Mold. This word has loomed entirely too large over my life in the past 3 or 4 years. I’m certain that my friends/family have gotten incredibly sick of this subject, among a litany of other topics I tend to rant about. Here are my previous articles on the topic:
- What My Parents, the Government, My Doctor, and My Teacher Didn’t Teach Me About Mold, Diet, and Lifestyle (Part 1)
- Definitive Guide to Balancing and Defeating Candida
- The Mold Diet
I guess I really should get around to writing part 2 of that first article. I think the inability to follow up mold articles is an epidemic, because Dave Asprey seems to have had the same problem continuing his definitive Molding of the World blog series. It is also dubbed “part 1” and has not had a follow-up for a few years. This Bulletproof Executive seminal piece was extremely important to me, because it helped me understand why the food I was eating, and not just my environment, was giving me so many problems.
Why a Movie About Mold?
The fact is, there are precious few resources on the topic of toxic mold. As covered in both documentaries I’m reviewing, conventional medicine (the kind that comes with your Obamacare) does not address this disorder readily or effectively. Unfortunately (and not covered by either documentary), the price for effective mold treatment from environmental, naturopathic, and osteopathic doctors who actually have successfully treated it is well beyond the price range most mold victims can afford. So the only real choice, which is a great life decision anyway, is for the victims to take their own health into their own hands and educate themselves. Thankfully, there are some great books on the subject, like:
- MOLD: The War Within by Kurt and Lee Ann Billings
- Mold Warriors: Fighting America’s Hidden Health Threat by Richie Shoemaker
- Nature’s Mold Rx, the Non-Toxic Solution to Toxic Mold by Edward R. Close
However, a lot of people feel more comfortable, learn more, and are more affected by something that’s presented in a visual format. A picture, after all, does say a thousand words. At my most desperate time after discovering that toxic mold was behind the woes of my health, I remember the moment I thought to look for a visual presentation of this issue. My feeling was, more than anything else, that I needed to see something with people going through the same thing as I. Something I could relate to and possibly show to people (like my parents) who couldn’t understand what I was going through.
The first thing I found was Black Mold Exposure, which I found a couple of years ago, and I definitely would like to review that. I’m also going to cover the new film Moldy, which I and I’m sure many mold victims have been anticipating for a great deal of time.
Black Mold Exposure
This film has so many strengths, and very little weaknesses. As far as I’m concerned, it was everything I needed at the time I saw it and then some. The personal story element from the creator is what stands out the most. We get a very real and frightening glimpse into the day-to-day life of someone suffering the after effects of mold exposure, such as Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS), psychological concerns, physical deficiencies, social consequences, and the exacerbation of allergies. I do feel as if the connection between mold exposure and MCS is a bit glossed over in the film, but it becomes pretty obvious as the story progresses that they are related. And definitely if you look into the matter further, you will easily understand more how they are connected.
The scientific aspect of the film is great. Amazingly, on a low budget, the documentarian (Michael Roland Williams) was able to connect with some of the foremost experts on mold and environmental illness. Dr. William Rea and Dr. Richie Shoemaker are particular standouts. Shoemaker approaches it from a genetic testing and inflammation standpoint. As I’ve mentioned before, his recommendations for treatment involve the binding of toxins with Welchol/Cholestyramine (cholesterol-lowering drugs), which in and of itself is an incredible “hack” that I have utilized with great results. He gets into his approach, as well as his struggle becoming an expert on such an obscure topic, often getting guff and being called a “quack” for treating patients with this unorthodox approach.
Dr. William Rea is another genius and he really lays out his effective approach to treatment in the film, getting into the reasoning of dealing with your environment as the cause. This is so crucial, because sometimes you can heal yourself perfectly inside but still be continually sabotaged by your environment. You have to attack the source of the problem, not just the symptoms. In my opinion, if you’re doing anything else, then you’re no better than the conventional doctors who try to prescribe SRRIs, more Ibuprofen, and Prilosec to respectively treat the anxiety, soreness, and digestive issues caused by mold exposure.
Also, it is notable how the coverage of Dr. Shoemaker, on top of some discussions with senators and other policymakers really paints a picture of the medico-legal aspect of the mold problem. The film doesn’t all out suggest that you go and sue the apartment complex where you may have gotten exposed, but it does give you a sense of empowerment. You are reminded that you do have a voice, and there have been successes in the form of lawsuits and reform in reaction to the mold problem.
The stories of other victims presented in the film are very interesting and thoroughly covered. You really feel as if you know them by the end. It is comforting to see the younger victim who has parents that took care of their son by allowing him to withdraw from his moldy school and study from home because of his sensitivity. I do truly feel for these victims and their family members.
