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  • Writer's pictureBritany Libutty

Back to the Bare Basics: A general list of Where to Start?

Updated: Feb 17, 2022

If you are beginning this journey and you have JUST been diagnosed as affected by mold or mycotoxins or you ARE THINKING that these issues sound like ones that you have after researching yourself, you may be wondering where do I start?




Where to start With Yourself:


1) Online there is an extremely simple visual test that you can take for free here: https://www.vcstest.com/

or for $15 on Richie Shoemaker's site:


The only differences are that the free website asks you to calibrate your computer before taking the test, and on the free site they disclaim, "Currently, new individual/patient accounts receive one free test initially, though free results are limited to a positive/negative determination and raw VCS scores. If you need a detailed results interpretation and a printable/forwardable PDF, if you'd like to have your results forwarded to your referring healthcare provider, or if you want to test again, we request a small contribution, though we offer free services to those experiencing illness-related financial difficulties." So there are things to think about when deciding.


The reason to take this test is that it shows with around 95-97% accuracy if you have a toxin or biotoxin related illness. False positives are really really rare, so it is almost a slam dunk that if you are positive on this test that you need to get to a functional medicine or holistic medicine doctor asap to figure out the why behind your illness.


Bonus, You can continuously track you treatment progress if you retake this test every 3-6 months. You see the progress as your test results change over time.


(I use with Shoemaker's site. He is called the "godfather" of CIRS with regards to water damaged buildings and is one of the pioneers of mold research.)


2) You'll need to take a mycotoxin urine test to see the levels of mycotoxins being excreted in your urine. This may or may not need to be a "provoked" test depending our your genetic makeup and also how stalled your detox pathways are.


When I say "provoked" I mean taking a small amount of Liposomal Glutathione for 5 days prior to your mycotoxin test and doing something else to get the toxins moving around your body- like taking a very warm Epsom salt bath, walking quickly or jogging on a treadmill, or sweating for half and hour in a sauna bag or room prior to testing.


Sometimes people receive their mycotoxin test results and they are completely empty and people assume they don't have a problem- wrong. It could mean that your detox pathways are too stalled to excrete toxins correctly, or that your genetics make toxin removal difficult for you.


You can order mycotoxin labs from:

through a medical provider

or

your can order yourself.


I chose to go with what my doctor recommended since she's been doing this for a very long time.


3) Find a knowledgeable medical professional that can then: interpret your test results, listen to your medical and environmental history, evaluate your current symptoms, and then begin your treatment plan.


4) Your diet. I am assuming you are very aware that something profoundly different is occurring to your body, and any changes that you have with your gastrointestinal system (minor or major) are very very likely. The first thing I did even before I knew mold and mycotoxins were heavy issues for me was completely change my diet. As in immediately and entirely with no looking back. In my mind, I knew that I had to drastically change everything I had the power to change, and that those changes would help facilitating healing against whatever else I was battling.


The famous quote by Greek physician Hippocrates, “Let food be thy medicine, and let medicine be thy food” couldn't be more true. Food is the way that nutrients. vitamins and minerals get into our body to fuel our growth, energy, and repair systems. We don't live without adequate amounts of all of those things and water.


Specific diets generally recommended for mold sick individuals are Keto, Paleo, AIP paleo, GAPS or the Walsh Protocol. Each of these has wonderous advantages in regards to making digestion easier on our body, changing the amounts of nutrients we are ingesting, and flooding our body with good resources we need to fuel the energy needed getting the shit out of our bodies.


I started off with AIP paleo before I had any doctor understanding what the hell was going on (still didn't have a diagnosis) and saw immediate changes that may see minor now, but felt major then.

Since, I have healed somewhat and been able to bounce around between keto, paleo, and the Wahls Protocol- I tend to follow the wants of my body and cycle between these for a week or two at a time. I have read a lot about keto, and know that people aren't meant to stay in ketosis for a long period of time or there may be averse health risks. What I eat now absolutely helps provide more energy for me and gives me better digestion.

Also now that I am recovering and healing, from time to time I make myself a "treat", (usually keto or paleo). My deal with myself is though that if I want the treat, I generally have to bake it/make it myself. If I want the treat, I need to put in the effort to choose quality ingredients and work through the process of creating it. And honestly, the effort put in really makes it taste so much more delicious!

If I ever begin to get too lenient and make treats a few days in a row, my body always reminds me quickly to get back on top of my nutrition.

(It is nice to be able to have a treat once in a long while though! It used to be an actual dream of mine when I was bedbound, so it is amazing to see how far I have come!)


Please read about each of the fore mentioned diets and decide what the merits may be for you. Discuss them with your doctor or a nutritionist that is knowledgeable about genetics, mold illness, and vitamin and mineral depletion.


Another note: Try not to lament what you can't eat, or what you can't have. Focus on how you need to nurture your body right now so that you can return to some level of 'normal' later when you regain health.


When you approach food it may be helpful to think, is eating this food taking me toward my goals or away from them? And go from there.


As always though, be graceful with yourself! The idea is progress, not perfection.


