The Ultimate Guide To Citrinin (a mycotoxin)

After writing the master blog called The Ultimate Guide To Mycotoxins I thought I would write smaller blogs on each of the main mycotoxins. Let’s look at Citrinin.

You may like to also read my article 5 Things To Know When Living In Mould.

What Is Citrinin?

Citrinin (CTN) is a mycotoxin. Mycotoxins are naturally occurring toxins, often referred to as secondary metabolites, produced by certain moulds (fungi).

What Moulds Produce Citrinin?

Citrinin is produced by the mold genera Aspergillus, Penicillium, and Monascus.

What Foods Are High In Citrinin?

According to a paper published in 2019, data available for citrinin levels in food are insufficient for reliable estimates . However foods that have been mentioned in the research include:

  • Rice
  • Wheat
  • Oats
  • Rye
  • Corn
  • Barley
  • Pomaceous fruits
  • Black olive
  • Roasted nuts
  • Spices
  • Naturally fermented sausages (in one study from Italy)

The same paper however states that: “It is reasonable to believe that humans are much more frequently exposed to CTN than generally accepted, because it is produced by the same moulds as OTA, which is a common contaminant of human food all over the world.”

It is for this reason that citrinin is usually found together with another mycotoxin, ochratoxin A

Red yeast rice can contain the mycotoxin citrinin and several other substances that are not yet toxicologically evaluated. That’s right! Even our supplements may be contaminated with mycotoxins. One paper showed milk thistle to be the most common to be contaminated.

Watch my interview with Dr. Jill Crista, author of Break The Mould:


Citrinin And Human Health

Although citrinin is regularly associated with human foods, its significance for human health is unknown.

Citrinin has been shown to be toxic and carcinogenic in animals. Other adverse effects include:

  • Immunotoxicity/supression
  • Mitochondrial dysfunction by inducing oxidative stress even at low concentration/dose. Mitochondria are often described as the ‘powerhouses of cells’, due to their role in energy production.
  • Genotoxicity (damages the genetic information within a cell causing mutations, which may lead to cancer)
  • Nephrotoxicity (toxicity in the kidneys)

How Do I Avoid Exposure To Citrinin?

There are three common exposure routes to Citrinin are through ingestion, inhalation, and skin contact.

The World Health Organisation advise the consumer to:

  • Carefully inspect whole grains and nuts for evidence of mould, and discard any that look mouldy, discoloured, or shriveled.
  • Buy grains and nuts as fresh as possible; that have been grown as close to home as possible, and which have not been transported over a long time
  • Buy only reputable brands of nuts and nut butters – aflatoxin moulds are not entirely killed by processing or roasting, so can show up in products e.g. peanut butter
  • Make sure that foods are stored properly and are not kept for extended periods of time before being used
  • Try to ensure his/her diet is diverse; this not only helps to mitigate aflatoxin exposure, but also improves health and nutrition. Consumers who lack dietary diversity need to pay extra attention to minimize the risk of high exposure to aflatoxins. For example, extensive aflatoxin exposure has been reported from areas where people get a major part of their daily calorie intake from maize; this foodstuff is commonly contaminated with aflatoxins and needs to be handled properly both before and after harvest.

However, this is not considering the mycotoxins that might be produced from water-damaged buildings – really the most common cause of mould illness. In these situations, leaving the property may be needed. There are other considerations that be considered also, as I appreciate this is sometimes just not achievable. Check out my article The Ultimate Guide To Mycotoxins for more information on this.

Testing Your Property

I recommend Pure Maintenance UK who have a great service around mould inspection and remediation.

Pure maintenance - black mould treatment

Conscious spaces have some brilliant products including a spray, a detergent and cleaning wipes. All powered by their lab-tested and proven blend of citrus seed extracts.

How Do You Successfully Detox Citrinin?

Check out my article The Ultimate Guide To Mycotoxins which discusses interventions to support the detoxification of mycotoxins. Options include the supplementation of:

  • Binders such as charcoal (please don’t take a binder if you are constipated, and, don’t forget about good old dietary fibre – it  helps bind!)
  • Anti-fungals such as oregano oil.
  • Biliary support such as phosphatidylcholine or bitters. I like the bitters from Quicksilver Scientific.
  • Liposomal glutathione. If you can’t tolerate liposomal glutathione initially then you can consider products such as NAC, glycine, or alpha lipoic acid.

When using food as a natural binder, we can consider things like ground flaxseed. Use code ALEXMANOS10 to get £10 off your order when you spend £50 at Welleasy.

Mitochondrial support may also be needed once you have successfully detoxed the mycotoxins such as CoQ10.

Resveratrol  can all be considered, and is one of the products Dr. Crista recommends as a citrinin specific option.

Dietary changes are often helpful as well such as going grain free, and focusing on adequate dietary fibre.

Dr. Crista has also mentioned that Butyrate-rich foods seem to help her patients – ghee, cabbage, radicchio, white part of spring onion, broccoli,
Brussels sprouts

Listen to Dr. Ann Shippy share her knowledge on mycotoxins and mould related illness:

Vivien’s Recovery Story

How Do I Test For Citrinin

You can test for Citrinin with a urinary mycotic test from Mosaic Diagnostics:

When You Can’t Tolerate Supplements

I often work with clients who are so sensitive to their environment that that react to almost every supplement, and often most foods making the healing process extremely challenging. In these cases, I find The Gupta Program a brilliant option.

The Gupta Program

Watch my interview with the founder of the program, Ashok Gupta below. It really helps us understand what’s going on when we are so sensitive and the important in taking a brain focused approach.

Books On Mycotoxins


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