Dr. Doris Rapp, author of half a dozen books, including Our Toxic World: A Wake Up Call, and 32 Tips that Could Save Your Life, is board certified in environmental medicine, pediatrics and allergy, and is a true pioneer in the treatment of allergies in general.
In this interview, she discusses the dangers of mold and the remedial action steps you need to take if you discover you have a mold problem, and general guidelines for diagnosing and treating allergies of all kinds.
I've known Dr. Doris Rapp for almost 20 years now, and she's a true pioneer in the treatment of allergies. She's also a prolific writer and educator. Here, she shares her insights on molds, and how to protect yourself and your loved ones from the health hazards of this pervasive problem.
A lot of people end up just treating the symptoms of mold exposure and never get to the root of the problem. Oftentimes they don't even know that mold is the cause of their allergies and skin problems.
While mold is "normal," it shouldn't be part of your living environment as the spores can be quite toxic. Unfortunately, many homes have water leaking in through their roof, cracked foundations, or plumbing leaks, allowing the mold spores that are pervasive in every home the ideal environment get a foothold and start producing a toxic home environment.
You might not realize that mold spores are universal. They are outside and the moment you open your window or door they come inside. As long as the levels are low they present no problem. But when you have high indoor humidity and areas of high moisture the mold can grow to ten, or a hundred and even a thousand times higher than outdoor levels and this will clearly cause problems.
I recently had some problems with mold in my own home and I share them on a separate video I recently did in which I also address what types of filters are best from my experience.
Symptoms that Indicate You May Have a Mold Problem
One of the factors that make diagnosing a mold allergy problematic is that mold can affect your body in a number of different ways. Some start having memory problems, while another may be experiencing a sudden change in disposition, such as agitation, anger, panic, or aggression. Headaches are common but don't affect everyone exposed to mold. Other symptoms can include:
- Coughing and wheezing
- Sinus problems and post-nasal drip
- Itchy rashes
- Joint pain
Dr. Rapp has a video on her website www.DorisRappMD.com showing how just one drop of mold extract on a patient's arm causes her to have trouble walking. Within minutes, the woman's joints and sinuses swell up.
"Most people don't realize that some people can be very, very sensitive," Dr. Rapp says. "… The most astounding thing in relation to mold that I've noticed is the changes that it can affect and in your behavior. Children can't write. If you look at any of my books on my website, you'll see that their writing is fine and I put a drop of mold allergy extract in their arm and they write upside down. They put their pencil on the paper and rip it in half.
They write very, very tiny. They write real large. They're all over the place.
Teachers don't know this. If a youngster is going to a moldy school for example, you may find that a child is fine at home but at school, they can't learn a thing. They can't remember a thing. They can't write. They can't draw. They can't walk. Any area of the body can be affected. The teachers, educators are not aware of the fact that molds -- and in fact, dust and chemicals and pollens and foods can affect any area of the body.
I don't know how to get this message out, but those of you that are listening, if you're fine or your child is fine and suddenly something is wrong… Whatever it is, ask yourself,
What did they eat?
What did they touch?
What did they smell?
Most allergies occur within 15 minutes to an hour. Some reactions—the food related ones that cause colitis or bed wetting—can cause trouble right away."
Your Body's Silent Alarm System
Dr. Rapp shares an interesting fact about your body's inherent intelligence—a "silent alarm system" that you can tap into simply by checking your pulse.
"Put your wrist in your palm and put your fingers along the edge of your wrist and you can easily feel your pulse.
Is it regular?... Is it irregular?... If it's irregular or abnormally fast… it's frequently an internal warning and your body is [saying] 'my goodness what did this individual get into? … [T]he body is going to get sick so I have to get the blood rushing around in a hurry to try to take care of this problem.'
… You can pick up this hidden alarm system by merely learning to take your pulse. If you eat the wrong food, some people's pulse gets irregular, other people's pulse shoots up to 200. You have to figure it out. What did I eat? What did I touch? If people get into a moldy place, their pulse can suddenly increase.
If you're going to buy a new house and when you go into the house your pulse shoots up 20 points, I can tell you right away, don't buy that house."
