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#07 – Exploring the Healing Power of Nature with Erik Johnson

As this Yale article on Ecopsychology and The Healing Power of Nature outlines, the medical community, armed with a growing body of research, is starting to recognize the importance of time spent in nature on physical wellbeing. We know that African Americans are 75% more likely to live next to a manufacturing facility that emits toxic fumes, and so, for some of us, our physical location will be a strong determinant of our overall health. In fact, this study of 20,000 people, which appeared in the prestigious Journal Nature, found that spending just 120 minutes a week in nature improved health and wellbeing in most people.

What if physical location was the single greatest factor in determining your state of health? Many of the debates in the health world center around food choice. One food food is said to be inflammatory, another healing. However, location is almost never discussed. Our guest for episode #7 says that the “inhaled factor” far outweighed the “edible factor” in his road to healing from chronic fatigue syndrome. Erik Johnson is the co-author of a Beginner’s Guide to Mold Avoidance, a system for using pristine natural environments to help calm down the immune system so the body can heal from chronic illness. In this episode, we talk to Erik about how spending time in nature helped him transition from debilitating chronic fatigue to climbing Mt. Whitney in the span of just 6 months.

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This Episode Covers:

  • The “Tahoe Flu,” Chronic Fatigue and CDC Involvement [7:00];
  • The darkest days of Erik’s illness [12:00];
  • Mold avoidance vs. traditional allergy [15:42];
  • Discovering mold avoidance and the locations effect [18:00];
  • Unmasking: why people choose mold avoidance [24:00];
  • Why some people get sick when moving to Austin [29:00];
  • Which molds Erik avoids and why plus how he chooses locations [30:34];
  • Nanoparticles and World Health Organization funded labs [35:30];
  • Mold and mental illness [38:45];
  • Erik on limbic system retraining [42:25];
  • Reprograming the immune response and the benefit of altitude[45:26];
  • Inhaled factor vs. edible factor [50:00];
  • Erik on the Locations Effect maps [56:20];
  • The Unrest Documentary and lab tests to run [58:30];
  • The myth of indoor vs. outdoor mold [1:05]


What a fun and powerful interview. The scientific community is recognizing that air pollution is particularly damaging to health, and that minorities and people of color often suffer the most. Tools like this one, built by atmospheric scientists at UCLA, and published in the LA Times, help people in Southern California determine just how close they are to the nearest interstate.

Against that backdrop, Erik’s take is that the combination of Stachybotrys chartarum (both indoor and outdoor) is combining with an increase in air pollution and that the two together are creating particularly virulent toxic substances that are making some people very ill. This is a subject that should be studied further.

Studies and Further Reading:

Dr. Ritchie Shoemaker’s website: Surviving Mold

A Beginner’s Guide to Mold Avoidance by Erik and Dr. Petrison.

The Unrest Documentary

In the comments section to episode #2 with Dr. Neil Nathan, Dr. Keith Berndtson, co-founder of the International Society for Environmentally Acquired Illness, offered these studies (both performed in animals) in support of Erik’s theories.

John O'Connor

John O'Connor is the founder of Gene Food, a nutrigenomic startup helping people all over the world personalize nutrition. John is the host of the Gene Food Podcast and a health coach trained at Duke's Integrative Medicine Program. Read his full bio here.

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  1. Rose says:

    I am in the mist of getting better from CFS and found not only mold issues but mast cell activation syndrome. I can feel my muscles go weak whenever I enter a building with mold. I never thought of washing my clothes and hair when that happens. Thank you for the information. What documentary did you do in Austin?

  2. Rich Gill says:

    Thank you for providing a voice to this very well documented alternative view of mold illness and chronic fatigue syndrome. It’s extremely important to consider all valid observations in developing the big picture of this syndrome and not just accept the medical establishment dogma, which has proven time and again to directly violate the promise to “First, do no harm”. Voices of experienced, thoughtful and educated patients such as Mr Johnson need to be elevated to a level of validity that will not allow them to be so easily dismissed by the powerful players in the medical industrial complex.

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