Last month I started coughing – with no other symptoms – and it was really bad.  Like hacking up a lung kind of bad.  I tried every single herbal remedy and vitamin I could get my hands on.  It would get a little better, but it just kept coming back.

Out of desperation, after 2 weeks of coughing, I finally went to a MD.  He wanted to test me for the flu (I know what the flu feels like and this wasn’t it) which I refused.  Then he tested me for my lung capacity … which was low.  Big surprise there.  He gave me an inhaler which he guilt-tripped me into trying.  I did, and I hated every anxiety-inducing minute that crap was in my body.  

Then he gave me a prescription for antibiotics and a cough suppressant.  Which is exactly what I expected him to do.  And I took them like a good patient does.  Except that inhaler.  I tossed that in the trash as soon as I could.  I know I’m not an asthmatic.  

I didn’t take the antibiotic prescription lightly.  Taking antibiotics is what got me into Chinese medicine in the first place.  In the past – over 22 years ago – I kept getting prescribed antibiotics for things that were not due to bacteria!  

And here I was again.  I was really torn, emotionally, about taking them, but I did take them.

The prescription antibiotics worked nominally, but I certainly was not 100% better.  On my last dose of antibiotics I was coughing so hard that I vomited on my floor.  Right at that moment, it dawned on me what was going on.  It was not a virus; it was not bacterial; it was a fungus.  

I had done a complete 360 and was right back where I was 22 years ago.  

Duh, Nicole.  I talk to people all the time about how chronic respiratory symptoms are often due to yeast / mold / fungus, but it hadn’t sunk in to a deep level of understanding.  Kind of like when you cram for a test and you know the material, but you don’t really understand the material.  

So I promptly went to my clinic right away (in my pajamas; it was Sunday night) and got the one herbal formula I hadn’t tried yet:  an anti-fungal.  The cough instantly was better.


I knew I had this tendency toward fungal infection.  I had a skin fungus – non-contagious and more common in this climate than you would imagine – that never 100% went away.  But as I’ve mentioned before, I’m my own worst patient and I never thought too much about it because it just wasn’t bothering me too much anymore.  Except when I went jogging.  Heat and sweat made it itchy.

So, not coincidentally, the areas where my respiratory system were effected the most – my lower lungs and throat – are where the topical fungus was hanging out.  It had grown into my body and into my lungs, probably boosted by the extra humidity and mold count from the heavy rains last month.

This mold is in the air and we’re all breathing it in.  Some things make some people more susceptible to its effects than others:  diet, stress, antibiotic use (even from – and especially  from – WAY in the past), hormone imbalance.

Once the mold takes hold in your respiratory system, it attaches to your mucosal membranes.   It drills in.  Your respiratory system includes:  your skin / your nose or sinus cavities / your lungs.  In Chinese medicine, the respiratory system (Lung) is paired with the Large Intestine system, so there could be some symptoms in the lower GI tract as well.  

Any chronic complaint lingering in those areas like

  • sinusitis that is year-round,
  • a cough that never goes away, 
  • a skin rash that never clears up, or even
  • digestive weirdness

should be investigated as a potential mold / fungus condition.

Some things that may indicate it’s due to mold / fungus:

  • it gets worse in the summer
  • it gets worse when you’re sweaty
  • it gets worse when it rains or the mold count is high
  • it never totally goes away, but it ebbs and flows with the above conditions


There are herbs that clear this pathogen out of your body!  We use herbal remedies combined with immune-fortifying supplements to get rid of it (for good) and make sure it doesn’t come back.  In my opinion, they work better than medications for fungus because they are non-toxic and have fewer side effects.  

The bad news is that is does take time.  I have been treating myself for about 1 month now and I still cough if I miss a dose of herbs.  The main herbs that I’ve been rotating are

  • oregano oil
  • andrographis
  • echinacea
  • garlic

Also taking a pre and a probiotic to help myself heal from the “medication”* I got from the MD!  

*shouldn’t “medicine” make you better and not more sick???