two-part series by Maoshing Ni, D.O.M.,L.Ac. and Gary S. Smolker, Esq.
which illuminates health and practical environmental considerations on
the subject matter.
In Part One of this article, I discussed the problems of mold infestation
and its potential impact to one’s health. I pointed out that in Chinese
Medicine, dampness is considered to be the cause of many illnesses such
as high cholesterol, cancer, metabolic disorders, chronic fatigue
syndrome, fibromyalgia, allergies, environmental illness and as
a progenitor of mold which may lead to diseases such as candidiasis and
in extreme cases, mycotoxic syndrome, which in some cases can be fatal.
This article will focus on prevention and treatment options.
Initial symptoms of mold infestation may begin as common allergic
reactions of sneezing, runny nose, sinus congestion, itchy eyes and
skin, tightness in the chest, shortness of breath and fatigue. Over time
however, these allergic symptoms may lessen or worsen depending on your
individual immunity. Often, long-term exposure may create serious
consequences such as breakdown in digestive, immune and neurological
functions leading to the following symptoms:
gastric esophygeal reflux disorder (GERD)
thrush or thick,white tongue coating
mucus or blood in the stool
constant sore throat
recurring sinus problems
yeast infections (women)
dizziness or vertigo
joint or muscle pain
or weakness of body and/or limbs
malaise or extreme fatigue
numbness & tingling
Currently, there is no standard testing for
mold’s impact on human health. Often when there is evidence of systemic
fungal/yeast infection, it can be serious or potentially fatal. There
is, however, technical testing for structural mold infestation in
buildings by collecting air samples for spore concentration.
Since mold requires moisture to thrive,
keeping the relative humidity low within your living and working
quarters is essential. If you live in an area that gets much rain and is
humid, then a dehumidifier is a must. It constantly keeps the humidity optimal for your health and prevents
excess mold spores from being released into the air. Also since the
bathroom is usually the room with the most moisture, it’s a good idea to
either keep a dehumidifier in the bathroom or hang a moisture absorbing
material such as volcanic rock in a bag (sold in many hardware stores).
Don’t forget to empty the water tray from the dehumidifier on a daily
basis so that water doesn’t collect and feed the mold organisms.
Clean Humidifiers Regularly
Many people use humidifiers at night to help
them breath due to respiratory disease. However, one must take care and
clean the humidifier regularly to avoid contributing to bacterial or
mold infestation. Generally, weekly soaking and washing with a solution
of hydrogen peroxide or bleach is sufficient. Or you can put solution of
apple cider vinegar (one cup vinegar to one gallon water) in the
humidifier weekly to kill any bacterial or mold that may collect in the
Bake Your House Seasonally
During and after a rainy season, I suggest
that you spend a weekend away from your home, seal all doors and
windows, turn up your thermostat to maximum temperature and allow the
heat do the job of drying out the air for a 48 hour period. This will
effectively kill off any active mold infestation and spores, albeit, temporarily.
Most mold species require a temperature between 40-100 degrees
Fahrenheit, so heating up your house to over 100 degrees, virtually
wipes out the current mold population that may have been residing in
your house or workplace. Be sure to unplug any appliances, including
computers, that are prone to overheating.
Repair Water Leaks Immediately
If you discover any leaks or flooding,
fix it right away so that you don’t allow mold to grow and multiply.
Make sure you thoroughly dry out the affected area, whether it’s a
carpet or drywall. Unfortunately, with drywall construction, the
moisture is absorbed into the walls and becomes nearly impossible to dry
out. Water damage on drywall requires cutting out the bottom of the
drywall (minimally one foot from the floor), disinfecting the affected
area, drying the wall with a commercial blower for 3 full days and
replacing it with new drywall.
Ventilating the affected area properly eliminates the dampness and mold
spores. A water damage company can help you with this process.
For Poor Drainage and Water Pooling Outside
doesn’t have to be inside your resident or workplace to make you sick. A
high concentration of mold spores around a building can find its way
inside. Check sprinkler heads to make sure that they are not spraying
the house wall. Inspect the crawl space underneath your house to make
sure no pipe are leaking or water pooling. Put in appropriate drains to
move water away from the building.
Let the Sun Shine In
Since mold prefers damp and dark environments,
opening blinds and windows during the day and letting the sunlight into
your house or work is the single best thing you can do to counter the
unhealthy build up of mold in your immediate environment. Furthermore,
the UV rays from the sun can kill most mold species. Of course, protect
any furniture or appliances from the damage of the UV rays.
Maintain Good Health and Immune Function
There is no better prevention
of mold-induced illness than to maintain good health. Healthy diet,
regular exercise, adequate rest and sleep, and avoiding emotional and
physical extremes is the best ways to protect yourself. Since the immune
system protects you from infection or invasion of radicals, the
following herbs are what you can use regularly to help strengthen your
Much research in recent years has revealed this herb’s immune
boosting functions, to increase white blood cell production, phagocytosis and T-lymphocyte help cell activities
Traditionally used to protect body from external pathogens by its
astringent properties. It is also one of the highest natural sources of
A natural anti-microbial herb used for centuries to increase
resistance and fight against bacterial, viral and fungal infections.
*The above-mentioned herbs are found in a Traditions of Tao formula
called “Perpetual Shield.”
