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Types of Mold: Cladosporium

Did you know there are over 100,000 different types of mold? When thinking in the context of household mold we often categorize the mold we see into colors in order to identify or explain the issues we are having. It goes much deeper than color! When we talk about types of mold that fall in the category of toxic, there are 5 to be concerned about: Cladosporium, Penicilium, Fusarium, Aspergillus, and Stachybotrys. In this article, we are going to talk specifically about Cladosporium.

cladosporium - homebiotic

WHAT IS CLADOSPORIUM?

Cladosporium is one of the most common species of mold found in houses and in the outdoors. They grow on almost any organic surface such as food, soil, plants, paint, textiles, and wood. They are rapidly growing and take on a cotton-like or fluffy brown appearance. There are over 700 varieties of Cladosporium species. Some species prey on plants, whereas other species act as parasites on other fungal microbes. Some species may cause physical health symptoms in people who are sensitive to mold and fungus.

black mold on drywall - homebiotic - types of moldWHAT DOES CLADOSPORIUM MOLD LOOK LIKE?

Cladosporium has dark-colored conidia, which looks a lot like plant or tree branches under the microscope. Conidia are one-celled spores that are produced asexually. To the naked eye, Cladosporium looks like a brown-colored fluff or discoloration on wet surfaces. However, depending on where they grow, they may not always be visible. Certain species that grow on plants cause black spots on leaves and stems.

IS CLADOSPORIUM DANGEROUS OR TOXIC?

As with any types of mold species, Cladosporium can cause health problems in people of any age. However, it depends on the immune system and the sensitivity of the individual. Some may not react to Cladosporium at all, while others will develop some allergies. However, some Cladosporium species can cause health emergencies if the spore count is unusually high in the air. People with compromised immune systems may have severe skin, eye, and lung complications when exposed to Cladosporium.

Cladosporium species can cause health emergencies if the spore count is unusually high in the air. People with compromised immune systems may have severe skin, eye, and lung complications when exposed to Cladosporium. Click To Tweet

WHAT ARE CLADOSPORIUM MOLD EXPOSURE SYMPTOMS?

Allergic symptoms can occur with prolonged exposure to Cladosporium species. Often these symptoms occur when exposed to more copious amounts. Again, it depends on the sensitivity and immune system of the individual.

General allergic symptoms can include:

  • Asthma
  • Stuffy nose
  • Cough and wheezing
  • Postnasal drip
  • Itchy eyes, nose, and throat
  • Fungal infections of the sinus, skin, and ears
  • Itchy dry skin

mold on tile - homebiotic - types of moldWHERE IS CLADOSPORIUM FOUND?

Cladosporium species are the most common molds typically found in homes. They can grow on almost any surface where this is a lack of sunlight and ventilation. You can find them in basements, kitchens, bathrooms, and any dark or damp areas of the home. The fuzzy mold found on old family heirlooms, in wine cellars, or old books stacked in the corner are often from the Cladosporium genus.

Cladosporium also has pathogenic plant species for both indoor and outdoor plants. They are also the most abundant mold species found outside. They may destroy new plant sprouts and can cause blackened areas on the leaves of indoor plants.

Cladosporium also has pathogenic plant species for both indoor and outdoor plants. They are also the most abundant mold species found outside. They may destroy new plant sprouts and can cause blackened areas on the leaves of indoor… Click To Tweet

CLADOSPORIUM GROWTH CONDITIONS

Different species of Cladosporium can grow in a wide range of conditions. They thrive on both wet or dry surfaces, which has implications for identification and removal. Although most species are dry, there are a few that can grow on wet surfaces like meat and food. However, the optimal temperature range is between 18-28 degrees celsius.

INTERESTING FACT – Although Cladosporium is not known to produce dangerous mycotoxins, it produces Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) associated with odors. The classic musty smell is a good indicator that Cladosporium species are present.

cleaning sponge - homebiotic

HOW TO REMOVE CLADOSPORIUM MOLD?

Removing embedded Cladosporium clusters may require professional help. Because this species can be found on both wet and dry surfaces, it requires expert knowledge and problem-solving.

Since most Cladosporium species produce a delicate fluff, they can be easily inhaled when disturbed. Although Cladosporium is not considered lethal in the general population, for some people, it can cause severe symptoms. For this reason, removal requires some protective clothing and gear to prevent inhalation and skin exposure.

It’s important to safely remove any types of mold species in your home, even if it’s not considered toxic. Professional mold testing can be invaluable for understanding which mold species are present and where.

It’s critical to understand how to prevent mold from growing back. Keep an eye on the damp areas of your home—particularly areas like windows, plants, basements, and attics. Kitchens and bathrooms are often popular places for mold growth as well. Keep humidity below 50% and make sure there is enough air ventilation. Opening windows or using fans can significantly improve air circulation.