Lastly, on a cinematic level, I really enjoy the style of Black Mold Exposure. You don’t see documentaries like this very often these days. It reminded me a lot of two of my favorite documentaries I’ve watched multiple times: The Devil’s Playground and Hands on a Hard Body. I know, I know, people like to see the beautification of reality these days à la GMO OMG, but I’m still into the cinema verité quality of these classic docs. Black Mold Exposure just so happens to fit my image of what a documentary should be. It’s in 4:3 aspect, which is just fine if you ask me. The music also happens to really fit the mood (and the mold). It’s real, it’s gritty, and it’s great—not to say mold is great, though. :-/
Some criticisms: A few of the film’s segments seem a little extraneous, like the man-on-the-street scene in Times Square where the Naked Cowboy shows up at the beginning. You just kind of wonder what that’s there for. I guess it’s to kind of lighten the mood while pointing out people’s blithe ignorance on the matter. It’s as if the director’s saying, it’s about to get real, everybody. Also, there is very little coverage if any on the problem of mold in food. If I hadn’t learned that aspect and addressed it, I would not have recovered to the extent I have. This is an area where Dave Asprey’s doc predictably takes up the torch and really fills in the gaps.
Moldy is a concise presentation of where we are 5-7 years later (considering the production of BME took a few years) with the mold epidemic. Sadly, not much has changed. The general public are still ignorant, doctors are still doubtful (or feigning thus), houses and buildings are still moldy, and as many if not more people are getting sick. We get to see more mold survivors who are coping in various ways with their exposure. Again, as a mold victim, it is comforting to know I am not alone. The general gist of the doc is that mold awareness, avoidance, and remediation, as well as taking control of your own health are essential, and you might even find that you’re healthier than you’ve ever been once you’ve taken these steps. As I’ve said over and over, I can corroborate the truth of its message from my own journey.
We have a new cast of moldies (my affectionate term for fellow mold victims), and we’re given some nice insights from several experts, including Dr. Shoemaker (the common link between the two films), who is still fighting the good fight and spreading awareness of this scourge infesting so many buildings across our fine country. Dr. Mark Hyman does a great job enumerating right off the bat the common symptoms associated with mold exposure, such as “brain fog, cognitive dysfunction, mood issues, sleep issues, autoimmune/inflammatory problems, joint pain, fatigue…” This is clinch, because so many people do not know about the problem and might not relate symptoms perceived to be from regular wear & tear/aging to their environment. Shoemaker also poignantly discusses the concept of a “collection of symptoms” that often go unnoticed—this segment is accompanied by a graphic that shows a comprehensive symptom list.
If I’m avoiding the temptation to criticize the novelty and “cleanliness” of Moldy, I’m inclined to praise it mainly for its content. (I just generally think new documentaries are lame style-wise—but yes, as far as new docs go, everything looks good and is up to snuff in the production.) The science is covered extremely well by all experts, making some very compelling connections with problems many people experience in varying degrees. Juxtaposed with this, we continue to hear various accounts from the moldies, which help to fill in the pieces of the puzzle of mold toxicity on a personal level. As I’ve said, the standout here is the coverage of mold in foods, but there could have been a lot more of it.
Dave really withheld a lot of his personal story here, and I think he avoided going overboard on pushing his diet—and for that matter, his coffee. He has gotten a lot of skepticism and backlash from people who say he somehow “made up” the fact that coffee has mold problems. Apparently sensitive to negative perceptions that he’s overmarketing his solution, Upgraded beans, the film holds back on any in-depth analysis of the almighty bean. Is this to the detriment of the film? Perhaps. On the other hand, it shows a lot of integrity. Someday, though, I personally would love to see a mini-doc covering all things coffee mold.
Further on the topic of molds in foods: I recommend that you look into the Moldy bonuses and everything with all extended interviews (especially Dave’s full interview) to understand the breadth of the “Bulletproof” approach to dealing with mold. There’s a lot of good information, as well as a few useful-looking e-books.
Also, there is some talk on the site about free mold testing of some sort. I think it’s a link to Shoemaker’s VCS (visual contrast sensitivity) test, which is a fairly good indicator of your personal mold toxicity, but if you feel you’ve been falling apart because of mold yet still are able to pass the VCS test, I wouldn’t discount mold as your problem. Dr. Shoemaker himself told me (as I had gotten a negative result) that some people are just skilled with visual acuity, because they’re pilots or have played a lot of games that involve this skill. I think I’m just good at overcoming the visual impairment caused by acetaldehyde/mycotoxins because I’ve had mold issues my whole life. I wouldn’t know unless I got much worse from an acute reexposure (though I have definitely gotten better vision, now going without glasses at movies/driving for the past couple years after recovery).
Anyway, that’s Moldy. I could get much more in-depth describing all that I learned, but I urge you to see it for yourself. For that matter, see them both. Black Mold Exposure is still relevant after a few years, and as I said, it’s a little more comprehensive, hard-hitting, and personal. Go for Moldy for a more brief overview and a few new angles looking at the problem. But above all else, deal with your mold problem. Taking your health into your own hands is the most important thing you will ever do in your struggle to survive this modern life, and there is a veritable to-do list of so many aspects you need to address. Understanding your environment and how it affects your well-being should be way up near the top of that list.