I recommend using an electronic heart rate monitor, such as the ones you'd use for Sprint 8 exercises, because they're incredibly precise and take the hassle factor out of measuring your pulse. This takes all the guess work out of the measurement, and you can use them for Sprint 8, which I believe virtually everyone benefits from.
Another test you can use is to check your handwriting after being in the space for about 15 minutes to an hour. If it's altered, it could be an indication that something's wrong.
If you have asthma, Dr. Rapp suggests blowing into a peak flow meter while standing in different rooms of your house (or whatever area you need to check). If you blow 400 in one room but only 300 in another, it could be a sign that something in that room is affecting you. You can also do this before and after eating different foods, to get an indication of a potential food allergy. (If you do not have asthma, checking your breathing rate will not be useful.) Keep in mind that different types of allergies tend to go together, so for example, if you have a mold allergy you may also be allergic to certain foods, such as soy sauce, mushrooms, or any grain that has been stored in a moldy place.
Deciphering Your Body's Signals
Other physical signs and symptoms you can use as early indicators include:
- Red cheeks or ear lobes
- Dark under-eye circles
- Bags under your eyes
- Restless legs
At that point, ask yourself what you've just come in contact with within the last 15-60 minutes. Write it down, and start looking for patterns.
"Become a detective, pay attention," Dr. Rapp suggests. "Where do you get sick? When do you get sick? How do you get sick? Why do you get sick? If you ask these questions, you'll come up with answers that doctors may miss."
What to Do Once You've Established that Mold is a Problem
According to Dr. Rapp, first and foremost you want to get away from the problematic area. Move if you have to.
"I've seen people try to stay in a moldy house when their child is very sick or they are very sick. They try to clean the place up. They take out the moldy carpet and decide to paint the moldy walls. But they can become so desperately ill that it is very hard to treat them in the future," she warns.
If you can't move, here are other remedial steps you need to take to cure the problem:
- Remove the mold. NORMI (National Organization of Remediators and Mold Inspectors) has books that explain exactly what to do and what solutions to use. For suggestions over the phone, call them at 877-251-2296.
- Get a high quality air purifier to control mold toxins. In addition to the mold itself, you also need to make sure you get rid of any mold toxins. If a mold breaks down, it disintegrates and every little particle contains mycotoxins that have the capability of making you very sick. One way of controlling it is to get a quality air purifier and I provide my guidelines in the video above.
Another option is the photocatalytic oxidation (PCO) unit. I personally like it because it works for the whole house (up to 3000 square feet), requires little maintenance, and is relatively inexpensive. A machine that produces ozone at biological levels is also safe and can be very effective in removing odors.
If you end up with mold in your car or home make certain you get it professionally evaluated. This may not be cheap but it is better than the alternative. If you catch the problem early on you can save yourself tens of thousands of dollars in extra clean up expenses. Trust me as I made this mistake and wouldn't want to see anyone else go through it.
You simply must identify the hidden sources of water that are increasing the humidity levels and allowing the mold to grow. Please understand that no filter in the world will take care of mold issue until you have the humidity under control and the mold properly cleaned.
One you do this you will need to have a professional remediator.Make sure they don't use chemicals that you're sensitive to. Again, you can check to see if the chemicals bother you by checking your pulse or breathing, and evaluating how you look, feel and act before and after exposure.
"It's like when somebody has their ductwork cleaned because of molds or dust. If they spray chemicals in the ductwork to which you happen to be sensitive, you might never be able to live in that house again because you can't clean the chemicals out," Dr. Rapp warns.
That's where ozone can be helpful as it dissipates quite rapidly. You can use it as an intervention and there is no residual ozone left when you're done. One important caveat is that you must remove pets and plants from your home before using an ozone machine as it can be harmful to both. We also discuss other helpful tidbits in this interview, such as how to evaluate duct cleaning firms and avoid scams, so for more information, please listen to the interview in its entirety, or read through the transcript.
Using Allergy Extracts
This is a little-known treatment strategy that Dr. Rapp describes as "one of the best hidden secrets."