REFERENCES

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cladosporium

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3390897/

https://www.plantmanagementnetwork.org/pub/php/research/2008/marsh/

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0166061618300095#bib30

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/08940630.1987.10466201

 

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How Do You Use Homebiotic Spray?

We love our Homebiotic spray (we may be slightly biased). We also want you to love our Homebiotic spray. It is the perfect addition to any natural cleaning routine and it is extremely user-friendly. So how do you use Homebiotic spray?

Homebiotic is classed as an environmental probiotic – but what does that mean?

You’ve surely heard of probiotics for your gut – well, Homebiotic works similarly. Your gut microbiome is made up of millions of bacteria – recent research suggests that you have one bacteria organism for every cell in your body!1 Humankind and bacteria have been living in harmony for millennia – the bacteria need you for access to the food you consume, and in return, they make enzymes that are beneficial to your digestion2 as well as many other hidden benefits for your body. When you consume a probiotic, you’re adding to the colony in your gut, and aiding the friendly bacteria in protecting you from the more harmful species – as well as fungal growth.

You’ve surely heard of probiotics for your gut – well, Homebiotic works similarly. Your gut microbiome is made up of millions of bacteria – recent research suggests that you have one bacteria organism for every cell in your body! Click To Tweet

homebiotic spray by sink with blue cloth - Homebiotic - how do you use homebiotic spray

PROBIOTICS FOR YOUR HOME

Unless you’re permanently armed with cleansers, a sponge, and a manic gleam in your eye – your home is covered with bacteria. And that’s a good thing. Because bacteria, on the whole, are not the enemy – sure, there are species that are good to protect against when preparing food or handling basic bodily functions, but there’s absolutely no reason to fear the majority of bacteria in your home.

Homebiotic is:

  • An all-natural, carefully formulated blend of probiotic soil bacteria suspended in pure water – our proprietary blend of bacteria only includes harmless species, also found in digestive probiotics or fermented foods.
  • Free of artificial scents.
  • Free of preservatives, color, and enzymes.
  • Safe around humans and pets.

You need Homebiotic when there’s an imbalance in your home microbiome. Where you may have used disinfectants, all the bacteria are wiped out – but unfriendly bacteria returns first and takes over. This bad bacteria doesn’t compete with mold, so mold in your home is allowed free rein to grow.

You need Homebiotic when there’s an imbalance in your home microbiome. Where you may have used disinfectants, all the bacteria are wiped out – but unfriendly bacteria returns first and takes over. This bad bacteria doesn’t compete with… Click To Tweet

Homebiotic isn’t a fungicide or a cleaning spray – however, it’s perfect to use once you’ve identified and fixed the underlying cause and physically removed existing mold.

black mold on door frame - Homebiotic - how to use homebiotic sprayMOLD & HOMEBIOTIC

You may be excited to start spraying your bottle of Homebiotic around your home, but if you’ve already got a mold problem, there are steps you need to take first. If the mold issue is minor, you can remedy it with the steps below. If it’s more serious, we recommend contacting a local mold remediation service.

1. Repair The Underlying Reason For Mold

Mold thrives in a humid environment with enough delicious food around – the cellulose in wood and drywall is a favorite.4 You can reduce the humidity by fixing the source of moisture. If there’s a leaky pipe it needs to be dealt with before you begin cleaning – same goes for leaky windows or condensation issues.

2. Clean Up The Mold

At Homebiotic we favor the use of hydrogen peroxide or borax to clean up the mold. We recommend avoiding the use of bleach when tackling mold, as it can’t remove mold from porous surfaces such as wood, and can actually cause mold to become more harmful. Bleach will also kill your home microbiome indiscriminately – including the helpful bacteria that actively help protect against mold.

For hard surfaces:

  • Wear gloves, a face mask, and goggles when using hydrogen peroxide to remove mold. A concentration of 3%-7% works just fine, and there isn’t usually a reason to use anything stronger.
  • Spot test first, as hydrogen peroxide can cause discoloration on some materials.
  • Spray hydrogen peroxide on the moldy area.
  • Leave the hydrogen peroxide to work for five minutes or so (you’ll know when it’s time because it stops foaming).
  • Use a paper towel or other disposable cloth to wipe the area and remove the remainder of the mold.
    Allow to dry.
  • Repeat as many times as necessary.

For soft materials:

  • Wear gloves, a face mask, and goggles when using borax to remove mold.
  • Dissolve ½ cup borax in 1-gallon hot water.
  • Soak the material for two to four hours.
  • Wash material as normal
  • Repeat if odor or mold spots remains.

3. Apply Homebiotic

After dealing with a mold issue, we recommend spraying Homebiotic on the affected areas of your home once a day for a week, to help the friendly bacteria colony to reestablish and take charge. After this period, a light mist in each area once per week is usually all that’s needed. Most Homebiotic users apply it as the last step of their regular cleaning routine.

