The Flood and Mold

Posted to Subscribers on 30 August 2017


Dear Subscribers,

In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, I would like to convey my sympathies to all those whose lives have been turned upside down, especially those who lost loved ones or property.

Having survived several floods in the past, I also want to share a few gems that were harvested as a result of the experiences. There are short-term issues such as getting dry and finding family members, pets, and friends who might have lost touch for hours or perhaps days. There are longer-term issues involving property remediation and financial recovery. There are potentially also many immediate and longer-term health concerns. Short-term, the issues probably fall in the broader category of hygiene and infection. We cannot assume that the flood water was clean or that those who had direct contact with the flooding were not exposed to some pathogens. Longer-term, the primary issue is probably mold.

For this reason, it is important to dry out as quickly as possible. Many people will try to move back into their homes and recover their space such as beds, bathrooms, and kitchen, but several precautions are warranted. Anything with even tiny amounts of visible mold should be handled very, very carefully. Depending on the monetary and sentimental value, there are items that are not worth remediating and probably some that regardless of damage, people want to keep. Keep in mind that mold is viable and will grow so long as there is something on which to feed — which basically means anything organic, including photographs, books, clothing, padded furniture, wood, and even drywall.

The seminar I took on mold remediation was shortly after Katrina and most of the others in the seminar were contractors who hoped to pick up lucrative jobs restoring the historic areas of New Orleans. It is one thing to get a certificate and another to apply the knowledge correctly. In most cases, the equipment investment alone would cost more than most contractors would be willing to pay. What this means is that getting the job done right is very challenging so people need to be as well-informed as possible.

In the effort to reclaim living space, we must not forget that the nature of water is to descend so the most neglected and dangerous space is probably under the house. I would strongly suggest exploring that area thoroughly, not just for shifting of piers under the house but any signs of mold growth. Even if the crawl space or basement was clean, organic matter could have been carried by the flood waters so a single moldy leaf can become life-threatening unless addressed.

Everyone is vulnerable to mold but only 25% of people exhibit allergic reactions. This does not however mean that asymptomatic people are home free, merely that they are not allergic. Allergies can make one quite miserable but the real danger is when viable mold gets inside the body. It can deposit absolutely anywhere but the obvious pathways would be inhalation and ingestion. There are relatively simple tests one can run to see if spores are drifting around and landing on food. One can buy a formal test kit or just put some organic bread or something very mushy on an open saucer. If it goes "funny" in a day or two, that is a warning.

I should underscore that the test substance should be organic, but I bought a loaf of allegedly organic bread back in November. I did not like the taste or the feeling in my body after eating it and put it in the refrigerator. When I returned from Ecuador in February, it was still mold-free so I decided to keep it for study purposes. Here we are half a year later and there is still no green on it. I cannot for a single second believe it is really organic. Thus, to be extra sure, try leaving several samples in the open. You can also, if very curious, put my Diffuser Blend on some of the samples because it should inhibit mold growth. I ran such tests in sealed containers and only the Diffuser Blend actually inhibited mold growth. I used oatmeal from the same batch in many clean jars with different mold products but all, except my essential oil blend, eventually failed, some faster than others. The point is simply that you do not have to believe me, but you can repeat the tests if you like.

Here are some serious issues to consider. It is still summer and many people will be running air conditioning and/or fans to keep cool and dry out. This virtually assures movement of mold spores IF they are present. It also means the mold can contaminate the ducts in the HVAC systems. What this means is that removal of contaminated materials should precede anything involving excessive movement of air. This was not how the flood was handled in my house when the insurance company eventually sent a clean up crew. The level of recklessness was truly over the top, and I was very, very ill for several years. Since I post a lot on mold, hardly a day goes by that someone does not write me with questions.

Obviously, I cannot answer all those questions in one post, but I can definitely say that the priority should be removal of everything contaminated. There are experts who can, up to a point, remediate precious belongings. Normally, there is a sort of cost-benefit analysis, meaning what is the cost of remediating versus replacing the item. With carpeting, padded furniture, bedding, and clothing, the cost of remediation tends to be excessive compared to the replacement cost. With original art or family treasures, remediation may be an option, but the items still need to be removed and placed in a special warehouse for contaminated items. This means, one does not put clean items in the same room as contaminated ones. Some warehouses will be equipped to decontaminate and I am sure there are already enterprising people working on this in Texas.

Since Mercury is retrograde and not everyone is reading this as intended, I will repeat that everything that looks like it might be contaminated should be removed from the occupied space using caution. In some cases this will entail full Tyvek suits and respirators and in other cases perhaps a pair of rubber gloves and plastic bags will suffice. Whatever you do, try not to shake anything that is moldy as this will only disseminate spores and spread the risks.

Sealing a bag practically guarantees that the bag should go straight to a landfill. For the record, mold is "natural" so it works very hard to decompose what we throw away, but once something has started to decompose, it does not belong in a home or office, not to mention school or public building. I regret to say that I have shed a lot of tears over mold. People I cared about deeply have died so without sounding like an alarmist, I really want people to understand that while a highly allergic person could go into anaphylactic shock and die almost instantly, others can be seriously ill with only vague symptoms such as fatigue, impaired judgment, blurry vision, loss of memory, and itchy spots on the skin. There are obviously many more symptoms, but the key concern is "colonization" by which is meant that the mold sets up a domicile and grows. It can eat out a portion of the brain or liver or lungs or just about anything and it can spread by going into the bloodstream. In short, I am begging people to be cautious and to handle the flood issues seriously.

For my part, I will offer flood victims all my mold products at 20% off until lives are back to normal. Just enter "flood" in the coupon code at checkout.

At this time, I feel the need for some ongoing dialogue and would like to use social media, but I will ask someone else to manage the page once it is registered to me. If I sound a little grumpy, it is because I do not have control over the Institute FaceBook pages and am pretty peeved about this.

So far as herbs go, I truly believe that jatoba is the starting point. Some of you may think I sound like a broken record, but after the mold exposure I had, I was disoriented, lost a lot of vocabulary, especially nouns, was slurring, and almost too tired to function. I was lucky if I could work for 30 minutes a day. A bit over a year into the ordeal, a lovely Chilean herbalist gave me a bottle of jatoba and from that point on, I began recovering. You will recall that I also put Jinzu on jatoba when I adopted her. I have had her just a tiny bit over a month now and cannot see any signs of allergies. Consequently, I am being a little more adventurous and increasing the variety of foods I give her. We have not had any problems, and she cooperates very well when I squirt the jatoba straight onto her tongue. I am using the glycerite form with her. It masks some of the rather intense and yucky taste and she seems like a happy camper. I am pretty sure children would also tolerate it well. The strength of the alcohol extracts and glycerites is the same, but the taste is totally different.

I will continue with this topic as more news becomes available. In the meantime, we can all pray for tranquility and safety for everyone in the entire world, including all the plants and animals, including all the people living in stressful circumstances, and including even those who hardly notice the world around them.

Many blessings,



Mold Herbs




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