Updated: Dec 16, 2022
Mold is a widespread problem in homes. Mold is a fungus that thrives on dampness and reproduces through lightweight spores that travel through the air. The tiny organisms can be of various colors ranging from black, white, orange, green, or purple and live indoors and outdoors.
We are exposed to mold daily and in small amounts, which is considered harmless, but when mold lands on a moist spot in your home and starts to grow, the spores they release, which you will breathe in, can easily make you sick (1).
Common Types of Mold
There are numerous varieties of mold; the most common kinds of mold that present the most severe health risks are:
Alternaria is found indoors and outdoors and usually appears in damp areas, like the sink, shower, or dark and dimly lit areas outside the home (2). Its black and brown spots can generally identify it. Health problems associated with this type of mold include asthma attacks and allergic reactions (3).
Aspergillus is typically found indoors and outdoors and is incredibly common, and it’s the most common household mold. This type of mold grows fastest in carbon-rich environments such as compost piles, rotting leaves, and decomposing vegetables. Still, it can also be found in relatively low-nutrient areas like damp walls, carpets, doors, windows, and pillows (2). It’s usually identified by its green, black, brown, and yellow colors. Health problems associated with this type of mold include respiratory infections, allergic reactions, and inflamed lungs (4).
Aureobasidium is often found indoors on wooden furniture, surfaces, painted walls, wallpaper, windows, and in caulk (2). Its pink and black color usually identifies it. Health problems associated with this type of mold include allergic reactions (5).
Chaetomium is found indoors, most commonly in the drywall that has experienced some water damage (2). It’s usually identified by a musty or mold odor in the home, and it’s a cotton-like texture that changes colors from white to grey to brown and eventually leads to black if not controlled. Health problems associated with this type of mold include allergic reactions, hay fever, asthma, allergic sinusitis, skin and nail infections, pulmonary mycosis, brain accesses, fatal cerebral infections, permanent neurological damage of the myelin sheath, and autoimmune diseases (6).
Cladosporium is found indoors and outdoors in cold and warm areas such as carpets, wood floorboards, wooden cabinets, and other fabrics (2). The brown, green, and black spots can help this mold identify. Health problems associated with this type of mold include allergic reactions, asthma, and other respiratory problems (7).
Fusarium is usually found in colder, wetter areas such as an overwatered houseplant (2). You can generally identify it on a plant after the leaves turn pale green to a golden yellow color and later wilt, wither, die, or completely fall off. Health problems associated with this type of mold include allergic reactions and respiratory issues (8).
Penicillium is usually found indoors, inside insulation, furnishings, water-damaged furniture, and carpeting (2). It usually spreads pretty quickly and can be identified by its vivid blue-green or yellow color. Health problems associated with this type of mold include sinus infections, lung inflammation, and allergic reactions (9).
Stachybotrys Chartarum, also known as black mold, is incredibly toxic (2). Black mold is the type I was exposed to, and I will be talking more about that experience later in this article. You can identify this type of mold by its black color and musty smell in areas that tend to stay damp, like air conditioning pipes/ducts, showers, sinks, and more. Health problems associated with this type of mold include breathing issues, sinus infections, fatigue, asthma, headaches, and more (10).
Serpula lacrymans are most often found outdoors but can grow indoors, too, usually on wooden surfaces (2). This mold is often identified after it has caused dry rot within the wood as it feeds solely on wooden surfaces. This mold is usually yellow in appearance. Health problems associated with this type of mold include hypersensitivity, pneumonia, sinusitis, bronchitis, asthma, and other respiratory problems (11).
Trichoderma is another damp area type of mold; you will usually find it within wet or damp carpeting, wallpaper, and similar surfaces (2). It can be identified by its white or cream color that becomes green. Health problems associated with this type of mold include sinus infection, allergic reactions, asthma, and other respiratory problems (12).
Ulocladium is found indoors and outdoors but most commonly in areas that have been heavily damaged by water, such as once flooded home areas (2). This type of mold is usually identified by its brown, grey, or black colors with a suede-like texture. Health problems associated with this type of mold include allergic reactions and infections (13).
What Causes Mold?
Now that we know what mold is and the 11 most common types of mold found in your home that present the most severe health risks, let's discuss what causes it. As mentioned earlier, mold thrives on moisture and travels through the air; meaning mold can enter your home through:
Heating and air conditioning vents
Clothing and shoes
Once the mold is inside your home, it will not grow unless the living conditions are right. Mold cannot latch on if the area isn’t moist with little light. Ideal living grounds for mold are:
In sinks, bathtubs, and showers
Near leaky pipes
In basements, crawl spaces, and attics (14)
What Are The Symptoms of Mold Exposure?
