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When All Else Fails, Try Mold Avoidance

Although it is everywhere, the mold lurking in hidden parts of a home can be dangerous and sometimes deadly. The nonprofit organization Exposing Mold advocates a unique way to treat mold exposure: Avoidance.

People are becoming more aware of the dangers of mold exposure. Leading edge health experts now say that mold may cause or exacerbate dozens of debilitating degenerative diseases. The industries treating or remediating mold are booming, even with a lack of solid scientific data. 

The forces allied against mold survivors are daunting. Many doctors do not believe mold, or the mycotoxins created by mold, have any harmful effects. They often tell patients that their symptoms are, “all in your head.” Mold specialist doctors usually do not take insurance, adding a financial burden because “must have” cures and treatments can run in the thousands. Well-meaning family or friends often have no useful advice. This leads many mold sufferers to feel abandoned, exhausted, depressed, and even suicidal.

But there is hope. A trio of mold survivors has launched Exposing Mold to help people overcome mold injuries, practicing a radical approach they claim is much more effective than any standard treatment. They call the practice avoidance; a simple way to let the body heal itself.

Exposing Mold Research Director Erik Johnson developed the practice of avoidance after numerous mold exposures. He says it starts with taking a hiatus from where we live. “Being outdoors seems to kick the body into detox mode. So a portion of recovery is just spending time in nature, out in the fresh air.”

Johnson recalls a particularly virulent mold outbreak he survived in Truckee, California. “When everybody was trying every conceivable detoxification regimen, a couple of us discovered that just by going out to the desert, just spending time out there in a pristine location, we had more recovery than anything that anybody was doing back in town.”

Exposing Mold founder and President Kealy Severson is a mold survivor. With a Master’s degree in Oriental Medicine, Nutrition and Acupuncture, she ran a clinic that focused on finding causes of illness. When her husband found black mold under their sink, she realized that could be the cause of most of her family’s health problems. She said, “What I observed was my family of five, which I thought all had normal health symptoms like bloody noses, recurrent infections and mood disturbances that I had justified as normal, was actually part of this exposure. So I started to get this picture of how vast this symptom presentation could be.”

She began making videos and soon connected with Johnson and started taking his advice. “He was the only person that I could ask questions to who had an answer that made sense. My other colleagues or other doctors, like my doctor, just wanted to check my thyroid.  I gravitated towards Erik because he was the only one who had explanations that matched my health experiences.”

Exposing Mold Vice President Alicia Swamy believes Facebook groups were a major contributing factor to saving her health and her life. She said that’s where she connected with Johnson and Severson. “I just resonated with what Erik had to say. And I felt like my life was so in danger and I was so desperate, and I wasn’t really receiving help from the ‘mold literate’ doctors. They were actually making me worse with their protocols, so I just decided to take the plunge into avoidance.”

She said, “Hey, what do I have to lose? I’m literally on death’s door. We packed up and left our home vacant and set out for nowhere.” She too, found the detoxing effects of living in a desert environment profound. She is vibrant and enthusiastic as she describes her life living in a trailer in the American Southwest, along with her husband and dog.

Leaving home for a few days or weeks, then returning and paying close attention to how the body reacts in different environments is the primary way to practice avoidance. Over time, one can learn the signals the body sends when something toxic is nearby. The key is to learn to trust those signals. Severson says, “Avoidance to me means trusting my body and understanding when I’m experiencing a symptom of something, even if it’s something that maybe doesn’t make sense.”

Those able to live in the cleanest environments have the most profound healing. Swamy described life on the road, something she and her husband had been thinking about anyway. “We’ve been wanting to do this for such a long time, and so we’re doing it! And I’m so thankful that we are because I feel amazing. I mean, when I’m in this great environment, I feel like I’ve never been sick. Like my body just is doing what it needs to do. I’m back to exercising and running up hills. My personality is back. I’m happy and loving my husband and having fun with my dog. It’s just been such a great experience.”

To learn more about how to practice avoidance, visit Exposingmold.org. To listen to the podcast, visit FreedomFromMold.com/exposingmold.

Writer: Sven Hosford, Founder of Freedom From Mold | Originally published in Natural Awakenings Magazine, Greater Pittsburgh Edition.

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