Homebiotic can be sprayed in the following areas to prevent mold:

  • Around windows and doors
  • Under sinks
  • Basement
  • Car or other vehicles – even boats
  • Carpets near external doors
  • Cabinets
  • Mattresses
  • Dog or cat beds
  • Camping equipment
  • Soil of houseplants
  • Air conditioner – spray directly on the coils and drip pan, and into the ducts
  • Shower
  • Washing machine

If you’re spraying areas in contact with water – like the shower and the washing machine – be aware you have to reapply Homebiotic after every use, as Homebiotic is water-soluble and may be washed away.

Store Homebiotic at room temperature with other cleaning products, out of direct sunlight. Be mindful of the use-by date – as Homebiotic is a living probiotic solution, it can become less effective after that point.

homebiotic spray on bathroom counter - Homebiotic - how to use homebiotic spray

BUILD A HEALTHY HOME DEFENSE WITH HOMEBIOTIC

Homebiotic is a safe and reliable way to keep the sources of musty odors, black staining, and grime at bay – instead of splashing around chemical-heavy disinfectants. The spray can be used in a wide variety of places to keep your home healthy. Homebiotic is a natural choice to balance your house’s microbiome without compromising your health.


REFERENCES

1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4991899/
2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5847071/
3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18086226
4. https://www.pubs.ext.vt.edu/2901/2901-7019/2901-7019.html

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5 Must-Have Lyme Disease & Mold Resources

Lyme Disease Testing Supplies - Homebiotic - Must-have lyme disease resources

 

The world of Lyme disease, mold, and mold illness can be a daunting world saturated with a ton of information. Often times too much information is just as difficult as not having enough information. Where do you start? What information is important to you? We have compiled a list of 5 must-have Lyme disease and mold resources to get you started on your journey:

 

tick on flower bud - Homebiotic - lyme disease resourcesUntangling the Lyme/Mold Conundrum – Townsendletter

“Chronic Lyme disease and mycotoxin illness are rapidly becoming more and more intertwined, with many patients suffering greatly from both maladies. It gets incredibly difficult to sort out what is causing what in terms of a patient’s health picture, given the overlap of symptomatology. For patients it is confusing, and for health practitioners it can also make navigating treatment planning very difficult.”

In this article, Nicola McFadzean Ducharme (Naturopathic Doctor, ND) explores commonalities and distinctions between testing and treatment. Testing can be used to determine present variable or stressors, which can then properly guide treatment. This also allows viewing the patient as a whole, creating customized treatment plans to greatly improve the health of the patient.

 


girl drinking tea - Homebiotic - Lyme disease resourcesImprovement of Common Variable Immunodeficiency… – US National Library of Medicine

“Lyme disease is the most common vector‐borne illness in the United States and Europe, as migratory birds, among other factors, are spreading infections, increasing the burden of illness 12. In 2015, CDC researchers reported an estimated 329,000 new cases of Lyme disease in the United States 3, with a 320% increase in the number of counties affected 4. Multi‐systemic symptoms include fevers, fatigue, musculoskeletal, and nerve pain which may be migratory in nature 5, cardiovascular and neuropsychiatric symptoms with cognitive difficulties, and insomnia 6.”

This article outlines a case report looking at a young male with Lyme disease, mold toxicity, and common variable immunodeficiency (CVID). This is the first study of using stem cell therapy to improve Lyme disease and CVID. It’s interesting to note the variety of health issues found in this young man. Namely, he was diagnosed with Lyme, mycotoxicosis, celiac disease, Klebsiella, epstein barr, CVID, and chronic staphylococcus infections. This article shows a clear connection between immune system problems and the development of multiple health issues.

 


Mold growth - Homebiotic - get rid of moldMixed Mold Mycotoxicosis – National Library of Medicine

“The study described was part of a larger multicenter investigation of patients with multiple health complaints attributable to confirmed exposure to mixed-molds infestation in water-damaged buildings. The authors present data on symptoms; clinical chemistries; abnormalities in pulmonary function; alterations in T, B, and natural killer (NK) cells; the presence of autoantibodies (i.e., antinuclear autoantibodies [ANA], autoantibodies against smooth muscle [ASM], and autoantibodies against central nervous system [CNS] and peripheral nervous system [PNS] myelins)”

Although this study looks mainly at mold toxicity and health issues, it reveals a clear connection between mold and the development of immune system dysfunctions. This is relevant for exploring the Lyme and mold connection. Often those with chronic Lyme have immune system dysfunctions due to other issues like mold. Wherever the immune system is affected, there are likely to be multiple health problems and susceptibilities to other diseases.

 


mother holding child's hands - Homebiotic - lyme disease resourcesToxic: Heal your body from Mold Toxicity, Lyme Disease, Multiple Chemical Sensitivities, and Chronic Environmental Illness – Neil Nathan MD (Workshop)

“This workshop is designed for medical practitioners who have MD, DO, ND, NP or PA certification. In this workshop, we will be discussing the presentation of mold toxicity, how to test patients and then step-by-step treatment programs for patients who have a robust constitution and for those who have become more sensitive. We will delve into the finer points of the entire detoxification process, and then dig into the conditions frequently triggered by mold toxicity that often present stumbling blocks in treatment: mast cell activation, limbic dysfunction and vagal nerve dysfunction.”