Now you know what mold is, the 11 most common types of mold found in homes that present the most severe health risks, how it enters your home, and where it lives, let's discuss symptoms of mold exposure. Some signs of mold exposure are:
You may be at higher risk for complications after mold exposure if you have certain medical conditions such as:
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder (COPD)
A compromised immune system
Cystic Fibrosis (15)
My Experience With Mold Exposure
In 2020, I completely stopped taking all of my medications; this included my medication for controlling my chronic migraines. When I gave up all my pharmaceutical drugs, I anticipated I would suffer from migraines. My DNA predisposes me to migraines, and I’ve dealt with debilitating migraines since I was a teenager. I was getting Botox done previously and was on several migraine preventatives that were working decent, but I was ready to take the leap and go 100% natural with my health. I prepared myself with Earthley’s Anxiety Calm Oil Formula P (CBD), Pain Potion, Anti-Inflammatory, Good Night Lotion, and some Peppermint Essential Oil from Simply Earth. I was ready for this step in my natural journey, but I wasn’t prepared for my mold exposure journey that came right after.
Upon discontinuing my medications, I started getting the worst debilitating migraines that would last days. I would go to sleep with them and wake up with them. I would try all my Earthley regimens with absolutely no success most days. I looked up other natural remedies and even started using Belladonna 30c from Olloiïs Homeopathy. I covered up the symptoms on the days it worked, not fixing the problem. I even tried using a memory foam pillow and seeing my chiropractor.
I didn’t realize that black mold was growing in my bathroom, on the ceiling. I showered but never really looked up in that area above the showerhead as I showered, facing the opposite direction. One day, I had gotten soap in my eye and went to rinse it out while facing the showerhead, looking up and noticing the black mold.
After my shower, I looked up symptoms of black mold, and there it was:
All the ones I capitalized and boldened were the symptoms I was experiencing during that time frame. I honestly have no clue how long I was being exposed to the black mold, but I am sure the medication I used to be on was helping to mask the symptoms of mold exposure.
When I told my husband, we instantly called the apartment manager and had them come and replace that part of the ceiling the next day.
For at least a year, I was walking around my home, my safe place, being exposed to a severe toxin that could have easily killed me due to already being immune-compromised and having asthma. In my years of dealing with 15+ migraine days per month, no doctor ever asked me about mold exposure, so I had no idea this could be the cause. I never thought to check my home for signs of mold.
After replacing the ceiling with mold, I ensured to support my body as it got back to normal with a vital detox that included eating whole food plant-based. I added the following products to enhance my body's natural detoxing abilities and support my immune system, which had recently been compromised even further:
Earthley's Gut Health Oil is an herbal tincture created to help detox your gut for improved health. Gut Health Oil combines anti-fungal oils such as coconut oil (16) with anti-inflammatory and antibacterial herbs such as calendula (17) as well as herbs such as clove to help prevent candida overgrowth in the gut (18). This herbal remedy is completed with pumpkin seed oil to help with gastrointestinal infections (19) and can help eliminate tapeworms (20). Use this oil to fight yeast, parasites, inflammation, stomach issues, and more. Take this prebiotic oil along with a probiotic diet and see the difference gut health can make post-mold exposure.
Earthley's Liver Love promotes liver health by supporting detox and proper function. The liver is a critical, hard-working organ post-mold exposure detox. This herbal tincture provides 100% natural support thanks to turmeric root, which has anti-inflammatory properties and protects the liver (21,22), and additional liver-supporting herbs such as dandelion root and peppermint leaf (23,24). This herbal remedy also includes milk seed thistle for extra liver-protecting properties (25) and black pepper for optimal nutrient absorption and promoting gut health (26).
Earthley's Cough-B-Gone is great for respiratory support, and one of my mold exposure symptoms was coughing. This herbal remedy contains mullein, which loosens and removes excess mucus in the respiratory system while also having anti-inflammatory properties, relaxing muscles, and relieving congestion (27). This tincture also has Fenugreek, which has antioxidant and antibacterial properties (28), and dandelion, which has many medical benefits, such as being rich in antioxidants and the potential to boost your immune system. To learn more regarding The Benefits of Dandelion, click here.
