Mold is all around us. From those wet towels stuffed in an old gym bag, to the forgotten carton of tomatoes sitting in the back of the fridge — molds have found a comfortable home in just about every human domain. And depending on who you are, it could be impacting your health.
Jill Crista is a naturopathic doctor based in Janesville, Wis., who was having difficulty treating some of her patients until there was a breakthrough.
"We would try something different or we would augment a little bit, they’d do it 110 percent and they just weren’t getting better. And then one of those patients, in his home they found black mold — and that was the 'boom,' that was the moment it was like, 'Oh, OK,' "she explains.
Dr. Crista's new book, Break the Mold: 5 Tools To Conquer Mold and Take Back Your Health, was inspired by her own experiences with mold, both as a health professional and a patient. To help her patients figure out if mold could be an issue for them, she created a survey, which she features in her book. Many of the symptoms are similar to various autoimmune disease, due in part to the fact that mold can heighten the symptoms of existing autoimmune problems in people.
Break the Mold lists five different "tools" people can use to deal with mold exposure.
"Avoidance, avoidance, avoidance," says Crista. "If you don't get out of the moldy environment, there's no amount of band-aiding and chasing we can do to get somebody better. So, that's the first thing."
This refers to some of the basic tips on healthy living that naturopathic doctors give their patients. "Like eating right, exercise, getting sleep, healthy relationships," Crista explains.
3. Protecting your body
Crista says there are things people can take to make their body more resistant to mold, like milk thistle. Protecting your body can also include wearing protective gear (like a face mask) when entering spaces that tend to have mold, including any space that has experienced water damage or a tightly sealed basement.
4. Repairing any damage
Repairing damage to your body can mean a few different things. Break the Mold offers several tips on how to do this, including using a sauna and eating bioflavonoids, the colorful pigment in fruits and vegetables. The book also suggests taking some supplements, including melatonin.
5. Kill the mold
Killing or "breaking" the mold is the final step. Removing the mold from your body requires using antifungal therapies. As a naturopathic doctor, Crista looks to naturally antifungal things like Pau D'Arco tea and holy basil/Tulsi.
Crista recognizes that many people cannot escape mold exposure but says there are ways of making these tools work for your lifestyle.
"In each of those tools there are various things that you can pick and choose that match what you're willing to do," she says. "Not everybody needs to use every single tool, but you do need to use something from each of those five categories in order to 'break' the mold."