Homemade Coconut Oil Cream for Fungal Relief

One of the things my husband really struggled with when his body was depleted and compromised from our mold exposure was Candida. If you are not familiar with the intricacies of Candida, I’ll give you a brief, not entirely medical rundown that is based upon both what the doctors told us and my experience with it:

Candida is a systemic yeast or fungal overgrowth inside the body. It starts in the gut when yeast begins to grow and overtakes the “good” gut bacteria that fights illness and disease and aids in nutrient absorption and digestion. The only way to really conquer or get rid of Candida is to starve it out of existence and to take antifungal supplements or medications. Since yeast thrives on any and all sugar, a diet that eliminates sugars, starches and many fungi-rich foods is usually prescribed. A potent probiotic is also part of the usual regimen. If all steps are followed to the letter, the Candida will eventually die off and the healthy gut bacteria will resume their role as the major players. The “die-off” effect can be quite intense and debilitating, though. Many times, people experiencing Candida “die-off” feel like they are coming down with something or have the flu. It is not pleasant, because the yeast has taken hold of your body and doesn’t want to leave.

Other indicators of Candida overgrowth occur on the outside of the body. Some people develop skin rashes, white patches on their skin, vaginal yeast infections, a white film on the back of their tongues, and even ongoing cases of athlete’s foot or fingernail and toenail fungus. In other words, it’s not a pretty thing to have happen to you. When you’ve been exposed to mold spores in a toxic environment, like we were for a prolonged amount of time, your body becomes extremely susceptible to Candida. It’s like the mold just wants to take over your body, both inside and out. It is insidious.

My poor husband had both the gut issues of Candida and the skin issues—white patches all over his chest and back. Well, we got out of the home, eradicated the mold, cleaned up his diet and got him on a circuit of rotating antifungal supplements, but he couldn’t seem to get rid of the white patches on his skin. We went to countless dermatologists, tried 100s of natural and over-the-counter antifungal creams, but nothing seemed to work long term, or irritated his skin to the point that it wasn’t worth using. That was when I decided to start doing some experiments of my own to try to invent an all-natural antifungal cream that would work for him and give him some relief.

The first thing I did to find my ingredients was to start looking at his food journal (he had to keep a journal of everything he was eating on the Anti-Candida Diet) to see which foods he responded most positively to, when trying to get rid of the yeast internally. Bells and whistles went off for me when I saw that his skin itching improved on the days he was taking 1 tablespoon of Coconut Oil on an empty stomach, 1 hour prior to eating anything else. In his journal, he also cited a noticeable change in his energy, less GI symptoms and better overall food absorption. He even noted that on the days when he took more Coconut Oil, his skin seemed clearer. BAM! This was it. Coconut Oil. I needed to try to create a cream that contained coconut oil combined with other natural antifungals for his skin. Well, that is just what I did.

Now, a little bit of information about coconut oil to help you understand why it can be such an all-around powerhouse when it comes to treating fungus:

Unrefined, virgin coconut oil that has not been bleached or treated contains linoelic, caprylic and lauric acid. While lauric acid is a medium-chain fatty acid that is nutritionally superior in helping reduce cholesterol, caprylic and linoelic acid are the factors that really help with Candida issues both internally and topically. Linoelic acid reduces inflammation. Caprylic acid contains antibacterial, antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties. It has been used for centuries to treat yeast infections, skin conditions, digestive disorders, and has been proven to lower the risk of antibiotic resistance and to breakdown the membranes of Candida cells.

So, after months of experimenting with different ways and combinations of essential oils and additives to the coconut oil to make my husband a cream, I finally found the best combination. Here it is!

Homemade Coconut Oil Cream for Fungal Relief

Tools and Ingredients:

  • Glass or plastic container with a screw top (You want a container that you would normally prefer for body lotion or cream. If you can’t use it easily, you won’t use it, so don’t make the mistake of choosing a container that is cumbersome to open. This recipe also doesn’t work well in a pump container. It is too thick.)

This is the nutrition information on the back of the MCT oil I used. It shows the breakdown of all of the fungus-fighting components in the coconut oil.

  •  ½ cup Virgin, Unrefined Liquid Coconut or MCT Oil (I used the one made by Whole Foods that my husband had used as part of his Anti-Candida regimen.)
  • 1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon beeswax pastilles (These are available online or through a natural food store. Beeswax helps to thicken homemade lotions because it is solid at room temperature. It also helps to seal in moisture to the skin as it creates a protective, yet breathable barrier. It also helps protect the skin form environmental pollutants and toxins.)

  • 1/2 cup Aloe Vera Gel (The aloe is extremely healing, cooling and soothing to the skin. It also makes the cream much fluffier and lighter in consistency, which my husband liked. In addition, aloe has antifungal properties of its own that penetrate and make this cream even more effective.)
  • Blender or glass bowl with an immersion blender

 

 

Directions:

  • Melt the beeswax and coconut oil in a double broiler, or a glass bowl fitted over a saucepan filled with water. Stir the mixture frequently while it is melting to prevent any clumping.
  • Once melted, remove from the heat and pour into a blender, or leave in the glass bowl, if using an immersion blender. Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature. It should just be beginning to harden around the edges. This will ensure that it will emulsify correctly.
  • Add the CitriDrops and the tea tree oil, if using. You could also substitute another essential oil, if you are going for a particular fragrance.
  • Start blending on low. While blending, add the aloe vera gel, a little at a time. You can scrape down the sides of the bowl or blender periodically, while blending the aloe in to make sure that it is all fully incorporated into the mixture.
  • Once all of the aloe has been blended in, scoop or pour the mixture into your chosen container. Since this cream contains food-grade ingredients, it should be stored in the fridge and used within six weeks.

To Use:

Warm a quarter-size amount of the cream in your hands. Apply your cream to any itchy, dry or white patches on your hands and body–or anywhere you want to use it, really. It is a great moisturizer! Avoid your face, though. You can use the cream up to 3 times a day. If any irritation occurs, you should stop using it immediately and consult a doctor.

My husband used this cream for only a week when he started noticing the white patches going away. He has not had a recurrence since, but I still make the cream periodically for other uses. I just like the cooling effect it gives my skin and it offers tired legs a nice boost as well. I also use a version of this recipe to make homemade Candida soap. I will share that recipe soon on the blog.

Take care and let me know what you think in the comments below.

 

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Everything You Ever Wanted and Needed to Know About Bathroom Ventilation

I recently wrote a blog post detailing how to clean your bathroom ventilation fans properly for mold. (HERE is a link to that post on the blog.) Because ventilation, and especially bathroom ventilation (think an area with large amounts of moisture, warmth, and residue), are crucial to preventing mold growth in your home, I thought I would bring you a supplemental post to add to that one.

Today, I will share some helpful insights with you on how to pick the best fan for your bathroom and ventilation needs. To help me do that, I’ve enlisted some professional help. Let’s face it, I may know a thing or two about mold, cleaning for mold, and mold prevention, but when it comes to the intricacies of bath fans, I only really know what I have read. With that said, I would like to introduce you to Paul St. Pierre, founder of Bathfanreview.com.

A little background on Paul:

Paul is a practicing electrician who owns his own electrical business. Most recently, he founded bathfanreview.com.

Paul has been a licensed electrician for over 25 years and owns his own electrical service company.

After installing 100’s of bath fans—every make, size and model you can imagine—in 100’s of people’s homes, he felt the need to educate his customers a little more on this little-considered, but very important appliance. To deliver his experience, expertise and professional opinions to a broader audience, he started his website. On his site, he reviews various makes and models of bath fans, tells homeowner’s how to properly install them, and offers information on how to calculate type and what power of fan a bathroom requires, based on the size of the space.  Additionally, his site is easy to navigate and offers honest, easy-to-understand opinions about the latest and greatest ventilation fans on the market.

