Home:
One patient came to me this spring complaining of gaining 20 pounds in the past year since moving to AZ. She was very active and ate a fairly strict Paleo style diet. After doing a full consultation and case history I discovered her health issues occurred after moving into a new home. Based on our case history and Applied Kinesiology testing, a candida/fungal issue appeared to be a big concern. We treated her with a special tailored program to help with the fungal issue. I also had her put an essential oil diffuser in her room with it containing tea tree oil and cedarwood (both are anti-fungal). Two weeks later on our follow-up visit her energy was the best it had been in months and she had dropped close to 10 pounds. Unknown to me, her daughter had developed a cough ever since moving into the new home. She said her daughter’s cough went away the first night the diffuser was used. Two days later she turned the diffuser off, and the cough came back. The next day she turned it back on, and the cough went away again.
It’s not very hard to help someone struggling with a fungal issue. Every person gets a tailored plan of supplements and dietary instructions since no one person is the same. Doing this we can often make enormous improvements in 2-4 weeks. We also have to be careful one isn’t still being exposed to the mold source. These sources can include ones spouse, their home, place of work, or any other place they spend much time.
A common misconception is that if they’ve never had a visible water leak they don’t have mold. Many people have no visible water leaks but can still have mold growing due to increased moisture levels in the air. Living in Washington State makes us very prone to this.
Checking for Mold in Your Home:
Sometimes a mold issue in ones home is very treatable. In other cases, some very serious remediation is needed, or moving homes. Most people don’t have to take this type of dramatic step, but in some it is the only way.
For people who suspect mold in their house I have them bring in air samples so we can evaluate it. There are also some laboratory tests where you can send out samples to see how much mold is in your home. Not everyone responds the same to mold though and some people who live in a very moldy house may feel great while someone else who is more susceptible to mold may feel awful in a home with very low levels. That’s a reason why I like to do in office evaluations in addition to appropriate laboratory testing, so I can see exactly how you are being affected by what’s in your air.
Reasons to think you might have a mold issue in your house:
- There is visible mold growing anywhere in your home
- You have had water leaks behind the walls or in the ceiling
- There is a damp/musty smell in certain rooms/areas of your house
- You feel better when you go on vacation vs when you live at home
- While many people feel better when leaving for a vacation away from a moldy home, not all do since they have fungal infection growing inside that needs to be treated also. When gone you aren’t being exposed to new sources, but once it is already growing it often won’t go away on its own.
How to Treat a Moldy House, a Step-by-Step Guide:
- If you have seen any visible mold you need to clean it properly. Wear gloves, glasses, and a mask and wipe the mold off using a mix of water and Tea Tree and Cedarwood oils. You can also do a mixture of water with 20 Mule Team Borax.
Rent, borrow, or buy an ozonator. Ozone gas can kill mold that it is able to reach. If the mold is deep beneath the drywall then most likely an ozonator won’t work.
- Recently a patient had a fungal issue they couldn’t get rid of. After talking about possible sources we talked about how in their wine cellar they recently had some mold growth. We brought in and checked air samples from their home and it seemed to be coming from the wine cellar and adjacent pantry. Treating both with the oils mentioned above and then ozonating we were able to help prevent her symptoms from returning, while previously they kept recurring.
- To treat with an ozonator you need one to work for the appropriate square footage of the area being treated. I have a person close up their home by closing windows and turning off any ventilation. They then turn on the ozonator and leave it on for 8-12 hours. They then come back, turn it off, and open all the windows and doors to help ventilate the house. You do NOT want to be exposed to ozone for long periods of time, which is why I have a person then leave their house for several hours to let the house outgas and get rid of the ozone smell before staying in the home.
- Sometimes this has to be repeated 2-3 times.
- I often have a person use an essential oil diffuser in their bedroom or any other rooms we identified as possibly being moldy. I have them use an equal blend of Tea Tree oil and Cedarwood. This will not get rid of the mold infection (as an ozonator sometimes can) but it is safe to breath in, and it can greatly reduce the mold count/symptoms caused by mold in a house. I more look at this as a temporary boost/bandaid while the root cause is being addressed.
- In some bad cases of mold growth professional remediation has to be done. This can be costly and take time, but in bad mold cases it sometimes can be the only option between never getting rid of ones health issues or moving houses.
- Unfortunately, not all moldy houses can be treated. It’s never the news you want to share with someone, but I have had a couple patients where I’ve had told them how professionally I don’t think that they will get better unless they move from their house.
- Even in mild cases, ones bed and pillows need to be checked. A mattress can gain up to 7 pounds from mold growth in the first year a person uses it. This can be even more in a moldy house. In some cases a new mattress must be purchased after getting rid of the mold growth in a home. If a person has had a mold issue I always tell them to go and buy a new pillow. Clothing may need special cleaning as well as furniture in some cases.
How to Treat a Fungal Infection After the Mold is Gone
After treating the mold in ones house there are other things that need to be done. In addition to making sure ones furniture, clothing, pillows, etc. aren’t moldy you and your significant other (and/or anyone else who lived in the house) need to be treated also. Simply leaving (or fixing) a moldy environment doesn’t get rid of the mold growing inside you. In some people simply leaving a moldy environment will get rid of all of their symptoms, but this is extremely rare. You still need to be evaluated and treated. The difference is now that you are no long being exposed to the source, you shouldn’t have the symptoms continually recur after treatment. Your significant other needs to be treated also so you don’t pass microbes back and forth. This can also apply to pets that lick you.
Moldy houses and fungal / candida overgrowth in people can cause a plethora of health issues. Weight gain, depression, anxiety, insomnia, brain fog, etc. can all be caused by fungal overgrowth. Treating them doesn’t have to take long if you ensure you aren’t being exposed to more while being treated. Doing one without the other won’t often achieve good results.
Living in Gig Harbor, Tacoma, Seattle, Olympia, Portland or anywhere in the Pacific Northwest doesn’t mean you have to suffer from a moldy house or fungal infection symptoms. You can live healthy and symptom free if careful. That means being vigilant in ones house. If a water leak ever occurs stopping it immediately and treating it as if a mold issue has occurred is key. Don’t just assume it is nothing. By doing this and other protective measures there is no reason one cannot get rid of a mold or fungal issue living in the beautiful PNW.
-Dr. Noah Lebowitz is a second generation Chiropractor and Applied Kinesiologist practicing in Tacoma / Seattle WA. Dr. Lebowitz treats the chronically ill patient with fatigue, intestinal issues, depression, autoimmune conditions, etc. The patients he sees have often seen many other doctors beforehand and are able to be helped using the unique protocol developed by Michael Lebowitz DC. He also works with professional athletes (including NHL and MLB All-Stars and MVP players) and amateurs working to optimize muscle function and nutrition helping decrease injuries and increase performance.