This book is a complete resource for anyone wanting to understand more about sensitivity versus toxicity. More patients are coming to their doctors with a variety of symptoms that are hard to pin down and diagnose. But on closer inspection, they are often riddled with a variety of illnesses and toxicities ranging from mold illness, Lyme disease, and multiple food and chemical sensitivities. This book breaks down each of these issues and gives practical advice for rebooting the system towards healing.

 


black mold on wall - Homebiotic - lyme disease resourcesWhat’s the Connection Between Toxic Mold and Lyme Disease? – Dr. Jay Davidson

“Many people who suffer with chronic Lyme disease continue experiencing symptoms because something, often times multiple issues, are standing in the way of their recovery. If you have been treated for Lyme, but are still unwell, one of the underlying issues could be toxic mold exposure.”

This article is from a comprehensive website by Dr. Jay Davidson, a leading functional medicine doctor who explores complex health conditions. In this article, Dr. Davidson, breaks down the connection between mold and Lyme disease in a format that is easy to read. He also discusses various treatments and symptoms that other medical professionals often miss. Dr. Jay’s wife struggled with chronic Lyme disease which made him passionate about this topic and as such, he has dedicated his life to helping others with similar issues.

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5 Misconceptions About Mold Illness

sick dog with ice pack on head - Homebiotic - Mold Illness

With something as complex as mold illness, we are bound to run into some confusion. Have you ever considered what the misconceptions about mold illness might be?  What we call mold illness is actually a complex syndrome called Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS). People exposed to mold are actually responding to the mycotoxins that mold secrete. These mycotoxins are a biotoxin that causes several changes in the immune system, affecting several organs in the body.

Mold growth - Homebiotic - get rid of mold

The symptoms of mold illness are the same as CIRS (1,2). These symptoms include:

  • Headaches
  • Weakness and Fatigue
  • Memory problems and difficulties with concentration
  • Dizziness and nausea
  • Muscle aches and joint pains
  • Feeling sick after exertion
  • Hypersensitivity to bright lights, blurred vision, red eyes, and tearing
  • Cough, shortness of breath, chronic sinus congestion, and asthma
  • More static shocks than usual

People need to know the facts about mold illness to understand the causes and symptoms and eliminate confusion. In this way, people can get the proper diagnosis and treatment they need for CIRS. What’s important to understand is that mold illness, or CIRS, is poorly understood by many people, including some health practitioners. In this article, we’ll look deeper into this issue and talk about the 5 misconceptions of mold illness.

doctor checking boy with stethoscope - Homebiotic - mold illness1) MOLD ILLNESS, OR CIRS, IS NOT JUST CAUSED BY MOLD

Even though we call it mold illness, there’s more to this condition than just mold exposure. Mold illness is actually a systemic response to the biotoxins in mold. However, these biotoxins are not limited to mold alone. They can be found in several other substances, infections, and chemicals (2,3,4).

We call it mold illness because when CIRS is set off by mold, it requires a specific response in order to treat it. This response includes dealing directly with mold removal or getting the patient away from the mold source.

However, CIRS can also be caused by other biotoxins such as (2,3):

  • Exposure to bacteria and the parts of certain bacteria (actinomycetes, endotoxins, and hemolysins)
  • Different species of fungi
  • Inflammagens (external irritants that cause inflammation)
  • Beta-glucans (sugars found in the cell walls of yeast, bacteria, fungi, and some plants)
  • Microbial volatile organic compounds

Lastly, biotoxins can be found in some infections induced by ticks, fish, and insect bites (2). This is why many people diagnosed with mold illness tend to have other issues like Lyme disease (1,2,3). Babesia and Borrelia, bacteria transmitted through tick bites, can also secrete biotoxins that can have adverse health effects.

female friends gathering - Homebiotic - mold illness is common2) CIRS IS ACTUALLY A COMMON HEALTH ISSUE

Although there’s been confusion about this condition, CIRS is common and affects up to 25% of the population. Three conditions must be met to develop CIRS: a genetic predisposition, an inflammatory event, and exposure to biotoxins (2,4,5).

Those with a genetic predisposition may develop CIRS after prolonged exposure to biotoxins. However, research shows that an inflammatory event, like a chronic viral illness or tick-borne illness, is also required to trigger the immune system towards the development of CIRS (2-5).

Not everyone will be genetically inclined towards CIRS. Still, most of us have been exposed to inflammatory events (like viral illness) and biotoxins. This makes the development of CIRS rather common.