In order to bring as much of Paul’s helpful knowledge to my readers as possible, I thought I’d present this post to you in interview fashion.  I did my best to ask Paul any and all questions I could think of, in terms of bathroom ventilation and keeping moisture out of your home. If I left anything out, or if you have questions that I failed to ask, Paul’s contact email will be included at the end of this post.

Now, without further ado, here is my interview with Paul:

Me: Hi, Paul, thank you so much for agreeing to be my “in-house” bathroom fan expert. I definitely have a new respect for bath fans and their necessity in a home. Many of the interior humidity problems we were having in our “new” (new to us) home hinged on broken or poorly functioning bathroom fans. We also had to fix ventilation pathways, because both upstairs bath fans were vented directly into our attic insulation. It was a mess. So, starting with that, what do you tell or advise folks to do when looking into a home they are thinking to purchase, in terms of bathroom ventilation? Should they be going up into the attic to see where the fans vent? Will a home inspector be looking for this? If the fans don’t vent to the outside of the home, how important is having that fixed?

Paul: Hi, Catherine, and thanks for reaching out. Yes, when looking to purchase a home it is very important to make sure the bathroom fans are vented properly. This can be done by looking into the attic, or from the outside, by looking for vents or grills located on the exterior walls of the house, where the bathrooms are located. Reputable home inspectors should also be looking for this. If the fans do not vent to the outdoors, this should be fixed ASAP to prevent further moisture and mold problems.

Me: What about if you purchase a home that doesn’t have a bathroom fan? Can a fan always be installed?

Paul: Yes, a fan can always be installed. If the bathroom is located in an area where there is access to the ceiling above it, we can usually install a fan without any damage to the drywall. In cases such as a 1st floor bathroom with a 2nd floor above it, drywall repairs to the ceiling may be necessary.

Me: I learned in our debacle that the distance that the air has to travel to the outside from the fan is also an important consideration. As I understand it, if the air has to travel too great a distance, it almost renders the fan ineffective. The moisture can sit in the ductwork and cause a host of additional problems with mold and other things. How important is this to think about? How should homeowner’s calculate the ideal distance from fan to fresh air, and what things can be done when choosing a fan to help cover the distance issue?

Paul: That’s a tough one because it’s not just the distance of the duct but also how many elbows or bends there are. Ideally you would like the shortest possible distance without any elbows. When this is not possible, further calculations must be made to compensate for the duct length:

Equivalent Duct Length

To calculate the equivalent duct length, you’ll have to consider not only the length of the duct, but you’ll also have to know the duct construction, and number of elbows. The basic rules that apply to both 3″ and 4″ ducts are as follows.

  1. Measure the length of the straight duct.
  2. If the duct is flexible aluminum, multiply that length by 1.25.
  3. OR, if the duct is flexible insulated material, multiply that length by 1.5.
  4. For each elbow, add another 15 feet.
  5. For each terminal (wall or roof louvre), add 30 feet.

Example:

Given this duct:

There is 10′ of straight smooth walled duct, plus 2 elbows, and one terminal at the end.

EDL = 10′ + (2 * 15′) + (1 * 30′)
EDL = 10′ + 30′ + 30′
EDL = 10′ + 60′
EDL = 70′

To determine the proper-sized fan:

Once you’ve got all the information, it’s time to select an appropriately-sized fan. To do this, you can use a chart like this:

So, a 10’ by 10’ bathroom with 8’ ceilings (800 cu ft) and an EDL of 70’ would need a 190 cfm fan.

Me: I love how on your site, you go into an in-depth description on how to choose the right CFM (Cubic Feet per Minute) fan for your space. Could you tell my readers a little more about this and about why choosing a fan based on these specs is important? How often do you see bathroom fans installed in homes that are not adequate for the space? What happens when a bath fan that is not powerful enough is installed in a large space—does the air just not dry out? Couldn’t you just run the fan longer?

Paul: Sure, The Home Ventilating Institute recommends a minimum of 50 CFM and at least 1 CFM per square foot. If your bathroom has a ceiling higher than 8′, then you would multiply the width x length x height of the room, divide by 60 (minutes in an hour), then multiply by 8 (number of air exchanges per hour). So a 10×10 room with 10′ ceilings would need a 150 CFM fan:

10x10x10 = 1000

1000 ÷ 60 = 16.66

16.66×8 = 133 CFM rated vent fan and I would round up to 150 CFM

Having the right size fan is important because you need to expel the moisture and humidity as fast as possible. Long-term exposure to excess moisture and humidity can crack and peel paint and wallpaper, ruin wallboard, warp doors and rust cabinets and fixtures.  It also creates a breeding ground for mold, mildew, and bacteria.

In over half of the homes I go to, the fans are undersized, usually because the builder or homeowner was uneducated and just bought the cheapest one. (Most people think a fan is a fan, what’s the difference?).  Running an undersized fan longer doesn’t help much, because the humidity and moisture is there too long.

Me: As you know, this blog is primarily about mold and about educating people and helping them prevent mold growth in their homes and indoor environments. I want to help people understand how important ventilation is to this picture. What can you tell my readers about bathroom ventilation as it relates to mold prevention?

Paul: Mold grows best in warm, damp, and humid areas. This is basically every bathroom environment. Venting is extremely important to prevent this growth. Without it, you will get mold.

Me: I know you read my post on cleaning your bath fans regularly for mold. How important is this? Did I leave anything out that you want to add?

Paul: I think your post on steaming all the tile and grout was great and a really good solution for treating mold. I would also suggest using your steamer with the bathroom fan on and steam right into the fan to kill any mold that may have formed in the duct work.

Me: Now, let’s get to some of the fun stuff. I’ve read on your site about some of the really cool bath fans available nowadays. Can you tell us about some of the coolest styles, features and options out there on the market? Which features are best for mold prevention? Is there a style that you gravitate towards? What brands are the most dependable?

Paul: Another tough question! I like the Panasonic Fans because they are built very well, ultra quiet, and have many options such as automatic humidity controls and timers.  They are the very best fan you can buy. On the other hand, the Broan SPK110 Sensonic™ Speaker Fan is very cool because it has a Bluetooth speaker built in and you can listen to music while you shower, and it also works very well as its 110 cfm.

This is the WhisperLite 110 CFM 0.6 Sone Ceiling Mounted, Energy Star Rated, Bath Fan with a Light and Fully Enclosed DC Motor by Panasonic. It is powerful, but quiet and even has its own light.

Me: Thank you, thank you, for your time and knowledge. I hope my readers will check out your site.

Paul: Thank you so much!

To contact Paul directly, you can email him at  paul@bathfanreviews.com, or visit his website bathfanreview.com.

 

 

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DIY Techniques for Eliminating Odors, Bacteria, and Fungus From Your Feet and Shoes: Part II and A Giveaway!!!!

(Note: This post is Part II of a 2-part series on cleaning your feet and shoes for mold and bacteria. Today’s post features a Homemade Athletic Shoe-Cleaning Wash. To read Part I about making your own antibacterial and antifungal foot wash, click HERE. Read to the bottom of the post to find out how to enter the GIVEAWAY for 2 travel-size bottles of EC3 Laundry Additive.)

Today, I’m back with Part II of cleaning your stinky feet and shoes for mold and bacteria. This time, my post is all about shoes. Your shoes are constantly moist–either from sweat or from getting wet outside–and are constantly getting dirty and being exposed to bacteria, fungus and other microbes as well, just from normal wear and tear. And, as you probably know by now, moisture and dirt are a terrible combination when it comes to mold. The two create the perfect storm. Thus, knowing how to properly clean your shoes to address mold, especially your athletic shoes that your feet frequently sweat in, is imperative. Not only will using the right cleaning and antifungal ingredients on your shoes remove the current dirt, mold and bacteria, but it will also prevent additional contamination from being tracked into your home. (The minute dirty shoes touch your carpets, rugs or floors, everything that is currently on them, microbes, mold and all, is now right at home inside your house.)

