Welcome to my blog ‘The Ultimate Guide To Mycotoxins’.
If you mainly interested in treatment then scroll down to the final part of this blog and check out my other blogs for deeper dives in to specific elements of treatment. For example:
- Ochratoxin A Toxicity: Antioxidants Are To The Rescue!
- Curcumin For Ochratoxin A Induced Kidney Damage.
- Detoxify Mould And Mycotoxins With Liposomal Glutathione.
What Are Mycotoxins?
It is difficult to define mycotoxin in a few words. Essentially mycotoxins are secondary metabolites produced by fungi that are capable of causing disease.
A paper published back in 2003 does a good job of defining them and providing a little back ground:
All mycotoxins are low-molecular-weight natural products (i.e., small molecules).
The term mycotoxin was coined in 1962 in the aftermath of an unusual veterinary crisis near London, during which approximately 100,000 turkey poults died. When this mysterious turkey X disease was linked to a peanut meal contaminated with secondary metabolites from the fungus Aspergillus flavus (which produces the mycotoxin aflatoxins), it alerted scientists to the possibility that other mould metabolites might be deadly. Soon, the mycotoxin rubric was extended to include some compounds that had originally been isolated as antibiotics (e.g., patulin), and a number of new secondary metabolites (e.g., ochratoxin A).
Now some 300 to 400 compounds are now recognised as mycotoxins, of which approximately a dozen groups regularly receive attention as threats to human and animal health.
Listen to my interview with Dr. Jill Crista, author of Break The Mold which offers a brilliant step by step guide to detoxing mycotoxins:
What Foods Are High In Mycotoxins?
The World Health Organisation say that moulds grow on a variety of different crops and foodstuffs including:
- Dried fruits
- Coffee beans
The risk that these food items are contaminated is greater under warm and humid conditions.
In general, mycotoxin exposure is more likely to occur in parts of the world where poor methods of food handling and storage are common, where malnutrition is a problem, and where few regulations exist to protect exposed populations. However, even in developed countries, specific subgroups may be vulnerable to mycotoxin exposure. In the United States, for example, Hispanic populations consume more corn products than the rest of the population, and inner city populations are more likely to live in buildings that harbor high levels of molds
Water-Damaged Buildings And Mycotoxins
Great Plains Laboratory have a great visual for common sources of mycotoxins in the home:
It is generally thought that the mycotoxins from water damaged buildings are far more problematic than the lower levels of exposure from food, simply because exposure is more likely to be more acute.
I recommend Pure Maintenance UK who offer an excellent service around mould inspection and remediation.
What Are The Symptoms Of Mycotoxins
It would be somewhat easier to list symptoms that might not be associated with mycotoxins!
Digestive System: bloating, diarrhoea, SIBO or a diagnosis of IBS.
Immune system: Both suppression and activation of the immune system. Various autoimmune diseases and cancers are also thought to potentially be associated with mycotoxins.
Neurological System: Dementia, Parkinson’s and MS.
Other symptoms/conditions may include:
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Hormonal imbalances
- Weight management issues
- Brain fog
- Allergies and sensitivities
- Skin conditions such as psoriasis
- Asthma and respiratory symptoms
- Fungal nails
Mycotoxins Found In Supplements
Worryingly research has shown that mycotoxins have been detected in various plant based supplements.
The highest mycotoxin concentrations were found in milk thistle-based supplements
Red yeast rice seems to be another common supplement contaminated by mycotoxins.
Types Of Mycotoxins
The most important ones associated with human diseases include:
- Ergot akaloids
- Ochratoxin A
Testing For Mycotoxins
There are two primary tests to consider, and perhaps a couple of additional tests that perhaps we can describe as ‘tier 2’.
The first is a urine mycotoxin test from Mosaic Diagnostics, formerly Great Plants Laboratory.
The second is an antibody test which assess IgG and IgE antibodies to several mycotoxins – this is currently not available in the UK.
An organic acid test can also be considered, which assesses urinary metabolites including those thought to be produced by certain moulds. Again this is by Mosaic Diagnostics.
Finally stool testing can be considered – I do often (but certainly not always) find that those with mycotoxin issues have suboptimal microbiome diversity, and, have a fungal overgrowth dectetable in the large intestine. You can order a comprehensive stool test via Healthpath in the UK.