When it comes to mold exposure, most of us have been in contact with mold either in our homes or at work. Unfortunately, mold is increasingly common in urban buildings due to their airtight construction, excessive dampness, and cellulose-containing materials that mold like to feed on. All three of these conditions are what mold needs to grow (1,6).

A report on mold and dampness put out by the WHO shows that up to 20% of buildings in Europe, Canada, and the United States had excessive dampness. However, other studies show that mold and dampness may affect approximately 50% of homes. These numbers may be higher in poor neighborhoods where households are crowded, and the heating and ventilation system is inadequate (1).

A report on mold and dampness put out by the WHO shows that up to 20% of buildings in Europe, Canada, and the United States had excessive dampness. However, other studies show that mold and dampness may affect approximately 50% of… Click To Tweet

With this level of mold and dampness, it’s no wonder that CIRS is more prevalent than we realize.

medical record paper - Homebiotic - mold illness is often misdiagnosed3) CIRS IS OFTEN MISDIAGNOSED

As we’ve discussed above, up to 25% of the population is genetically susceptible to CIRS. Also, mold is a risk for 20-50% of all homes. Lastly, most people have been exposed to some kind of inflammatory event. This means that CIRS may be quite common in the general population.

However, CIRS is challenging to diagnose and is often missed. In fact, many health practitioners may not even be looking for it. The symptoms often overlap with other illnesses, and they’re also non-specific. This means that the symptoms don’t conclusively point to CIRS. Also, testing is poorly understood and not widely available (2-5).

The exact biotoxin that people have been exposed to must be understood and isolated to secure a diagnosis. In the case of mold, the environment needs to be tested to ensure there was an actual exposure to mold (1,6).

Until now, most mold tests look at only 5-30 species of mold, but since there are thousands of mold species, these mold tests may be falsely negative (7). Thankfully, Homebiotics has created a new product that tests for over 30,000 species of mold. With more specificity, mold exposure can be adequately diagnosed and treated.

The other requirements for diagnosing CIRS are: identifying a genetic haplotype, having biomarkers consistent with neuroimmune, vascular and endocrine abnormalities, and a positive visual contrast sensitivity (VCS) test. The VCS test shows problems with the retina that are highly specific to biotoxin damage and CIRS (2-5).

Many of these diagnostic criteria can be challenging, and not every practitioner has the capacity to do the testing and follow up required. This means many people with CIRS are misdiagnosed with other overlapping illnesses with similar symptoms.

black mold under wall paper - Homebiotic - how to get rid of mold4) FIRST STEP IN TREATING MOLD ILLNESS (CIRS) IS MOLD REMEDIATION

As discussed above, part of diagnosing CIRS is to understand the biotoxins involved. If mold exposure is suspected, then it’s essential to test for mold in the patient’s environment. Once a proper test is completed, then mold removal is the next step.

Unfortunately, removing mold can be difficult if you don’t know where to look for it. Most mold is visible, but sometimes it isn’t. For example, a lot of mold growth happens behind drywall or bathroom tiles, which can often be inaccessible without significant renovation.

Unfortunately, removing mold can be difficult if you don't know where to look for it. Most mold is visible, but sometimes it isn't. For example, a lot of mold growth happens behind drywall or bathroom tiles, which can often be… Click To Tweet

Many times, removing mold can be costly, and if you don’t know how to prevent mold growth, it can quickly grow back. Sometimes this means that many people have to leave their home environments due to the cost and confusion of mold removal. All of these factors can make the removal of mold exposure very challenging (1,6).

People need to know how to prevent mold so they can stop mold exposure in the future. This involves prohibiting dampness, increasing airflow, and cleaning up clutter around areas known to have contact with water. Also, when possible, any water leaks need to be repaired properly (1,6).

smoothie bowl inside papaya with berries - Homebiotic - ways to detox mold illness5) TREATING MOLD ILLNESS (CIRS) IS MORE THAN JUST REMOVING MOLD

Since there are many biotoxins other than mold, it’s essential to look for other overlapping biotoxin exposures. As mentioned before, some people with CIRS may also have Lyme disease or chemical biotoxin exposures. It’s crucial to uncover this if a person shows potential for CIRS.

If mold is the biotoxin in question, removing the mold or removing the person from the moldy environment is the next step. However, the problem is that people with CIRS have a genetic predisposition that makes them unable to clear and remove biotoxins from their bodies. This means it can take a while before they can detox from their mold exposure (2,3).

The process is complicated and requires specific chemical binders to pull the mold out of their bodies. It also requires dietary and lifestyle changes to improve their ability to detoxify. In a perfect world, all physicians would know how to help patients remove the biotoxin build-up in patients with CIRS. Unfortunately, there are only a few that offer that service (2-5).

CONCLUSION

Hopefully, these 5 misconceptions about mold illness can help increase awareness of this health issue. We know now that mold illness is a condition called CIRS caused by a genetic predisposition triggered by an inflammatory event, followed by a mold biotoxin exposure.