Just as in my previous post where I gave you my special recipe for cleaning your feet, today, I will share my recipe and techniques for cleaning your athletic shoes. Many people I have already shared this recipe with claim that using this shoe wash got their athletic shoes sparkling clean, eradicated any unpleasant odors from them, and helped to prevent the spread and recurrence of athlete’s foot. I guess because this wash contends with the mold directly, it kills any fungus that would otherwise continue to fester inside the shoes and spread back to your feet again. Great! Another plus! Who wants athlete’s foot?!!!

Now that I have kept you waiting long enough, here is my much-refined and very potent recipe for cleaning your athletic shoes:

Antifungal and Antibacterial Athletic Shoe Cleaning Wash

(Note: This wash is for athletic shoes ONLY. Do not use this on leather shoes of any kind or any other shoes that are not made of a washable material. Here is a LINK to my post on cleaning non-washable types of shoes. )

Tools:

  • Large, clean empty bucket or bowl (It is best if the bucket is large enough to fit a pair of shoes inside. You will want to pick a bucket that when filled with water, your shoes could be completely submerged.)
  • Liquid Castile Soap or Fragrance-free liquid laundry detergent (I like to use my Arm & Hammer Sensitive Skin liquid laundry detergent for this.)
  • EC3 Laundry Additive (This will be your antibacterial and antifungal powerhouse. It is proven to remove mold and bacterial odors from any washable items.)
  • Optional Finisher: EC3 Mold Solution Spray

Instructions:

  • Add a splash…maybe 3Tbsps of liquid castile soap, or liquid laundry detergent to your empty bucket/bowl.

  • Fill your bucket/bowl about 3/4 way full with water.

  • Submerge shoes in solution and leave for a few hours—1 hour at a minimum.

  • Set a timer for at least 30 minutes. You need to leave the shoes in the solution long enough to kill any mold or bacteria.
  • After your timer goes off, if there is any remaining dirt or discoloration on the shoes, use a brush to scrub it off and then dunk the shoe back into the solution in the bucket. Continue scrubbing and dunking until you achieve your desired level of spotlessness.
  • Remove shoes from solution and rinse them thoroughly with cold water. Make sure you repeatedly rinse enough to get any remaining soap or detergent off of the shoes.

 

 

  • If possible, put your shoes in sun to dry, because the sun will give the shoes some additional UV cleaning power. Also, make sure to remove the insoles for the drying process. You want everything to be bone dry before you wear the shoes again. If the weather is not cooperating, find a well-ventilated room, and place the shoes on a towel to thoroughly dry. You may want to point a fan at them to help them dry faster. Another drying option is to throw them directly into your dryer. Just make sure you set the heat to the lowest setting, and check on them often.

There you have it—Parts I and II. These are great techniques for cleaning your feet and shoes for bacteria and mold! I hope you will try both recipes and let me know how it goes.

GIVEAWAY: To enter, comment on this post about trying this wash or about how you currently clean your shoes for mold. I will randomly choose a few comments. If yours is chosen, you can win 2 travel-size bottles of EC3 Laundry Additive. I will notify winners via email. Good luck!

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DIY Techniques for Eliminating Odors, Bacteria, and Fungus From Your Feet and Shoes: Part I

(Note: This post will be a 2 part series. Today’s post features a DIY Foot Wash.)

Recently, I went on a trip with my Mom and my kids. We had a blast road-tripping and cramming into hotel rooms along our journey. It made me feel like a kid again—good for the soul. Each day, we would plan a location-based, touristy thing to do. In the mornings, we would head out with our snacks packed, our water bottles filled, and our athletic shoes strapped on. Then, we would walk the day away, enjoying the sights and our adventures. One thing that I did not prepare for or even think about, though, was how stinky our much-used and loved athletic shoes would get. You see, not only were we traipsing all over God’s green earth, but we were also getting quite sweaty while doing so. So, as science would have it, we would sweat, our feet would sweat, the insides of our shoes would get moist, and we would wear them again the next day, before they ever got fully dried out. Then, we would wake-up, put our athletic shoes back on, sweat again…You see where this is going, right? It took us straight to stinky-shoe town. P.U.!

When we packed up to go home, I bagged all of the stinky shoes up in a plastic bag to save our nostrils in the car, and I brought them home to perform some sort of reconnaissance mission to hopefully eliminate the smell. Going into this endeavor, I knew that in order to make the shoes smell better, I would have to face the problem in two steps:

1) I needed to create something to clean our feet with that could tackle the bacteria and fungi that were making them smell bad;

2)  I needed to find a way to get our shoes clean of the dirt on the outside, and their insides clean of the bacteria and mold.

(Note: Today’s post will focus on cleaning your feet. I will put up the post about cleaning your shoes soon afterwards.)

Now, before I go into how I cleaned our shoes and feet—and YES, it worked, because all our feet have never smelled better, and all three pairs of our shoes are now odorless and clean—I  want to talk about why feet and shoes can smell so bad in the first place.

To start with, each of your feet contains 250,000 sweat glands. Whoa! Right? The problem with having that many sweat glands in one place is that our feet are usually covered up all day with socks and shoes; thus, they are not getting proper ventilation—they are sweating into our socks and shoes and never being given the chance to air out or to dry out. Also, some people’s feet sweat more than other people’s feet. The continuous moisture becomes a breeding ground for smelly bacteria and fungus. Once inside of your shoes—these microbes will continue to breed and to cling to your feet and socks. Each and every time you put those microbe-containing shoes back on, the fungi and bacteria get onto your socks or bare feet again. Add to this any additional mold or fungus that also begins to grow inside the shoe or between your toes, due to the moisture, and you have one smelly spot!

At this point, you might be asking, “Why do some people’s feet smell bad, even when they are not wearing shoes?”

Well, feet, in particular, are an especially ripe place for bacteria and fungus to grow. Fungus and bacteria eat dead skin cells and oils from your skin. As their colonies grow, they start getting rid of waste in the form of organic acids. It’s those organic acids that smell bad. Some folks even acquire bacteria on their feet called Kyetococcus sedentarius. These bacteria produce a sulfur compound that smells sort of like rotten eggs. Ewww, but true. If you have this sort of thing going on, you definitely should consider following both steps I will outline below. The reason being, if you only clean your shoes without diligently taking care of the bacteria and fungus on your feet, the smell will return. It is like treating the symptoms only without treating the disease. You may get some temporary relief, but you it won’t solve the problem long-term.

Now that you know all about feet and shoes and the stinky fungi and bacteria that grow on them, here are my tried and true formulas and methods to conquer the stench:

DIY Foot-Cleaning Wash to Fight and Prevent Bacteria and Fungus

            Tools & Ingredients:

  • Clean, Empty bottle with a Screw-on Cap (Old shampoo or hand soap bottles work well for this.)
  • EC3 Mold Solution Concentrate (This is antifungal, and antibacterial.)
  • Aloe Vera Concentrate or Witch Hazel (This is the liquid, self-stable aloe vera. Do not use the aloe marketed for nutritional use or for first aid. Both aloe vera and witch hazel are antiseptic and antimicrobial. Aloe Vera has the added benefit of being antifungal. Either will work well for this wash.)
  • Optional: 100% Pure Essential Spearmint or Lavender Oil (Both of these oils are antiseptic, antibacterial and antifungal. Choose your oil based on scent preference, and feeling preference. The lavender oil will give your wash a warming, calming effect. The spearmint oil will give it a cooling, cleansing, energizing effect. If you are adverse to scents, leave this ingredient out.)
  • 100% Pure Liquid Castile Soap (This will cleanse your feet without causing irritation. It will also work as a “carrier” agent for the essential oils and EC3 Mold Solution Concentrate.)