Chinese Medicine Approach
main focus in mold-induced conditions is to eliminate the dampness.
However, if one has good health to begin with, it would be hard for
dampness or mold to take hold of the body in the first place.
Therefore, besides dampness being the culprit in many cases, there are
other predisposing factors that allow the body to get sick with the
opportunistic illnesses. These factors include low immune function, weak
Spleen and digestion, dwindling metabolic and Kidney fire.
The reader will find the following useful to incorporate into
their treatment strategy:
Eliminate Dampness and Detoxify
Strengthen Spleen and Digestive Function
Re-Kindle the Metabolic and Kidney Fire
Diet and Nutrition
foods that cause dampness in your body: Milk products (except yogurt),
sugar and sweets, white flour, refined starch and highly processed
starch products, alcohol, excess raw fruits (sugar) and vegetables (mold
from the soil), excess mushrooms and fungi, icy and cold beverages
(which immobilize immune cells on the walls of digestive track), fatty,
greasy and deep fried foods, excess fermented, yeast containing foods
and excess vinegar.
Eat More Cooked Foods and Less Raw Foods
Eat more spices that contain
yeast/fungus-inhibiting properties such as garlic, onion, pepper,
cinnamon, ginger, scallion, cayenne, basil, rosemary, dill, oregano,
sage, parsley, cardamon, fennel, anise, clove, coriander, leek and
The harmful impact of stress on normal functions especially
the immune function is well documented by many studies. A daily stress
management program is essential to maintaining healthy immune and other
A daily 15-minute meditation, such as the Stress Release Meditation
(available at Tao of Wellness), has been shown to be effective in
reducing the stressful effects in the body.
Tuina Body Therapy
By employing bodywork techniques to adjust structural
alignment, open up energy channels, improve blood and lymphatic
circulation, Tuina can help breakup the accumulated damp toxin and help
the body eliminate it.
Moxibustion Heat Therapy
This ancient treatment technique involves
burning the herb Mugwort to heat and warm the joints and the abdomen,
dry dampness and remove blockages from the body. Good for digestive,
reproductive and arthritic conditions.
Effective in restoring and supporting healthy functions in
the immune system, digestive system, spleen and kidney system functions.
There are herbs that eliminate damp toxins. The following
herbs can be found in the formula “B-Slim” which can also be made into a
Known for its property to reduce excess accumulation of
dampness and fluids in the body, it also detoxifies and improves
Traditionally used during humid summer weather to eliminate
dampness, detoxify, improve digestion and reduce excess weight.
Eaten throughout Asia as part of one’s diet, it has been
prized for its property to strengthen the Spleen and improve digestion,
eliminate dampness and detoxify. It also possesses anti-fungal and
Dampness produces toxins in the body.
The following herbs are effective detoxifiers and can be found in the
highly regarded for its liver cleansing and detoxification
actions, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial. Dandelion also eliminates
Better known for its cardiovascular strengthening properties,
it also improves fat metabolism, digestion and elimination of dampness.
Improves sinus function and reduces excess mucus production,
it also helps to open pores and eliminate dampness.
When Dampness accumulates
in the body, it tends to affect the muscles and joints.
The following herbs are useful to clear the damp toxins from the muscles
and joints. It can be found in the formula “Healthy
An herb that is traditionally used to relieve muscle and joint
pain due to damp toxins accumulating in tissue.
One of the earliest used herbs, it is prized for its
circulation improving properties that also relieves pain from damp
toxins in the muscles and joints.
Particularly know for its positive results for problems of the joints of
lower extremities. Eliminates damp toxin accumulation.
Dampness weakens one’s digestion.
A weak digestion allows Dampness to form. The following herbs improve
spleen and digestive functions and re-energizes, they can be found in
the formula “Abundant Energy”.
One of the most commonly used herbs in Asia, it is known to strengthen
Spleen function, improve digestion, increase energy and relieve fatigue.
Traditionally used to harmonize the stomach, aid digestion, relieve
abdominal bloating and decrease gas.
An herb that regulates appetite, strengthens spleen function, stimulates
gastric juices and improves bowel functioning.
Dampness diminishes the metabolic and Kidney Fire.
herbs are used to re-kindle metabolic fire and Kidney function and can
be found in the formula “Enduring Youth”.
A tonic herb that strengthens kidney functions, and increases metabolic
Much research has shown this herb to be an effective adaptogen that
helps boost the immune system. It is also used to strengthen kidney
A mushroom that grows on pine tree rhizomes that strengthen spleen and
kidney functions, eliminates damp toxins, and counters the activities of
Another way one can prevent accumulating dampness from seasonal changes
is with the “Four Season Teas”.
Helps to enliven the body, shake off the winter malaise in the body,
eliminates stale energy and damp toxins from the body.
Helps to warm the body and keep fluids circulating unimpeded, thereby
preventing dampness from accumulating.
All the herbal products mentioned above are available at
The problem with mold is increasing due to heightened
awareness and better understanding of how excess exposure can create
harm to the body.
It is up to each individual to become sensitive to one’s environment, to
identify possible causal factors and be proactive to prevent mold
infestation. More importantly, it is each individual’s responsibility to
maintain his or her health and well being through steps outlined in this
article and other advice. By being proactive, no one needs to fall
victim to mold problems and the ensuing health devastation afflicting
many Americans today.