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  • Writer's pictureLexie Haren

Our journey with mold exposure + environmental toxin overload

The Backstory


Y'all if I knew this is what 2024 had in store for us, I might have requested a "skip-a-year." All jokes aside, it's been a journey the past few months. When my husband and I purchased our first home and property back in December of 2023, we couldn't anticipate the obstacles that lay ahead. Shortly after the purchase, we discovered that the seller had smoked in the home for many years - signs that were not initially obvious started to reveal themselves. We wanted to opt for a remediation company to come in, but we learned it would be a hefty $24k minimum. The seller had coated the walls in fresh paint to hide the smoke-damaged walls and ultimately, remediation seemed like it wouldn't even cut it for the situation.



Taking Matters Into Our Own Hands


We decided to take matters into our own hands and opt to prime the walls with Kilz. Upon renovations, we found mold growing near one of the windows. We thought we had dealt with it, but a couple weeks later I noticed a musty, "wet-rag" smell and found all of my clothes and our new rug in that corner of our home completely engulfed in mold. A silver lining - maybe I can use this an excuse to get a new wardrobe this year?!



We quickly realized that handling the renovations ourselves was further exposing us to toxins that we didn't want to be around. We opted to hire a contractor for the job to help us completely renovate and gut the whole house. As demo began, a rotting beam under the home was revealed, more mold in pockets of the home we were unaware of, lead-based paint . . . and so. much. MORE. My system was already feeling a bit overloaded at this point with the recent move and unexpected hurdles, but it didn't hit us until a few weeks later that there was a lot more going on!


No More Cough?!


My husband had been experiencing a cough for a while and we assumed he just had some allergies or something. Shortly after, my lymph nodes started swelling up significantly. My thyroid and neck would just ache and feel like they were pulsing. I had a sudden onset of major gut issues (something I haven't experienced since my early 20s). I started getting episodes of vertigo and severe migraines, vomitting and so. much. MORE.


We should have put two and two together by now, but it took us a bit. I went out of town for a ski trip and INSTANTLY felt relief from my symptoms. I encouraged my husband to move back into the travel trailer while I was gone, instead of being in the house and guess what?! His cough almost immediately went away. When he would go back into the house he would start coughing right away. Toxin overload.


At this point, we knew the direct correlation between our environment (our home) and our symptoms.


The Road to Healing


Our healing journey began with a decision to remove ourselves from the toxic environment. We moved back into our travel trailer, which was situated on our property, we renovated our shed to be an office space and I took off for some skiing adventures in different regions to remove myself from the environment. It was wild how quickly my body would start to go back into healing mode when I was away from the toxic environment.


Supporting our Body's Healing Response


But removal wasn't enough. We needed to actively support our bodies more than ever before. This involved adopting various healing tactics and staying strict with protocols that would best serve our body's natural ability to heal. Thank goodness for the wellness "toolkit" we've accumulated over the years!


I'll share with y'all some of the most valuable tools we've used so far (PART 1).


Here's what we have been religious about the last couple of months:


  1. Regular Sauna Use: We started using a traditional Finnish sauna at least 5 days a week. Key VALUES of regular sauna use -ALL things we deeply needed help with over the last couple months of system overload - plus the added bonus of deep relaxation time :)

  • Increased ability to sweat efficiently - increased detox pathway function & elimination of toxins

  • Increased ability to handle stress - more resilient

  • Upregulated heat shock protein - directly relates to immune function & cellular health

  • Increased circulation & blood flow to brain

  • Reduced oxidative stress


  1. From my plethora of sauna research in my graduate study years, I found that the sweet spot for optimal results is as follows: Sticking to this specific protocol has helped us sweat out lots of toxins, reducing our toxic load. If you'd like to know more about specific sauna protocols, differences between infrared & traditional saunas, and all of my other reasearch & info on sauna therapy, check out my presentation: "Sauna Use, Biohacking, Heavy Metals & More" in my online resource library and community space: Mtn Gal Well Co.

    1. 20 minutes

    2. 4-5 times a week

    3. at least 170°F

  2. Systemic Enzymes: We began taking the systemic enzymes (nattokinase & serrapeptase), which are enzymes that help break down fibrous tissue in the body, reduce inflammation, and support cardiovascular health. Key VALUES of systemic enzymes:

  • Serrapeptase - Is an enzyme derived from the guts of silkworms with potent anti-inflammatory effects & the ability to break down fibrous tissue in the body (like silkworms use to break down their cocoons). Pretty crazy, huh?

  • Nattokinase - Is an enzyme that can dissolve blood clots, be neuroprotective & protect the cardiovascular system.

  • Positive impact on immune & respiratory function (just what we needed!)

  • Decreased scar tissue, fibrous tissue & calcification build-up - helping reduce toxic load, & improve circulation, lymph flow & so much more! Systemic enzymes have been a key pillar in my healing journey over the last few years - especially in my healing from a major hip surgery that left me with a lot of scar tissue. While I tend to take the enzymes intermittently as I see fit, I have found daily consumption to be of utmost value during this season of life! The systemic enzymes I use are these: MitoLife's - Dissolve-It-All. I also have some available in my supplement pharmacy that you can gain access to as one of my clients or as a Mtn Gal Well Co community member!