Recipe:

  • Add about the same amount of Aloe Vera Concentrate or Witch Hazel to the bottle. You can go with approximately 2-3 TBS of this, depending on the size of your container.

  • Add approximately 3-4 drops, depending on the size of your bottle, of 100% Pure Essential Spearmint or Lavender Oil. I decided to use the Spearmint, because I like the cooling sensation it provides on my feet.

  • Top your bottle off with the liquid Castile soap. Make sure to leave enough empty space in the top of the bottle, so that the mixture can move and blend together properly.

  • Screw the cap onto the bottle and shake vigorously to mix.

To Use:

(Note: It is always best to perform a patch test with a new cleanser. Pick an inconspicuous part of your body and apply a small amount of the cleanser. Suds it up a bit and rinse off. After about 10 minutes, check to see if your skin is having any sort of reaction. If, not, you should be good to go. If any redness, itchiness, swelling or blotchiness occurs, discontinue use immediately.)

  • When either in the tub or the shower, squirt your foot wash into a loofah or a moist washcloth. (You want to use something that is a little abrasive, because it will help to slough off some of the dead skin cells.)

  • Get a good lather going, and scrub the bottoms of your feet, the tops of your feet, and in between your toes as best you can with the foot wash.

  • Rinse your feet thoroughly.

 

  • When you are finished bathing or showering, make sure to dry your feet really well. It is also best to leave your shoes and socks off for a while, if possible, after bathing or showering to let your feet air out.
  • Start by using the foot cleanser each time you shower or bathe. Once you feel like you have any odors under control, you can back off a bit, and use it a few times a week for maintenance.

My final tip, especially if you live in a house with other folks, is to LABEL your Foot Wash bottle accordingly.

Now you have no excuse to have smelly feet!

If you decide to try this foot wash, I would love to hear from you!

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Increasing Your Mold-Tolerance Threshold with Sinus Defense

The immune system acts as the body’s first defense against infection and illness. Your immune system recognizes every cell in your body. When something unfamiliar enters your system, like a virus, a parasite or bacteria, your immune system fights to get rid of it. So, have you ever heard of cell-mediated immunity? It refers to immunity that does not involve antibodies, but rather, the activation of Thymus cells (T-cells) in response to an antigen, like mold. T-cells are the core of our body’s adaptive immunity to allergens. Cell-mediated immunity is directed primarily at microbes that infect cells. It is also the most effective in defending against mold, because once T-cells are activated against an antigen for removal, they will remember that same invader for future removal. So, the next time you encounter something like mold, your T-cells will be quick to remove it. Since mold is an antigen that exists everywhere, this type of efficient immune response would be ideal in dealing with it and lessening an onslaught of debilitating symptoms.

Even though the concept of cell-mediated immunity has been around for decades, it is sort of just coming onto the medical scene as a more holistic way of treating long-term, debilitating disease and chronic illness. I’ve actually been reading about it for some time now, and became extremely interested in exploring its possible benefits for myself. I thought it could help with my inflammatory response to mold. After all, fungus is everywhere, and I cannot totally escape it, even with a mold-free home. Also, now that my body has essentially hit its “mold threshold,” with my exposure to the toxic mold in our home, I have trouble handling mold exposure, even on a small scale anymore. No matter how much I think I am protecting myself, I only have to enter a building with water damage or something, sometimes for only 2 minutes, and I end up really, really sick for days afterwards

Dr. Dennis introduced me to a product he created called, Sinus Defense.

(Read Dr. Dennis’s Bio HERE. You can also read my previous posts on Dr. Dennis by clicking on these links:

http://www.howtocleanformold.com/2016/10/03/misdiagnosed-life-podcast-and-interview-with-sinusitis-expert-dr-donald-dennis/

http://www.howtocleanformold.com/2017/03/08/get-relief-from-mold-illness-a-know-the-cause-television-program-featuring-dr-dennis/

http://www.howtocleanformold.com/2017/02/16/know-the-cause-podcast-featuring-dr-donald-dennis-and-microbalance-health-products/ ).

Sinus Defense is a homeopathic, sublingual spray that is designed to help your body ignite its t-cell immunity to molds and other microbes, so that patients, like me, who are extremely mold-sensitive, can find relief.  Because there are numerous antigens and many species of mold, it was designed to cover the broadest array, since mold spores exist almost everywhere. Sinus Defense comes in a small spray bottle that can be administered anyplace and anytime.

Even with only knowing the basics, I was all in and willing to try it out. Also, since Sinus Defense would not interact with any other supplements or regiments I was on, I wanted to start right away. I did, and the results have been nothing less than miraculous. I can honestly say that this product works. I can also honestly say that I use it EVERYDAY. For the purposes of this post and full disclosure, I will say that my daily “maintenance” dose is 3-4 sprays, under my tongue, 1-2 times per day. I will also tell you that when I go into an environment that seems moldy, or if I start feeling sick, I increase my dosage to 8 sprays under my tongue 2-3 times per day. (Note: This regimen was personally prescribed for me by Dr. Dennis and may be different from the directions on the Sinus Defense bottle. I am hyper-sensitive to mold, and this is what works best for me. This may not be the dosage that works for you.)

As you can see, Sinus Defense, CitriDrops Dietary Supplement and CitriDrops Nasal Spray are at the front of my medicine cabinet. I use all 3 products everyday. They help me to stay well.

With all of that said, and with my excitement about bringing more info of this product to you, I interviewed Dr. Dennis about my experience with using Sinus Defense and about how and why the product works.
Here is our exchange:

Me: Hi, again, Dr. Dennis! Today, I want to talk with you specifically about Sinus Defense. I have been using it daily now for about 4 months, and the change in my health has been profound. I can actually tolerate indoor environments where I know that there is mold. Before, if I entered someone’s home, or a restaurant that had higher mold counts, or even sat next to someone in a movie theater with mold on their clothes, I would have an “episode”—my sinuses would swell shut, my heart would start racing and I’d be down for the count with flu-like symptoms for days afterward. Since using the Sinus Defense, I am still hyper aware of the mold and still try to avoid moldy environments as much as possible, but it doesn’t affect me as severely. Take for example a recent exposure I had while on spring break with my kids: We went to a train museum where there were some 80-year-old restored train cars, which museum-goers could walk through and explore. The cars were just in the train yard and were not used or conditioned, so as you can imagine, they were FULL of mold. I was able to walk through 2 cars with my children, look around, and take some pictures without suffering from a mold-related reaction. I will say that as soon as I exited the cars, I squirted my nose with the CitiriDrops Nasal Spray to clear it of mold spores, and I upped my dose of the Sinus Defense to 9 sprays 2 times that day, instead of my normal 6 sprays 1 time a day. With just that minimal added precaution, I was able to avoid being sick. To me, that is amazing!

Can you explain to my readers, in laymen’s terms, why the Sinus Defense helped my body (a body that is extremely allergic to mold) to withstand that mold hit?

DD: Yes. When I was formulating Sinus Defense, I wanted to find a way to transfer normal immunity to molds, their toxins, and the co-infections and chronic diseases molds can cause when they get in a patient’s body and lower their immune system. These chronic conditions consist of things like, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, diabetes, Crohn’s Disease, ALS, nongonoccal urethritis, asthma, Lyme Disease, etc. So, looking into the literature, I found transfer factor (TF). TF was discovered by Sherwood Lawrence in 1949. He found that the fluid from white blood cells from patients who were exposed to Tuberculosis could transfer immunity to patients who were not exposed to Tuberculosis. Today, we find TF naturally occurring in Colostrums (colostrum is the mother’s first milk that serves as nature’s mechanism of transferring the mother’s immunity to her child) and in egg yolks. So, if an animal is exposed to the molds, bacteria, and co-infection organisms that occur in chronic sinusitis, TF to all of these substances is then present in their Colostrums or the yolks of their eggs. I used this concept to formulate Sinus Defense with TF in it that has high immunity to molds, etc. This is referred to as cell-mediated immunity. Cell- mediated immunity is an immune response that does not involve antibodies, but rather involves the activation of T-cells (Thymus cells) in response to an antigen (mold). T-cells are the core of our body’s adaptive immunity to allergens.  Cell-mediated immunity is directed primarily at microbes that infect cells. It is also the most effective immune response in defending the body against mold.  Mold is an antigen that exists everywhere and triggers an over-reactive immune response that causes many different symptoms.

