New Article about Mold Avoidance and ME/CFS in “American Scientist”


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Journalist Julie Rehmeyer discussed her experiences moving toward wellness through mold avoidance in an interview in the May/June edition of American Scientist. 

In the interview, she described returning home after a mold avoidance sabbatical:

The first night back, I planned to stay outside, saving the test for when I was fresh. So I started to pitch my tent in the yard—but I needed to cut a wire fence to set up in my preferred spot, and the wire clippers were inside. I dashed in and grabbed them, figuring just a few seconds couldn’t hurt me. But I woke up in the middle of the night crippled, and with an unfamiliar poisoned feeling, as if every cell in my body wanted to puke. Then I rinsed myself off, and afterward I felt pretty much fine.

I was astonished: I had been on enough of an upswing that I hadn’t experienced a bout of semiparalysis in more than a month, and showers had certainly never helped before my trip to the desert. I could hardly believe it—the moldies, it seemed, might be right.

But of course, one data point is hardly proof. So I kept testing the connection between mold and my illness in every way I could imagine, and I found that exposing myself to my own stuff reliably crippled me. I was thrilled and amazed, but still worried. Okay, so mold could hurt me—but would my body actually recover if I stayed away from it?

Then a week after I got back from Death Valley, I was sitting outside in the sunshine on my land and found myself feeling good enough that I decided to take my dog for a short walk. I kept thinking I should stop—too much exercise reliably did me in—but almost of its own volition, my body ended up carrying me to the top of the hill behind my house, a 350-foot climb. I hadn’t been able to get up there for more than a year. I sobbed and took a picture of the view that I sent to all my friends, with the subject line “Oh. My. God.”

Over the following months, my body turned into a kind of mold meter. Entering a moldy building, my teeth would chatter or I’d feel as if someone were playing around with a dimmer switch on my consciousness. Whenever this happened, I’d leave immediately, rinse my face, and change my shirt.

My health came roaring back. I could hike, I could run—heck, I could just stay out of bed!


American Scientist is an award-winning magazine about science, engineering and technology. It has been published by Sigma XI, the Scientific Research Honor Society, since 1913.

Julie Rehmeyer’s book about her experiences with ME/CFS and mold avoidance will be published in May 2017.

The title is Through the Shadowlands: A Science Writer’s Odyssey Into an Illness Science Doesn’t Understand. 


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