  1. Intermittent use of Natural Binders: To further detox, we have been using natural binders like activated charcoal. Binders can be a super valuable tool with toxin exposure as the compounds bind to toxins in the body and help carry them out. The most common forms of binders out there include activated charcoal, bentonite clay, and chlorella. A few key notes about binders:

    1. They mustn't be taken for too long of a period - variation in types of binders can be valuable for this reason. This is also why I only take the activated charcoal capsules on an intermittent schedule for 5-days at a time.

    2. They can cause some back-up in the gut, so should be taken with some sort of digestive stimulant such as Magnesium, cascara, or other natural laxative. I've been taking adequate amounts of magnesium to support my body throughout the process.

    3. Certain strains of mold & toxins respond differently to different binders. My long-term plan is to cycle through a variety of binders over the next few months to ensure I have gone through all of the possibilities of molds that I could have been exposed to. Another approach to this could be to get your specific mold in your home tested via an ERMI test so you know exactly what beast you are dealing with. This company does ERMI testing if that is something that interests you!

  2. Magnesium Supplementation: Magnesium is essential for thousands of enzymatic reactions in the body, and its deficiency can lead to a variety of health issues. AND, guess what? Magnesium is one of the very first minerals depleted during times of stress. Now, more than ever, magnesium intake has been VITAL. What I love about Mg is that we can get more of it into our day in so many different ways - topically via oils or lotions, through food, through supplementation, foot soaks & baths, etc. If you'd like to learn more about all the different forms of Magnesium and their roles, check out my Magnesium Guide (PS all my guides & resources are FREE to members of Mtn Gal Well Co). My go-tos in the Magnesium world lately have included:

    1. Magnesium lotion from Ancient Minerals on my belly before bed

    2. Magnesium spray from Feraly Rooted Essence on my arms throughout the day

    3. Magnesium supplements from either MitoLife or LifeBlud (Code: LEXIEHAREN to save $) before bed

  3. Castor Oil Packs: Castor oil is a natural oil rich in quercetin, a compound that can bind to toxins and help carry them out of the body. We prioritize applying castor oil packs over our livers and stomachs to support our digestion. I've even found that when I make my own little castor oil "pack" (just an old flannel shirt with a little bit of castor oil drizzled on it) and have applied directly over my thyroid and neck, the swelling of my lymph nodes has gone down significantly! My current castor oil pack protocol has been to use for 2-3 hours the week leading up to my menstrual cycle. I drizzle 2 T castor oil on the pack, put it on my belly and apply a heating pad over. I lay down and let the goodness soak in. It's been such a valuable tool to have on hand these last few months! I always recommend opting for Queen of the Thrones castor oil pack kits because they take the mess and complication out of the art of castor oil "packing". You can find their kits here, along with more educational resources! Be sure to use code: HARENHOLISTICS10 to save!

  4. Daily Movement, Strength Training & Time in Nature: Over the last few months, we have made it a non-negotiable to move every day. Walking: We aim to walk at least 8,000 steps every day, which is approximately 5 miles. Walking is seriously one of the best things we can do to keep things flowing nicely throughout our body without adding in extra stress - plus, the pups & goats love their walks too! Strength Training: Increased muscle mass = Improved metabolic function Because of this, it has been vital for us to stay on top of improving our muscular strength and fitness too. It's nothing crazy - just 30-40 min of intentional weight lifting 3-4 days a week. And let me tell you, it has been so valuable! I can feel my cells thanking me after a good strength workout. Fresh air: We often forget the lungs are a very important organ for detox function in the body! The best thing we can do to support our lung's function is exercise AND exposure to fresh, crisp, natural air. Lately (when the weather is pleasant), I've found myself working on my computer from the porch and simply basking in the sun's rays, breathing in the fresh air and soaking up as much natural goodness as I can. It's been very grounding amidst the chaos of the last few months!

The Results


Our journey has not been easy, but it has been worth it. We've noticed a significant improvement in our health and well-being within just a few weeks of intentionality. While we are no-where near where we want to be, we feel confident knowing we have the tools to support our bodies amidst the toxin build-up and stress.


Conclusion


Our environment can be a source of stress and toxins, leading to a variety of health issues. Identifying these stressors and taking proactive steps to support our body's natural healing process is crucial. This journey is teaching us the importance of listening to our bodies, understanding our environment, and taking action to support our health. We hope our story inspires you to take charge of your health and make the necessary changes to create a positive, healing environment.


Stay tuned for PART 2 where I share other modalities and integrative approaches that we have been utlizing.


In the meantime, I'd love to know:

Have you experienced toxin overload or mold exposure or do you know someone who has? What has been most valuable in your healing journey? Let's share in the comments!



Cheers to life of abundance,


Lex



PS: If you are interested in working together - utilizing functional labs, individualized protocols & a totally customized plan for wellness for your life, you can book a discovery call here with me so we can pick the best options for you & your goals!


**None of the information in this post is medical advice & should not be construed as such. I always recommend working with a qualified practitioner to address any concerns you may have. Some of the links in the blog post may be affiliate links. As always, thanks for choosing to shop through my links as that's what makes it possibly for me to keep taking the time to put this free information out there!

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