To explain more simply why it worked so well for you, Sinus Defense is a homeopathic, Colostrum-based product that introduces Transfer Factor to patients when they spray it  2-3 times daily under the tongue. This type of dosing provides good absorption, directly into the circulation. The results can be felt in hours and days, rather than months. This mechanism can be more effective against large antigen loads, including mold, as it directly attaches itself to the antigens, neutralizing them from the body. That is precisely why you were able to be inside the moldy train car without getting terribly sick.

Me: In the beginning of this post, I talk about what Sinus Defense is, but could you talk a little more about why it was developed in the first place? How long did it take you to develop the formula that is currently available through MicroBalance Health Products?

DD: It took 20 years. It is a long story. Years ago, we took the 13 sickest chronic sinusitis patients who always had infection and nasal polyps regardless of all treatment. We started them on the TF that we knew contained all the immune factors. After 2 months, they all got well. Testimonials of a typical improvement are on the web page.  Before we started the treatment, we took their white blood cells, and we took another sample after they got well. We designed the lab experiment and sent it to a lab in San Diego. When you incubate the white blood cells (WBC) of a patient with chronic sinusitis with the mold Alternaria, the WBC’s secrete inflammatory molecules called  Interlukins 5 (IL5). But, normal people’s WBC does not secrete IL5. So, before treatment, all these folks’ WBC’s secreted IL5 when in contact with the mold Alternaria, but after the treatment, their WBCs either made much less IL5 or no IL5. So, we know both by my patient observation and by cellular immunology that Sinus Defense was working.

Some added product literature that comes with Sinus Defense spray when you order it. This just adds to Dr. Dennis’s explanation of how and why it works.

Me: That is incredible! What an amazing story. Your patients must have been so relieved to finally conquer their chronic sinusitis.

I know that the Sinus Defense Spray is homeopathic. Many times, homeopathic remedies get a bad rap, because people doubt their effectiveness and think they are the “snake oil” of pharmaceuticals. What do you tell your patients and what can you tell my readers about the product that would help them to think differently?

DD: Well, I was one of those people who thought homeopathies were not very good. But after using science and patient observation, I know that this homeopathic remedy works for the vast majority of people who use it correctly and get into a safe environment away from mold.

Me: Do you find that our bodies react to homeopathic medicines more positively than pharmaceutical drugs?

DD: Some do, some do not. Some people are just more receptive to homeopathies than others.

Me: How can Sinus Defense work on a mold patient, when it needs to call on their immune system and that system is so weak and depleted in the first place?

DD: Sinus Defense patients can have a depleted immune system, and it still works, because it works like an antibody to mark the cell for destruction, so the body does not have to make the antibody itself.

Me: Now for a question that may seem a little controversial: Should everyone, not just people who are allergic to mold use Sinus Defense? I have my own ideas about this, but want to hear your take. If so, why?

DD: Yes. It has the major TFs for the molds and bacteria that attack the head and neck so anyone can benefit.

Me: Should Sinus Defense be treated like a supplement? As in, should people take it everyday, regardless of if they are sick or not?

DD: Yes, mold patients should and people who tend to get frequent infections.

 Me: Is long-term use of the product dangerous? Will it start to not work as well over time?

DD: No, it cannot harm anyone. It will always work the same depending upon the air mold load. The more mold, the less it works, because you are breathing in more than it can kill.

Me: Will patients build up enough of their own defenses against mold to not have to use it anymore?

 DD: Some will, but it is always good to have it on hand to give yourself the boost not to get sick, if possible.

Whew! I think that I have grilled you enough. Thank you so much for answering my questions and for giving me so much of your time. I am really excited about sharing this with my readers. This product is one that I truly believe is capable of helping people who suffer from mold-related illness improve their quality of life. Your dedication and tireless efforts to help people and to bring awareness to this cause are much appreciated.

To learn more about Dr. Dennis, his ENT practice and all of the products that he has created and developed to help people who suffer from mold-related illness, please click on the links below. Also, if I can help to answer any questions about Sinus Defense, feel free to comment on this post.

http://www.microbalancehealthproducts.com

http://www.sinusitiswellness.com/

 

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3 Places (That You Probably Haven’t Checked) Where Mold Could be Hiding in Your Home

Hey, Hey!

Today, I have a shorter post for you with a link to a video segment from “The Doctors.”

This segment is about unexpected places in your home where mold can be hiding. The video is not quite 5 minutes in length, but provides a wealth of information. As a quick overview, so that you know what you will be watching, I’ll tell you a little bit about it. The doctors consult a home improvement expert, Eric Stromer, about this “hidden mold in the home” topic. According to Stromer, the top 3 places where mold can grow, but that people do not always know to check are as follows:

  1. The flange under your toilet that connects and seals it to the pipe in the floor that takes the flushed waste outside of your home. If your toilet wobbles, or seems unstable, the flange could be broken or has become unsealed. If this happens, water can leak underneath the toilet and create mold growth. Also, the water pipe behind your toilet that connects it to your water line can leak. This pipe goes directly into the drywall. Any leaks that have to do with this pipe occur in or on the drywall. Drywall is a favorite medium for mold to grow on, because it has little to no moisture in it, so it absorbs EVERYTHING. You want to periodically check this area for leaks to prevent any major mold problems. Wet drywall is visible, and will be darker or discolored. If you find moisture, shut off the water to toilet ASAP, and use a different bathroom, if possible. Then, you probably need to call a professional to remove any wet drywall immediately, and to find and fix the leak. The sooner a leak like this is identified, the better the prognosis, in terms of mold prevention.
  2. The rubber seal on your refrigerator door. This seal that works to keep the cold air inside, but can also trap moisture. Because it is right in line with where you place your hand when holding the refrigerator door open, dirt and grime and food particles can also become trapped in the rubber. This only gives the mold more organic material to feed on. The dirt and grime can also cause bacteria to flourish. I advise you to go ahead and wipe this area down once a week with warm water and a mild detergent soap. After cleaning it, spray it down with an antifungal, like the EC3 Mold Solution Spray to kill and prevent any mold growth. Allow the spray to sit on the area with the door still open for 3-5 minutes, wipe it with a paper towel and close the refrigerator. It is important to dry the whole area thoroughly prior to closing the refrigerator. If there is any residual moisture, mold can grow.
  3. Your chimney. This is an often overlooked source of moisture intrusion in homes. A spark arrester is used to keep sparks from your fireplace from come up the chimney and catching things on fire around your home. They are also useful for preventing moisture and rodents from entering through your chimney. Check to make sure that you have one over your chimney opening. It is also wise to look inside your fireplace after a good rain to make sure you do not see any water. If you do find moisture inside the fireplace, call a professional to come out to your home to go up on the roof, examine your chimney and the flashing around it, and to determine the source of the moisture. Depending on where your fireplace is located, even if it is gas, moisture can get into the seams and can leak into the attic or be visible in ceiling drywall. This would also require some professional help to fix properly.

 

That’s all for now! I hope you will watch the video segment, because it is really helpful. The main idea here, as always, is to control and eliminate the moisture source. Once that is determined and taken care of, mold cannot grow and potentially harm your health.