Earthley's Immune-Aid Vitamin C Powder is great for the immune system thanks to the orange peel powder, which is high in vitamin C and reduces the risk of disease associated with aging (29). Not to mention, orange peel has nearly 3x more vitamin C than the inner fruit (30). This vitamin C supplement also has camu camu, which is rich in vitamin C (31), and acerola berry powder, also high in vitamin C, has antioxidant and anti-aging properties (32). Vitamin C is also important for the immune system, particularly post-mold exposure.
Earthley's Lymphatic Cream is a lotion created to help relieve achy body parts caused by swollen lymph nodes. This cream tackles lymphatic congestion at the source and gently encourages drainage to help detox, reduce soreness, and improve overall wellness, especially post-mold exposure. This lotion uses cleavers for lymphatic stimulation and targets the lymphatic system to help to flush away clogged fluid (33). This cream combines yarrow and burdock root for their anti-inflammatory properties (34,35) and ginger root for additional anti-inflammatory properties, pain relief, and supporting gastrointestinal health (36). This remedy is completed with calendula for skin-healing effects and anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties (37). Lymphatic Cream is a great product to use after dry brushing. To learn more regarding The Importance of Dry Brushing, click here.
Earthley's Immune-Biotic uses immune-supporting herbs to give your body a jump start to fight off germs and toxins post-mold exposure. This tincture uses echinacea root, which naturally supports the entire immune system (38), and elderflower, which is used for its rich antioxidants and benefits in promoting whole-body health (39). This tincture also has astragalus root, a potent antioxidant, a natural inflammation inhibitor (40), and calendula, which is anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory (41). Last but not least, this herbal remedy contains dandelion root, which is used for its aid in balancing blood sugar and its anti-bacterial characteristics, and so much more (42).
MaryRuth’s Vitamin D3 Spray, or vitamin D, in general, is crucial for healing. Vitamin D plays many essential roles, including mood balancing, maintaining healthy bones, and regulating immune function — and roughly half of us are deficient (43). The best way to get vitamin D is through sun exposure since it may circulate for twice as long (44) but depending on where you are in the world, that may be difficult. I use MaryRuth’s Vitamin D3 Spray because Earthley’s option is not plant-based, but Earthley’s Vitamin D Cream is a great topical option that is ideal if you’re not plant-based, vegan, or vegetarian.
MaryRuth's Chlorophyll Liquid Drops, or chlorophyll in general, protects DNA from damage caused by mycotoxins like aflatoxin (45). Chlorophyll also aids and improves liver detoxification, speeds up wound healing, improves digestion, and fights inflammation (46).
MaryRuth's Liquid Ionic Zinc is an essential nutrient that is necessary for health, but the human body cannot synthesize it (47). Zinc can be found in legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and vegetables (48), but you can also supplement it. Zinc supports the immune system (49,50) while also having a protective anti-inflammatory effect (51). That is very important when healing from sickness, such as mold exposure. I use MaryRuth's Liquid Ionic Zinc because Earthley's option is not plant-based, but Earthley's Oyster-Min Capsules is a great option that is ideal if you're not plant-based, vegan, or vegetarian.
How To Deal With Mold Naturally
If you think think you’ve been exposed to mold, I suggest cleaning the surface, replacing the area, or whatever measures are appropriate depending on the location of the mold. There is some good news, though. Even if you have been exposed to mold, there are natural ways to treat mold poisoning, such as:
There are even natural ways to get rid of them instead of using toxic bleach, such as:
Tea Tree Oil
Grapefruit Seed Extract
Hydrogen peroxide (52)
Tips For Avoiding Mold Exposure
Avoiding mold exposure starts by preventing it from growing, which can successfully be done by following these steps:
Keep humidity levels low; the CDC recommends no higher than 50% humidity levels. Use an air conditioner or dehumidifier, especially in warmer climates.
Keep the air in your home circulating by using exhaust fans in the bathroom and the kitchen for adequate ventilation.
If you can visually see mold, clean it immediately. According to Harvard University, using a 1:10 ratio (1 bleach, 10 water) is ideal. Still, I recommend using one of the natural options, such as tea tree oil, baking soda, vinegar, grapefruit seed extract, or hydrogen peroxide.
Throw away any mold-covered items in your home. It’s best to replace the item instead of cleaning it thoroughly.
Do not carpet bathrooms or the basement of your home; this is a living ground for mold to grow.
Do not overwater houseplants; this is a living ground for mold to grow.
If you have a leak in your home, repair it immediately to avoid mold growth.