Toxic mold is a problem in any Tampa building that has been subjected to high humidity or water damage. It is especially prevalent in areas struck by hurricanes and tropical storms, which are common in South Florida. In Fact, Home Advisor recently ranked Florida number two in its list of “The Top 10 Worst States for Mold,” second only to Texas. It makes sense; according to, toxic mold “can grow almost anywhere there is enough moisture or high humidity,” and South Florida is the capital of high humidity.

Of special concern is Stachybotrys chartarum (also known as Stachybotrys atra or black mold), a greenish-black mold that can grow on drywall, sheetrock, ceiling tiles, and wood. This mold and several others produce mycotoxins, which compromise the immune system and trigger Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS), leading to a host of illnesses, including these:

  • Allergies and asthma
  • Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)
  • Chronic pain
  • Depression
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
  • Migraines
  • Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Sinus problems
  • Somatization (unexplained health conditions)
  • Stress
  • Temperature regulation or dysregulation problems
  • Tremors

Treatment for toxic mold is a two-step process:

  1. Treat the source (mold remediation) or remove yourself from the source. (This is often the more difficult step in the process.)
  2. Detox to remove the mycotoxins from your system.

Dealing with the Source

You have two options to deal with the source: remove the mold (remediation) or remove yourself (change jobs if the source is your workplace, or move if the source is your apartment home). Dealing with the source is the first order of business, because until you do so, your exposure to mold toxins will continue to plague you.

If mold is growing in the house you own, mold remediation is key, whether or not you decide to sell it and move. I recommend hiring a company that specializes in mold remediation. While any reputable company will perform a thorough inspection and do whatever necessary to eliminate the mold, you should look for a company with membership in the International Cleaning & Restoration Association, and then another membership — in the Society of Cleaning & Restoration Technicians. Combined, these two standards-based organizations should ensure that your mold remediation contractor is up-to-speed on the latest trends and safest restoration techniques in the space.

Another option is to do it yourself using common household products, such as ammonia or vinegar solutions, or purchasing and using special antifungal products. You can find plenty of antifungal products, including sprays and mold bombs, online or at your local hardware store. Unfortunately, the do-it-yourself option has two major drawbacks:

  • You may not find or eliminate all mold. Toxic mold can grow underneath carpeting, behind walls, in crawl spaces that are difficult to access, or in ductwork. In addition, you may not be able to tell whether you have killed the mold — it may appear to be dead and gone when it is still live and growing. Severe mold infestation may require replacing drywall and carpeting and performing other major home repairs.
  • You are likely to increase your exposure to mold and spread the mold. Removing mold through scrubbing and vacuuming can stir up the mold spores and toxins, making more of them airborne and increasing your toxic load. Mold spores can also become airborne spreading to other areas of your home.

Even after mold remediation, some people are so sensitive to the mycotoxins that they need to move out of their homes or change jobs (in the case of a workplace infestation). Some even move out of state, choosing to live in a more arid area of the country.

The good news here is that dealing with the source may be the first and last step in the process; if your body is able, it can detox itself — eliminating the mycotoxins from your system. Unfortunately, the toxic load may be at a level that inhibits your body’s ability to eliminate the toxins, or you may be a member of the population that is genetically unable to do so. In such cases, or if you decide to speed up the process, medically supervised detox can do wonders, and that’s where I come in.

Twenty-five to twenty-eight percent (25% to 28%) of the population has the genetic predisposition to struggle with mold toxin, according to noted alternative medicine proponent and osteopathic physician, Dr. Joe Mercola. Evidence is building that people who are sensitive to mold become hypersensitive to gluten, as well, and experience more adverse food reactions.

Medically Supervised Mold Detox

When your body is exposed to a mycotoxin, the body tags it as foreign invader and moves it to the liver for clearance. Normally, your liver would eliminate the toxin, and you would remain healthy. However, continuous or repeated exposure and/or a genetic inability to tag and eliminate certain mycotoxins leads to a systemic inflammatory response that sets off multiple biochemical reactions triggering a wide variety of neurological, musculoskeletal, and respiratory symptoms.

Successful treatment for mold toxicity involves boosting the body’s natural ability to kill off the mold and flush the mold and toxins from your body (mold detox). Treatments that strengthen the body’s ability to eliminate the mold and toxins include the following:

  • Dietary modifications to stop feeding the mold or yeast in the digestive tract.
  • Antifungals to kill off any mold in the body. (only do this, if you 100% have found conclusively that you have yeast infection) There have been reports of physicians treating with anti-fungal when yeast is not in fact the problem and this will make thing worse. Most mold problems have nothing to do with mold growing inside the body. Natural antifungals are going to be safer and carry less long term concerns for those that need to use them, typically for gut health. Antifungals include prescription medications, such as plyenes, triazoles, imidazoles, and llylamines, along with natural antifungals, including garlic, oil of oregano, pau d’ arco, olive leaf extract, caprylic acid (in coconut), barberry, and grapefruit seed extract. (Nystatin is a commonly used prescription antifungal.)
  • Medications and supplements to sequester mold from liver. Cholestyramine (CSM) is used primarily to lower cholesterol, but it also binds with mycotoxins to prevent them from being reabsorbed into the system. Activated charcoal and bentonite clay are natural binding agents often taken with CSM to help the liver sequester and eliminate mycotoxins.
  • Supplements to support the liver, including choline, glutathione, and milk thistle, which can help the body to flush mold toxins from the liver.
  • Treatments to increase alpha-Melanocyte Stimulating Hormone (a-MSH) levels, including ultraviolet (UV) light exposure and eliminating Multiple Antibiotic Resistant Coagulase Negative Staphylococci (MARCoNs) — a common bacteria that infects the nasal passages and lowers a-MSH levels.

Once the problem has been identified, the mold has been remediated (in the home, school, or office), and my patients receive effective treatment to eliminate the mold and toxins from their bodies, most people fully recover and feel much better.

If you feel like you’ve been exposed to mold and are ready to do something about it, please give me a call to schedule an appointment: (718) 813-9299.

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About the Author: Dr. Matt Lewis, D.C., CFMP®, specializes in diagnosing and treating the underlying causes of the symptoms related to chronic and unexplained illness through nutrition, lifestyle, chiropractic, and other natural approaches to whole-health healing in Tampa, Florida. He earned his B.S. in Biology from Shenandoah University, his Doctorate in Chiropractic from Life University, his CFMP® from Functional Medicine University, and his certification as a Digestive Health Specialist (DHS) through the Food Enzyme Institute. Dr. Lewis’ passion for health and wellness stems from his own personal experience. With a family history of autoimmune conditions and diabetes, and his own lab tests showing his genetic susceptibility to Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (autoimmune thyroid), he has learned how to restore his own health and vigor to prevent the onset of these illnesses and live an incredibly active life. Through this process, he acquired a deeper understanding of health and wellness, which he now offers his patients in Tampa.