 

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The Benefits of Cleaning With Steam–The Antifungal, Antimicrobial Powerhouse

As many of you know, my family deals with allergies, chemical sensitivities, and other types of scent- and product-related reactions in my house. All of those things increased exponentially after we lived in a mold-infested house for as long as we did. Now that we are all healthy again, and not living day to day with mold-related ailments,  my son and I especially still have problems with cleaning products. The chemicals and smells in most household cleaners send my sinuses into overdrive, and give me headaches, while they make my son’s throat and skin start itching. Since I cannot just decide to give up on cleaning our home, my solution, other than mostly switching to natural, unscented products, like baking soda, white vinegar, and the EC3 products, that do not emit VOC’s, has been to use steam for many cleaning endeavors. I have both a handheld steamer and a steam mop (I use the Smart Living Steam Mop and the Smart Living Steam Jr.), so I am able to conquer most tasks with one of the two.

Steam has myriad benefits as a cleaner. It loosens dust, dirt, removes allergens, and kills dust mites and 99.5% of all bacteria. Most handheld steamers and steam mops heat to temperatures exceeding 200 degrees Fahrenheit, which destroys microbes and mold. (My Smart Living Steam Mop actually heats to 230 degrees Fahrenheit, and stays at that temperature continuously while running.) The powerful combination of high heat and steam instantly sanitizes the areas where it is used. Let’s remember now, steam is inherently a sanitizing agent more than it is a cleaning agent. When talking general dirt and grime, in an area that gets a lot of traffic and is pretty dirty, you do well to first thoroughly steam the area to loosen the grime, and to then, wipe it up or go behind the steam mop with a moist towel to make sure all is clean in the end. You may even still need to clean some areas where steam is being used, with a mild detergent to really get after a stain or some dirt, but after the steam hits it, it is thoroughly sanitized, which for a family like ours is of paramount importance.

How Does a Handheld Steamer or Steam Mop Work as a Cleaning Device?

Usually, distilled or purified water is added to the tank of the steamer. Most steamers require what is termed “scaled” water, because if the water contains calcium and magnesium mineral deposits of any kind, those deposits can leave residue behind inside the tank and will damage the internal workings of the machine. You also don’t want deposits left behind on your carpets, floors, or upholstery, as they can stain and/or discolor your things, and can become future organic material for mold to feed on.

The steamer then heats the water past the boiling point and forces it out as pressurized steam through a nozzle, brush, or other attachment. The hot, steam vapor can be directed by the user onto floors, grout, tile, upholstery, etc., to loosen dirt and kill dust mites, mold, staph, allergens and other harmful bacteria. Unlike a vacuum, no suction removes the allergen, bacteria, mold or dirt—that is why most steam mops and steamers come with a removable and washable towel-like cover for the nozzle.  The cloth works to pick up and wipe away the dust or dirt that was loosened by the steam. The high-heat moisture dries or evaporates very quickly, as well, which makes it even more ideal for mold, because the moisture left behind is very minimal.

Where Does Steam Cleaning Work Well?

Steam works well on hard, nonporous surfaces, like countertops and bathroom fixtures. Some porous surfaces cannot withstand the extreme heat or can absorb the moisture and become stained. Steam also works well on floors made of vinyl, laminate, sealed wood, or tile. (Note: I would make sure to check with the manufacturer if you have engineered wood floors to make sure that the steam will not destroy their protective covering before using it to clean them.) Handheld steamers are great cleaning tools for upholstery, mattresses, and curtains, too. The steam penetrates textiles to remove stains and odors without leaving too much moisture or residue.

Is There Anywhere That Steam Shouldn’t be Used for Cleaning?

Painted walls and unsealed floors, including hardwood, cork, and unglazed tile, may be damaged by the steamer’s high heat and may also absorb moisture. When trying to remove allergens, bacteria and mold, trapping moisture is not the goal, so materials that want to hold onto it, and are hard to dry out shouldn’t be steam cleaned. When in doubt, test a very small area to see how it does before proceeding. The heat from steam can also cause cold window glass to crack. I would warn you not to ever use steam to clean glass.

The Battle of Steam vs. Mold

Now, let’s talk about the benefits of steam to kill mold. I always like to look to science when figuring out whether or not to use a cleaning method to combat mold. The last thing I want to do is make the mold worse, or work hard to get rid of it with zero result. With that in mind, there was a very compelling study published in 2008 that was sponsored by the Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI), funded in part by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and conducted by researchers at the University of St. Louis School of Public Health in St. Louis, MO. The study compared the effectiveness of three cleaning methods in removing mold from carpet: high-flow hot water extraction (the method most people are familiar with and the one that most commercial carpet cleaning companies—like Stanly Steamer and Stainmaster—utilize that pushes a chemical cleaner mixed with hot water into the carpet with a pressurized device and extracts the dirty water from the carpet with a vacuum simultaneously), hot water with detergent (the way that most people clean their carpets on their own, using a detergent spray and hot water), and steam vapor technology (or a high-heat steaming device).

For the study, researchers simulated an average home’s carpet that might be found in a flooded basement, and embedded house dust into 60 carpet samples, grinding the dirt in using a special tumbler to simulate one year of carpet wear from real-life traffic conditions. Next, the researchers wetted and inoculated the carpet with Cladosporium sphaerospermum (a common mold spore) and placed the carpet on top of a water-logged foam pad. To avoid cross contamination, the samples were housed in separate compartments with at least 75% relative humidity. Then the researchers waited, leaving the carpet to incubate for 24 hours, for seven days, and for 30 days. At the end of each time period, the samples were cleaned using the three selected cleaning methods.

The study concluded that steam vapor was the clear winner. According to the study, “Significant differences were found among all three methods for removal of fungi over time. Steam was significantly better than the other two methods with 99% efficiency in removal of Cladosporium sphaerospermum from wetted carpet after 24 hours and 30 days incubation time, with 92% efficiency after seven days. The other two methods had declining efficiencies of fungal removal over time, from a maximum of 82% and 81% at 24 hours, down to 60% and 43% at 30 days for detergent and high-flow, hot water extraction, respectively. The net effect of the mold management study demonstrates that while steam has a nearly constant fungal removal rate, the detergent and high-flow, hot water methods decline in efficiency with increasing fungal growth.” Plainly put, the only method that actually decimated the mold and had a lasting effect on fungal growth over time was the steam cleaning method.

Then, move on and think about using steam to clean for mold in everyday life, not just when there is a significant mold outcropping like the study—steam is a great a technique for mold prevention AND for everyday clean-up.

How Should I Use Steam in my Home?

I actually like to use steam to clean for and prevent mold growth in just about every room of our home. Once a week, I use my steam mop on all of our floors. Our kitchen is tile, and so are the bathrooms and the rest of our floors are finished or sealed wood. (HERE is a link to my article on steaming floors after a toilet overflow and HERE is a link to steaming floors prior to moving in.) I also use my handheld steamer once a month to give our bathroom grout and tile a deeper clean. (HERE is a link to my article on steaming grout and tile.) Doing this has prevented mold growth around the tubs and showers significantly. I find if I just do this as maintenance, I am really dealing with visible mold or mildew stains. Less often, and usually just when needed, I use my handheld steamer with my upholstery attachment to clean upholstered furniture and/or draperies. (HERE is a link to my article on steam-cleaning upholstery.) Finally, I would highly recommend purchasing some EC3 Mold Solution Spray for ALL of your steam-cleaning tasks, especially if mold is what you are battling. The EC3 Mold Solution Spray can be misted over to sanitize, and remove any stains, odors, or other microbes.

Happy Steaming!!!

 

Disclaimer: I may be compensated through my affiliate links in this post. All opinions expressed, and/or experiences with the products mentioned are my own. This compensation helps to keep this blog up and running.

 

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Mold in the News: Deadly Fungal Infections Now Reported in the U.S.

This is breaking news, so I wanted to be sure to bring it to your attention.