Due to a genetic issue, people with CIRS can’t clear biotoxins from their bodies very easily. This makes their recovery more complicated. We also know that mold testing and removal can also be challenging for many.

In the meantime, education is vital in informing the public about what mold illness really is and what’s required to diagnose and treat it. The more this education gets out there, the more that patients and physicians can advocate. When it comes to CIRS, knowledge is power.


REFERENCES

https://www.survivingmold.com

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/179769.Desperation_Medicine

https://internalmedicinereview.org/index.php/imr/article/view/718

https://www.jacionline.org/article/s0091-6749(02)00092-1/fulltext

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2791814/

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Soil-Based Microbes Provide Natural Mold Protection

Did you know: soil-based microbes provide natural mold protection? One fact that surprises most people is that out of hundreds of thousands of microbes, only about fifty species actually cause us harm (1). These species include mold as well as dangerous bacteria that cause illness. So many microbes and yet so few are harmful. Yet, to this day, most modern research around microbes focuses on avoiding and removing them. As for the hundreds of thousands of microbes that are not dangerous, such as the many diverse bacteria that live in soil, we barely give them our attention.

In his book “Never Home Alone,” Rob Dunn recounts the many microbes that share our home environments. In modern homes, these microbes tend to be bacteria that live in and on human bodies. But there are many more microbes that have shared our living space throughout history (1). In fact, humans have always lived with many diverse microbes. However, in the last century or so, we’ve regarded them as a potential threat that we need to eradicate. And now, our modern lifestyle bears little resemblance to when humans lived closer to nature.

bright, airy home - homebiotic

As Dunn discusses, it’s only in the last century where humans have purposely lived in closed environments that are cut off from the outside. Before that, we lived together with soil-based microbes that created a vast and diverse microbial landscape (1). Unfortunately, we’re beginning to see the adverse effects of cutting ourselves off from a relationship with soil-based microbes. Indeed, experts have shown that when biodiversity decreases, human inflammatory illnesses increase (1,2).

Unfortunately, we're beginning to see the adverse effects of cutting ourselves off from a relationship with soil-based microbes. Indeed, experts have shown that when biodiversity decreases, human inflammatory illnesses increase Click To Tweet

Chronic illnesses such as allergies, asthma, irritable bowel disease, and autoimmune disorders have all been linked to dwindling biodiversity and a lack of beneficial microbes (2,3,4,5). Even worse, there is so much confusion out there about what makes microbes beneficial versus harmful. And most modern humans treat all microbes as a “nasty bug” that needs to be removed. More so, most people shudder when they hear that it’s a good thing to live with many microbes. Fortunately, there’s never been a better time to learn when it comes to microbial education.

person in hiking boots standing on dirt - homebioticMold & Soil-based Microbes

We know that mold has the potential to make us sick, but most people don’t realize that mold was never an issue for human life before things got so modern.

For example, Dunn discusses research studies done in Amish environments where people live closer to animals and nature. Amish homes are teeming with microbes, but what makes them different from modern homes is that the microbial life is much more diverse. Not only that, but these homes also contain many species found only in soil (1,6,7).

Here’s what may surprise you – most of these homes don’t contain as much harmful bacteria or mold as many modern homes have. Why? Because diverse soil-based bacteria help keep the home microbiome balanced. Also, soil-based microbes keeps our human immune systems balanced and healthy (1,6,7,8).

Microbes, like any animal in nature, are opportunists. They grow wherever there’s food and space that allows them to reproduce. And for open environments where the outside and inside are more connected, species need to compete for food and space. This is what creates balance in nature (1,6,8).

One only has to observe biodiverse habitats like jungles or boreal forests to see how everything strives to live in balance. And wherever diversity is allowed to thrive, there is a healthy balance of microbes.

One only has to observe biodiverse habitats like jungles or boreal forests to see how everything strives to live in balance. And wherever diversity is allowed to thrive, there is a healthy balance of microbes. Click To Tweet

moss covered bridge in lush forest - homebiotic

Our modern homes are no different. Only a few species will thrive and reproduce if we remove the ability to create a diverse microbial balance. Unfortunately, this means that harmful microbes, such as mold, may have more chances to grow in a modern home precisely because it is void of soil-based microbes (9,10).

There’s a fascinating study looking at the mold and bacteria balance required to make cheese. Each microbe must live in balance with the other for the cheese-making process to happen at all. So, of course, bacteria and mold have ways to compete with each other and maintain balance (11,12). This same process happens in nature. And without this microbial competition, we wouldn’t have the life and death balance that actually helps nature to exist in the first place. As humans, we rely on our natural environment to survive. Thus, we absolutely need to live with and among diverse microbes.

woman laying in field of purple flowers - homebioticWhere Are Soil-Based Microbes?