How To Detox Mycotoxins
We first need to ask the question: are you still being exposed to mould (i.e do you live, work, stay in a damp or water damaged building?)
If not, then we can move to eliminating the mycotoxins from the body.
We pee, poo, and sweat them out so these are the three things to focus upon.
How Do You Treat Mycotoxin?
Improving Air Quality If Stuck At Home
- Keep windows open as much as possible for ventilation.
- Keep air purifying plants in the house. Examples can be found here, here, and here.
- An air purifier may also be super helpful. It is important it filters out particles down to 0.3. This is a sensible option that, hopefully, won’t break the bank.
- Using an essential oil diffuser can also he helpful. We have this diffuser and there are loads of options for essential oils.
If the environment is clear we can now confidently move forward in eliminating mould/mycotoxins from the body. There are two common locations where they may set up shop (but this is a slight simplification):
- The sinuses.
- The gut.
So when looking to detoxify mycotoxins we first want to ensure we focus on both areas of the body.
The following is for educational purposed only. I do not recommend all of the below and if you are taking any medications please speak with your primary healthcare professional before starting any new supplement regime.
Binders: Put simply these help bind mycotoxins and aid their elimination from the body. Options include:
- Activated charcoal
- Bentonite clay
- Sacchraomyces boulardii.
There are also combination products such as GI Detox from Bio-Botanical Research. Binders should be taken 2 hours away from all food , medications and other supplements.
Sinus Spray: There are three options I am aware of:
- Nutri Biotic Nasal Spray or North American Herb & Spice Sinus spray.
- Some also recommend using Biocidin by Bio-Botanical Research and adding approximately 5 drops to a over the counter nasal spray made of saline solution and using as recommended.
- Argentyn 23
- Oregano oil: click here.
- A great broad spectrum product is called Biocidin by Bio-Botanical Research.
Lipsomal Glutathione: I have recommended this one from Amazon: click here.
Bitters: This is available from Amrita. Another great option, and a supplement Dr. Jill Crista wishes she could have added to her book (see below) is phosphatidylcholine which helps thin the bile, and thus aid detox, while also supporting cellular health.
Check out my article Ochratoxin A Toxicity: Antioxidants Are To The Rescue! to learn more about antioxidant supplementation.
Some people have got on very well with a product called Metabolic Detox by Metabolic Balance. It’s described as “a hypoallergenic blend of pea, rice, and hemp, non-GMO proteins, beneficial medium chain triglycerides, and omega-3 fatty acids. Metabolic Detox® Complete also includes a balanced combination of vitamins, minerals, essential amino acids, and other beneficial nutrient cofactors to simplify and support both Phase I and Phase II detoxification.”
Sweating is a great option for detoxifying numerous compounds. There are different options out there dependent on price point. Options include:
What Happens When Your React To Supplements?
Some of my clients are have become so sensitive to their environment due to conditions such as multiple chemical sensitivity and mast cell activation disorders that they can’t tolerate supplements, and often are on a very restricted diet. In this situation I often recommend The Gupta Program.
You can watch my interview with the founder, Ashok Gupta, here:
Books On Mycotoxins
- Break The Mold – By Dr. Crista
- Mould & Mycotoxins – by Dr. Nathan
- Toxic – by Dr. Nathan
- Mould: The War Within – by Kurt and Lee Billing
- Dr. Jill Crista on The Alex Manos Podcast
- Dr. Ann Shippy on The Alex Manos Podcast
- Oliver Barnett on The Alex Manos Podcast
- Detection of Mycotoxins in Patients With Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Dampness and Mold Hypersensitivity Syndrome and Vaccination as Risk Factors for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- The Putative Role of Viruses, Bacteria, and Chronic Fungal Biotoxin Exposure in the Genesis of Intractable Fatigue Accompanied by Cognitive and Physical Disability
- Chronic Illness Associated With Mold and Mycotoxins: Is Naso-Sinus Fungal Biofilm the Culprit?
- Mycotoxin: Its Impact on Gut Health and Microbiota
- A Review of the Mechanism of Injury and Treatment Approaches for Illness Resulting From Exposure to Water-Damaged Buildings, Mold, and Mycotoxins
- Deficient Glutathione in the Pathophysiology of Mycotoxin-Related Illness
- Role of Mycotoxins in the Pathobiology of Autism: A First Evidence
- Mycotoxins and human disease: a largely ignored global health issue