Today, THIS STORY about resistant strains of an invasive fungal infection is being circulated throughout news media in the U.S. What is interesting to me is that this story is not so new. Since my family and I have accepted that we are vulnerable in the “mold world” now for about 3 years, I have seen and heard hauntingly similar scenarios multiple times.

A patient is sick after moving into a new home. Their immune system becomes totally shot from trying to fend off the mold onslaught, and they all of a sudden become sick with every aliment under the sun. They have Candida patches growing on their skin and severe respiratory problems. Because they were in good health prior to moving into the home, it then takes time to finally figure out that they have mold.  They are then given the choice to either get out or remediate the home, and then seek proper medical treatment from a doctor or doctors skilled in treating mold-exposure patients. Only then, are they able to regain health and vitality over time. Some people, like myself, take years to recover and must employ more than one detox method to cleanse their bodies of not only the fungus, but the toxins left behind by the fungus. It is a scary and serious issue that, for some reason, is controversial to speak of, because traditional medicine still has doubts about the seriousness or existence of “toxic mold.”

Today’s news story is a long time coming, and will thankfully reach many of the mold doubters in a place that speaks more to them. It takes the angle of separating the reader from the scariness of the issue by saying that most of the patients who are getting these fatal fungal infections are, in fact, extremely immune-compromised before the fungal exposure.  Many are transplant patients, or are on respirators and in the hospital for serious diseases and/or conditions prior to acquiring the fungal infections. Because these fungal infections appear to be resistant to most antifungal drugs, they are particularly frightening to the medical community.

Tom Chiller, the CDC’s top fungal expert said, “This is a paradigm shift, because Candida is not generally thought of as highly resistant or passed person to person.”

What’s scary to me is that I now definitely think of mold as highly resistant, and able to pass from person to person. For example, once mold has fully infested your home and become airborne, you MUST get professional help to remove, remediate, smother and kill all mold spores AND mycotoxins. If anything is left, you will get sick again. If someone or an animal tracks mold into your home or you bring a piece of furniture into your home that is contaminated with mold, it will permeate your home, unless you consistently employ counter-resistant methods, like cleaning with the EC3 products, using the EC3 Air Purification Candles, and rinsing your nose with saline mixed with CitriDrops to remove the mold and keep you well.

Long story short, read the article. If nothing else, it is informative, and rather alarming. I would also caution you to keep up the proactive work of keeping your environments and body clean of mold and fungus. The whole idea is to build immunity and to strengthen the body against microbial and fungal invaders. When you live in a moldy environment or breathe contaminated air, your immune system cannot do the job it is designed to do to keep you well.

I the next week or so, I will be posting an article/interview with Dr. Dennis about a homeopathic oral spray that he developed, called Sinus Defense. Please look out for it, because Sinus Defense is revolutionary and was designed to help his patients to build their fungal resistance. With this story out there in the news, a solution like Sinus Defense might just be your ticket to maintaining your health.

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Get Relief from Mold Illness: A “Know The Cause” Television Program Featuring Dr. Dennis

I hinted that this was coming in a previous post, so today, here it is: Dr. Donald Dennis talking about his experience with and treatment of mold- and fungal-related sickness on the Know the Cause television show with Doug Kaufmann. So that I am not boring you with repetitive details, should you want to know more about any background info not included in this post, HERE IS THE LINK to my previous post, where I tell you all about Know the Cause and Doug Kaufmann’s work to bring awareness to the masses about the root cause of many diseases and systemic illnesses. Kaufmann is a pioneer and a truly great person, so I highly recommend that you check out his site, his podcast, and his television program. He is also the author of many fantastic books, one of which, Eating Your Way to Good Health, changed the way I look at food, eat and cook for my family. It’s a game changer, in terms of eating to combat fungus. Hopefully, I can write about it in another post. But, I digress…

 

This is one of my favorite books by Kaufmann that offers a great and accessible anti-fungal approach to diet, eating and cooking.

This particular episode (Click HERE to view the entire episode on the Know the Cause website) features Dr. Dennis discussing the basics of what he does in his office for patients who are suffering with mold illness and fungal-related disease.

Dr. Dennis is unique, in that he takes the time to really get to know and understand his patients, their symptoms and the consequences of their illness. In this program, he takes the viewer through a typical office visit with him and explains some of the EC3 products that he created to help his patients.

Most engaging and compelling are the testimonial from Mary at the beginning of the show, and the slides that Dr. Dennis uses to illustrate what mold and fungus do to the body. Mary ‘s story is poignant and real to me, because I get it. I am sure, if you are reading this post especially, that you too probably get it. The scenario with mold is often the same:

You have been “fine” health-wise all of your life. Then, you move into a new home or condo, and your life seems to go downhill—you are sick all of the time, have low energy, your allergies continue to increase to things and foods that you never had trouble with in the past, and then, the depression sets in. Yes, depression. Maybe doctors have started to tell you that they just can’t figure out what is wrong, and you start to fear that being “sick” is your new normal. Maybe your husband or partner is fine, and thinks the fact that you suspect your new home of making you sick is all in your head. Maybe you have missed so much work due to sickness that you have lost your job, or cannot physically engage in the things in your life anymore that make you happy. All of these things are mold-related and cause depression. Then, there is the bigger issue that Dr. Dennis discusses after Mary’s testimonial: depression or neurological issues can actually be caused by mold being physically present inside of your body.

There are molds that emit toxins—or mycotoxins. If you are exposed to those molds, they can enter through your nose, lodge inside your sinus and be absorbed into your tissues and bloodstream. Once in your blood and your tissues, they can emit neurotoxins that can and do affect your brain. So as Dr. Dennis illustrates with slides in the show, the obvious presence of these neurotoxins could actually be the CAUSE of depression, neurological or psychological changes. WHOA! I realize the science is not quite there yet, but to me, all of this makes a lot of sense. The good news is, according to Dr. Dennis, that once the mold is physically removed from their tissue, the patient gets better, and the neurological symptoms disappear. But what if you don’t know mold is the problem? What if your doctor doesn’t know to remove the mold from your body or to treat the mold at all? What if you cannot find the help you need, or never clean up your environment? All of these things keep me up at night, and are the reason why this blog exists.

I realize all of this is pretty heavy, but I really hope you will take a moment to watch the show and learn more about mold illness. If you suspect that mold or fungus are causing your health issues, give Dr. Dennis or MicroBalance Health Products (the company that manufactures and distributes the products created by Dr. Dennis) a call, or write into Know the Cause. These are all people who will listen to you and people who can help. You can always reach out to me as well. I love to help.

Take care and be well!

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Steamy Showers AND a Mold-Free Home? Now You Can Have Both!

One of my pet peeves is when I walk into the bathroom to find my husband taking a hot, steamy shower with the closet door open and the bathroom vent fan off. I literally blow my top! We are both extremely mold sensitive, and I know too well the dangers of the aftermath: The condensation from the steam on the ceilings and walls promotes mold growth in our bathroom, and then, our closet and clothes fill with the moisture and possibly start to mildew—a double whammy. In other words, prevention is key here, and mold can only grow where there is excess moisture; thus, where moisture is controlled, so is mold.

Since my husband is an ex-builder, I have access to his experience and understanding of the whys and wherefores of proper bathroom ventilation from a tangible, here’s where the fan should go, this size room needs this sort of fan, perspective. I pair that with my knowledge of mold and protecting my family from it, in order to offer some helpful tips for cleaning and using your bathroom fan to help win the battle over mold.