The answers are fairly obvious. Soil-based microbes come from outside of our homes. But, our modern home structures, beliefs, and cleaning practices have made it almost impossible to live with soil-based microbes. Unfortunately, humans have never been more cut-off from nature than we are in the present day. Our homes are teeming with our skin, fecal, saliva, and food bacteria. However, studies show that most modern homes are void of outside soil-based bacteria (10,11).

So instead of creating a balance, we create opportunities for microbes like mold to grow. Almost all mold species love moisture, warmth, and the cellulose-containing materials that homes are made of. Therefore, we can see why modern homes are Petri dishes for mold (13). Research shows that homes containing more diverse soil-based microbes have fewer mold issues (10,11,13).

soapy sponge for cleaning - homebioticWhy Don’t We Have Them in Modern Homes?

We bleach, sweep, and do whatever we can to get rid of microbes because we mistakenly believe they’re bad for us. The good news is that we know the truth now, and there’s much we can do to live with soil-based microbes again. By understanding the need for microbial balance in our homes, we can allow soil-based microbes to enter and remain in our living spaces. This naturally reduces harmful microbes like mold and other dangerous bacteria.

So instead of running away from soil-based microbes, we can learn to invite them in again. This can be as simple as not using harsh chemical cleaners, spending more time outside, and not getting too upset about bringing in some dirt on our shoes. And if you have a dog living in your home, this is excellent news. Research shows that homes with dogs have more soil-based bacteria than homes without dogs (14).

Also, you can explore using products like Homebiotics probiotic spray. This product contains thousands of soil-based microbes that colonize and naturally protect against harmful microbes like mold.

Lastly, the more we learn and connect to our natural environment, the better we will be. Today’s answer to many health issues may be to enhance our biodiversity, not decrease it through fear and use of harsh chemicals to kill it off. We don’t need to go back to living on farms, but we can create a modern world that includes soil-based microbes and more connected to nature.


References

http://robdunnlab.com/science-portfolio/never-home-alone/

https://www.pnas.org/content/109/21/8334

https://erj.ersjournals.com/content/44/Suppl_58/P1187

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/all.13002

https://www.pnas.org/content/110/46/18360?etoc=

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23103806/?dopt=Abstract

https://www.nejm.org/doi/pdf/10.1056/NEJMoa1508749

https://science.sciencemag.org/content/336/6080/489

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41564-019-0593-4.epdf?referrer_access_token=dbirv_c_z112blDos3pXLNRgN0jAjWel9jnR3ZoTv0NvGy2dylkGSz3KfaHrHWvz91WrdbO-hC1L5cRkm8uaNT_206dn91YHLRkkEthiaLvebtJej4odp6x8_o6PN9C4sBMg3aSzRXRoO2YCabzZXpWFXr0v027tEfwr0cTKZlPatZKGOACqFfaEnoF1P92hlljaBbcfjElLCR0Tzp6xVovmC84tkYdJawRACVDgwlT2BCyitwETaNo8a3b7DX_pnzgOL61ZX3_w1lLh07CGR3vnLkR14D6RSH0WRjo9A3WMhTeh8H34VG37MCopLsbAuS5lM85zEgO8dIVUIeQlbA%3D%3D&tracking_referrer=www.npr.org

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0013935115000304

https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2018/01/29/579747917/the-cheese-does-not-stand-alone-how-fungi-and-bacteria-team-up-for-a-tastier-rin

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2956425/

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7 Ways To Keep Your Home Mold Free

You’re stuck in that cycle. You clean for HOURS then a couple days later those pesky musty odors are back! So we bet you’re wondering: How do I keep my home mold free? How do I keep those stale smells away?

Mold in the home is no joke: it can make you ill, and constantly fighting it can make you feel like you’re living in a dirty home, however hard you scrub. Your home stops feeling like a haven, and starts feeling like a trap.

Mold in the home is no joke: it can make you ill, and constantly fighting it can make you feel like you’re living in a dirty home, however hard you scrub. Your home stops feeling like a haven, and starts feeling like a trap. Click To Tweet

But maybe you need to readjust your relationship with mold. After all, mold is a natural organism that’s been on planet Earth for far longer than humans! Mold is going nowhere. Do you know what isn’t natural? An over-clean, sterile home!

While wiping down with bleach and spraying antibacterial cleaner around may seem to beat back the mold, these cleaners can actually do your environment further harm. And though it seems unbelievable, mold isn’t a problem in itself. Unsafe levels of mold is a problem – for both your health and quality of life. Controlling mold in your home is as easy at this 7 step check-list:

1. CONTROL MOISTURE & CONDENSATION

Mold adores a moist, warm atmosphere, and the right conditions are key to how it reproduces, spreads, and forms new colonies. By taking control of the moisture that enters and circulates your home, you can gain the upper hand, and keep your home – and the air you breathe – healthy. That said, if you are living in a property that has previously been flooded, it may be wiser in the long run to move.

