A chiropractor, Dr. Emily Kiberd never expected to add “mold specialist” to her list of qualifications.
But then, she also never expected to find herself in at least a dozen moldy homes over the past 14 years, from New York City to Colorado.
Over the years, she’s repeatedly seen mold-related symptoms arise in herself and her family. Each time, she’s taken a multi-pronged approach to detox her body and either leave her home or remediate.
Emily shares her journey and what she’s learned along the way about recovery, inspection, remediation, and more.
Linking Symptoms to Mold Exposure
Emily’s first known brush with mold came in a Chinatown flat in New York City. A leak in the ceiling led to symptoms such as eczema, fatigue, and itchy ears and nostrils.
But it wasn’t until later, in her next condo, that she finally connected recurring symptoms to mold. She initially chalked those symptoms up to being a new mom, putting in long days, or working out too hard at the gym.
When Emily got more extensive testing – via a functional medicine MD – she uncovered mold toxicity and Hashimoto’s disease were behind her mold symptoms.
Just as concerning, her young son had eczema, grayness in the corners of his eyes, and was angry from the moment he woke up. Emily soon came to believe the latter was neural inflammation related to mold.
The family moved ahead with a $20,000 remediation after a top-rated mold inspector pinpointed problem areas. But post-remediation testing still turned up mold, leading the family to make the tough choice to leave.
“That condo was our everything,” Emily says. “My husband proposed to me there. I had two home births in that condo.”
Mold: A Multi-State Stalker
Emily’s family looked for drier pastures, choosing to move to Boulder, CO.
Wary from their experience, they invested in an extensive inspection of their 1970s home before starting a remodel but didn’t find any signs of mold. Then when the remodel brought down walls, they found water damage around every wall, window, and door.
That kicked off a series of moves from rental home to rental home, with four out of five turning up mold.
In each moldy rental, Emily experienced the familiar mold symptoms, as did her son, daughter, and husband.
“It’s hard to not feel safe in your home,” she says. “It really gives you this PTSD fight or flight like you want to get outside. You don’t want to be in your home. And it really adds on the stress.”
Mold Detox Protocol and Practices
Besides leaving moldy environments, Emily has followed a protocol to detox her body. For her, that has included frequent sauna sweats and taking glutathione to help with detox. To draw out the mold in her body, she takes binders and supplements to support her liver and kidneys through detoxification. Binders of various types literally bond with the mold in your tissues and carry it out.
Just as critical, she says, is keeping her bowels moving – especially because binders can be constipating. For that, she takes magnesium oxide.
For cleaner air, the family invested in air filters in every room and they open windows whenever possible.
To reduce overall inflammation, Emily does cold plunges.
She has found her children to be more resilient in recovering from mold. Their symptoms have disappeared simply by leaving moldy spaces.
With a familiar, tested protocol, Emily has returned to feeling like herself – despite the repeated mold exposure.
She credits mold detox, in part, for helping her control her autoimmune disorder.
“I put my Hashimoto’s into remission,” she says. “I think dealing with mold was one of the top three game changers in terms of putting it into remission.”
Mold Symptoms and Sensitivity
It’s estimated that about 25% of the population is more genetically sensitive to mold, which is why some members of a house may be affected when others are not.
Possible mold symptoms are wide-ranging, including fatigue, brain fog, eczema, unexplained weight gain, itchy ears and nostrils, hair loss, eye pain, muscle spasms, gut issues, and food sensitivities – just to name a few.
To test yourself for mold toxicity, you can choose from several different lab tests, usually ordered by a functional medicine practitioner or naturopath. They run a few hundred dollars out of pocket, but may be worth it to link symptoms with mold illness.
Ideally, your test lines up with the mycotoxins found in your home, but that’s not always the case.
Emily’s Tips for Addressing Mold – In Your Body and Home
Emily has found a few helpful inspectors and remediators along the way. However, she’s frequently needed to become her own investigator to get to the source of exposure.
How can you explore on your own?
An ERMI dust sample test can identify if you have mold species in your home. From there, you may choose to have an investigator look further or do more extensive self-inspections.
To inspect on your own, look for bubbling on walls, nails popping out of walls, peeling paint, discoloration, condensation between windows, and cracking in molding or where the wall meets the ceiling.
If you do see something suspicious, she recommends a moisture meter to find moisture behind walls, a thermography gun for behind-wall temperature differences, or a boroscope (camera) to look behind walls with minimal damage.
She also suggests checking your HVAC system regularly.
“Doing an ERMI test or a dust sample will tell you, ‘Okay, there’s mold in the house.’ It’s not going to tell you where it is, but hopefully, a good inspector would be able to piece together the story,” she says.
If you do find mold, Emily stresses that the investigator and remediator should be different companies. Also, be sure to choose a remediator who follows the IICRC S520 Standard for Professional Mold Remediation.
As another option, trained “mold dogs” can sniff out the location of mold when human inspectors cannot.
Different types of mold prefer different types of building materials, such as wood or HVAC systems – clues that may help pinpoint the location.
In the presence of mold, how do you decide to stay or go?
“I think it’s the extent of the water damage,” she says. “How you feel in the home, like if you are debilitated in the home, is it really worth it?”
If you can remediate without spreading it, and have the financial resources to do so, then you might choose to stay, she adds.
After remediation, a post-test is critical to ensure that all mold is removed.
Emily knows well the physical, emotional, mental, and financial tolls of mold exposure and encourages others to stay hopeful that they can get better. These days, she’s expanded her Hashimoto’s practice to include helping others with mold detox and guiding them through the steps to find the source.
“It can, when we’re in it, feel like you’re drowning like, ‘How am I ever gonna feel better or feel like myself again,’” she says. “Or ‘How am I ever gonna get to the other side of this?’ And you can. You just gotta take the steps like little by little. Every day is a new day. And just hold the hope.”
Mentioned resources and links:
Find Emily: www.DrEmilyKiberd.com and @DrEmilyKiberd
“Surviving Mold: Life in the Era of Dangerous Buildings,” Ritchie Shoemaker
“Break the Mold: 5 Tools to Conquer Mold and Take Back Your Health,” Dr. Jill Crista
Home mold testing:
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