First, the basics: When you are purchasing or renting a home, or updating a bathroom, make sure an exhaust fan exists in the same room as the shower. In some older homes, ceiling ventilation is only in the toilet closet, especially if it is separate. A fan is needed in the same space as the shower to keep the air circulating and dry. Without air movement, condensation can form on walls and windows. Where water sits and cools, mold can and will grow. Also, make sure that the exhaust fan vents to the outside through the ceiling or roof. My husband has told me his stories of nightmare renovations, where the bathroom fans are ventilated straight into the attic, and sometimes even directly into the attic insulation. Moisture in the attic sits and creates a HUGE and possibly dangerous mold issue. (Note: Most attics are unconditioned spaces, meaning no direct heat or cooling applies. If your attic is a finished and conditioned space, it is highly unlikely that your bathroom fans would be vented into it. It is ALWAYS worth an inspection, though. This relatively inexpensive fix can save you LOTS in mold remediation down the line.)

Quick personal story side note to help you if you do not have a bathroom ventilation fan and are in a rental housing situation, or cannot afford to vent through the roof to the outside to create one:

I once lived in a tiny apartment with no bathroom fan. I purchased a large floor fan (many folks call these box fans) that I would sit by the bathroom door and turn to high to keep the air moving. A dehumidifier is also a good idea in this sort of situation. Bottom line: If you do not have ceiling ventilation, I highly recommended that you move a fan into the bathroom, pronto. You can even turn the back part or “sucking” side of the fan into the bathroom and place the blowing side towards an open window in nice weather the really ensure the condensation is being expelled.

Here are some of my quick tips about using your bathroom fan to its full potential, in terms of mold prevention:

  • Enough fresh air needs to enter the room to bring the humidity down, so always leave your bathroom fan running for at least 30 minutes after a shower.
  • Some fans can even be set on a timer to turn off after a specific amount of time. Installing a timer switch or humidity-sensing fan is a good way to make sure you run the fan long enough to clear the air after a shower.

Here is a simple timer switch that you can install to help make sure the fan stays on long enough to dry out the bathroom, but does not remain on ALL day.

  • Make sure to keep your bathroom fan free of dust and lint. Because the fan sucks the air up and out of the room, it can really become a trap for any kind of particles or material floating in the air. The exhaust fans are designed to help eliminate odors, chemicals and condensation for the bathroom–so, if they are doing their job, they can get dirty. Mold can use dust and lint as food and can grow on it too, because it is organic matter. Dust the outside of your fan once a week to prevent a build-up. I just use the hose attachment and nozzle of my vacuum to suck out any dust or dirt on ours.
  • Clean your bathroom fan thoroughly every 6 months. This will keep it working well and will also prevent mold growth. Also, doing this more frequently will help your fan to work better. This is definitely a task of large returns too, because the more thoroughly you clean it initially, the less you will have to do the next time.

Now, let’s talk about how to really clean that fan. If it’s constantly sucking up moisture from my luxuriously long showers, it could get pretty gross, right? Yes. It can get gross, but we are the mold brigade, so we are going to make sure that any air circulating through our homes is clean! Also, to scare you a little into cleaning your fan, if it’s clogged with grime and unable to do its job, moist air will accumulate, and seep into the walls and cabinetry. Neglected bathroom vents are unable to expel odors from the bathroom too. Ewww, right?! Let’s keep our fans free from dust and grime to allow them to properly do their jobs.

Here is how I clean my fans:

How to Clean Your Bathroom Ventilation Fans to Prevent Mold Growth:

  • Make a tub or bucket of cleaning solution. For the solution, I use warm to hot distilled water, mixed with a generous squirt of Dawn and 2-4 ounces of EC3 Mold Solution Concentrate. I find that the heat factor really matters for getting the fan clean, so don’t forget to heat up your water a bit. You will use this cleaning solution to soak the vent cover later in the process. Bring this with you into the bathroom, so you are ready to go. I also bring a bottle of the EC3 Mold Solution Spray and some paper towels with me to squirt and wipe away on parts that are difficult to soak, or that cannot be submerged.

All you need to thoroughly clean the bathroom vent fan is concentrated dish soap, like Dawn, and non-toxic mold cleaner, like one of these EC3 products.

  • First, once you are in the bathroom and ready to clean, turn the power to the fan off. This part is EXTREMELY important, because you do not want to get electrocuted!
  • Use a portable HEPA vacuum or a vacuum with a hose attachment to suck off any dust or debris that has collected on the outside of the vent cover. This will also get up into the fan a bit, and get out any loose particles that have come to rest on the inside of the fan cover. You will definitely not want to skip this, or all sorts of dust will drop on your head and floor during the next step.

When you get up close, you can see just how much dust and debris can get lodged right inside the cover. This is precisely why you should vacuum it with your HEPA vacuum as part of your bathroom cleaning routine.

  • Follow whatever directions that are needed to pull the fan cover away—this is usually plastic and dome-shaped or flat, depending on the style. Sometimes fan styles are even different from bathroom to bathroom. There is usually a release that you press before pulling, or two sides that you press in to release it from the ceiling.

With my fan–it’s an older model–you just pull the cover down, away from the ceiling, and pinch the wire hooks on either side to release it.

You can also see the the underside of the cover now. It is still pretty dirty, considering that I clean my ventilation fans regularly. All of the dirt and dust can be a mold breeding ground, if you are not careful.

  • Once you have released the cover, unplug the fan. I also like to flip the fan switch to “ON” on the wall, once the fan is unplugged, just to make sure that there isn’t any power still running to it, before I start to touch anywhere near the motor. Make sure to flip the switch back to “OFF” before proceeding, though.
  • Use your vacuum to clean the inner fan and all around it, while it is still attached in the ceiling. The better job you do here, the less cleaning once you get it down, and the less dust and debris that could fall out when you remove it.

  • Disengage the fan from the ceiling. This part may require unscrewing, and unplugging the wires that are connected to the motor unit. Each fan is different, so make certain you carefully observe the way it is assembled. You want to be able to put it back together. (Tip: Take a picture of the assembled fan with your camera on your phone, so that you have an actual picture to refer to when it is time to put it back together.) Here is a helpful video about replacing a bathroom fan, that shows how to remove it, if you have never done this before:

  • Once disengaged, place the plastic fan cover into your bucket of cleaning solution to soak. It will need a little time to sit in the water, so that the dirt and grime is easy to rinse or wipe off.

I like to use a nice, deep bucket, so that the fan cover can be fully submerged in the cleaning solution.

  • While the fan cover soaks, take a good look at the fan housing. If there is grime in the housing, use a vacuum attachment to suck most of it out and wipe the inside thoroughly with a cloth soaked in your cleaning solution, or squirt the cloth down with the EC3 Mold Solution Spray, and wipe the housing down, until your cloth comes back clean. I also spray my housing with the EC3 Mold Solution Spray, once clean and allow it to air dry. It’s awesome, because you can just let it do the work of killing all of the mold and spores. If you are using the cleaning solution to clean the housing, wipe it with a dry cloth to remove excess moisture.

The EC3 Mold Solution Spray is great use in the fan housing, once the fan is removed, to help clean out any dust and mold spores.

  • Do the same step with the actual fan and motor. These pieces should not be submerged, so you need to clean them thoroughly by hand. You need to clean-off the sticky grime and mildew that can form on the blades and fan openings. Make certain, if you are not using the EC3 products, that you include some anti-mold/anti-fungal component—like, citrus-seed extract, etc. You have to kill the mold, and prevent it from coming back to really make this worthwhile.
  • Remove the fan cover from the solution, wipe off any remaining grime and dry it thoroughly with a towel.
  • Once all parts are thoroughly dry, reassemble your fan and fan cover back into the ceiling.
  • Turn the power on to make sure everything is running properly.

Congratulations! Now, your bathroom fan is clean, mold free, probably much quieter, because the motor isn’t clogged, and can better prevent mold growth in your bathroom. Now you can enjoy that hot shower for as long as you want!

Anyone have any of their own tips on cleaning bathroom ventilation fans? If so, I would love to hear from you.

 

 

With my fan–it’s an older model–you just pull the cover down, away from the ceiling, and pinch the wire hooks on either side to release it.

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