Now is the time to consider:

  • PROPERLY REPAIRING HOLES IN YOUR ROOF OR GAPS IN YOUR WALLS1 – mold spores can come through the gaps in external walls, while a leaky roof can be all too encouraging for mold.
  • FIXING PLUMBING – while dealing with that slow drip under the faucet might not be top of your chore list, not dealing with it is a way to foster mold.
  • REMOVE WET CARPET OR OLD CARPET THAT HAS BEEN PREVIOUSLY WATER DAMAGED – it’s very difficult to remove mold from carpets.
  • REDUCE MOISTURE AROUND WINDOWSILLS – using moisture eliminating products like absorbers or traps on your windowsill if you have condensation, as otherwise mold may eat at wooden frames, or collect on PVC window seals.

2. CONTROL HUMIDITY

Mold loves humidity, and in your home it’s not enough to simply remove the sources of moisture. When you breathe out, you’re exhaling moisture, and many aspects of daily life, like cooking, and using a clothes dryer, produce more humidity.

The most straightforward thing you can do is invest in one or more dehumidifiers to help control the humidity inside your home, making it far more difficult for mold to multiply. Keeping the humidity in your house at 50% is best – it’s the sweet spot where mold growth is inhibited but not so low that it encourages the growth of harmful bacteria. Also, use an exhaust fan or open a window while you cook.

Do not install a Energy Recovery Ventilator (ERV) purely for dealing with humidity – it’s a common misconception that ERVs work as a dehumidifier – they do not. Instead, they allow the exchange of heat or coolness between the air indoors and the air coming in from the outside, which can be helpful depending on the climate in which you live, but a ERV is no alternative to a dehumidifier.

3. CLEAN YOUR AIR CONDITIONING UNIT

You rely on your air conditioning unit to cool your home, and often heat it as well, and it’s easy to take it for granted. When tackling mold, it’s crucial to thoroughly clean and maintain your air con on a regular basis. Unfortunately, mold colonies can live in air conditioning ducts, meaning that the spores and toxins they emit can spread throughout your home.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommend hiring a professional to clean your air conditioner if you suspect a mold infestation2. Above all, DO NOT run your air conditioner if you suspect it contains mold – it spreads the problem to other places in your home, and potentially re-contaminate areas of your home you may have already cleaned.

4. INSPECT INDOOR PLANTS

Houseplants can harbor mold, as the moisture and warmth of the soil is very beneficial to growing mold. Although houseplants are often an easy way to improve air quality in your home, if their pots of soil have mold, the health drawbacks can often outweigh the positives.

If you have this issue, consider keeping plants outside or in a dedicated greenhouse and avoid keeping the plants indoors where possible.

5. TACKLE YOUR CARPETS

As stated above, if they have been affected by flooding, you must throw the carpet away, as no amount of cleaning can eradicate the particular water-based molds that can attach to the fibers3.

But if you have carpet in your home that you suspect has been compromised by mold, it’s crucial to clean your carpet more thoroughly, removing any mold spores. With a true HEPA vacuum cleaner, you’re able to eradicate mold spores with the powerful motor and high quality filter.

Remember:

  • To empty your HEPA vacuum cleaner outside, to avoid spreading a cloud of spores back into the air.
  • It takes time to remove all mold spores from your carpet – it’s not an overnight solution to your problem, and the vacuuming needs to be done in combination with the other items on this list before you see or feel any improvement.
  • To try to vacuum from several different angles in order to suck up as many mold spores as you can.
  • Professional steam cleaning can help keep a carpet free of irritants including mold

6. USE BORAX ON FABRIC, SURFACES AND WALLS

Borax is the best substance to use on fabric because it’s a lot gentler than bleach, but it’s also amazing on porous surfaces such as wooden furniture, worktop and table surfaces, and walls4.

Though bleach can work wonders on sinks and floors, it’s simply not suitable for combating mold. Bleach can not:

  • Kill mold on porous surfaces such as wood or drywall
  • Remove mold toxins and spores
  • Sanitize organic surfaces that mold prefers to feed on5

Unfortunately, bleach also removes the friendly bacteria that normally consume mold, potentially making your mold issue worse!

By choosing borax (sodium borate), you’re using a natural mineral to change the natural pH of the surface or fabric. The alkaline of borax disrupts the environment for the mold, making it unwelcoming. Use a combination of disposable wipes, microfiber cloths and diluted borax to clean porous surfaces. Soak fabric for half an hour in a mix of one cup of borax to one gallon of water before putting in the washer to clean. Always wash your hands after using borax.

7. USE HOMEBIOTIC TO BALANCE YOUR HOME

Mold is a symptom of an unbalanced home biome. Once any visible mold has been appropriately remediated you need to make sure you make appropriate efforts to rebalance your home, keeping away musty odors & grime. Homebiotic spray rebalances your home biome using non-toxic, chemical free probiotics. Our proprietary formula used soil-based probiotics that are safe for your family, including the furry ones!

Homebiotic Spray - Environmental Probiotics