"It's called provocation neutralization allergy testing," she explains. "You can put a drop of a mold mixture in somebody's arm that looks perfectly normal. If they have asthma, you can produce asthma in seconds. Within eight minutes, they will be sick… That's why they call it provocation. You would provoke the actual symptoms of the mold producers.
So if molds cause you to have a headache and fatigue, you put on a drop and you're going to have a headache and feel tired. If it causes hyperactivity and asthma, you're going to have those symptoms… Then, if you give that patient increasing dilutions -- so you give them a 1 to 5 [dilution] and then a 1 to 25, and then a 1 to 125; one drop of that allergy extract in the right dilution will render the patient is entirely normal within eight minutes. The problem is that there aren't a lot of doctors that know this technique, and your insurance may not cover it."
Then, any time you experience your allergy symptoms, you can simply put a few drops on your tongue of the right dilution to eliminate your symptoms within a few minutes. That's why it's called neutralization; it neutralizes your symptoms. In my experience, provocation neutralization (PN) tends to be about 80 percent effective.
"The thing that amazes me is that some people will continue with medical care for 20 years, [even though] they know it doesn't help," Dr. Rapp says. "They are continuing it mainly because the insurance company pays for it. They don't want to spend the money to get provocation neutralization allergy testing which could make them better. I have seen patients who could barely walk in the office and by noon, they are well… It can be that fast… Once you find that [correct] dose, it works like a miracle."
If you want to see some actual videos of provocation neutralization being done, see Dr. Rapp's website www.DorisRappMD.com.
"Remember when you have an allergy, it's like having a nail in your shoe that's causing a sore in your foot," Dr. Rapp says. "You can put on a bigger bandage, you can take drugs… but the ultimate answer if you got a nail in your shoe is to take the nail out. This is what we have to convey to people; taking one pill after another is not resolving the problem!
Figure out why you are sick. What did you eat, touch, and smell? Get rid of the cause if you can. If you can't, then get a treatment that works. If regular treatment works, fine. But if you're relying on drugs, you'll be taking drugs 20 years from now and you might just be sleeping on a feather pillow or drinking milk every day and that's what's causing your symptoms! Wouldn't it be better to get rid of the feather pillow or stop drinking or eating the foods that causing the problems?"
Identifying Food Allergies without Spending a Dime
Now, if you suspect you have a food allergy, but can't afford provocation neutralization allergy testing, does that mean you're doomed to a life of allergy meds? No! Dr. Rapp suggests going on a one-week allergy-elimination diet, described in detail in all of her books, as well as on her website.
"Basically, you take away the highly allergenic foods for one week. If these foods are causing allergies, the first one or two days, you might have headaches, feel tired, have a belly ache. But by day five to seven on that diet, you might feel better than you felt in 20 years.
The second week, you add one food back every morning on an empty stomach, then wait and see what happens… By the end of the second week, you know not only which foods cause trouble but which symptoms they cause.
The tip here is, if you develop symptoms with a food, take one to two teaspoons of baking soda… Many times the symptoms will disappear in a few minutes. This is a way of solving food allergies or diagnosing food allergies within a week or two weeks without costing you a penny."
Dr. Rapp also delves into recommendations for detoxing and the importance of exercise, so for more helpful tips and guidelines, please listen to the whole interview. She has also authored half a dozen books on allergies and chemical sensitivities, with a focus on fast, effective, inexpensive, and safe self-help. In her latest book, 32 Tips that Could Save Your Life, Dr. Rapp tells you what common household items can cause cancer, diabetes, thyroid disease, and, of course, allergies.
"We have to start to emphasize what's causing these terrible things and get rid of them," she says. "That's what my books do. They try to tell you what's making you sick and offer sensible solutions to these kinds of problems.
… One of my books is, "Is This Your Child's World?"… I challenge you to not find the answer in that book about allergies. …Until we start to emphasize prevention, we are going to continue to have these terrible illnesses. Every day I hear of somebody else -- a friend of mine has developed cancer. I say, please Lord, start to wake them up. We can't breathe, eat or drink. We have cancer-causing substances in the air, the food, the water, the homes, the schools and the workplace… We have to start eating organic food and drink pure water, and exercise and keep our bowels moving. If we don't do this, we're going to get these terrible illnesses."