An 80%/20% rule seems to work for most mold sick people in regard to being strict with dietary changes, (ie. try to eat very healthy 80% of the time and less healthy 20%.)

For those that are very ill- try to push it to 90%/10%.


I am a very disciplined human and was extremely determined to get as well as I could quickly so I went all in at 100% literally immediately. I want to let you know this is not normal, and you shouldn't hold yourself to this standard. I relaxed now about a year and a half since beginning treatment and I am probably in the 80%/20% camp now and feeling a more peace with myself and enjoying food a lot more now.


Due to my gastro issues I also find that for me nightshades are aggravating so I avoid them right now, with intention to reintroduce somewhere down the line. I also don't do dairy unless it is a very rare dollop of sour cream or ricotta cheese. I don't really eat sugar unless it is a small amount of monk fruit or stevia. I have MCAS and histamine issues so I also eat low histamine.


I can now eat 2's or lower. I used to have to stick with 0's, and then 1's/0's. Our body's ability to tolerate more changes as we remove toxicities form our body and recover our natural health.


(Reminder that long term dietary changes aren't always the best for your body, the goal is to be able to reintroduce foods and tolerate them. Diversity in a diet is the best possible thing.)


Those are my food considerations. It took me a lot of journaling and charting symptoms after I ate a lot of separate foods over a long time to figure them out. It is a process to figure out what works and doesn't for you.


My suggestion is to start with bland simple foods, eat them singularly and take notes about what if anything happens. Over time you can expand to spices, or combining foods. Your symptoms and notes will tell you about your food considerations. As you diversify your food intake and get an abundance of healthy nutrition in, you will notice a lot of your other symptoms change over time.





NEXT- You cannot get well in the environment that made you sick..... so also consider your house.





Where to Start With Your House:


1) Start with what you know, use your senses to see if they tell you anything about your home:

-Do you get more symptoms some parts of the house than the others?

-Does anything smell Damp, Musty, or Moldy?

-Can you see any obvious signs of water damage: Dark or Wet Spots, Cracking/Bubbling/Flaking, Pooling Water or Puddles, Sounds of Running Water, Increase in Utility Bills?


Note these changes in a journal. You may need to reference these later when working with a professional to remediate your home. You'll want to see if these resolve over time post- remediation. If they don't you still may have a moisture or mold problem somewhere else in your home.


2) Get an ERMI/HERTSI test. It will give you a snapshot in time of your home's health and shows which molds' DNA are present there. From those results, you can see if they match the types of mycotoxins that are being found in your urine- knowing if this particular home is the place that is actually making you sick, or if you also may be exposed somewhere else currently, or if you were actually exposed to molds prior to living in this home.


If you can afford it, doing an ERMI/HERTSI test on every level of the house can give you a clearer picture of exactly where you may have mold issues and/or water damage. (Air tests tend to notoriously be less accurate, try not to use those. They don't pick up denser mold spores.)


3) Hire a building inspector- one that cannot be invested in the remediation process of your home. The inspector must be separate from the remediation company you will hire so that you know their assessment is fair and isn't financially tied to the remediation of the scope of work being recommended by them.


4) Hire a remediation team. They must be different than the building inspector.


Extra thoughts for you for #3 and #4 above, if you want to make sure they know what they are doing you can ask them questions about: the process they will use to remediate, their knowledge of mold illness or CIRS, if they use bleach (it had better be a "NO!"), how they will seal of the areas they are working on and access those spaces without contaminating the rest of your home, and if/how they do post remediation clean up. If you get lackluster answers, get told that really mold is no big deal, or are being quoted something that seems too high, trust your gut and look elsewhere.

Once you hire a team- everything that they say they will do should be listed in the contract you have with them. Always review the contract and don't be afraid to ask them to add extra appropriate measures for your bio-individual safety to the contract. That contract is the binding agreement, you can always defer to that if you aren't sure if protocol is being followed, and they are liable for what they do incorrectly based on that contract.


1 out of 3 remediations tend to fail, don't let it be yours.


Some guidelines you want to make sure they are following can be found on:

IICRC S520 Standard for Professional Mold Remediation. You can google this.



Also:

All American Restoration is an incredibly solid remediation company with a very knowledgeable owner, Michael Rubino. He has spoken on many podcasts about mold remediation and listening to those will help you know what to look for in a team and the process. They may be expensive to use, but they will travel across the US to help you. Michael Rubino hosts a podcast about remediation and also guests on many others. Here is his, take a listen so you can become familiar with what you should expect from a quality job:

Michael Rubino is on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/themoldmedic/ He shares a lot of info on mold, and does giveaways often.


5) Post-Remediation, Retest with an ERMI/HERTSI

I am hoping that you find that your scores tend to be low enough that you can begin healing in your living space. <3



REVIEW

These are the most basic places to start:

Get you and your home tested.

Get tests interpreted.

Begin basic treatment with a doctor.

Hire a home inspector.

Hire the home remediation team.

Retest to ensure your environment is safe, and move on from there.




Then your recovery journey can really begin.



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